Does Evolution Leave Room for God pt.2

There are two very common lines of though when it comes to evolution and the existence of God.
  1. They are completly at odds and a person cannot believe in both.
  2. Evolution cannot disprove that there is a God.
With regards to (1), take the statement by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith:
It is true that the school of evolutionists is divided into the two great classes, the Theistic and the Atheistic branches. But the Theistic evolutionist is a weak-kneed and unbelieving religionist, who is constantly apologizing for the miracles of the scriptures, and who does not believe in the divine mission of Jesus Christ. Again I repeat, no man can consistently accept the doctrine of the evolutionist and also believe in the divine mission of our Redeemer. The two thoughts are in absolute conflict. You cannot harmonize them and serve both masters.
I commented elsewhere that I get very nervious when I hear people, usually religious people, claim that the two points of view are completely at odds and cannot be reconciled. This, in my opinion, was the most innappropriate thing JFSII ever said in the docrines of salvation. If he hadn't believed the theory, great. If he wanted to show us why, even better. But to declare with ringing finality that the gospel and evolution cannot coexist in the same mind seems to me to be a way of scoring easy wins. Obviously the people who read his writings are more than somewhat partial towards the gospel so if it has to be one or the other, his readers will usually choose the gospel. He wins the fight without ever throwing a punch.

Worse still is that these people now feel obligated to act like idiots in the rest of the worlds opinion by denying carbon dating, fossil records, the age of the earth and so on. And all this through no great fault of their own. Sometimes I feel that theists need to be a little bit more careful in reading atheistic, or better yet, non-theistic literature. There is a difference between saying "since evolution is true, there must be no God" and "since there is not God, evolution must be true."

And so we come to (2). The theory of evolution is about life evolving based on scientific data. This can never prove the non-existence of something, let alone God. Therefore, it is claimed, we have little to worry about. This is what we discussed in the science and religion post.

It must be confessed, however, that evolution does have a lot to say about what religions have said about creation (man, animals, timescale, machanisms) and man's place in the world today. It is at odds with many widely accepted religious notions. While it may not prove that there is no God, it certainly shows that a particular version of God, namely the most popular one until recently, does not exist. The God who created everything in 7 24 -hour periods never existed. The God who created every species we see around us independently never existed. The God who created the first man, the father of us all a mere 6,000 years ago never existed. And so on.

But perhaps worst of all, it seems to show that God was not necessary. Even if Darwin's idea did not deliver the death blow to teleology as Marx claimed it had, it appears to have dealt the death blow to the teleological argument for God's existence. After all, if we really don't believe in miracles as stated in the last post, and God must adhere to physical laws, what is there left for Him to do?

This was essentially the final blow in the block which science had been chipping away at for some time, the block of no-holds-barred supernaturalism. When people pray for a sick person and they get better, was it the prayer or the medicine which did it? When the sun stood still in the sky, did God stop the sun as the scriptures say, did He stop the earth from rotating (bad idea) or was it a change in the refraction of light in the earth's atmosphere? When there was no darkness for one night, was it just glowing from everydirection thanks to God, or was it a supernova in the sky, or some other meteorological phenomenon?

The Mormon answer, I suspect is yes, it is both. God made the patient better with the medicine. God Caused the change in the refraction of light to make the sun appear to stand still. God also timed Christs birth perfectly with the super nova or whatever it was. God is using natural law in a manifestation of intention so as to help us. He can, in Mormon doctrine, do it no other way.

This is quite unique and revolutionary. To borrow another metaphor from Dennett (I'm a big fan if you can't tell), we dont' believe in skyhooks. To lift something into the air there are two ways of doing it according to medieval lore. We can use cranes like we use today or we can use skyhooks, "an imaginary contrivance for attachment to the sky; an imaginary mean of suspension in the sky." (Oxford English Dictionary) A crane is how we lift things according to natural laws. Skyhooks are supported by nothing at all and are absolute miracles, flagarant disregards for natural law. "Cranes can do the lifting work our imaginary skyhooks might do, and they do it in an honest, non-question begging fashion."

