Evolution vs. Creationism in Seminary

September 13, 2011

My son’s recent experience in early morning seminary caused me to look a little more closely at the church’s stance (or perhaps lack thereof) on evolution.  While teaching about the book of Genesis, his teacher made a few claims:

  • that she is not descended from monkeys
  • that the earth is literally 6,000 years old
  • that evolution contradicts the church’s views

I can’t really speak to the first claim without viewing her pedigree chart, although to clarify, evolutionary science groups humans closer to apes than monkeys.  As to the second two assertions, her position was over-reaching at best.

In a similar vein, I had an argument a while back with a friend who suggested schools should give equal time to both creationism and evolution.  My argument was that schools teach science, not religion (a fact I’m grateful for as a Mormon!) and what text would be used?  The Bible? Who would teach it?  A science teacher?  Based on what scientific evidence would creationism be presented?

For a really good run-down on the church’s actual stance on evolution, check out Mormon Organon or the Mormon Matters Podcast with SteveP who runs Mormon Organon and is a BYU biology professor.  As SteveP put it:  “literalist creationism, where it exists in Mormonism, is a leak from sources other than the Restoration that misunderstands the scriptures’ purpose.”

Looks like some of those non-restorationist sources are leaking into lds.org!  Surprisingly, I found a few statements on lds.org to be surprisingly Michelle Bachmann-esque, while a few demonstrated a clearer understanding of the issues.  Here are just a couple examples of statement from articles linked on lds.org:

  • Name withheld said:  “My biology teacher, who had a reputation for being stubborn and persistent, turned his head momentarily from his papers and said: “Now, let’s be logical here. Look at the facts. Where does the evidence point?”  I was tongue-tied. I have known the Church is true since I was very young. I felt it was true . . .  Thinking of no arguments to counter their position, I silently said a quick prayer . . . I began to share my testimony with my friends. I said, “I know there is a God, and He has a Son who created the world and saved us all. Whether or not we have all the answers now doesn’t discredit the fact that there is a God. God works line upon line and precept upon precept. Until we prove our faith, God will not reveal more to us.” I finished by confirming my testimony of the Church and its leaders, forgetting to even address the original questions posed. . .  I turned, anticipating a rebuttal and, to my shock, found a sincere face staring back at me. “Thank you,” he said.  My simple testimony had conveyed more convincing truth than any logical debate could have. I know that I did not dissolve their accusations and criticisms that day, but the Holy Spirit did.
  • Elder George R. Hill (previously of the seventy, also a dean at U of U in one of the science departments):  “Competent scientists recognize that theories are not laws but serve the function of testing ideas and pursuing new relationships. . . The theory of evolution as presently taught posits that higher forms of life arose gradually from lower stages of living matter. Inheritable genetic changes in offspring are assumed to be spontaneous rather than the result of arranged or directed forces external to the system.  This theory conflicts with a basic law of chemistry, the second law of thermodynamics, which states in part that it is not possible for a spontaneous process to produce a system of higher order than the system possessed at the beginning of the change. . . One of the current explanations of the improvement in plant and animal species over time is that cosmic radiation caused genetic changes resulting in a higher order of offspring survivability than the parent possessed. . . A number of years ago, a renowned biologist and geneticist told of an experiment he had directed in which grasshoppers in their various stages of growth had been subjected to radiation levels greater than that insect family had received during its existence. He said the experiment caused many genetic changes, including the loss of a foreleg, an antenna, or some other inheritable change. However, not one of those changes gave the offspring a greater viability or survivability than that of the parent.  Many Latter-day Saints recognize that the processes involved in evolution are valid. We see improved strains and varieties of plants and animals developed through judicious selection of their parents. But we would have to agree with those who understand the limitation defined in the second law of thermodynamics limitation that such changes can only occur if guided or if outside energy is available to improve the system.  We are in the very fortunate position of understanding that the Lord is in charge of the universe and that positive genetic changes can in fact occur under his direction. On the other hand, spontaneous improvements of the type hypothesized by devotees of current evolutionary theory remain an unsupported supposition.”
  • Ezra Taft Benson (in his Fourteen Fundamentals talk):  “Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution.”  Count me among them.
  • Boyd K. Packer:  “Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles. (Although one can easily imagine that those who accept the theory of evolution don’t show much enthusiasm for genealogical research!) The theory of evolution, and it is a theory, will have an entirely different dimension when the workings of God in creation are fully revealed.  Since every living thing follows the pattern of its parentage, are we to suppose that God had some other strange pattern in mind for His offspring? Surely we, His children, are not, in the language of science, a different species than He is?”
  • a member in Australia (written in 1979): “As an undergraduate university student, I became more and more irritated at being taught evolution as if it were a fact, not a theory. So for my required essay in Zoology II, I decided to attack the accidental creation aspect of the theory of evolution. Thus began a search through many books in the library. . .  Time and again, the chemical conditions necessary for the reactions to occur did not exist. I explained these problems in my paper and turned it in. . . The lecturer had typed two full pages in reply to my essay. He disagreed with my conclusions, but praised me for “being brave enough to contradict the topic after reading a number of pertinent references.”
  • Jon Huntsman (in a tweet):  “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” As Perry famously responded to a kid on the campaign trail who asked why he doesn’t believe in science:  “In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.  Because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”  Right. Maybe that kid can figure out the economy while he’s at it.  Huntsman FTW, Perry WTF?
  • Back to SteveP:  “all the LDS members of my Biology Department at BYU believe evolution is the way life on earth emerged, and the way the human body was formed, yet believe in a Creator.”

James E. Talmage wisely remarked:  “dogmatic assertions on either side are likely to do harm rather than good.”  But dogma certainly seems to be the generous mortar between the bricks in both arguments.  A documentary filmed by Ben Stein a few years ago called Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed attacked the scientific community for not admitting discussion of intelligence design as a theory for the origin of life.  The documentary was in turn vehemently attacked by the scientific community for being anti-science and for masquerading religious myth as scientific theory.  One thing the documentary did clearly expose is that neither religion nor science has a clearcut scientific answer to how life begins.

Theory vs. Fact

Where the scientific community is guilty of over-reaching is when we teach all aspects of evolution as fact vs. theory or express too much confidence.  Where religion over-reaches is in considering all “theories” to be equal; creationism is not a scientific theory.  Scientific theory is based on scientific observation, not on Bible stories.  If we want to debunk evolution, it has to be done on the basis of scientific observation.

Evolution:  Genetic Adaptation, Natural Selection, Common Descent and Origin of Species

The other issue at play seems to be in lumping all aspects of evolutionary theories into one big group rather than disaggregating each claim and addressing it on its own merits.  

  1. Genetic adaptation:  Darwin observed that species over time would genetically adapt to their environments.  This is clearly observable.  BKP’s talk on the pattern of parentage (quoted above) limits adaptation to within species, which is not supported by science and has been debunked.  
  2. Natural selection:  Darwin observed that species that were not suited to their environments became extinct.  Again, no argument from anyone on this one that I’m aware of.  Species become extinct.  Survival of the fittest.
  3. Common descent:  The theory posits that all organisms on earth evolved from a common ancestor.  Evidence for this is based on geographical distribution, variety of species not being explained entirely by genetic adaptation, vestigial traits that are common to all, and a hierarchy of species that nest into familial groups.  Additionally, biochemical similarities between all terrestrial species point to a common ancestor.  This aspect of evolutionary theory relates to the teacher’s claim that she did not descend from a monkey, an oversimplification of the theory.  This is one that has no official stance in the church.  BYU teaches it; they would doubtless be unable to become accredited if they did not.  This theory is itself still evolving through experimentation and observation, but it is a well-supported hypothesis.
  4. Origin of life:  This was a subsequent off-shoot to Darwin’s burgeoning theory of common descent, that life originated in a “primordial ooze” from whence the first single-celled organism emerged, then evolved over millions of years into the couch potatoes we now are.  Darwin himself didn’t rule out the role of a “creator,” as he said in Origin of Species:  “Life with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.”  Again, the church doesn’t have a specific scientific theory on how life began.  Even the existence of a creator only pushes the question back a generation, for who created the Creator?  Both science and religion fail to definitively answer this one:  science because there has been no successful experiment to recreate the spark of life, and religion because Mormons are not ex nihilists.

“The Creation Story” vs. Creationism

The young earth theory (that the earth has only been in existence for 6,000 years) has been sufficiently discredited by science to not merit further discussion, and the church doesn’t officially espouse that.  Talmage (the great conciliator) posited that post-Adamic human life may have only existed for that length of time, but that death certainly existed before that time.  It’s a question that is only brought up by creationists in conjunction with evolution, not scientists, as it pertains to two different scientific disciplines:  geology (age of the earth) and biology (evolution).

In looking at the seminary manual, teachers are instructed to teach about “The Creation,” not creationism.  This is an important distinction, and I wonder how many seminary teachers understand the difference.  Perhaps if our manuals said “The Creation Story” it would be more clear.  Creationism is an attempt to put a religious story on par with scientific theory but without the rigors of science. There’s nothing wrong with teaching the creation story as religious teaching, although it’s a complex story subject to multiple interpretations (and multiple misinterpretations).  Teaching it in competition with observable science is highly problematic, however, especially when we then send our students off to class armed with a self-righteous false dichotomy (as in the stories on lds.org quoted above).  Perhaps Joseph F. Smith had it right: 

“In reaching the conclusion that evolution would be best left out of discussions in our Church schools we are deciding a question of propriety and are not undertaking to say how much of evolution is true, or how much is false. The Church itself has no philosophy about the modus operandi employed by the Lord in His creation of the world.”

