Random Thoughts on Evolution and Creation

When I was a child, like many my age I had a fascination with dinosaurs. The animals existing so many years in the past was hard for my young mind to comprehend. All I knew was that great monsters once roamed the land. What we knew of them came by digging the bones out of deep rock and dirt. Names for beasts were long and complicated, but flowed smoothly from child lips proudly pronouncing each syllable.

The idea these real myths came from a long natural process never crossed my mind until later in life. These creatures at first came fully formed in my imagination. My wonder came from the wide variety of large herbivorous animals forging for plants or carnivores hunting. Again, I loved learning about and pronouncing Saurischia Theropods and Sauropods to the Ornithiscia plated and horned. To date my favorites are not actually dinosaurs, but the more ancient mysterious Theropsida that are said to have given rise to mammals.

Evolution entered my thoughts and vocabulary only when extending interest to what came after the dinosaur extinction. If they lived, why are they no longer here and how do we have life now? This brought me to the study of what scientists call human ancestors. Books told the story of bones that looked like humans and yet were not, at least not completely. There was some discussion of the “missing link” that incidentally hasn’t been missing since the 1950s and 60s discoveries. Knowing the Adam and Eve story since before my interest in dinosaurs, it was all so confusing. I began asking religious questions relating to all these past lifeforms. The answers I got back from others were less than helpful, but I had faith in God from Scriptures and ancient life in fossil remains.

The most prevalent answer was that the Earth formed from the remains of other planets. Fossils were a record of other places along with past times. Some point to Moses 1:33-35 where it talks about, “And worlds without number have I [God] created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son,” including, “there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power.” These are coupled with the statement of Joseph Smith:

The world and earth are not synonymous terms. The world is the human family. This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live. The elements are eternal. That which has a beginning will surely have an end. Take a ring, it is without beginning or end; cut it for a beginning place, and at the same time you have an ending place.

At first this seems logical when needing to account for religious and scientific claims. By the time it sunk in what they were speculating, I understood where this was wrong. Rudimentary knowledge of paleontology made the idea unattainable. The first step to proving this false was a look at a map of the Earth. If this planet got put together from others, it did so with very precise jigsaw connections. Take South America and connect it to Africa for a near perfect fit as an example.

Next you have the fossils themselves to prove the theory incorrect. Each layer of stratification has matching discoveries of plants and animals. There are some so specific to a layer that other finds are dated by them existing such as types of trilobites. More impressive is hundreds of the same fossils have been found in South America, Africa, Asia, and Antarctica among other places. This includes a mammal-like reptile Cynognathus, the pig size Lystrosaurus, the water reptiles Mesosaurus and Ichthyosaurs, along with many plants. The most recent mixed continent fossil Rugops primus puts to question how late in history a land bridge exist between hemispheres.

All of this to say complications arose whenever trying to put together the puzzle of how natural history relates to Scriptural history. Many simply decide one of two things; reject either for the other or put the questions on a shelf for the next life. As someone who is a paranormal enthusiast and loves to read and write Science Fiction, cognitive dissonance with suspension of disbelief doesn’t bother me. I can follow the advice of the White Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, where she states, “sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Yet, I don’t like to put things on the shelf just because its complicated.

To be sure there are difficulties that I see in the theory of Evolution. It can be pointed out by already formed living examples and fossils, but rarely observed in its action if ever depending on your definition. Some claim that laboratories have observed the evolution in fish, flowers, and bacteria. None of them, like the flowers, actually changed into something else. The one with the bacteria couldn’t be replicated except by the same group. The fish might even be described as an experiment in Theo-evolution because of how much care the scientists had to take in the process of change. Other problems I see are beyond the scope of this post.

There is a reason anti-Evolution remains in Mormonism even if Creationism is seen as unattainable. Despite all the witnesses (evidence) to Evolution, many Mormons hold on to anti-Evolution positions because there isn’t anything to fill the void. The unsaid argument for Mormon Creationists is “if there is no position on Evolution, than what exactly are modern Prophets and Scriptures saying?” There has been little discussion on the theological implications. Keeping the questions of Evolution vs. The Creation on “a shelf to ask when I am dead” might be a good personal approach, but it will fail to convince other LDS members. And that means more than dismissing McConkie, Smith, Benson, et el. as wrong. It means the very difficult, but I believe possible, work of explaining how they are correct in their own message (such as explaining what they are really going against is the atheist use of the theory). Then, moving past that, explaining how Evolution fits into Mormon theology and Scriptures.

Religious Evolutionists must confront theological concerns to make any lasting headway. To simply say that science and religion ask and answer two different questions is the real “God in the gaps.” Exactly what questions do they ask and what kind of answers are to be found? Scientists should understand there has to be interpretive frameworks to make sense of desperate evidence. The “don’t take it literally” is still NOT an answer or even a discussion. There has to be interpretive discussion of even non-literal meanings. You don’t read a book if you can’t understand the words.

I have for a few years had my own tentative theory of how Evolution and Creation work together. Many questions remain such as the idea of pre-Adam-ites and no death before the fall. Still, it is better than leaving it alone or dismissing one or the other. Even Elder McConkie didn’t believe in the Young Earth theory. That is a starting point. For the next few weeks I hope to expand on what I have already considered and find more common ground. They both have too much meaning for me to ignore or reject.

66 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Evolution and Creation

  1. jettboy,

    I’m excited to read follow up posts on this topic. Looking at the page you linked to, I find that the views I’ve adopted are quite similar to your views.