We believe that God was once a man, subject to very much the same physical laws that we are. He then became God, again in accordance with physical law. He then created us, following and using physical laws. We are now men, subject to physical laws, just like God in the beginning. There never is a presto moment when a skyhook is magically lowered out of the sky. Instead we have cranes lifting God, us and everything else bit by bit. Cranes can even lift parts so as to make a bigger and better crane, thus enabling God or anybody else for that matter, to do greater, more "miraculous" things. Thus design can come from God above, or the "sludge" below, by a big crane already built in some other "eternity" or big cranes built by smaller cranes built by even smaller cranes all the way down to mindless stuff here. But there never were and never will be, according to my understanding of Mormon doctrine, any skyhooks.

This is why Intelligent Design as it is commonly meant leaves an unpleasant taste in my mouth. It smacks of skyhooks. But with Intelligent Design, understood as God using physical laws to crane-by-crane create us using evolution, there is no problem with this in theory. However, we must admit that there is no evidence for this imposition of intentionality on life in the earth's history, but this does not mean it could not have happened. Thus there is room for God, but only certain kinds of God.

While evolution does not deny the existence of God, it does disprove many of the ideas which we may have about Him. This is especially true for the Mormon doctrine which denies the occurance of absolute miracles and posits a God subject to natural law.


Jeffrey said:

"This is why Intelligent Design as it is commonly meant leaves an unpleasant taste in my mouth. It smacks of skyhooks. But with Intelligent Design, understood as God using physical laws to crane-by-crane create us using evolution, there is no problem with this in theory. However, we must admit that there is no evidence for this imposition of intentionality on life in the earth's history, but this does not mean it could not have happened. Thus there is room for God, but only certain kinds of God."

Below is a quote from an article I read today about legal strategies of "The Discovery Institute" to challenge Evolution as fact in the classrooms of America. I am enclosing this because, as part of their program, they have apparently hired 40 scientists to come up with a cohensive "Intelligent Design" theory that will make sense when integrated with current evolution theory facts. In other words - they seem to understand the objection you stated above, and are attempting to address it.

"Meyer said he and Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman devised the compromise strategy in March 2002 when they realized a dispute over intelligent design was complicating efforts to challenge evolution in the classroom. They settled on the current approach that stresses open debate and evolution's ostensible weakness, but does not require students to study design.

The idea was to sow doubt about Darwin and buy time for the 40-plus scientists affiliated with the institute to perfect the theory"

I could email you the article if you are interested.

3/14/2005 02:46:00 PM  

Jeffrey - I know that I am perhaps overblogging here, but, I want to tell you how impressed I am that somebody on your side of the issue is finally taking things to their logical conclusions, and attempting to come up with a cohesive "reconciliation theory." I will probably never agree with it. But, I think it would be quite challenging to pretend that I am a lawyer hired by your side to come up with the best possible case.

To me - your site is attempting the flip side of what the ID people are doing, as described in my last post. Faced with a vast array of facts as generated by TOE, they are trying to come up with a Design theory that reconciles the facts.

Here, faced with 200 + years of tradition, Scripture, 1st Presidency Messages, and - check out the 10 or so articles referrenced at the LDS website under Doctrine
(Beliefs)- "Creation" - the latest "officially published" positions, you are attempting an ecclesiastical theory that will be able accomodate your scientific beliefs without destroying the fabric of the doctrinal history of the Church.

Yesterday in Priesthood Meeting, I sat next to a retired Biology professor who recently substituted for me at my part-time Institute class. I know he is on your side of this issue, but, from comments he has made, I am almost certain he has never pushed the implications of his stand all the way through the barriers I listed above.

A couple of years ago, I purhased the Book "Of Heaven and Earth," published by Deseret Book and was quite surprised to find that every author who touched this issue either explicitly or implicitly, is on your side of the issue. One had been a Regional Representative. And, yet - I don't know that any of them have sorted this thing out.

If they have, they probably wouldn't go as far as you have in stating some of the obvious conclusions that would flow from their position. Since you have obviously done a lot of reading and networking, and are doing a good job of deconstructing Elder McConkie and Pres. Smith, are you aware of either Pres. Packer's BYU speech "The Law and the Light," or have you heard his story about the 3 BYU professors from 1910;Pres. Brimhall's dream, and Pres. Packer's 1955 experience with Pres. Mckay? Both of these presentations by Pres. Packer contain some interesting "lists" of issues and I was just curious as to whether these were part of your data base.