Discuss.

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107 Responses to Evolution vs. Creationism in Seminary

  1. Bro. Jones on September 13, 2011 at 5:16 AM

    Very well written post, but at least in my case you’re preaching to the choir. For what it’s worth, since joining the Church at 17 I’ve never felt any heat for not being a creationist. Heck, I asked the friends who introduced me to the church if I had to be a creationist after accepting the Gospel, and they said “Are you kidding? Of course not!”

    My big takeaway here is renewed conviction on not allowing my kids to attend Seminary when they grow up.

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  2. Don on September 13, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    To those who want to teach creationism, I would simply ask, “Whose version of creation?” a native American version, a Catholic version, a protestant version, a Hindu version? Would my tax dollars be used to do this?

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  3. Dan on September 13, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    i lean toward science more than faith on this one. In the end though, I honestly couldn’t care if we came from monkeys or from Adam. It doesn’t change who I am, and who my child is, and her future children. But at school, I want her to learn from the brightest minds possible the best knowledge they have, and from church I want her to learn from the holiest men possible with the best faith they have. That’s why I am a Mormon who loves science.

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  4. Will on September 13, 2011 at 7:11 AM

    Good post. I think seminary teachers like the one you discussed do our
    children a disservice as they focus in on the wrong thing – the body. The
    relevant portion of this discussion is the fact that the spirit of Michael
    entered into the body of Adam. With this in mind, does it really matter how
    that body arrived or was created? Does it matter if that body evolved for
    millions of years or if God framed it and pieced in together like a
    contractor would a building?

    The distinguishing factor between us and the animal world is that we are
    children of God. If we pull the trigger on one we are cuddling with Louie in
    a prison cell; and, if we pull the trigger on the other we are given
    accolades by our buddies on how good of a shot we are. One is murder and the
    other is our next grilling adventure; and the difference is that we are
    children of God and they are not.

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  5. Small Dog on September 13, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    Honestly, the first time I even heard about this debate was watching “The King and I,” when the Thai king was trying to reconcile science to the Bible… I’m a geek. I always liked Anna Leonowen’s response, “The Bible was not written by men of science but my men of faith… [creation] is the same miracle whether it took 7 days or many centuries.”

    For the record, I do believe in evolution, but I’ve always thought (probably because I watched that musical when I was six) that using a religious tome for scientific inquiry and vice versa was an argument no one could win. Science and faith try to answer, in my opinion, different questions.

    At the same time, I have come under fire for saying I believe in evolution and think that there should be a place for exploring God’s various potential MOs in creating and working within the universe. It’s fascinating stuff even when we disagree.

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  6. Paul 2 on September 13, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    I had this question when I was in seminary. My teacher said that Egyptian mummies disprove evolution because the oldest ones get pretty close to 4004 BC (creation of the earth) and they were anatomically human. Therefore no evolution of humans.
    I guess the real question is if CES teachers are evolving or not.

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  7. Starfoxy on September 13, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    Awhile ago I was teaching primary and mentioned dinosaurs in some offhanded way. One 10 year old boy’s head snapped up and he earnestly asked “We believe in dinosaurs?” Since I am a little more heterodox than most members would like, I restrict myself to teaching only what I can back up by referencing the manual and scriptures and so forth. When faced with this question I stammered for a minute trying to decide how to answer him, as I didn’t want angry calls from parents demanding my release.

    Then I remembered “Wait, we aren’t young earth creationists! And even if we were, of course we ‘believe in dinosaurs!'” This is one area where my beliefs are quite comfortably orthodox, and if his parents were going to give me angry calls about teaching their kid “false doctrine” they would be the ones who would have a hard time finding LDS sources to confirm those particular beliefs.

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  8. topher on September 13, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    To be honest, this was the issue that drove me away from seminary. As a kid who loved dinosaurs and space I read a lot about them. In 11th grade my seminary teacher taught that the earth was only 6,000 years old and that there was no death before Adam etc… I attempted to point out a bit of countering information and was ‘out-testimonied’as various students started to bare their testimonies on the truth of creation. I dropped out of seminary after that. I was inactive for a long time as well. So this issue does have real world implications.

    Later, I met a few other people in college in the anthropology dept. who left Mormonism because of similar experiences.

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  9. GBSmith on September 13, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Expecting the LDS Church and it’s leaders with the claim of speaking for God to answer all questions is fraught with danger and is the theological version of risking painting yourself into a corner. The paint drys eventually and in the process you get to think about how foolish you were to put yourself into that position.

    As a new missionary in 1964 I heard Joseph Fielding Smith, in answer to the question, “what is the church’s position on evolution”, say, “the church’s position on evolution is that it is a great fake”. I didn’t believe him then and as I’ve said before I don’t believe him now. An unnecessary loss.

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  10. Jeff Spector on September 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    I’ve always felt that the creation story and evolution can easily co-exist together. Given that even BRM thinks the world is billions of years old would tell you that the 6000 year theory is bunk, let alone simple science that proves it.

    In the cases of both stories, we know so little about each, how can you reconcile one against the other.

    Great post, Hawk. it also reminds us how important it is to be grounded in the gospel ourselves, and to be a place where our children can go when dumb stuff is taught to them. there is no sin in questioning everything. That is our right.

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  11. jmb275 on September 13, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Re Will

    I think seminary teachers like the one you discussed do our children a disservice as they focus in on the wrong thing – the body. The relevant portion of this discussion is the fact that the spirit of Michael entered into the body of Adam. With this in mind, does it really matter how that body arrived or was created? Does it matter if that body evolved for millions of years or if God framed it and pieced in together like a contractor would a building?

    I’ve not heard it framed quite like this before. Interesting. I don’t buy it, but interesting.

    Re Paul 2

    I guess the real question is if CES teachers are evolving or not.

    Pure awesomeness!

    Great post Hawk. I think it’s interesting to hear people say they “believe” in science, as if we’re still unsure if the facts back us up. For me it’s like saying “I believe in General Relativity.” What? You “believe” in physics? The facts and evidence strongly back evolution no matter how you slice it.

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  12. Jeff Spector on September 13, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Jmb,

    “I think it’s interesting to hear people say they “believe” in science,”

    We have those in our midst that think science is a religion and religion is science…..

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  13. Dan on September 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Jeff,

    We have those in our midst that think science is a religion and religion is science…..

    Who? at least, who thinks science is a religion?

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  14. Paul on September 13, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Hawk, very nice post. I’ve been quizzing my seminary son on what they’re saying in his class, knowing that he feels some trepidation about the creation story, creationism and evolution (he is a dyed in the wool evolutionist at 15, at least as dyed-in-the-wool as one can be at that age).

    In our preliminary discussions, we’ve talked about much of what you address in your post. His seminary teacher and I have also discussed the evolution question, including repeated statements that the church takes no stand except to say that man is a divine creation (I can’t remember the direct language of the FP message from the early 1900s reprinted in the early 2000s).

    Thanks for the link to SteveP’s page. That will be great stuff, too.

    (As I kid I was terribly confused by all of this, not because of my parents or even what I learned at church, but because there seemed in the early 70’s to be much more anti-evolution discourse among mainstream believers. It would have been so helpful to me to have a rational conversation with someone who could have easily helped me to bridge the gap. That didn’t come til I met some great biology profs at BYU a few years later…)

    As I’ve suggested to my son: before you reject what the church teaches, be sure you understand what the church really teaches.

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  15. BethSmash on September 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    I LOVE this post. Personally, I believe in Evolution, but think that God started it off. So I believe in both.

    I get upset when people want teachers to teach Creationism in a science class. I say, if you REALLY want it taught in schools, have a world religions class – and discuss the main beliefs (including the creation story) of various religions (including native groups, I think it would add a nice bit of regionalism if you did the native groups from your state or area… so in Utah the Goshute, Navajo, Ute, Paiute, and Shoshone. But it definitely doesn’t belong in science class.

    Starfoxy – how can anyone not believe in dinosaurs? If you’re in Utah there are awesome displays of … you know… ACTUAL FOSSILIZED EVIDENCE that they existed. Is it more a lack of belief of the accuracy of carbon dating? Or do they believe (I’ve heard this one before) that the earth is made up of various destroyed worlds and the dinosaur bones are alien to our particular planet? Or do they think it’s a massive conspiracy and they don’t actually exist at all and never have? I really just don’t get it.

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  16. Steve on September 13, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    BethSmash —

    Or, better yet, God wanted to test the faith of mankind. So he created the rock layer and the fossil evidence to see if mankind would have faith in him and the scriptures or rely on the false interpretations of men.

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  17. BethSmash on September 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Steve,
    Do people really think that? Or did you just make that up? Although… I can definitely see some uber-conservative folks I know liking that ‘explanation’ best.

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  18. KLC on September 13, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    I’m curious about these seminary teachers expounding on evolution and mummies, etc. Are they all released time CES employees? I grew up with early morning seminary and my kids are in the thick of the same right now. We never talked about thing like this, never. Seminary teachers were moms or dads who volunteered to get up at 5 am and teach a room full of sleepy teenagers and then hurry on to the rest of their busy days. That engenders a different kind of atmosphere than the paid employee of CES.