    The way I deal with pre-Adamites is by suggesting that they weren’t part of the Plan of Salvation (God could have fit them under a different plan, or whatever). The Plan began with Adam and Eve, and as their lineage spread with like cro magnons, anyone brought into Adam’s family became part of the Plan.

    So there was scientific death before Adam (especially if we want to say that Adam had hair and skin, and could actually eat a piece of fruit), but not death in the way religion frames the term.

    As for evolution. I’m a firm believer. However, I suspect that the majority scientific community is missing the point. They’ve done great work showing how evolution is random, but there’s almost no discussion on how evolution follows laws and patterns. To draw off domestication experiments, when some Russians bred silver foxes to become domesticated in the 90s, they found that as they bred them, the foxes got shinier coats and floppy ears. Many modern dog breeds, which trace back to wolves (and essentially have the mental capacity of baby wolves), also have floppy ears. That could be sheer coincidence, but maybe traits and mutations follow rules that we aren’t aware of.

    To extrapolate this hypothesis, suppose you found a thousand different planets with plants on them. Since plants are essentially organisms that do photosynthesis, and since chlorophyll is an integral part of photosynthesis, it is possible that on every single one of those planets, the plants will all be green. If evolution follows patterns, even laws, then perhaps the human shape is just a natural recurring biproduct of the evolutionary process. We’re like God not because God made us to be like Him, but because nature wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Food for thought.

  2. .

    Re: ““if there is no position on Evolution, than what exactly are modern Prophets and Scriptures saying?”

    Just to be clear, the LDS Church does have an official position on human evolution. The 1909 statement on “The Origin of Man” and its 1925 abridgement titled, “Mormon View of Evolution,” demonstrate by their titles alone that both statements are about human evolution. And both statements are official. Moving forward into the current century, the 1909 statement was reprinted in the February 2002 Ensign as the Church’s “doctrinal position [on] the Creation of the earth and the theories of evolution.” Later in the same magazine, the reprint is identified as “the Church’s official teachings on the creation of mankind and evolution.” For more than a century, members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have corroborated these official declarations. At the same time, there has never been a Church published statement by any member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve endorsing the idea that evolution explains the origin of man. Clearly, the LDS Church has an official position on human evolution.

  3. I know of no person who has received the Holy Ghost through the baptism by fire who believes evolution to be true. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist, but I find it hard to believe in such a person.

    I have seen the following exchange.

    [quote name='Kevin Christensen' timestamp='1340194919' post='1209133617']
    …I’d point out that every geology teacher and every biology teacher at BYU teaches evolution. And I’d talk about how our scriptures do not bind us to the Fundamentalst interpretations or agenda. I’d mention that the strongest LDS opinions expressed against the notion of evolution were just that, the opinions of individuals, The social environment in which such ideas were expressed had an impact on the arguments made, simply assuming with Fundamentalists and the Darwinists that there is an irreconcilable conflict, and choosing sides and arguments based on what I see as a false assumption. … The official LDS statements are all open ended. For every LDS GA who opposed any reconcilliation, there are others equally prominent who were comfortable with reconcilliation. All or nothing thinking all too often increases the danger of leaving a student with nothing. .

    I’ve been doing this for years when I teach, or comment during someone else’s comments, and in Wards in California, Kansas, and Pennsylvania have had no trouble getting along.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA
    [/quote]

    [quote name='thesometimesaint' timestamp='1340206971' post='1209133645']
    I don’t have any problem with God using Evolution in the Creation of everything.
    [/quote]

    When we consider matters of this type I have difficulty with members who have the duplicitous capacity to deny all the while claiming they sustain the general authorities of the church. I don’t understand how someone can somehow place the teachers at BYU on superior footing and as purveyors of truth over and above those General Authorities that have had the courage to speak against what has become the single greatest theory in the destruction of a belief in God and his son Jesus Christ of all time. If you read between the lines it is upon this principal that that Bruce R. McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith and others have taken so strong an opposition to the THEORY of evolution. It is upon this principle that I take a very strong opposition to the theory and to individuals who might think they have some place to equivocate in a Sunday school class or elsewhere in church interactions in defense of the theory of evolution.

    When I have encountered these misguided ones it is actually a simple thing to close the discussion upon a couple of principles. First off it is inappropriate to even attempt to square off on these theoretical perspectives in a Sunday school or similarly conducted LDS meeting where the objective is a foundation of testimony concerning truth. There are no testimonies of evolution to be shared. I will explain in a moment. Nonetheless it is woefully inappropriate to make these venues a platform for personal delusions.

    I have two approaches. One or both can be used and either is appropriate. The second tends to be the swiftest and leaves that uncomfortable silence as the detractors want to continue their defense in light of a superior truth that requires their silence.
    The first is simple enough. To date I have not found a clearer more succinct statement concerning expectations of the ultimate condemnation of Evolution than this one:

    Of this much we are quite certain: When, during the Millennium, the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is translated, it will give an account of life in the premortal existence; of the creation of all things; of the Fall and the Atonement and the Second Coming; of temple ordinances, in their fullness; of the ministry and mission of translated beings; of life in the spirit world, in both paradise and hell; of the kingdoms of glory to be inhabited by resurrected beings; and many such like things. As of now, the world is not ready to receive these truths. For one thing, these added doctrines will completely destroy the whole theory of organic evolution as it is now almost universally taught in the halls of academia. For another, they will set forth an entirely different concept and time frame of the creation, both of this earth and all forms of life and of the sidereal heavens themselves, than is postulated in all the theories of men. And sadly, there are those who, if forced to make a choice at this time, would select Darwin over Deity. (The Bible, a Sealed Book, Bruce R. McConkie, BYU, 1984.)