3/14/2005 03:12:00 PM  

Greg, I just read the article you cited for me (thanks for the reference). I'm sure we will have to address many of these issues in posts to come. I must say,however, that I am not very impressed. Essentially every time he puts forth an argument about evolution he is wrong in one way or another. It is classic "Stop that crow!"

Seriously, before you read any other books on evolution, read Darwin's Dangerous Idea. It isn't that confrontational and it really gives you a good feeling for what's implied by the theory and what isn't. Dennett is a staunch naturalist, but he makes for a great read.

3/14/2005 03:36:00 PM  

I was tole that Darwin's Dangerous Idea would convince me that Darwin was correct. I respect Dennett, was impressed by his volumnious references, and also by his logic. However, I was looking for evidence, and this he failed to provide. Although his great library in the sky was impressive, it was not evidence. It is a good read, but if you are skeptical you will still find things to be skeptical about.


3/14/2005 08:55:00 PM  

Jeff - which article are you talking about having read, and, I don't understand "stop that Crow" please explain. I will also read Dennet. Thanks. And, thanks Carl

3/15/2005 06:59:00 AM  

Car, your views on Darwin's Dangerous Idea are right on. The book is not an attept to convert people to Darwinism, it merely takes it for granted and proceeds to show what the full implications of the theory are in our lives i.e. morality, meaning and so forth.

If one wants to look at the evidence for evolution, I would recommend Gould, Mayr or especially Dawkins, the clearest and most confrontational of authors.

Dennett wrote his book mainly to clear up some of the misconceptions held by many philosophers, pschologists and the like about Darwinism. He does a really good job helping one to understand Darwin's idea as opposed to convincing one of it.

3/15/2005 09:18:00 AM  


I looked at www.lds.org and couldn't find the Doctrine (Beliefs) - Creation you mentioned. Clicking on Basic Beliefs leads to www.mormon.org, which doesn't seem to have any Creation section. Perhaps what you saw in the past isn't there anymore?

Also, thanks for the tip on the talk by President Kimball on a previous thread. I think it is significant, bringing 19th century doctrine into late 20th century endorsement by the President of the Church in an official setting.

3/15/2005 09:19:00 AM  

"Stop that crow!" is a phrase used by Dennett, of course. It refers to the movie Dumbo. Dumbo can fly because of his "magic" feather. But of course it isn't really magic, but he thinks it is and the placebo (sp?) effect takes hold. Right at the climax of the movie, dumbo is going to have ot fly with his feather when a smarty pants crow decides to let Dumbo in on the big secret, his feather isn't really magic. At that moment essentially all of us yell "Stop that crow!" because we think that once the illusion is gone, so is the magic. It's like a magicial explaining to us how he did his trick, we can never be thrilled by the trick ever again.

Such is the predicament many find themselves in with regards to evolution. We think that if we are able to explain the origin of life, or morality or meaning or religion, it will somehow become worthless. But such is not the case.

3/15/2005 09:49:00 AM  

Christian - Go to the Church Site - Gospel Library - Study - Topics, - Creation.
Also, it was this site that helped me remember that talk by Pres. Kimball. As you read, it discusses "Priesthood Keys" that will be available to us in the next life. Actually - several of these "Keys" may touch on areas related to this blog. Jeff should read the talk. In one of his earlier posts at another blog, he said that he would accept revelation as "fact." Now, the question is, is the Pres. of the Church speaking in Conference about Priesthood Keys available in the next life "revelation" for purposes of establishing "fact."

3/15/2005 11:29:00 AM  

Jeff - thanks for the "Crow" explanation. Actually, I ran accross it at another one of your blogs earlier today. I have been reading a lot of your stuff - and (as you know) you are an amazing thinker.

Since this particular blog is not really about resolving evolution issue from a scientiic point of view (as you state in your purposes - we assume here that it is true) - then, it seems, this site is really a DOCTRINAL one. (How do I make italics?)

Many people would consider Doctrine to be a LEGAL issue, more than a "scientific" one. So - in order for your very sharp mind to be effective here, you are going to be confronting issues of DOCTRINE. In reviewing some of your posts, I discern that you do believe in doctrine, but, I have had a hard time figuring out what your definition of it is.