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  19. Paolo on September 13, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Amazingly enough, on my mission in ’75 – ’77 a companion of mine gave me an old copy of a talk given by a GA (don’t remember who) sometime in the 30’s or 40’s, in which he stated emphatically that there were no dinosaurs! His statement was that the earth was created from “existing” matter (which must have included previous worlds where dino’s lived”), so that fossils and footprints were from other destroyed worlds. Also, he subscribed to the notion of no physical death before Adam, so how could dinos live and die? All false doctrine!!

    I wish I still had this talk, it’s a laugher. I kid you not!

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  20. topher on September 13, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    I grew up in rural Utah and my seminary teacher was CES employee and was ‘out-there.’ He was a nice guy and all, but he told us evolution was false, fossils were just left over bits from other worlds, and spent a whole class showing us old German footage of the holocaust telling us this is what happens in a godless society.
    Those were good times…

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  21. mapman on September 13, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    I agree that the Church doesn’t have an official position on evolution and that it is unfortunate that anti-scientific ideas have had such influence in the Church.

    However, being a guy who graduated from seminary a few months ago, I would say that not letting your kids go to seminary is a bad idea (especially if they want to). I would suggest that seminary is not the same as it was in the 70s, so the likelihood that you will get a creationist teacher I don’t think is all that great (I never had any issues with that). Even if you do, it’s a good way for people to learn to do with those kinds of things because you will eventually anyways. Also the only year you would talk about this would be the Old Testament year, and that obviously wouldn’t be the topic for every single lesson of the year. I think that teachers consistently teach about the important stuff like the Atonement. I found seminary to be a good spiritual experience, I learned a lot, I got to know my peers a lot better, and it really was a great way to start off my day. Overall, my experience has been very positive.

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  22. Brad on September 13, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    Great post. But I’m not entirely sure about this comment:

    “The young earth theory (that the earth has only been in existence for 6,000 years) has been sufficiently discredited by science to not merit further discussion, and the church doesn’t officially espouse that.”

    D&C 77 can be easily parsed, but I know a few people who take to heart the section header “This earth has a temporal existence of 7000 years”. If I were a creationist, the easiest explanation of that statement would be the earth is 7000 years old, period. And the church hasn’t done much to debunk that, if they disagree with it.

    I had to laugh about hearing the dinosaurs inhabiting other worlds theory. I heard that from my grandfather. In my youth I heard much more anti-evolution teaching in the church than I do now, and when he told me that, I sort of believed it. I would love to know which bright GA started that ball rolling…

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  23. Jeff Spector on September 13, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Dan,

    “Who? at least, who thinks science is a religion?”

    There have been some here who have stated that they are fact-based people, who will not beleive anything without facts. But, as we all know, science is not 100% fact-based. There is faith in science. But some have more faith in science, which makes it a religion of sorts.

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  24. Starfoxy on September 13, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    This whole discussion reminds me of the Miss USA “should evolution be taught in schools?” video, which led to the parody video: “Should math be taught in schools?”

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  25. jmb275 on September 13, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Agree with Jeff

    There have been some here who have stated that they are fact-based people, who will not beleive anything without facts. But, as we all know, science is not 100% fact-based. There is faith in science. But some have more faith in science, which makes it a religion of sorts.

    though I think it has to made clear that faith in religion is vastly different than faith in science (perhaps qualitatively but most certainly quantitatively). It requires virtually no faith on my part to be certain that if I build an airplane adhering to the laws of physics and engineering design that it will fly, given that I accept on faith that the past is a good indicator of the future (which has been a pretty damn good assumption so far).

    Nevertheless, clearly since inductive reasoning is a large part of science, I agree that both require some amount of “faith.”

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  26. Paul 2 on September 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Hi KLC, my seminary teachers were full-time CES in Salt Lake valley in the 80’s. I was going to say I miss the wacky doctrines and explanations that circulated before correlation regulated the speculation derby. However my 13 year old son reported a Cain=Bigfoot teaching moment sponsored by his Sunday School teacher, so maybe hope is not lost. Sorry this went too far off topic.

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  27. jmb275 on September 13, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    One more thing. The thing I think is most interesting about this post isn’t so much the question of evolution vs. creationism but the way we treat the topics in the church.

    What I don’t understand is what the hell we’re so afraid of? Why is there some unseen force keeping us from just saying evolution is most likely true? I feel like at any given Mormon meeting we have to quickly gauge who is the most conservative, who might have the most rigid interpretation of any idea and we pander to them. We coddle them like their viewpoint might somehow be vindicated because it is based on a scripture passage or a 100 year old sermon by a “living prophet.” And I’m guilty of it too.

    The other day I was at a ward function talking to a very conservative traditional sister. We were talking about the weather and how it had gotten cold. All of a sudden she jumps into a discussion about how it’s the end of times and the weather will go hay-wire as a “sign of the times” etc. etc. What I should have said (as politely as possible) was “what the hell are you talking about? The weather here has nothing to do with end of the earth or the second coming of Christ.” Instead I just smiled and nodded.

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  28. Steve on September 13, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    jmb275 —

    I HATE the “end of times” stuff.

    Earthquake in Japan? Sign of Armageddon around the corner.

    Tornado in Joplin? Indication that end is almost here.

    Tsunami, hurricanes, etc? Revelations unfolding.

    Of course, what these views lack is the simple fact that there is absolutely no evidence that earthquakes are increasing in number or severity (the biggest were centuries or more ago). Ditto for tornadoes. Hurricanes are showing a fluctuation but the question is the trigger and the long term continuation.

    But, every time something happens, I get emails quoting old talks from family and friends.

    Sigh.

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  29. Ray on September 13, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    My wife and I teach seminary in our town. I taught a day of introducing literal interpretations vs. figurative / mythological views and empahsizing that I really don’t give a large rodent’s hindquarters how the individual students interpret the OT – as long as they find meaning from it that resonates with them individually. We taught Noah and the flood this morning, and I explained the four main reasons I can’t take it literally as a world-wide catastrophe – but I also said again that there are great lessons to be learned no matter how it is seen. We talked about those lessons and didn’t spend much time at all on wheter or not it happened literally as recorded.

    It’s rather easy to reconcile evolution with Mormonism, imo – as long as we don’t take the Garden of Eden narrative literally. Even the “no death before the fall” issue is reconcilable quite easily, if “The Fall” is seen as our transition from a pre-mortal, spiritual state to mortality.

    “As far as it is translated correctly” means a lot to me when it comes to this stuff.

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  30. Paul on September 13, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    #19 Poalo: This is what someone in my HP group recently called the “cosmic dumptruck” theory, which he happily accepted.

    #21 mapman: Congrats on your graduation, and your attitude.

    #22 Brad: I’ve always assumed that 7,000 years applies to the time from Adam to the second coming, excluding creation time. Frankly it never occurred to me to think of it any other way.

    #27 jmb275: Interesting thought. I also wonder how to respond (like when my HP group starts talking about cosmic dump trucks…). Though I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t ask a senior member of my ward, “What the hell are you talking about…” (Not that I haven’t been tempted.)

    #29 Ray, I think I’d like your seminary class. I think your discussion of literal vs. figurative is really valuable for young students.

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  31. John on September 13, 2011 at 4:52 PM

    Our lesson this past week in EQ had me wanting to ask a whole bunch of “what the hell are you talking about” questions (all related to the afterlife)… but alas I shut my mouth.

    Ray, what are the 4 main points (summarized here or elsewhere) for your viewpoint? I’m inclined to agree, but would be interested in what you consider “main” points.

    Incidentally, the Chronicle Project has done some interesting work on reworking the Hebrew translation of the OT and have published a few things about the creation accounts, and Noah, which jive with some of the discussion here.

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  32. FireTag on September 13, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    Always wondered about the “fake dinosaurs as a test of faith” crowd. Given the notion of a God who tests our faith with a cosmic head fake, why not a God who gives us a double head fake?

    In other words, do I believe in a lying God who faked the fossils, or the same lying God who faked the scriptures?

    Nevertheless, I had trouble with evolution when I was a young man, until I had a dream in which I was told “Science is part of My Divine plan,” and was commanded to study science. I ended up becoming a physicist, and then my theology REALLY got strange.

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  33. hawkgrrrl on September 13, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    jmb275 – good point about how deferential we are to nonsense in this church.

    The teacher mentioned is not from CES; she’s one of the noble volunteers, and I am grateful for her sacrifice so I don’t have to get up and teach seminary at 5am! My son says she is from the great state of Texas, which may be informative given Texas’s stance on teaching creationism in schools.

    When students confronted her statements she readily admitted she knows nothing about the science. Making anti-science comments to our youth is ill-advised, especially when we then send these kids off to school armed with misinformed self-righteousness and false dichotomies. The stories from lds.org are truly an embarrassment, masquerading as courage. Courageous ignorance is not courage at all, IMO. Open a book before you open your mouth.

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  34. Clark on September 13, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Ray (29) Even if you take a fairly literalistic reading of the garden you can still easily reconcile Mormonism with science. After all nothing in Genesis says there were no-pre-Adamites. And nothing in Genesis says the garden was the earth prior to its fall. Rather it’s pretty explicit they were cast out of the garden into the earth (which presumably already existed) and then there was a guard put to keep them from returning to the garden. It’s those who read it not just as a fall of Adam and Eve but the earth who have the problem with Genesis 2-3.