    Now as a statement it is wonderfully precise. Also, on the principle that some use to validate its worth, you will note that it was taught at BYU- therefore it must be true. I do not however use its direct challenge to evolutionary tales for the strength of my point. The point is this I have never raised my hand to the square to sustain a BYU professor. I have never committed, nor agreed to represent the doctrines of BYU or any other of the more misguided institutions of men. The discussion changes from the right or the wrong of evolution, and becomes a discussion of the integrity of the individuals in the room. Did you mean it when you raised your hand or did you not? I have stated that whether or not one perspective is true or not I become a liar on an entirely different principle. In the Lord’s venue, at the very least, I support and sustain the Lords servants and their observations over any BYU professor. I also place significance on the position of the speaker on the same principle that I am placing on the members, since it is the responsibility of the members to sustain the prophet and the apostles, it is even more important that the other GA’s sustain them as well ahead of BYU professors. It comes down to a render unto Caesar what is his and a render unto God what is his termination of the discussion. I am perfectly content with BYU teaching the material. It is appropriate for their venue. It is Caesars venue and BYU would be remiss to fail to prepare it’s student for Caesars requirements. However, in the Lords venue we should, if we have even the least degree of integrity, sustain the Lord and who he has called.

    Only once has this not ended the conversation. In that instance, a light opened in my mind and I found the greatest truth of all that is correct beyond any theories potential.

    Now, I realize that the moment it looks like I am going to use scripture some reading this post may go no further but if you bear with the process it is a correct principle of perfect truth. I went to Moroni 7 and quickly summarized that this is a message of warning being given to members of the church at the time by Mormon who identifies them as saints by their “peaceable walk.”

    A little further in though Mormon is going to give them a profound tool and if you are a sincere believer in Christ it is undeniable.

    I emphasized the following underlined points:

    (Moroni 7:14 -18)

    14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

    15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

    17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

    18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

    I pointed out that this warning was not about the evil of murderers, thieves and rapists. Those types of evil stand out too starkly for anyone to deny their obvious wicked intent. This warning was about thoughts and ideas and information – things that would sound very reasonable and appealing. Mormon was trying to show them how to discern between things that would be used to persuade them to believe in one thing or another – the most insidious forms of evil the sophistry of words. At this point I made this observation, that the theory of evolution is comprised of bits and pieces of truth. To any honest person it has some compelling holes as well. However, us nice LDS don’t want to look too confrontational so we try to be agreeable on the points that we can and then tip-toe around any conflicts. However, 9 times out of ten, the person talking to you is engaging in their defense of evolution from the unspoken vantage point of “the language of the scriptures is inferior to the knowledge of men”.

    I then pointed out, that it mattered not what bits and pieces of truth could be found in the theory but that overall there has been no greater concept taught to the children of men that has been used to weaken faith, deny Christ, make a mockery of God and those who would believe in him than the theory of evolution. Millions upon millions of God’s children have ceased to believe in him because of this other explanation of how things came to be. For LDS to raise the banner of evolution, without recognizing what its purpose is and what the being who inspired its inception was hoping to accomplish, is to sustain its influence in destroying the potential testimonies of Jesus Christ and upon that principle, not the sophistic points of truth that reel people in, but upon the principle of its destruction of the testimony of Jesus Christ according to Moroni 7 it was the grandest evil foisted upon the children of men. – And that I know with every fiber of my being. For a moment you could have heard a pin drop, even on the carpet and there was no more discussion.

    ===========================================================

    Evolution is known to produce this.

    “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we died, you know, that was it, there was nothing….” (Dateline NBC, The Final Interview, Nov. 29, 1994).

    But it is not known to produce Mother Theresas or Joseph Smiths.

  4. The problem here in the discussion, is that until God fully reveals himself (or at least the data and details of creation and evolution), we only have ancient manuscripts that may be based upon legend/myth to figure out a solution.

    When Brigham Young says that those who literally believe the Creation story in the Bible as how things _exactly_ occurred are believing in “baby stories”, then we know there are GAs that know we do not have the full story. And on the science side of things, they also do not have the full story.

    When we only have bits and pieces on each side, and some of it is unverifiable, then all we can do is speculate.

    Personally, I like one of the following concepts:

    When we say this earth is made from parts of other worlds, does that mean worlds from prior to the Big Bang? Or does it mean worlds prior to the creation of this solar system? Or something else? We sometimes get bogged down with our own preconceived ideas.

    Next, what if “parts of other worlds” simply means new Creation/Destruction cycles? 250 million years ago, we had a huge Destruction, wiping out 90% of all animal life. This opened the door for a new Creation, bringing about the age of dinosaurs. Then, 60 million years ago we had a destruction that wiped out dinosaurs. This set the stage for the Age of Mammals. Finally 12,000 years ago, we had a major Ice Age, which wiped out many species, and narrowed the number of humanoids down to one form. This could have opened the door for the Sons of Adam.

    Of course, Adam probably wasn’t the only actual human on earth, but was the one given the covenant with God. From his perspective (or Enoch or Moses’), all people came from Adam’s loins. We see this same concept with Noah, Abraham and others – who become the First Parent of the Covenant.

    Until the Lord reveals fully the story of this earth, we will have to be satisfied with “seeing through a glass darkly.” And for me, the above concept allows for creation, destruction, evolution, and Adam as the first man.