I broached this issue in an earlier post - and I think you responded by discussing dogmatism. But, I really would like to understand how you sort out doctrine for yourself, if at all.

When I was at BYU Law School, we had an early (1st Year) assignment trying to determine what the legal DOCTRINE was in a certain state, given a specific factual dispute. We worked in teams. Our team came up with some very convincing arguments for a particular position.

Then, we went before one of the faculty (Pres. McKay's grand-nephew - who later become Chief Judge of the 4th (?) Circuit Court of Appeals. He was dressed in Judicial Robes, and we presented our case. We got the wrong result. Why? Because, the very issue had already been decided by the Supreme Court of that State!! The winning teams had properly sought out authoritative precident. Arguments didn't matter. Legal Doctrine is what mattered in that case.

Now, legal doctrine is not a perfect analogy for Church Doctrine, but, there are some paralels, in my judgement, unless you are going to throw out the idea of doctrine altogether, or, relegate it to a meaningless position in the "Kingdom" (another legal term).

I know there are other blogs about "Doctrine." Some of them may even be yours. Thus, it seems, this issue must have been raised and answered before. I will now give a hypothetical, just to start some thought or discussion.

It is now the year 2525, and the First Presidency, consisting of Pres. Henry Eying, Pres. Jeff, and Pres. Jared decide to issue the following Statement - "Dear Brothers and Sisters - We all know that the Lord decided to restore the Church in the 19th Century, before the most modern scientific age. Also, most of our canonized scripture was recorded before this period. Previous administrations, acting under the best light available to them, have made certain statements regarding the subject of biological evolution. Since, in the final analysis, exactly how the Lord, the Creator, provided mortal tabernacles for the physical creation, up to and including that of Man, bears no vital teleological relevance to our salvation, we now declare that we will leave all such matters to the realms of science, and continue to focus our exclusive resources on providing unto the world the Ordinances of Salvation for both the Living and the Dead. To the degree that any Scripture or previous pronouncement of the First Presidency attempts to explain the biological, or any other facet of the physical creation, we encourage our members to feel free to consider such as allegorical in nature. Others may also continue to accept them as literal, according to their own conscience and understanding. For the present, let us recognize that all of us, with the exception of little children, are separated from God both physically and spiritually, and, that through the Atonement of Christ and the Ordinances of the Gospel, both of these "deaths" may be overcome."

Sincerely, the First Presidency.

(Sorry if this seems like a law school exam question). But, would you consider this hypothetical pronouncement of the First Presidency to be "Doctrine."? Why or why not?

3/15/2005 12:34:00 PM  

Greg, whew! what a question!

You say that this blog will have to do more with doctrine than with science. I agree, but we have to first understand the science that we are applying to the doctrine. This is why Jared and Christian are here, so that we can all make sure that the things we say are fairly representative of both science and Mormonism.

Yes there are many uses of the word doctrine, but I tend to worry primarily about truth. Thus, I define doctrine as prepositional statements, truth statements. The quote that you created for the hypothetical 1st Presidency (which I loved by the way) was not so much a doctrinal statement as it was official policy. If anything it seemed to be saying that some things were not doctrine.

Other definitions of doctrine which are commonly used, even by myself, is 1)the system of beliefs which is officially approved of by the church organization, 2) traditionally or popularly held beliefs by the membership at large, 3) official policy as declared by the church, and I'm sure there are others.

But I reject those definitions, in the context of this blog, because they are either too safe (not saying enough), too vague (conflictory and not well thought out) or simply not propositional at all. The official church doctrine changes from time to time. The beliefs of the membership majority encompasses lots of contradictory material and differs from person to person. In other words, just because somebody believes it, it is not necessarily doctrine. Just becasue somebody, or anybody teaches it, it don't have to be doctrine. Indeed, and most contraversial of all, even if God says it, it might not be the end-all of truth. see D&C 19:7 as well as the rough draft of my paper at http://mormondoctrine.blogspot.com/2005/02/sunstone-west-2005.html

In otherwords, doctrine, as I have defined it, is not decided, it is discovered.

Naturally, I can't speak for God, nor for the church, nor for all of its members. I can only speak for myself and my understanding of truth as taught in the revelations.