    The “no death before the fall” folks usually proof-text via 2 Ne 2:22 and Moses 6:48 rather than Genesis. The problem is that the reading of 2 Ne 2:22 to take this is highly problematic if “all things which were created” must have remained in the same state can’t be taken universally if there were multiple creations. (As most GA’s back in the 19th century explained dinosaurs and the like) If it has a narrow meaning to just those in the garden then once again it says nothing about life outside of the garden and we get back to the problem of the text demanding there be an inside and outside to the garden. Moses 6:48 says nothing about anything except Adam and us. It’s perfectly compatible with things going on outside the garden.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with reading the account figuratively. (That’s how Brigham Young read it) However I think think our faith does demand the existence of a real Adam and Eve and a real fall of some sort. (Even if the fall is just the move from heaven to physical birth – although I think much more is required)

    Steve (28) I agree that folks are way to quick to see everything as a sign of the end. It’s funny reading the similar tendencies in the 19th century when arguably there were more reasons to think that. We live in a time of peace – arguably the most peaceful in the history of the world. That said there are warning signs. Mass extinctions, global warming, pollution and so forth. Probably no problem now, but 100 years from now? I used to think I’d see the second coming in my life. I now no longer do. However I do see how things could change fairly quickly. (Big ice sheets breaking off; unexpectedly running out of oil; terrorism via bio-weapons; etc.)

    JMB275 (27) It is an interesting question why those opposed to evolution are so eager to make it church dogma. I honestly don’t understand this when as soon as you look much the neutrality of the Church becomes clear. It would be nice if as many GAs who believed in evolution spoke up the way a few antievolution GAs spoke up. My own feeling is that it’s tied more as a signaling factor for politics than religion.

    Jeff Spector (23) the fact that science is more than facts doesn’t mean it’s a matter of faith. Further religious faith and faith in the sense of “trust independent of absolute knowledge” aren’t the same thing. So first off you’re equivocating terms. But I’d also say that for science a “fact” is just a theory we have a lot of evidence for. Science has no trouble saying there are things where our best hypothesis has limited evidence. So I’d argue you’re just misrepresenting science which really is pretty anti-authoritarian in scope.

    Brad (22) I agree a lot of people read D&C 77 in terms of young earth creationism. I’m not sure it works for various reasons. But I agree it’s common. The problem is that I think people divorce D&C 77 too much from the Book of Revelation where “time” has a narrow meaning. Although even there I know some think that when there is “time no longer” it literally means no time. Which frankly never made any sense to me but c’est la vie.

    Regarding who came up with the other worlds hypothesis I believe it was a common view in the 19th century held by Brigham Young among others. Where the idea originated I don’t know. I think it came out of the idea from Joseph Smith that creation is organization so this world was organized from others. Brigham, from the 1850’s on was a big proponent of multiple worlds, each with an Adam and Eve.

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  35. prometheus on September 13, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    #19 Paolo – this is what I was told, growing up. Took me a long time to get it out of my head, I am sorry to say. I remember being pretty creationist in university.

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  36. BethSmash on September 13, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Ray,
    I would’ve liked your seminary class, I think. I have to say (and if this is a repeat sorry – I don’t remember where I’ve shared this story before) that I’m all about the figurative interpretation of the bible. In one of my RS lessons at my single’s ward I had the class play telephone. The lesson had something to do with the 9th article of faith (and I don’t exactly remember WHICH lesson it was, it was a while ago) Anywho… since we’re in an institute building, we’re in a classroom with desks in neat little rows, so I told the first person in every row the beginning of the same sentence and had the last person write down what they ended up with (there were 4-6 people in each row) – and when I got to the “translated correctly” part of the lesson I had all the people in the back row read their sentence. They were ALL different, none of them had ANYTHING in common. I used this to show that we couldn’t get ONE sentence through 4-6 people without it changing, and reminded them that the bible not only was an oral tradition before it was written down, once it WAS written down, there were councils to decide what got to stay in it. [1] THEN I reminded them that it had been translated multiple times. I asked the women who spoke foreign languages (usually from a mission) if they ever ran across something in the scriptures that was translated a little differently then they were expecting and had them share their experiences with that. The point is, is that I’m with Ray on this one.

    [fn1] I am aware that in a society that values an oral tradition there would have been less mess ups and it also would have been more likely to be closer to the original sentence. But, I still think I made my point, and as I know that there were some conservative sisters, maybe it got them to think about it in a different non-threatening way.

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  37. ptah on September 13, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    Mormon, Christian, and Jewish prophets all got this one completely wrong in their teachings and scriptures. You cannot so easily dismiss the teachings of Creationism, especially in the Mormon tradition, where all the teachings of the prophets take on a super-literal approach.

    Not only did Joseph Smith (and every one since) teach that Adam was a real person, but that he was baptized and is the father of us all and gathered in a valley with all his descendants, etc. Our family history work is to link all of us to him. And all of this is based on a 6000 year history. It’s one of the most literal of all religious traditions. Additionally, to acknowledge evolution requires either a dismissal or non-literal approach to Adam, the Garden and the Fall. This changing of doctrines in attempting to find alignment with evolution will never sit well with the Church as a whole.

    Ultimately, what kind of a God would teach his children the wrong story of their origins (i.e. lie to them, or teach them via myth) and then to top it off, not teach them about bacteria, but wait until the end of the 6000 years to reveal what killed so many of them and then finally reveal the true origin of life through science?

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  38. hawkgrrrl on September 13, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    “what kind of a God would teach his children the wrong story of their origins” Apparently the kind of God we have.

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  39. missattitude on September 13, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    On the “fossils as a test of faith” idea: When I spent a couple of months at BYU in 1975 (to be honest, I couldn’t stand it any longer than that), I took an historical geology course. When the professor debunked the idea that fossils were put here by god to test people’s faith, several returned missionaries jumped up with their scriptures open and basically started calling the prof to repentance.

    The professor basically told them to shut and sit down, that evolution happened and they had best get used to it. If more of the teaching there had been like that, I might have stayed.

    I don’t know the tack they take on teaching evolution there now, but in that class, at that time, the professor did not feel constrained to tone down his teaching of evolution at all.

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  40. Dan on September 13, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    hawkgrrrl,

    “what kind of a God would teach his children the wrong story of their origins” Apparently the kind of God we have.

    God didn’t write the book of Genesis.

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  41. hawkgrrrl on September 13, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Dan – obviously. I was being sarcastic.

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  42. mapman on September 13, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    missatitude: As far as I know all the science professors at BYU believe in evolution and teach it when teaching biology. It’s basically like at any other college.

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  43. jmb275 on September 13, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    Re Clark-

    It is an interesting question why those opposed to evolution are so eager to make it church dogma. I honestly don’t understand this when as soon as you look much the neutrality of the Church becomes clear. It would be nice if as many GAs who believed in evolution spoke up the way a few antievolution GAs spoke up. My own feeling is that it’s tied more as a signaling factor for politics than religion.

    I’ve pondered this a lot. The nearest I can come up with is what I said – literally. That is, we really do pander to the most conservative and literal interpretation that someone might have. It’s not until it’s so painfully obvious, that to make that interpretation would seriously undermine our credibility that we actually start to change our rhetoric. And I think it’s tied to the idea that it might damage someone’s faith.

    And in that sense I do have some sympathy. For example, most of us here have accepted evolution and don’t believe it impedes our faith. But what if we now move that argument to the historicity of the BoM? All of a sudden we’ve opened a can of worms that really can (and does) effect people’s faith. For some reason for some people faith is less tied to truth and more tied to credulity. When faith is confused with credulity I think we’ve set ourselves up for failure.

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  44. Ray on September 13, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    1) The size of the ark simply is not consistent with every type of animal being in it. It’s not even close to large enough. Seriously, there’s no reasonable argument that can be made that it would work – or come anywhere close to working.

    2) Very shortly after the account of the flood that killed all but eight people there are accounts of people marrying totally non-related people – and the population figures just don’t match starting all over again at that point in history.

    3) “All the world” hyperbole is rampant in ancient writings, and the Bible is no exception. If it means “all the world known to Noah at the time” . . . I can buy that, just as “all the world should be taxed” clearly meant “all the world under Roman control”.

    4) The historical record and scientific evidence just don’t support a world-wide flood narrative. Rather, they both support massive and destructive floods with every society in the ancient world – which is understandable, given the location near water of just about every society in the ancient world. One of the students in my class said, “Like Northern Japan and the tsunami – If the Japanese people weren’t aware of the larger world, they would have written that the whole earth was flooded and everyone was killed except for a few survivors.” I thought that was an excellent analogy.

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  45. Matt W on September 13, 2011 at 8:04 PM
  46. hawkgrrrl on September 13, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Matt – Well, Perry (as governor) claimed it. I can only say that it was very likely the case when this seminary teacher was attending school. I attended public school in Texas (4th grade), and we also had mandatory school prayer. From the article you linked: “The curriculum doesn’t require them to teach [creationism and evolution] side-by-side, but because teachers craft their lesson plan at the local level, it’s a local decision. So the state doesn’t offer up the specifics of what’s required to be taught.” Since the teachers’ views are what crafts the lesson plan, what do you think is being taught? That they are not required to teach creationism (unlike Perry’s claim) doesn’t mean that they don’t.

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  47. AndrewJDavis on September 14, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    “I don’t know the tack they take on teaching evolution there now, but in that class, at that time, the professor did not feel constrained to tone down his teaching of evolution at all.”

    They have no qualms about teaching evolution. In my Bio 100 class, we read Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, which was actually quite readable.

    Also, on a related debate, the astronomy group has no mercy on anyone in our classes claiming a 6000 year old earth/sun system. My 200 level professor took great pains to take each evidence for a 4.5 billion year old earth/moon/sun and drill them into our heads.