  5. Log, Elder McConkie shared his opinion in his normally forceful way. But what he said against evolution is NOT doctrine of the Church. The Church’s official declarations on the subject simply state that there is a place for religion and science, and we do not know yet via revelation how they will eventually intersect.
    To question the testimonies of good LDS, simply because they doubt a few statements by GAs, who were speaking for themselves in a time when GAs spoke their minds on many things, but whose comments were never canonized, is to take the bridge too far. We’ve seen the Church have to correct some incorrect statements of the past, regarding polygamy and priesthood ban (see the new headings for OD1 and OD2). Just because you quote Elder McConkie as doctrine, does not make everything he said true or correct. Other GAs, such as BH Roberts, John Widtsoe, and James Talmage probably believed in evolution. They just were not as vocal about it. President Eyring’s father, who was Pres Kimball’s brother-in-law, was a world renowned chemist, who believed in evolution. I’m thinking Pres Eyring keeps an open mind on all of this, and believes his father was a very faithful LDS – even if your statement would suggest otherwise.

    The Church does not have all of the truth, or facts. We believe in continuing revelation. We understand things as best as the Lord reveals them, until he opens our minds and eyes further with new declarations. And there has not been a revelation by the Church for or against evolution, only against using evolution as a methodology to promote atheism.

  6. jettboy – the fact that you take scientific evidence and logic seriously in addition scriptures, is a great first step. And I realize that Adam has a very literal place in Mormon (not to mention Jewish, Muslim and trad. Christian) theology. But, I also think we would avoid a boatload of time and energy by simply reading the Torah like ancient Israelites read it. That is, not like the play by play at a Yankee game or the evening news.

  7. .

    Rameumptom: Really? “Other GAs, such as BH Roberts, John Widtsoe, and James Talmage probably believed in evolution. They just were not as vocal about it.”

    Not one of the three was even a supporter of the theory.

    B. H. Roberts -

    “The theory of evolution as advocated by many modern scientists lies stranded upon the shore of idle speculation…. it is destructive of the grand, central truth of all revelation.” (The Gospel and Man’s Relationship to Deity, 7th edition, 1928, pp. 265-267).

    James E. Talmage –

    “Man is the child of God…. He is born in the lineage of Deity, not in the posterity of the brute creation.” (James E. Talmage, “The Earth and Man,” 1931, pp. 13-14; emphasis added.)

    John A. Widtsoe -

    “Clearly the theory of evolution has added nothing to our understanding of the beginning of things. The ancient view that God is the creator of all things is still the best, because it is true.” (Improvement Era, July 1951, p. 531.)

  8. “I know of no person who has received the Holy Ghost through the baptism by fire who believes evolution to be true. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist, but I find it hard to believe in such a person.”

    What?

    May I recommend attending the Evolution courses BYU offers every semester? Plenty of people there who fit that criteria.

    In my last ward the Bishop, YWP and EQP all “believed evolution to be true.” I don’t think it was coincidence that all three of them also happened to have degrees in Biology. I’ve had another bishop tell me personally that he believed in evolution.

    I’d also like to point out that BYU doesn’t just teach evolution to undergrads (and actually require courses on evolution for several different majors)–they also have a thriving graduate program focused on evolution. They do significant research on it. Not that that makes evolution any more or less true–but it’s clear that BYU and those who run and operate it do a lot more than the minimum when it comes to evolution.

  9. Tim, it’s clear that BYU has apostatized from the pure faith. Do you think the Brethren know how bad it’s gotten?

  10. .

    Steven F. Faux has a Ph.D. from BYU. He has taught psychology at Drake University since 1990. For seven years he was his Department Chair. He also blogs about evolution. He says Mormons are free to embrace Darwinian evolution, which he believes to be as factual as gravity. He and I have exchanged blog comments several times and it has been an interesting discussion. He commented a while back on my blog about BYU evolution courses. Here is what he said:

    “I really don’t know how any life science department could pass an external review with evolution being absent from the curriculum. I presume BYU makes use of external reviews. It is a standard procedure. Such an external review would mean that some biologist (or other life scientist) from a non-LDS school would evaluate and assess a particular life science department at BYU every few years. In other words, scientists do have some obligations to their peers beyond the university, not just to their administrators. Academic freedom is NOT the freedom to act irresponsibly.

    “Naturally, we do not want chemistry departments teaching that wind, fire, and rain are the basic elements. We don’t want psychology departments teaching about black and yellow biles as regulators of emotion. We don’t want astronomy departments teaching the earth as the center of the universe. In the same vein, I cannot imagine a biology department teaching the so-called ‘intelligent design.’

    “In academia, accreditation and reputation really do matter. Even so, I would think the vast majority of BYU biologists really do want evolution to be taught regardless of any external pressure (from any direction). The real effect of the external pressure would be upon the administration to keep from exercising undue influence on the curriculum.

    “We should keep in mind that normally faculty members have complete control over the curriculum. I have no reason to believe this is any different at BYU, which is where, by the way, I learned a significant chunk of my evolutionary understanding.

    “Evolution is taught at BYU not for religious policy. It is taught out of scientific necessity.”

    I agree with Steven Faux.

  11. I was going to respond to some of this, but for the most part others have been doing a good job. To be honest, I agree with R. Gary more than I disagree with him. Mostly that is because he doesn’t make scientific arguments against Evolution, but what the LDS Church manuals and its leadership actually teach. Frankly, I find that the un-”official position” on Evolution is that its false and perhaps evil. That doesn’t really disturb me because I think, as I hope to write about later, there are distinct arguments against the philosophy (vs the theory) of Evolution they are making. The science and theory gets caught in the crossfire. After all, BYU teaches it in classes. Tim, don’t confuse R. Gary for what Log wrote.