3/15/2005 01:09:00 PM  

Jeff- Thanks for the thoughtful answer. I would give you a good grade, with some reservations - In dismissing your well-described sources for Mormon Doctrine, and, essentially, redefining "doctrine" as "truth," I can see the value of this strategy for the purposes of this blog.

What I see emerging here is the unfolding of the full implications for traditional "Mormon Doctrine" if Evolution is accepted as fact. Without existing Doctrine, though, as a referrence point, how could the discussion have meaning? For example, I see the groundwork being laid here to redefine the traditional doctrine of "pre-mortal existence" - which includes at least two steps - the creation of a spirit body, then its re-emergence in the case of the traditional "Adam," to a spirit housed in an immortal body - and replace it with Adam's spiritual creation as the Garden of Eden experience, and the Fall as that spirit being housed in a "Darwinian" body.

I can see the wisdom of this discussion not being continually interrupted with traditional doctrine used as some sort of censoring device. But, it seems to me that by redifining "Doctrine" as "discovered truth," what are we then going to be left with, other than scientific facts demonstrated in support of the TOE?

If you don't draw a line somewhere, i.e., state that we, as a Faith, have demonstrated something "Spiritual" as "discovered fact" - what do we have? If you are not going to include traditional doctrine here in the framework, what will take its place?

Can we say that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person, and that he was resurrected? Can we say that we are dual beings, and that, when the physical body dies, the "6th Sense - Bruce Willis ghost" lives on? And, if we can say something as basic as this, how have we discovered that it is "truth."

Is there some kind of "preponderance of Scripture" that will be our "Standard"? This is all part of my quest to get you to draw a line somewhere to ground the discussion Spiritually in some way that will compete with demonstrable scientific theory.

In summary, I can see you wanting to "move the goalposts" from traditional doctrinal definitions for purposes of this blog, but, can they be removed altogether?

I suppose you could go through the traditional doctrines, one by one, in light of TOE or start with the TOE, and apply it to doctrines, then, when finished, see what of traditional doctrine is left, and pronounce that as "discovered truth," but then, it seems to me, that the discussion will be way too one-sided. Or, do you wait until Jared and Clark blow a whistle and say "time out," and announce a certain "doctrine" as "indespensible." Even then, it seems to me, you are going to have to explain WHY it is so.

I would appreciate some clarification towards the beginning, if possible. Thanks!!

3/16/2005 02:53:00 PM  

Jeff - Post Script - I guess what I would like is some sort of formula for "discovering" "spiritual truth" without referring in any way to the TOE. The "formula" would have at least 2 parts:

Part A - "X", a "spiritual" thing, is "discovered truth."

Part B - "X" is true because of ______________.

Also, these should not be "tautalogical." (i.e., God is immortal because otherwise he wouldn't be God)

Sample: (This is hypothetical only, I am not saying that it is "true")

A. God (Elohim) is male.

B. God is male because he always referred to as "he" when gender is mentioned in the Scriptures.

I hope this clarifies my previous post.

3/16/2005 03:11:00 PM  

Greg, I only have time to partially respond right now.

I understand your concern here. I can't simply define Mormon doctrine as used in this site, as truth, plain and simple. How do we know what is truth? What make the Mormon version of truth any different? Is it going to be just a free-for-all as to what is true in Mormonism and what is false by the standards of TOE? Of course not.

You noticed the beginnings of my addressing the problem of the preexisence (probably one of the hardest of things to reconcile). In the post I mention the now unknown version of the preexistence for a number of reasons. 1) to show that we can't be to dogmatic about what God has revealed on the subject. 2) That I must treat each version of the preexistence separately show as to show which one is in better harmony with what we observe in the world around us.

In other words, I don't expect what I consider to be doctrine to necessarily be what other consider to be so. I need to address the popular doctrines, since these are the ones members care about, but I also want to show these same members that we are not trapped in a corner if push comes to shove. There are doors that are open, some more promising than others.

I consider the search for true doctrine to be much like the search for the historical Jesus and his original words. We can't simply accept anything and everything at face value. There are a number of rules that can be applied here:

1) Contextual credibility of any given statment.
2) Consistency of statement with other statement as well as observable facts.
3) Is the statement self serving in any way?