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  48. Jacobhalford on September 14, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    I really like a quote from Spencer W. Kimball that my institute teacher shared with me about evolution. I don’t have the exact source though so its a paraphrase. Spencer W. Kimball said that when he reads the bible and the account of the creation he is convinced that it is true, when he reads science books about evolution he is convinced that they are true as well, so he puts them in a draw together and is content to know that one day the two will be reconciled. I don’t fully agree with putting issues on the shelf like that, but I think it shows that evolution and the scriptural narrative can co-exist.

    Looking back, I struggle to work out how I was able to cling to the belief that the creationism was more or less true. Having studied evolution, it just seems so beautiful that I can’t help but think that this is the means by which God created the world.

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  49. Jeff Spector on September 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Clark,

    “Science has no trouble saying there are things where our best hypothesis has limited evidence. So I’d argue you’re just misrepresenting science which really is pretty anti-authoritarian in scope.”

    Ah, thanks for proving my point. So does religion.

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  50. Rob Osborn on September 14, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    Hope I’m not too late to chime in.

    I am a firm disbeliever in macro-evolution. I just do not believe that we came about in the processes that science hopes and believes so much in. It’s a completely random, unguided, and pointless paradigm that completely hinges off the totally unfathomable against all odds scenerio! There is no part of evolution, as science teaches it, that includes or allows for a god to be in control or place it into motion. I have talked with several BYU teachers and none of them agree that god had any part in evolution. This means- let me translate- “they don’t believe in the Creator”!, they can’t! Because if they do, then evolution, as it is explained, does not work.

    Evolution is completely at odds with everything about our doctrine! I am not speaking of adaption or small evolutionary changes, I am speaking of our entire existance being the process of Darwinian evolution. It’s a fraud, it goes against every principle of the gospel and mocks the Creator.

    I get tired of hearing “god uses evolution to bring about his creation”. That’s a lame excuse. Why? Because these same individuals can’t actually place God anywhere in evolution other than just sayingt hat God allows it to run it’s natural course. I can guaretee you that no biology professor at BYU who believes in evolution has any place for God within the paradigm of their beloved Darwinian evolution. Don’t believe me? Just ask them, I have, and I know!

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  51. Rob Osborn on September 14, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    Also, any person who believes God did use evolution to bring about the creation is thus in the “intelligent Design” camp. Choose wisely!

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  52. Ray on September 14, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    That’s a gross over-generalization, Rob – on multiple fronts. I believe in God and in evolution – and I see no internal inconsistency in that position.

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  53. Paul on September 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    50 Rob: “I can guaretee you that no biology professor at BYU who believes in evolution has any place for God within the paradigm of their beloved Darwinian evolution. Don’t believe me? Just ask them, I have, and I know!”

    You’ve asked different ones than I did, I guess.

    51 Rob: “Also, any person who believes God did use evolution to bring about the creation is thus in the “intelligent Design” camp. Choose wisely!”

    I’m with Ray — your conclusion seems a stretch, as ID has a specific arc which does not seem consistent with a “God used evolution” view.

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  54. Meldrum the Less on September 14, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    (Wacko Idea Alert)

    Let’s take a very literal look at Genesis. Adam lives in what? A garden. And after getting kicked out what does he do? Farms. The ground is cursed to bring forth thistles, etc. This point is hammered home for three straight verses. Gen 3:17-19.

    What the Bible says is that man walks out of the garden a farmer. The definition of created Man (as a son of God) is a farmer. By inference the Biblical definition of a pre-Adamite is any homonoid living before farming was practiced. Pre-Adamite non-agrarians are not part of the human race according to Genesis. They properly belong in the category of animals.

    When did agriculture arise? Small scale farming dates at most no further back than 7000 BC in various places such as Egypt, Palestine, China, India, etc. But until the invention of the plow around 3500 BC agriculture did not result in the development of sedentary civilizations where everybody was not on the cusp of starvation and preoccupied continually with filling their belly. When did the first Egyptian dynasty arise? Not long after Biblical chronology declares the first human walked out of the garden and started farming. Dating problem, gone.

    The other ramification of this interpretation is that God’s children do not include every creature that modern science might classify as Homo sapiens. Neolithic hunter-scavengers would not be fully human. The mongol hords would not be included. The North American horse culture would not be included. When people degenerate from farming based societies and go native, they are essentially leaving the human family as defined in Genesis.

    People can not be saved or damned until they are taught how to plow and reap. Otherwise, they amount to no more than a pack of rats and will be judged accordingly. Christianity went off track when we tried to civilize the pre-agrarian natives to save their souls.

    Today with fewer than 2% of Americans still farming, an argument could be made that we are getting beyond the original Biblical definition of the human family and are already on the road to degenerating back into something resembling animals. More Americans are in prison today than in farming and yet some find it insulting to consider they might be descended from monkeys. How many monkeys act the way that gets a person sent to prison? Not many.

    Hey, I’m just telling you what the Bible says. Don’t blame me. Bla, bla, bla.

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  55. Ray on September 14, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    (Wacko Idea Alert)

    Pretty much says it all. :)

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  56. BethSmash on September 14, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    “People can not be saved or damned until they are taught how to plow and reap. Otherwise, they amount to no more than a pack of rats and will be judged accordingly.”

    There’s a great book, whose name I CAN’T remember, that tells how 4 different countries, England, Holland, France and Spain all claimed land. And your above sentence was how England did it. Using the Bible as the basis. It’s your classic “you’re not a real person – so … I can totally just take your stuff” argument. Now I want to reread that book.

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  57. hawkgrrrl on September 14, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    “How many monkeys act the way that gets a person sent to prison? Not many.” Monkeys are vicious thugs that will bite each other to death, organize violent attacks on each other and have been seen to engage in prostitution. Let’s not give the monkeys unwarranted benefit of the doubt here. I live where monkeys are common, and they are not paragons of virtue by any stretch!

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  58. hawkgrrrl on September 14, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    In response to Rob’s “macro-evolution” disbelief, this is a term used almost exclusively by creationists to sound like they understand the debate they are dismissing:

    “The term “macroevolution” frequently arises within the context of the evolution/creation debate, usually used by creationists alleging a significant difference between the evolutionary changes observed in field and laboratory studies and the larger scale macroevolutionary changes that scientists believe to have taken thousands or millions of years to occur. They may accept that evolutionary change is possible within species (“microevolution”), but deny that one species can evolve into another (“macroevolution”).[1] Contrary to this belief among the anti-evolution movement proponents, evolution of life forms beyond the species level (“macroevolution”, i.e. speciation in a specific case) has indeed been observed multiple times under both controlled laboratory conditions and in nature.[13] The claim that macroevolution does not occur, or is impossible, is thus demonstrably false and without support in the scientific community.” The wikipedia entry on this topic cites many sources of the same for those who are interested.

    Even “evolutionists” (a term defensively coined by creationists), the question of the origin of life is theorized only, and one theory is that the planet was seeded by an extraterrestrial “creator.” Sounds a lot like LDS creation story to me. Either way, it still doesn’t answer the question of how life began. Who created it elsewhere? Who created the creator? These are still unanswered questions.

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  59. Rob Osborn on September 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    hawkgrrrl,

    Macroevolution is not something that has been documented. We are not speaking about different kinds of beetles here. Take man for instance- when was the last time it was documented that man physically came froma lower species of life?

    Evolutionists lack any viable claim. Everything is conjecture- the biggest fable of modern times.

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  60. hawkgrrrl on September 14, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    Not according to the multiple linked scientific articles on the Wikipedia page I referenced. But here’s a more LDS take from SteveP who teaches biology at BYU: http://sciencebysteve.net/?p=2180

    “Why is macroevolution so glommed onto by creationists? Because they reject a priori that species can evolve across ‘kinds.’ It is the archaic idea from antiquity that species represent a “Fullness of Forms” meaning that the species we see are all the species that are possible, and that there are no gaps. . . the basic idea is that species are fixed and immutable and form a hierarchy from high to low with God, angels and men at the top, and beasts below in a great chain of being. It is a particular reading of Genesis that has its origin late in Christian thinking, but became an important doctrine in explaining early attempts at natural history (So if you like your Mormonism mixed with ideas developed in the Medieval ages by all means keep this unsupported notion.).

    This is why you find the Creationists completely disengaged in the actual science of macroevolution and make the claim that it hasn’t been adequately explained. If you dissect their claim, what they are really saying is ‘We haven’t read any books on it (there are many), read any of the papers, engaged in the actual debate, examined the evidence, however, based on our ignorance of the arguments we say it’s a problem and so it is.” Why engage with evidence when you don’t have to heh?”

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  61. prometheus on September 14, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Here is another wild speculation – perhaps if it is the integration of spirit and body that matters, God doesn’t need to interfere in evolution, since the exact form of the body isn’t so important, but rather that integration. Life evolves as it will, and we inhabit whatever it becomes.

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  62. Ray on September 14, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    “Evolutionists lack any viable claim. Everything is conjecture.”

    Let’s assume for a moment that statement is completely true. How is it any different than creationism of any form?

    I am a creationist – and, using the term above, an evolutionist. I can’t claim my religious beliefs are more “viable” and less “conjecture” than my scientific beliefs without pulling a muscle.

    I understand saying, “I don’t believe in evolution.” I don’t understand claiming that evolution is less viable conjecture than religious beliefs.