    “simply reading the Torah like ancient Israelites read it.”
    What is that supposed to mean? Its the same kind of answer as “don’t read it literally.” Fine and good, but then its a meaningless saying that is used only to look sophisticated and intelligent, while explaining nothing. That least those who say these things could do is point out how its to be read with some basic sources or information.

  12. And yet, R Gary,
    All of those teachers who teach evolution have had interviews with general authorities… and passed.

    Certainly you’re not claiming that all of those general authorities, who in many cases have asked them about evolution (I have friends who’ve interviewed), and still passed accepting some form of evolution theory.

    That’s just a fact that doesn’t jive with the picture you’ve painted for us, R Gary. There are general authorities who allow implicitly an explicitly the teaching of evolution theory at BYU. RU calling them false prophets because of that???

  13. h_nu, please don’t confuse what R. Gary said with what Log said. What he has argued is about what the leaders and manuals in the LDS Church have officially written or said. He has not questioned the faithfulness of those who believe in Evolution, just the conclusions that not much has been said, taught, or written about it in the negative.

  14. “R. Gary has not questioned the faithfulness of those who believe in Evolution…”

    Maybe not here. But elsewhere, yes, yes he has.

  15. I guess I have to remove the links to get this comment out of moderation purgatory.

    Uniformitarianism is a philosophy of men.

    And, if by science is meant methodological naturalism, is that not but a hair’s breadth away from metaphysical naturalism? How, pray tell, in a revealed religion would adopting methodological naturalism be “a great first step”? A great first step into faithlessness? A great first step out of the church?

  16. PS- in my view anti-evolutionist Mormons do more harm to the Church than anti-Mormons do. That doesn’t mean they aren’t faithful, though. They’re full of faith. It’s simply misguided and misplaced faith. As soon as an anti-evolutionist can actually explain and describe current models of evolutionary theory to me I’ll literally kiss an ape on the mouth.

  17. Since for each evolutionist I have met or talked to that evolutionist has been unconverted, it stands to reason inductively that every evolutionist is unconverted.

    Inasmuch as only the converted are the church of Christ (D&C 10:67), it would appear the philosophy of evolution mingled with scripture seems to be harming the Church by preventing people from coming unto Christ through repentance and faith.

    I’m not too concerned about the mockery and scorning from the great and spacious, whether its occupants are active members of record or outside of the Church.

  18. And it prevents people from repentance and faith because they think they don’t need it; inasmuch as there is no fall of Adam, they think they can fix their own sins by merely stopping them, and saying a short prayer of penance, perhaps, if even that much; they don’t believe they need redemption from a mythical fall of some mythical first parents whose transgressions has rendered them permanently unfit for the Kingdom of God and that they shall forever remain that way unless and until they shall call upon the Lord to be saved from their fallen and carnal state, repenting of all their sins, and becoming as little children, relying wholly upon the merits of Christ who is mighty to save.

    So, yeah, it matters.

  19. Your logic is simply one long non sequitur, log. Evolution does not exclude a Fall. It might lead to different perspectives on what constituted the Fall, but it does not exclude a Fall of logical necessity or otherwise. I believe in evolution, and it doesn’t stop me from exercising faith in Christ. So consider me one of many who contradict your limited personal experience.

  20. “…it would appear the philosophy of evolution mingled with scripture seems to be harming the Church by preventing people from coming unto Christ through repentance and faith.”

    Your dogmatic assertions that evolution and the gospel are incompatible, full stop, do plenty of prevention.

  21. Your logic is simply one long non sequitur, log. Evolution does not exclude a Fall.

    Evolution excludes The Fall, logically, for it is through The Fall that death entered the world, which is the point of The Fall.

    It might lead to different perspectives on what constituted the Fall, but it does not exclude a Fall of logical necessity or otherwise.

    Then you are possibly unaware that evolution requires death prior to Adam and Eve, at the least. Now you know.

    I believe in evolution, and it doesn’t stop me from exercising faith in Christ. So consider me one of many who contradict your limited personal experience.

    You have shown no signs of being familiar with a God of miracles, but have rather shown a touching faith in the philosophies of men.

    Your dogmatic assertions that evolution and the gospel are incompatible, full stop, do plenty of prevention.

    “For as many as heeded them, fell away.” (1 Nephi 8:28,34)

  22. you’re simply wrong to say believing in evolution means one isn’t converted. It “stands to reason” that your statement is irrational.

    Unfortunately, I have seen no counterexamples. You’re certainly not providing one.

  23. Given that you’re basing your estimation of true conversion off of orthodoxy tests online, specifically, your understanding of what counts as orthodoxy, it stands to reason that readers can discount your anecdotal claims about people believing in evolution not ever being converted. Thanks for the conversation.

    And my offer still stands. You demonstrate no actual comprehension of what evolution is. When you do, I’ll kiss an ape on the mouth.

  24. If you are married, as an evolutionist, you believe you already do kiss an ape on the mouth; at least, a highly evolved ape, but an ape nonetheless.

    So what do I gain by explaining that evolution, in broad terms, is the claim that abiogenesis + natural selection (or some other materialistic selection process) + heritable, random variation = all of biological history?

    Nothing.

    Given that you’re basing your estimation of true conversion off of orthodoxy tests online…

    (Edited)
    It does not follow that if you do not believe in evolution you are converted.