Consider these rules as applied to my post on the preexistence.
1) Many of our ideas on creation and spirit simply cannot be applied to the spiritual creation as described in Moses.
2) We can't have always existed as spirit children from all eternity and not have always existed as spirit children from all eternity.
3) Many of the changes not necessarily advanced, but advocated by Mc Conkie served to appeal more to the traditional absolutistic version of God. It made Mormons seem less strange.

Other methods of evaluating paradigms could be brought into play. Does a proposed doctrine save the appearances? Does it do so without any finagling? How broad of a range of data does it cover? How well does it integrate, internally and externally? Does it accommodate novel data smoothly? Does it accommodate novel data willingly? Does it generate new and useful ideas and applications? Does it have felicity standards that work? How often does it break down? Does it have internal procedures for dealing with failures? Does it have legs (endurance)? Does it pay attention to Ockham's razor? Does it have perspicuous rules of operation?

I'm sure I haven't addressed all of what you asked. Feel free to repeat the questions I am ignoring.

3/16/2005 11:45:00 PM  

Jeff - thanks again for responding. It seems that you are saying for this site that "Doctrine" = "truth." Then - it appears to me at least, all of your proposed methods for measuring truth are 100% "intellectual." One thing that I like about "Mormonism" is that I find it more intellectually appealing than other philosophies and religions, (the study of which is a hobby of mine), - but that is not why I remain in the Church. If - for this site, you are going to consider only intellectual "evidence" in the proposed "reconciliation," you leave, it seems to me, the most important Mormon paradigm, the proposition that SOMETHING, call it a "mantle," - call it "revelation," call it whatever happens to be described in Moroni 10:5, is in fact GREATER than the intellect.

If you leave this thing (that I have actually been trying to look for in you all week) outside of this "reconciliation," I fear you may lose much of your intended audience. From my experience, most seasoned Latter Day Saints eventually need something more than the intellect as a “truth” measuring device to bind them to the Church.

In reading some of the ideas of Blake Ostler, he seems to want to limit God's powers to that which fit in our (present) intellects. One of my favorite ideas from Immanuel Kant is that - while acknowledging that the Universe most likely goes beyond our comprehension and ability to measure and measure, our minds, as tools of perception, are limited to perceiving only in terms of "time" and "space." So - when I find 2 important ideas in the Scriptures that don't seem to "add up" intellectually, I say to myself "thank goodness," there is more to God and the Gospel than fits in my mind." And, best of all, some of my very favorite personal "religious" beliefs and experiences cannot be accounted for "rationally," otherwise, please get me out of here and let me relive the 60's again and again (and again).

3/17/2005 11:50:00 AM  

Greg, I posted something which I think addresses your question at my other site:


3/17/2005 04:21:00 PM  

Jeff - thanks for the referrence to your other site. In my opinion, your post there only begins to deal with the issue I am attempting to raise.

Jeff said:

"If we pit our knowledge based on facts and sound reasoning against unsubstantiated beliefs, which should win out? Duh, the things we know as opposed to the things we merely believe."

Greg responds - what you seem to be doing here is squaring off what I will restate as "intellectually derived knowledge" (knowledge based on facts and sound reasoning) against "unsubstantiated beliefs"

Did you intend to place all "gospel knowledge" gained by other than intellectual means in the category of "unsubstantiated beliefs"? If not, please clarify. Because, if a Latter Day Saint cannot gain "knowledge" other than by intellectual means, we are nothing but another "alternate voice" in the world of philosophy.

Jeff said:

"Which question is right? I think it would probably be best for us to phrase the question so: "if we pit our theories which are based on sound reasoning and lots of evidence, against what we believe God to know, which should win out?" This is a very difficult and very honest question, which has no simple answer. The answer will depend on the topic"

Greg responds: I find this confusing. You are saying that "intellectually derived knowledge" (see definition above)
is competing against "what we believe God to know." By this last phrase, I think you may be restating the same idea of "unsubstantiated belief." In other words, I say I think God knows something, (i.e., something is true?) because I studied and then fasted and prayed about it, or, because it is stated 10 times in the Scriptures and the First Presidency says that it is so, etc, etc., etc. In other words, some method of obtaining "truth" other than by intellectual methods alone.

