Some of my ancestors: William Ogden, Sr. and family + Charles Layton and family (including Charles’s mother, Bathsheba)

My family has been LDS for 200 years. That’s 1/1000 of my human past.

A Meditation on Evolution and Purpose

For most my life, I’ve thought of my heritage as coming from a single tradition: Mormonism. That’s my people, who I am—part of a pioneer story.

A simplified, approximate view of our heritage.
Our distant relatives. (Photo by rawpixel.)

So what?

What do you feel when you sit with all this—really sit with it, instead of just scanning it as though it’s a bunch of gee-whiz facts?

I am many.

Yes, my lineage is Mormon. And my lineage is part of the Church of England before that — and likely Catholic or pagan before that, and so on. I am all these identities, and at some level they’re all still alive in me. I don’t have to disregard any of them.

I am one.

Since I was once an ape, a primitive mammal, a fish, and a single-celled organism, everything is a relative. I must therefore treat all life with reverence, even as I consume an animal or a plant to survive. I must also oppose practices that torture animals in mass factories, poison the planet, fill the oceans with plastic, and so on. To do otherwise is an act of self harm.

I can’t be confined by fundamentalism.

I’ve written elsewhere about the split between the LDS prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, who opposed the theory of evolution, and famed LDS scientist Henry Eyring, who embraced it.

I belong to a rapidly evolving species.

We’re an evolving species. It’s part of our purpose, to evolve.

A prototype that connects the brain to the internet from Elon Musk’s Neuralink.

I have a debt to the future.

The poet T.S. Eliot asked, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” Today we could add, based on what I often see in my social media feeds, “Where is the information we have lost in misinformation?”