  25. PS, I advise folks to learn about the BYU Evolution packet which was compiled by professors and approved by BYU’s Board of Trustees, which includes apostles, as you all probably know. To say the apostles merely approved it to gain the plaudits of man would be to criticize the brethren, something log’s blog prohibits.

    To prevent spam filter problems, google “BYU Evolution Packet” and click the link at sciencemeetsreligion.

  26. I must admit that I would be the last one to be called “unconverted” to Mormonism and the Gospel, and yet I believe in both Evolution and the Fall. Not that I don’t see the dangers of believing in Evolution, as many prophets have also and therefore have warned. The reason I am writing on this subject is to show how they can be reconciled, so far as they can be at all. If I fail at the project, and as a mortal with limited understanding I completely accept all I can do is speculate, then at least the effort exists. For me I see both as a truth even if from different angles and ways of knowledge.

  27. Well Jettboy, log has concluded based on such speculation that you simply lack the Spirit, as well as charity, you are in the great and spacious building, and you aren ot converted to Christ. I’m sure he is sorry he’s the one who has to break such things to you. But it is what it is. See you all in Hell (Telestial kingdom, anyway).

  28. Jettboy,

    One is only converted if one has been cleansed by fire from heaven by repentance of all one’s sins and having exercised mighty faith in Christ like Enos did and retains the fullness of the Holy Ghost by walking in utter fidelity to all one’s covenants and all the commandments from that day to this, thus being in this world as God is (1 John 4:17).

    When I say someone is unconverted, that is what I mean. I don’t mean they are evil. Just normal.

    The claim that a random naturalistic process produced life cannot be reconciled with the claim that intelligence(s) created life. The two are logically contradictory, because random means, at the very least, unintelligent.

  29. You can go tell the individual who wrote it yourself – he can be found on mormondialogue.org .

    As I said earlier in that same post, “I have seen the following exchange.” I had no part in it.

  30. log wrote: “And, if by science is meant methodological naturalism, is that not but a hair’s breadth away from metaphysical naturalism?”

    Hey log! I’m going to try and not get sucked in to this one, because we’ve had more than our fair share of philosophy of science discussions elsewhere, but I must admit, this sentence presumes too much. Many of the world’s greatest thinkers have applied methodological naturalism WHILE being devout believers in a God of faith and miracles. I’m thinking Descartes, Leibniz, Bacon, Kepler, and I could go on. I hesitantly include Newton, who ultimately had to conclude that God makes gravity work.

    In any case, evolution and the Fall, and everything else, are reconcilable. I handle it one way, but there’s actually several ways to go about it. All of them require a modified view of the scriptures, but none of them require a loss in faith of the divine mission of the Son of God. Well, maybe some of those explanations do, but we’re excluding them.

  31. In any case, evolution and the Fall, and everything else, are reconcilable. I handle it one way, but there’s actually several ways to go about it. All of them require a modified view of the scriptures, but none of them require a loss in faith of the divine mission of the Son of God. Well, maybe some of those explanations do, but we’re excluding them.

    As is the case universally, whenever such reconciliations occur, it is the scriptures which are transfigured so as to render them compatible for mingling with the philosophies of men. It is rare to see it stated so plainly, and you are to be commended for it.

  32. I am going to ask commenters to stick to the subject and not attack other people who have made comments with which you disagree. (As a side note, I think arguing about evolution is a huge waste of time – obviously evolution exists in biology in some forms. As for whether evolution was used in forming humans, I don’t think anybody on this Earth currently knows for sure so arguing about it is a bit like arguing about the number of possible inhabitable planets).

  33. “Since for each evolutionist I have met or talked to that evolutionist has been unconverted, it stands to reason inductively that every evolutionist is unconverted.”

    This is an elementary logical fallacy, the fallacy of composition; asserting that because something is true of a part it must be true of the whole. Which is even assuming that what is asserted of the part is even true, which “log” and any other human being is in no epistemic position to assert. The gall of such a statement, the staggering ignorant pride of thinking you can judge another’s heart, a judgment which is clearly obvious in scripture is reserved for God only. But it’s all moot. Log is clearly a troll, and should be considered as one until evidence is produced otherwise.

  34. Jacob, you almost made a good comment! Almost…but not quite. I am keeping it to give an example of what will and will not be accepted on this blog. Yes, Log’s statement is a logical fallacy. 100 percent correct. You are also right that it is impossible for “Log” to know whether other people are converted. 100 percent correct. You ruined your comment with the next statement. “Staggering ignorant pride” is an ad hominem. Also a logical fallacy, so this phrase fails. Lastly, Log is not a troll and has his own blog.

    (I don’t agree with Log’s comments, but I agree he has a right to state them without being personally attacked). If you want to refute what he says, concentrate on his arguments and not on the person.

  35. “simply reading the Torah like ancient Israelites read it.”
    What is that supposed to mean? Its the same kind of answer as “don’t read it literally.” Fine and good, but then its a meaningless saying that is used only to look sophisticated and intelligent, while explaining nothing. That least those who say these things could do is point out how its to be read with some basic sources or information.

    While I have read quite a bit on this subject – regurgitating it quickly for others is not my strong suit. Nor am I any kind of specialist in this area. So I made a comment with the hope that people were at least familiar with the concept. Essentially, it can’t be boiled down to – “don’t take it literal”. I think its more accurate to say – don’t assume that ancient peoples viewed scriptures (and God for that matter) in the same way we do (in our own very different time and place). This can not only help us to be open to scientific discoveries about the origin of man, but also fend off modern critics of the Bible – who fail to see it in its ancient complexity. If you need some source material, here are a few:

    Peter Enns: The Evolution of Adam

    Marc Zvi Brettler: How To Read The Bible

    Ben S. (T&S): Thinking About Genesis (In an LDS context)

  36. It’s not a logical statement – it is an inductive generalization, and the failure to recognize that speaks to a great offense in the heart and not a love of truth.