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  63. Rob Osborn on September 14, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    hawkgrrrl,

    Steve Peck eh??? He cannot even carry on a conversation with anyone outside his circle of friends. (and I am being very nice I want you to know)

    I used to debate his ideas on his site until he finally permanently blocked me because he didn’t like any dissent on his site or anyone challenging precious Darwinian evolution. He even told me that there was no place for God within the scientific paradigm of evolution. He told me that God probably just “allows it” and that evolution itself is probably what formed God in the first place.

    My biggest complaint with evolution is where and how man fits into it all. Sure, we do in fact resemble chimps and what not. And, there are fossil bones that look like modern humans, yet different. But does this prove we are related or have evolved from them? What experimental evidence is there for this? Absolutely none! We can throw out conjecture all we want but until there is some actual documented proof or experimental evidence clearly showing the link, then I am afraid all that remains is just a story without any true or real evidence. Also, what about the intelligence factor? Why are we as humans at a completely different level of intelligence over any of the animals? Darwinian evolution claims it is the physical mind that is what produces intelligence (I strongly disagree) but yet why are we so astronomically more intelligent than our supposed closest living relatives- the chimps? Chimps by every right are smart in their own realm, but nowhere even close to the dynamic intelligence that we as humans possess. If intelligence is the sum gross product of evolution, why do we not see any animal even close to approaching the intelligence of man? One would think that there should be some sub-human or something with intelligence somwhere inbetween animals and us. But there isn’t! All we have are not so smart animals and then we make this astronomical leap clear up from there, with nothing inbetween to human intelligence.

    Please entertain me with why this is, I am intrigued to know.

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  64. Rob Osborn on September 14, 2011 at 10:38 PM

    Ray,

    I understand where you are coming from and it is a solid point. However, science claims to “know” the truth and willnot allow their own science to prove themselves wrong. Those believeing in the creation never make any claim of “knowing”, they only make the claim of “believing”. Science and the experimenatation of it should only make claims of actual observations. Science has overstepped their bounds by only accepting that which is purely “natural” which in their terms means- anything which does not have any intelligent design or intelligent causation for it’s origins.

    So, let’s assume for the moment that it really was true that God di actually interfare and create, manipulate or “manage” nature in an intelligent manner to bring about his cause. Science, being the way it is currently set up, could never accept this, no matter what conclusive evidence one could drum up. It has already closed the door on that possibility. Science thus has become a faith based organization, much like organized religion, where it willonly accept one outcome and must reject all other. Science has thus become corrupt.

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  65. Jake on September 15, 2011 at 4:31 AM

    “Science thus has become a faith based organization, much like organized religion, where it will only accept one outcome and must reject all other. Science has thus become corrupt.”

    Rob, you are confusing scienticism with Science. I can see where you are coming from and certainly for some people science can serve as a pseudo religion. But to go from that to claiming that it is an organization comparable to religions is a step to far. You could argue that it is faith in gravity that we use when we fly a plane, yet that kind of faith is hardly the same as faith in a literal creation story. Faith in gravity is developed from experience and is shown in a trust that it works, faith in a literal creation in contrast stems from commitment to orthodoxy and an inherited medieval dogma.

    Secondly, evidence from testimony meetings adn interviews with creationists would disprove that they make a distinction between knowing and believing as you claim. They ‘know’ that God created the world in the way the bible says. Further, scientists would never make as strong claim as you attribute to them. They would say that this is the best answer they have right now, and they would mitigate what they know to be provisional not set in stone.

    The caricature of scientists that you portray. Ie. stubborn, anti-theists, with closed minds who only accept one answer. In my experience tends to not be the case. Do you know personally any scientist who fits this description? Whilst, some are highly invested in some theory that makes them hold onto it, and difficult to comprehend it being wrong or accept evidence to the contrary, for the most part scientists are open minded and more concerned with working out how things really work and are prepared to accept their own science proves them wrong. Many scientists do disagree and have many answers for the same phenomena, whilst there is a part of scientific dogma or basic principles they all agree on within their paradigm there is a broad scope for difference.

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  66. Paul on September 15, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    #62 Ray: “I don’t understand claiming that evolution is less viable conjecture than religious beliefs.”

    The only caveat I could cite about that comment is if I believed the creation story to be direct revelation from God, and I believed God exists and speaks to prophets (including the one who wrote the creation story), it would seem less like conjecture to me.

    #64 Rob: “Science has overstepped their bounds by only accepting that which is purely “natural” which in their terms means- anything which does not have any intelligent design or intelligent causation for it’s origins.” There are certainly scientists for whom it is true that they have personally determined that there is no place for God in creation or science or anywhere else. But in my experience, that does not describe all scientists.

    Mixing the specific term ‘intelligent design’ into your arguement, however, is bound to raise scientific eyebrows, since that particular movement has a particular science / theology of its own, one that does have specific opposition in the scientific community. That term does not simply describe the interweaving of a divine creator into existing scientific theory (largely because scientific theory is not in the business — and never has been — of explaining the divine).

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  67. jmb275 on September 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Ah Rob, I see you’ve come back to bless us with your intelligence and brilliance on such an important issue. In addition to being a leading scholar on artificial intelligence, system integration, cyber-physical systems, consciousness, intelligence, and philosophy of mind, you’re also an expert on evolution, and philosophy of science as well.

    Sounds like you’ve got it figured out my man! The only thing I don’t understand is why you hang around so many people that are clearly so confused and dimwitted as to be afraid of your dissection of their clearly inferior opinions. I mean SteveP, a leading scholar on evolution, published in so many places as a testimony that his peers (I suppose also dimwitted) acknowledge his views, can’t even hold his own in an argument with you. And me, a similarly published researcher in the fields of AI, cyber-physical systems, and system integration clearly just can’t see the common sense arguments you make! After all, facts are facts, right?

    You’re awesome dude!!

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  68. Rob Osborn on September 15, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    jmb275,

    Thanks, as for Steve P., he was the one who couldn’t handle people challenging things under pressure. Probably due to being backed up againsta wall knowing the theory held no water under scrutiny.

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  69. Jeff Spector on September 15, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Sometimes you just have to sit back and be in awe when you are in the presence of sheer brilliance.

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  70. Rob Osborn on September 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    Jake,

    I disagree. Scientists now say or infer that macroevolution is a “fact”. They will not accept any other conclusion. Their belief has become the status of “know” all because they cannot nor willnot accept what is actually shown through the scientific method. Their whole belief system is based off of conjecture.

    When we use the word “know” we have to use it in the proper semantics, meaning that it is used as a matter of pure “fact” with evidence – solid evidence to know.

    The whole gravity issue is lame. I have heard it a jillion times. We “know” that the phenomenon we call gravity attracts objects or pulls them mutally together. Now, exactly how that works, is up for debate and theory. I can have “faith” in a certain theory about how the mechanism of what we know about gravity works, but it is ridiculous to say that one has faith in what we already know (the attraction force).

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  71. jmb275 on September 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Re Rob

    Probably due to being backed up againsta wall knowing the theory held no water under scrutiny.

    Yeah, I’m sure you’re right. It’s really hard to accept that your theory holds no water when you’re faced with hard evidence against it and it’s only a few silly scientists who agree with you.

    Go Rob!

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  72. jmb275 on September 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Re Rob

    The whole gravity issue is lame. I have heard it a jillion times. We “know” that the phenomenon we call gravity attracts objects or pulls them mutally together. Now, exactly how that works, is up for debate and theory. I can have “faith” in a certain theory about how the mechanism of what we know about gravity works, but it is ridiculous to say that one has faith in what we already know (the attraction force).

    I completely agree. It’s like a computer, right? I mean we know that when I push keys on the keyboard stuff appears on the screen, but how that actually happens is just a bunch of theories, and I can pick from several as to how that works exactly. I’m constantly amazed that I go to school and hear teachers tell me about “input/output devices,” electrical signals, and the like. It could be any number of things, God’s will, the spirit, little microscopic biological creatures running through the wires.

    I’m tired of scientists and their indefensible “theories” that go against what I believe.

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  73. Creationism and LDS Seminary | Times & Seasons on September 15, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    [...] “Evolution vs. Creationism in Seminary” at Wheat & Tares, hawkgrrrl’s recent discussion of very similar issues, although I tried to avoid bringing evolution into the discussion. [...]

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  74. Jake on September 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Rob,

    I would like you to clarify exactly who you mean by ‘they’ who exactly are you referring to when you say that ‘they believe’ or those who cannot accept the weight of evidence you provide to disprove their theory. If, as you suggest all (or at least many) scientists are like this then you will have no problem providing a few examples of those who embody the position you claim exists, just to demonstrate that its not a straw man you are attacking.

    I presume by the ‘scientific method’ that proofs them wrong you mean the inability of it to fit in with the statements from scripture and a few conservative leaders, as that seems to be to be the only thing that contradicts evolutionary theory to me.

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  75. Jake on September 15, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Rob,

    The whole gravity issue is lame. I have heard it a jillion times. We “know” that the phenomenon we call gravity attracts objects or pulls them mutally together. Now, exactly how that works, is up for debate and theory. I can have “faith” in a certain theory about how the mechanism of what we know about gravity works, but it is ridiculous to say that one has faith in what we already know (the attraction force).

    How do you know that it is an attraction force as that is just another theory? The concept of force is a theory, it is impossible to observe anything without having faith in a theory prior to it. Further, perhaps it is not even attraction but a host of angels pushing things together. All we see is an apple fall from a tree. We assume that because we have seen that happen many times before that it will happen again, we then have faith in this that it will keep happening ie. things will keep falling to the earth but we don’t know that it will always be the case. For all, we know God could switch off gravity tomorrow and everything will fly up into the air.

