In earthly nature, the term natural selection refers to the process that results in the survival and reproductive success of individuals or groups who adjust best to their environment.
In Mormonism, we are taught that God said, regarding his children who kept their first estate and got themselves born onto this earth, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; . . . and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever” (Abraham 3:25-26).
In other words, one way of looking at Mormonism is that it represents spiritual survival of the fittest on an eternal level. We are put into a testing environment, and those who fully succeed spiritually are given the opportunity to reproduce in the eternities, via exaltation in the celestial kingdom.
This is a model that really works for me as I think about the plan of salvation and our purpose here on earth. In fact, I even managed to include it in the book Mormonism For Dummies that I coauthored: “In a kind of spiritual survival of the fittest—a process God would oversee with love and concern—only those who made enough progress in learning and obeying God’s will would eventually be resurrected as heavenly parents; the rest would be resurrected to lesser degrees of glory, according to their efforts, desires, and faith.” (My coauthor had the sense to have me add the part about God’s love and concern.)
In nature, an animal survives by its strength, cunning, defenses, etc. In the Mormon plan of salvation, of course, it’s practically the opposite: we demonstrate our fitness by recognizing and accepting the Savior, repenting, doing our best to live his gospel so that his atonement can heal and perfect us, and by accepting the fullness of the father through temple ordinances. In other words, whether in this life or the next, we have to be spiritually savvy enough to recognize and embrace the truth so that God can exalt us through his grace, after all we can do.
God wants us all to fully succeed, but unfortunately those who will suffer for their own sins in spirit prison through the Millennium and then inherit the telestial kingdom will be as numerous as the sands of the sea. And those who are only partially spiritually fit will inherit the terrestrial kingdom. But only the fully fit who gain the celestial kingdom through Christ’s atonement and God’s true religion will keep reproducing in the eternities.
So in what ways does looking at Mormonism in this way resonate with you, bother you, and/or downright offend you?