Everyone looks different, regardless of race. "Made in God's image" does not mean we are clones of God, with the same complexion, eye color, type of hair, and so on.
According to professors at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University, evolution does fit into the gospel. While this is a contentious issue for some, you can read more about the Church's official stance on evolution over at the FAIR LDS website.
When I was a student at BYU, a Church-owned university, I was taught about evolution by pro-evolution professors who took science very seriously. These professors did not tolerate the simplistic anti-evolution arguments that some students brought with them, but they were generally patient and gave out tons of web resources where people could research the topic for themselves.
No, this is not part of LDS Church doctrine. From LDS.org:
Latter-day Saints have additional information that allows a third view—that each “day” of the Creation was of unspecified duration and that the Creation of the earth took place during an unknown length of time. Abraham stresses that day is synonymous with time. For example, Abraham 4:8 summarizes the second creative period by stating that “this was the second time that they called night and day.” This usage is consistent with ancient Hebrew. The Hebrew word YOM, often translated day, can also mean “time” or “period.” In other words, the term translated day in Genesis could be appropriately read as “period.”
Also, the term day is used in scripture to indicate a period of time in which the labor of God is to be performed. Day in this sense is usually contrasted with night or darkness, wherein labor is ceased. For example, the Savior said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4; see also John 11:9–10). The Book of Mormon also contains this ancient usage. In Alma 34:32–33, Amulek warns: “The day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
Twice a year, Mormons have this thing called "General Conference." They gather to listen to a bunch of speeches.
Really, that's all it is. But what makes it different from a typical Sunday at church?
Why is this conference so special?
- The speeches are meant to help us understand what God wants us to know.
- The people who give the speeches ask God what to speak about before even writing a word.
- The speeches have been approved by God's key representative here on earth, a "prophet."
- There are 10 hours of speeches, spread over several days. Mormons frequently use Conference weekend as a time to gather with family & friends.
- For the rest of the year, Mormons are asked to teach & learn about the topics spoken on.
Usually 12 hours of speeches means "boring." What's so interesting about it?
Mormons believe there's something different about being taught by an official representative of God. The attitude is, "I am about to learn what God wants me to hear."
Really, what would God say to you? Something groundbreaking? A simple message like "let's focus on the basics?"
Not everyone gets the same message
This is what I like about it. God doesn't have the same message for you that He has for me. I might need the message, "forgive your brother." You might need the message, "spend more time with your family." Whatever it is, Mormons believe that we will feel it and recognize the message when it comes to us.
So we're all listening for that personal message from God. And that's what the 12 hours is for.
During a recent church conference session, President Thomas S. Monson, the president and prophet of the LDS Church, gave a great talk. From a recent article summarizing his talk (emphasis mine):
President Monson related a World War II incident that was reported by a war correspondent. It took place as U.S. Marines were taking Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
The reporter and other correspondents noticed a Marine lying face down in the water, badly wounded. Another Marine, also wounded, with his left arm hanging helplessly by his side, moved toward his wounded comrade and lifted his head to keep him from drowning. The rescuer called for help, but the correspondents called back that there was nothing he could do for the young man.
The correspondent reported that the rescuer, badly wounded himself, made his way to the shore with the seemingly lifeless body of his fellow Marine. The correspondent wrote: "And the one boy bowed his head over the other and said, 'I command you, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood, to remain alive until I can get medical help.'"
"The correspondent concluded his article, 'The three of us [the two Marines and I] are here in the hospital. The doctors don't know ... [how they made it alive], but I know.'"
President Monson declared, "Miracles are everywhere to be found when the priesthood is understood, its power is honored and used properly and faith is exerted."
As I listened to that story, tears came to my eyes. God is powerful. When God works through us, we can be powerful too.
"We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children," said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency in his address Sunday morning.
"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon," he said. "When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges or wanting to cause harm — please apply the following: Stop it!"
Who doesn't need this advice? It's potentially life-changing. I like to focus on the positive, but that "heart full of love" part seems almost impossible sometimes. I wondered, when I heard that: "What would my life be like if I could have a heart full of love?"