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  76. jmb275 on September 15, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    +1 for angels pushing things together :-)

    Though I am open to the idea that God could switch off gravity tomorrow. God FTW!!! Upset the status quo!

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  77. Dan on September 15, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/09/dinosaur-feathers-found-in-amber-reinforce-evolution-theories/245094/

    Dinosaur and bird feathers preserved in amber from a Late Cretaceous site in Canada reveal new insights into the structure, function, and color of animals that date back to about 78 million years ago.

    a wee bit before Adam and Eve.

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  78. Rob Osborn on September 15, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Dan,

    They have also found dinosaur soft tissue. No way that could be even be a million years old.

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  79. Rob Osborn on September 15, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    Jake,

    We know apples fall from trees to the ground. “How” it happens is up for debate. Next issue

    The problem with evolutionary science is that they (the scientists working on it) use inconclusive evidence to state things as factual. I have big issues with that. It’s not that I have evidence to prove them wrong, it’s that they just don’t have conclusive evidence to make scientific factual satatements regarding their beliefs.

    For instance- Where exactly is the conclusive evidence that links man to monkeys other than we just “look alike”? Where is the biological documented evidence required by the scientific method that conludes beyond any doubt that we did in fact evolve from a lower order of animals? Finding fossils that look like us doesn’t do it. For all we know, they could have been some inferior race that lived here and then one day a huge spaceship landed, our ancestors came out and zapped all of them with their ray guns and exterminated them. What then? Do you get the point of it- there has to be an actual solid link other than we just look alike- that isn’t proof or make anything factual like they claim. That is my issue.

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  80. Dan on September 15, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    Rob,

    you mean like this?

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/03/0324_050324_trexsofttissue.html

    A Tyrannosaurus rex fossil has yielded what appear to be the only preserved soft tissues ever recovered from a dinosaur. Taken from a 70-million-year-old thighbone, the structures look like the blood vessels, cells, and proteins involved in bone formation.

    70 million year old thighbone. If you have some other evidence that backs your claim that dinosaur soft tissue is proof that dinosaurs only were around in the last 1 million years, I’m all ears. Of course, 1 million years is still a wee bit longer than before Adam and Eve.

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  81. Dan on September 15, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    though, it does seem that that discovery is in doubt.

    Paleontologists in 2005 hailed research that apparently showed that soft, pliable tissues had been recovered from dissolved dinosaur bones, a major finding that would substantially widen the known range of preserved biomolecules.

    But new research challenges that finding and suggests that the supposed recovered dinosaur tissue is in reality biofilm – or slime.
    “I believed that preserved soft tissues had been found, but I had to change my opinion,” said Thomas Kaye, an associate researcher at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington. “You have to go where the science leads, and the science leads me to believe that this is bacterial biofilm.”
    The original research, published in Science magazine, claimed the discovery of blood vessels and what appeared to be entire cells inside fossil bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The scientists had dissolved the bone in acid, leaving behind the blood vessel- and cell-like structures.
    But in a paper published July 30 in PloS ONE, a journal of the open-access Public Library of Science, Kaye and his co-authors contend that what was really inside the T. rex bone was slimy biofilm created by bacteria that coated the voids once occupied by blood vessels and cells.

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  82. Dan on September 15, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Rob,

    As for man’s connection with the genus of monkey, this wikipedia page on Human Evolution should suffice, at least as an overview of the generally held position in science of the evidence of a strong connection between man and monkey. And of course, if we go into an analysis of DNA of man and DNA of monkey, we find that the chimpanzee is about 96% equal to man.

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  83. Rob Osborn on September 15, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Dan,

    First- here is a better link to the dino soft tissue, turns out it really is dino soft tissue and not slime or biofilm-

    http://www.physorg.com/news160320581.html

    As for DNA similarities, the case can be made just how much alike we are. But does that prove that we are truly related? In no way does it prove anything. To this point, the evolution of man is still in fairytale land.

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  84. hawkgrrrl on September 15, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    Rob, it seems like your principle objection is that you don’t like the tone of the evolutionary biologists and that you feel they express overconfidence in theory and call it fact. If that’s your objection, I agree there are some people in the scientific community who do that. There is plenty of evidence to support the theory, but it is a theory, and scientists are obligated to follow the science. Creationists, however, don’t fight science with science, offering evidence that contradicts the accepted theories. They only make emotional pleas and point to open questions. Several of the open questions and possible alternate explanations you mentioned (like extraterrestrial intervention) I’ve heard scientists say “sure that could have happened. But it’s not very well supported by evidence.”

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  85. Rob Osborn on September 15, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    hawkgrrrl,

    Just so we don’t get confused, I do not really consider myself a creationist. I find myself more in the intelligent design camp which is different in many ways than the creationist movement. I say this because the label “creationists” has the added baggage of being completely against anything scientific and must comply “always” with a literal reading of Genesis.

    You may find this strange but I actually embrace “good science”. I dislike the evolution movement not because I am just plain against the idea of coming from a monkey, it’s that I dislike it because it has generated itself into a heavy anti-intelligence, anti-god campaign. The principles of it’s theory bend the laws of what we define as the “scientific method”. Instead of testing the “observable, much of evolutions work is a complete ghost framework based entirely off of a preconcieved ideal. What is that ideal? Proving that nothing intelligent brought about intelligent life. Evolution is the staggering quest to somehow prove that life is indeed random, unguided and of course- godless! You see, much of evolution’s debate is on “origins”- where we came from and how that happened. Now of course, religion and philosophy both set out to properly debate and discuss those issues. Science on the other hand should deal only with that which is observable and testable. Many evolution tests have been done on fruit flys and many other observations with beetles have shown that species can indeed mutate or evolve in some small ways. That is where science should end and leave the other conjecture to philosophers and religionists to hammer out- leave out all of the conjective material from science books and only report that which is “scientific”.

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  86. Dan on September 16, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    Rob,

    As for DNA similarities, the case can be made just how much alike we are. But does that prove that we are truly related?

    The word “relate” has such vague meanings. Of course we’re related with chimpanzee. 96% of our DNA is a match. Thats’ “relation.” Perhaps you’re asking if we had the same mother. Like, you can prove that you came from your mother, just like I can prove my daughter came from her mother (I was there). It’s a matter of what question you’re asking. As for relation, we are most certainly related to chimpanzees, and every other animal on this planet. We’re even related to bugs. We’re even related to trees and plants and rocks. We’re ALL on this same planet and reside within the same biosphere. There’s a relation between us all here. You should probably use a different word than “relation.”

    To this point, the evolution of man is still in fairytale land.

    No, it’s not.

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  87. Dan on September 16, 2011 at 5:35 AM

    Rob,

    What is that ideal? Proving that nothing intelligent brought about intelligent life.

    Perhaps you’re not ready for the possibility that this is the case. If you wish to follow scientific evidence to whatever source it leads, you have to accept even the most disturbing thought imaginable. Science may eventually lead to verifiable evidence of an intelligent creator beyond supposition and, as you say, pre-conceived notions, but at this point, aside from pre-conceived notion about how impossible it is to NOT believe in an intelligent creator of intelligent life, there is no actual scientific evidence of an intelligent creator. Ironically, that which you claim scientists are doing is what YOU are doing with regard to Intelligent Design: bringing in pre-conceived notions and trying to fit scientific fact to your pre-conceived bias. For you, there MUST be a God out there who created everything, thus let’s go find the evidence of that. Science cannot start with that kind of bias in order to achieve a successful exploration. No doubt scientists throughout time and history have gone into their research with their own pre-conceived notions of whatever. I don’t know why you expect scientists to be perfect. Should we hold religious leaders to the same standard? Brigham Young certainly got it wrong with blacks and the priesthood. Should we no longer trust anything he, or any prophet after him who continued to endorse his racism, prophesied about? Should we say, “to this point, the idea of prophets speaking to God is still in fairytale land.” Why not, right? Hold religious leaders to the same standard we hold scientists…

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  88. Meldrum the Less on September 16, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    Hawkgrrrl: (With all do respect and a bit late)

    I work in downtown Atlanta and your description of monkeys would be a marked improvement in some neighborhoods:

    People “are vicious thugs that will bite each other to death, organize violent attacks on each other and have been seen to engage in prostitution.”

    Bite and stab and shoot and blugeon to death.
    Torture their children.
    Organize gangs that settle scores decades old and sell substances that destroy economies and lives.
    Coerce their adolescent daughters into prostitution and beastality.

    Yesterday I learned of a case where a woman was raped by a donkey when she was 14 years old. It was done on stage with a paying audience and filmed for internet consumption.

    Give me monkeys any day, nice or nasty.

    Perhaps “the natural man” is closer to the monkey in behavior than we care to admit. Does this have any bearing on the rest of the discussion?

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  89. hawkgrrrl on September 16, 2011 at 6:57 AM

    I wasn’t defending man against the charge of being like a monkey, just making it clear that both share some common depravity and similar motivations when left to their own devices. We’re not as lofty as we think, nor are monkeys full of angelic goodness and adorable behavior like eating bugs off each other.

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  90. Rob Osborn on September 16, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Dan,

    The evidence clearly shows that the origins of life did not come through a process of abiogenesis as evolution theory claims. Evidence clearly points to the fact that intelleigence only comes from an intelligence to begin with. Evolution theory attempts to rewrite known principles that we know about life and complexity. Why? Because it “has” to havea purely natural explanation for life. The idea that intelligent life came from an intelligent agent above it is completely unacceptable to them even though that is where all the evidence clearly points. Studies have been done showing the extreme complexity of lifes smallest parts. Mathmaticians have done work calculating the extreme odds of life assembling on it’s own outside of any intelligent cause. The evidence, no matter what angle you appraoch it from points to the facts that intelligent life was no random unguided event event as Darwinian evolution proposes.