    Grok it: If in the past 100% of crows have been black, the odds are very high that the next crow will be black, too.

  37. After a while, we stop expecting to see a non-black crow, just like we stop believing in unicorns and leprechauns.

    Why would an evolutionist repent and cry mightily to be redeemed from the effects of The Fall, since evolution teaches him The Fall was a myth, the scriptures are wrong (or not to be taken at face value), and he needs no redemption from a mythical fall caused by the transgression of some mythical first parents so as to attain a mythical state of innocence before God? Answer: he wouldn’t. He would be satisfied with a gospel of works and outward performances.

    And thus it is.

  38. Fine, log, let’s call it hasty generalization, logical fallacy of the inductive variety, broad conclusion from too small a sample group that couldn’t possibly be representative of an entire population. It’s fallacious, full-stop. Your claim about all believers in evolution being unconverted is simply irrational.

  39. A. It actually is a logical fallacy. It isn’t a fallacy in composition, but it is a hasty generalization. One may just as well say, “I’ve never met a celebrity who has a dog, therefore no celebrity has a dog.” That’s an absurd claim, but it follows the exact form that log’s observation makes. If the form is wrong, it’s a fallacy. And it isn’t inductive, it’s deductive. Here is log’s argument in syllogistic form:

    P: I have met several evolutionists
    P: Every evolutionist I’ve met is unconverted
    C: Every evolutionist is unconverted.
    a, a>c, b>c. This is a deductive fallacy. The only real difference between inductive and deductive logic is that deductive logic fits logical notation, whereas inductive logic doesn’t. Hasty generalizations of this kind are classic example of deductive logic.

    B. “If in the past 100% of crows have been black, the odds are very high that the next crow will be black, too.” This is actually an irrational statement. In fact, it is so irrational, that it is the driving controversy in modern philosophy of science. Here is how it is irrational:

    I’ve observed x amount of black crows, where x stands for the actual number. How many observations of crows are possible? Well, possible? Infinity. There are infinite amount of possible observations of crows. So when you divide x by infinity to determine the percentage likelihood that you will see black crows, it turns out that the likelihood that you will see another black crow is virtually zero (that’s what happens when you divide by infinity).

    This is called the fallacy of induction. There are ways around it, but that’s a whole different topic. In any case, the argument you present above is a logical fallacy, which means it doesn’t support your argument.

  40. DavidF,

    You are committing the straw-man fallacy, and not innocently. As one with a PhD in “biomathematics”, you know better.

    And since they are in the habit of editing posted comments around here, I shall depart. You do that which you would despise were it to be done to you.

  41. Log, your comment was edited because you accused a specific person of not having charity for believing in evolution. This is an ad hominem. I have been the defender of your right to make arguments without attacking others, even though I personally find many logical fallacies in your argument. But “the habit of editing posted comments” definitely will continue here, and if you don’t like it I suggest not reading this blog.

  42. And, for the record, I disagree with David F on a LOT of things, but his comment outlining log’s logical fallacies in 100 percent correct and is the exact opposite of a “straw man argument.” He has shown using the basic rules of logic that have been around for 2600 years or so how such reasoning is a fallacy.

  43. Slothful induction and hasty generalizations are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

  44. Log, your comment was edited because you accused a specific person of not having charity for believing in evolution.

    No, I said he has evinced pride and scorn, by which any can tell he does not have charity, and therefore we may immediately conclude he has neither faith nor hope (Moroni 10:20). You’ll notice the distinct lack of “evolution” in that argument.

  45. Thanks Geoff B. I don’t think I’m committing a straw man fallacy, and I’m certainly not doing it intentionally. I leave it up to you log to show me where I’ve made a mistake, because I can’t see it.

  46. DavidF,

    What I said: “I know of no person who has received the Holy Ghost through the baptism by fire who believes evolution to be true. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist, but I find it hard to believe in such a person.”

    This is the normal process by which we eventually disbelieve in leprechauns and unicorns. This disbelief may be overcome by producing a unicorn, or a leprechaun.

    What I said: “Grok it: If in the past 100% of crows have been black, the odds are very high that the next crow will be black, too.”

    This is a statement of the degree of my personal disbelief in non-black crows given an extensive sampling of the population of crows. Again, it makes no actual statistical nor measurable claim against the population. If I had said “the chances that the next crow will be non-black are X% based on the fact that 100% of previous crows have been black,” then I would have committed an error.

    What I said: “Since for each evolutionist I have met or talked to that evolutionist has been unconverted, it stands to reason inductively that every evolutionist is unconverted.”

    This is a working hypothesis. It can be falsified by producing a single counterexample.

    I have committed no formal nor informal fallacies. Therefore, you are arguing against a straw man.

  47. The theoretical grounds for my hypothesis are in my first post in this thread, in the citation to the thread from mormondialogue.org .

  48. “What I said: “Since for each evolutionist I have met or talked to that evolutionist has been unconverted, it stands to reason inductively that every evolutionist is unconverted.”

    This is a working hypothesis. It can be falsified by producing a single counterexample.”

    Log, here is a counterexample: me, Geoff B. I was converted by the power of the Holy Ghost 15 years ago and am a temple-worthy member who is married in the temple and goes to the temple every month, hands out one Book of Mormon a month and reads the scriptures to my five kids every day. I believe the evolution definitely takes place in nature. So, I am an evolutionist and a counter-example to your claim.

    You have a clear counter-example. Now, you can 1)choose to believe I am lying 2)choose to believe that I am not converted, in which case you somehow believe you know my heart better than I do. 3)accept the counter-example and abandon your claim.

    Let me make this clear: I could care less whether you think I am converted or not. My relationship is a vertical one with my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I do not need or seek your approval. But I would like you to consider the likelihood that you have backed yourself into a logical corner by taking such a position.

  49. log,

    Okay, the first statement you made is okay because you qualified it: “That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t exist…” But I missed that statement. The one I read was “Since for each evolutionist I have met or talked to that evolutionist has been unconverted, it stands to reason inductively that every evolutionist is unconverted.” That statement is like the one you gave in your reply, but you’ve taken away the qualification, which makes it much bolder as well as a fallacy. But with the qualifier, the statement is fine, and, as you noted, inductive.

    As for the crows statement, let me highlight this portion: “the odds are very high that the next crow will be black, too.” When you talk about odds, you are implying a statistical claim. When the odds are very high, they are >50% at the very least (but almost assuredly much higher than that). You don’t have to say an actual number to make it a statistical claim. If I were to say, “Odds are that the sum of two rolled die will equal 7″ I am making a statistical claim, or at least a claim that opens itself up for statistical verification (and if that’s different, it is a distinction without difference). But this is getting off topic, so I’ll end it there.

  50. Quickmere, and as soon as someone can explain a workable theory for how resurrection or atonement physically works you’ll start believing?

    We don’t have a working theory because one isn’t given. I have no problem studying evolution, as long as your faith ismin the right place and you don’t ” believe” it. I think it’s helpful to learn various concepts of observation, prediction,etc. what it has to do with your faith who knows. Presumably simple concepts of probability are thrown out the windy when dealing with God, so why do we get so upset about other issues that don’t fit within his worldview?

  51. I’ve debated log a couple other times (on New Cool Thang). He marches to the beat of his own drum. And I actually mean that as a compliment to him, even though he and I disagree quite a bit.

  52. This has been a fascinating, if heated, discussion that I think actually highlights both a problem and a condition among members that I only conjectured existed. First, the problem is there still exists such a huge gulf between those who believe in Evolution and those who do not. Finding a solution simply out of theological framework building that I hoped to try might not be enough to temper things. There seems to be an existential element that goes beyond finding possible solutions to the quandary between Evolution and Creation supporters. I was attacked just as ferociously and long winded by hard core Evolutionists as the other side, leading me to finally want to do this long overdue series.

    The surprising condition I found is that there are a lot of Mormons who do support Evolution if not at least as a theory. This leads me to believe that the study done showing Mormons are among the least likely to believe in Evolution is not what it seems. I would like an internal investigation and not one with the small sample mixed in with the larger populations. Not to mention, the questions are probably not Mormon specific enough to explain true beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, because I do believe there is a huge anti-Evolution feeling among members. I just think the numbers are exaggerated by rhetoric and having to choose between desperate ideas left to the individual to work out.

  53. Hi Jettboy, I was pleased to hear your openmindedness regarding the theory of Evolution. My own belief is that evolution solves many more theological problems than it causes. Evolution explains so much about our fallen nature, the battle of the flesh versus the spirit. Evolution is MORE Biblical than many other LDS prophetic speculations, because Evolution shows how Adam and Eve were created (through evolution) from the dust of the Earth just as the Bible says, rather than coming from another planet, created by God through literal procreation.

    All little children and all animals live in a Garden of Eden state, creatures of innocence and instinct. Adam and Eve were also in that animal state, made by God from the dust of the earth, through the mechanism of Evolution. Then something happened that separated Adam and Eve from the animal kingdom. Something that made them self-aware: the ability to knowingly do evil. That something is symbolized by the fruit of the tree, and every child partakes of it around the age of 8, around the age when they can be baptised. This is self-evident to everyone, even courts, who will not judge children below a certain age to be accountable to moral law, just as no animals are punishable by moral law.

    Why are humans so much like animals in composition and instinct, yet so different in morality and knowledge, after the age of 8? The answer is found in the combination of evolution with the story of the Fall. The Fall explains why humans are different than animals, and evolution explains why we are the same, pre-8 years old. Our fetus develops along the same lines as it’s animal ancestors, and the child screams and fights for survival same as any animal, until the day it realizes that it is capable of evil, then it becomes as the gods, knowing good from evil. No other story can solve those mysteries. Creationism doesn’t explain the war of flesh and spirit, and Evolution doesn’t explain why men are closer to gods than animals. Evolution explains why Paul said that our spirit is at war with our flesh, that we have dualing instincts, one divine, the other carnal. We are animals, but we are animals who have partaken of forbidden fruit.

    I don’t understand why people get hung up on silly theological details like death before the Fall, procreation “after it’s own kind,” etc. The Fall is SO much more real when you realize that it is part of your own experience, that you yourself were there, in the garden of your childhood, and that you yourself partook of that forbidden fruit, and that the Savior redeems you from your own transgression. Literalistic readings of the Fall, which proport to explain practical but obtuse details about the Plan of Salvation have little to do with real life: with a real relationship with a Savior who saved YOU from your own Fall from animalistic innocence to knowledge of evil, where you chose that evil.

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