    So I am afraid it is actually the other way around. Science has to prove that intelligence can be assembled from random events if it wants to prove the otherwise facts of the law of biogenesis. Have scientists been able to make any headway into developing life from non-life subtance or materials? Nope, it just doesn’t work that way. All of their futile attempts only bolsters the case stronger and stronger for intelligent design.

    Call it what you will but intelligent design noy only holds weight, it has yet to be proven wrong. It’s the theory with most weight, most substance, and most basic logic.

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  91. Dan on September 16, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    Rob,

    The evidence clearly shows that the origins of life did not come through a process of abiogenesis as evolution theory claims.

    What evidence?

    Evidence clearly points to the fact that intelleigence only comes from an intelligence to begin with.

    What evidence?

    The idea that intelligent life came from an intelligent agent above it is completely unacceptable to them even though that is where all the evidence clearly points.

    What evidence?

    The evidence, no matter what angle you appraoch it from points to the facts that intelligent life was no random unguided event event as Darwinian evolution proposes.

    What evidence?

    Call it what you will but intelligent design noy only holds weight, it has yet to be proven wrong. It’s the theory with most weight, most substance, and most basic logic.

    Rob, it cannot be proven wrong because it cannot be tested. For it to be able to be tested, we need verifiable, observable evidence of an Intelligent Designer.

    Sadly, Rob, you’re arguing from ignorance. Do you know of that logical fallacy? It’s point is that you are arguing something is true because it cannot be proven false. In order for intelligent design to be rendered scientific, we have to be able to prove there is no Intelligent Designer. You have to be able to prove the false. If you cannot prove the false, you’re arguing from ignorance.

    Perhaps you’ve heard of Russell’s Teapot. Bertrand Russell made this argument:

    Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

    You offer no evidence, Rob. Just that we ought to believe. That works fine in religion, but not in science.

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  92. jmb275 on September 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    This is essentially the watchmaker argument. It’s got gaping holes as an argument, and easily disprovable from a myriad of known examples of “intelligence” that arises from randomness.

    At least the most prominent mathematical example I can think of is genetic algorithms which is a search heuristic to find an answer to a mathematical optimization problem. In genetic algorithms you create a sequence of bits (1s and 0s) to create a number. You randomly generate a whole bunch of these numbers and then start the algorithm. At each iteration of the algorithm you do:
    1. selection step: select appropriately “fit” numbers, based on a heuristic, to mate.
    2. reproduction step: mate two “fit” numbers together by bitwise “crossing over” the bits (as an example, a 50% crossover would take 50% of the bits from each parent) according to some random probability function.
    3. mutation step: randomly flip some number of bits in the offspring according to some probability function.

    And, it turns out that if you do this with a large population, for a reasonably large number of generations, you will get the right answer to even a highly nonlinear mathematics problem.

    The truth is, “intelligence” from randomness happens all the time as long as there’s some way of producing new offspring, and some method for determining the “fitness” of each generation (like outliving your buddies).

    The weird part to me is why anyone would even say that intelligence can’t come from randomness. It happens all the time. Everytime you do a google search you’re employing randomness to hopefully produce intelligent answers. It’s what IBM’s Watson is based on. The entire field of AI has been using randomness to produce intelligence for years (though clearly not as intelligent as humans…yet).

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  93. Dan on September 16, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Or we could all believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster… ;)

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  94. jmb275 on September 16, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Besides any of that, the watchmaker argument presumes that we, humans, are indeed intelligent. But it’s not an absolute statement. It only works if we indicate our intelligence relative to something else. But of course there’s no absolute intelligence scale (especially if you believe in God). I see humans as the best result of evolution given the 6 billion or so years of Earth’s existence. Perhaps, in another 10 million years, we will be so evolved as to make today’s humans look like chimps!

    But then again, maybe you think the second coming is right around the corner!

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  95. Mike S on September 16, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    I’m late to this discussion, but mostly because what I have to say cannot fit in a comment. In the Science & Religion series I’ve worked on (14 posts so far) has been building to the point where the next series of posts discuss evolution, DNA, Adam’s belly button, location of Eden, human migration patterns, shared DNA with Neanderthals, etc. in great detail, correlating actual scientific evidence with actual things Church leaders have said. That being said, a few points:

    1) Great post, hawkgrrrl. I really enjoyed it and the discussion that has continued.

    2) Regarding this post specifically, there was a study done (published in Saints & Scientists, Richard T. Wooton) where people were asked a number of questions. One of the questions asked them to rate their agreement with the following statement: “Man’s Body did not Evolve in any Fashion from Simpler Species and is Not Biologically Related to Them”

    Here is the percentage who rated either “Positive Agreement” or “Tentative Agreement” with that statement broken down by group:

    Utah Born Scientists: 15.9%
    Other Churches’ Believers: 12.0%
    Nominal LDS: 3.6%
    LDS Fair Believers: 3.3%
    LDS Strong Believers: 32.5%
    LDS Seminary Teachers: 67.3%

    3) Many people in the Church (and other areas of life) think using an Inside-Out Paradigm where they decide ahead of time what they believe, and then look only at facts that support their conclusion and reject everything else.

    Great post.

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  96. Jeff Spector on September 16, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    “from a myriad of known examples of “intelligence” that arises from randomness.”

    This site is prime example of that randomness. :)

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  97. hawkgrrrl on September 16, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    Well, I guess that means I’ll never be called to teach seminary!

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  98. Jeff Spector on September 16, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    “Well, I guess that means I’ll never be called to teach seminary!”

    Jinx

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  99. Rob Osborn on September 16, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Unbelievable, truly unbelievable…

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  100. jmb275 on September 16, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Re Rob

    Unbelievable, truly unbelievable…

    Dude, no worries. You’ve got the market cornered on valid points of view and intelligent arguments. And we’ve already established that we’re too dimwitted to see the light.

    Nothing to see here folks, move along…

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  101. Dan on September 16, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    actually Rob, you are correct. Science is not about belief. It is about observable fact. Thanks for agreeing with, well, at least me. :)

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  102. Jake on September 16, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    Evidence and facts invariably are mostly socially constructed anyways so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

    “You may find this strange but I actually embrace “good science”.”

    and

    “The principles of it’s theory bend the laws of what we define as the “scientific method”.”

    There are far too many major philosophical issues with both of these statements to be treated here. I think you need to read up on some basic philosophy of science.

    In terms of the so called scientific method you claim should be followed. Its all a myth. There is no universal method followed by scientists or ever have been, in fact most major scientific breakthroughs came because they didn’t follow “the scientific method.” Read up on Paul Feyeraband’s Against Method http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feyerabend/#2.13
    and
    http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/feyerabe.htm

    As to what good science is. I would suggest: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pseudo-science/

    and looking up some of the work of Karl Popper. The issue of dividing good science from bad science and is riddled with issues. It isn’t simply that good science is what you agree with, which you seem to believe.

    Dan,

    what we observe is often entwined with what we believe. I don’t think that you can simply seperate them like that. The belief system we have impacts on the way in which we see the world, and hence the observable facts are embedded in our worldview beliefs.

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  103. Ray on September 16, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    One of my favorite quotes applies here:

    “We don’t believe what we see; we see what we believe.”

    Paul’s famous statement that “we see through a glass, darkly” is translated differently in a couple of versions of the Bible – since the Corinthians were famous makers of mirrors. It’s interesting to consider the potential meaning of that idea when we remember that even a perfect mirror reflects images to us in reverse – and, depending on its quality or construction, a mirror can distort as easily as it reflects reality.

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  104. Dan on September 16, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    Jake,

    what we observe is often entwined with what we believe. I don’t think that you can simply seperate them like that. The belief system we have impacts on the way in which we see the world, and hence the observable facts are embedded in our worldview beliefs.

    No doubt, and I agree with this. The beauty of consensus and of having many people be involved in the process of learning is that, though we each may bring to the table our own biases and our own preconceived ideas, those biases and preconceived ideas won’t last long under the pressure of common consent. Ironically, religions tend to have more problems because they rely more on one man to speak for all, as opposed to allowing everyone to add to the discussion. Not everyone can be prophet. But everyone can be a scientist. I thought Joseph Smith attempted to teach the church how each person can be prophetic, but sadly, we’ve become highly hierarchical in the church where if one were to bring something to the table that differs from what the church leader said, he is denounced and removed from the table.

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  105. Silhan on September 17, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Dan (#104) said, “Not everyone can be prophet. But everyone can be a scientist. I thought Joseph Smith attempted to teach the church how each person can be prophetic, but sadly, we’ve become highly hierarchical in the church where if one were to bring something to the table that differs from what the church leader said, he is denounced and removed from the table.”

    That is a very profound comment. What a great metaphor.

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  106. [...] see this in evolution (and I use this example knowing full well the delicious irony that some use acceptance of evolution itself as a faithfulness-defining boundary), for example. Molecules come together in a series of cyclic [...]

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  107. Gen X and Church Attrition | Wheat and Tares on October 4, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    [...] Parallels:  I recently posted on the topic of creationism being taught in seminary, despite the fact that the church does not have an anti-evolution stance and evolution is taught at [...]

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