To summarize this response, from my perspective, your "Issues" blog post sort of "begs the question" I am asking, rather than anwering it. It might be helpful if you would give an example or two of an "unsubstantiated belief," or "what a person believes God to know." I feel that examples would be helpful, because these "inferior ways of knowing" are what your "superior ways of knowing" are challenging -
and I don't yet see a tangible enough description of them from you.

3/17/2005 09:19:00 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/17/2005 09:21:00 PM  

I think that all knowledge, spiritual or not, is gained intellectually. If it is not gained intellectually, then it probably isn't knowledge but comfort or something along those lines.

When I said unsubstanitated belief, I was speaking from a naturalist's point of view. I meant something for which there is no evidence. Examples: We are not related to any other species, the world is 6,000 years old, aliens, atlantis and the like.

The purpose of my post wasn't to distinguish between how we gain knowledge is science as opposed to religion, which you noticed and pointed out. It was to point out that we can't speak too dogmatically about what God knows, because it is almost always filtered through what we believe, a process which is not all that reliable.

Let's take an example that may answer your question. The three degrees of glory. Is there are scientific evidence for it? No. Does that mean that there never was any evidence at all for it? Maybe we should ask Joseph Smith. He saw the degrees of glory, and this was evidence. But we, here and now, cannot verify that evidence, therefore we must accept it on faith. From our perspective it is an unsubstantiated believe based not on evidence but authority.

The question now becomes that of authority. After all, most of what we accept from science is based on authority. But it is authority that can be verified at any time by anyone who is willing to put in the man hours. Some might say that this is true for religion, but kind of verification has proven to be not so forthcoming.

Can something be learned by revelation? Of course, but we shouldn't expect our revelation to count as solid evidence for somebody else.

3/18/2005 09:36:00 AM  

Hey - now we are getting somewhere!! My first impression is that intellectal knowledge will trump "faith-related" knowledge every time, because "scientific" knowledge is making the rules.

This may be like comparing "apples to oranges" (as a saying, not a scientific statement). Let me try and reverse the context. If we were trying to measure the value of "scientific" knowlege, from our perspective here in mortality (if we were in a future venue, everything might be from that perspective demonstrable "scientifically,"), vs. "faith-related" knowledge and our goal was to obtain, in a future resurrection, a body suitable to dwell on a "celestialized" planet, it seems to be that "faith-related" knowledge, while not "verifiable" in many ways, would nevertheless be superior.

Put another way, the "faith-based" knowledge may appear certain from my personal perspective,may be speculative from yours, and may appear to be absurd to Friedrich Nietzche. At some future time, we will know how good it was. However, at present, "scientific" knowledge is not good at all because it has nothing to contribute.

I do agree that all "faith-related" knowledge must have an "intellectual" component to be considered "knowledge," but - it needn't be 100% intellectually based. Otherwise, at the future time contemplated in my example, when I actually do find myself with a celestial body, you and Friedrich can both say to me "even though you turned out to be right and gained measureable benefits," back in mortality, you never had "knowledge," all you had was "comfort."

3/18/2005 12:51:00 PM  

Jeff - Since I am going to be traveling and dropping out of this for at least a while, I would like to clarify a little further:

Now, if the Scriptures and the First Presidency and traditional Mormon Doctrine said something like "a grain of sand is the smallest particle that exists" no one would be taking the "faith-related" side of this discussion.

In some of your posts, you seem to be saying that Darwinism has already reached the Galileo stage of "proof," and that those of us taking the "traditional" side of the discussion are somehow "flat-earthers."

While I am not a scientist and therefore cannot really judge the evidence, is there not a chance you are a bit premature and perhaps even "dogmatic" in your analysis of the level of proof attained by TOE? There is an awfully lot of "smoke" being blown out there in the ID movement if the question is really as closed as you someimes intimate that it is.

I have no doubt of your personal convictions on this matter, but, is it not possible that there is some "faith" in your acceptance of TOE? Anticipating contentious opposition when you started the blog, you discussed in a foundational way "the right to be wrong" and I wonder if you believe that you might possibly be wrong about TOE.

In any case, thanks for a very stimulating week.

3/18/2005 01:14:00 PM  

Greg, I'll anxiously await your return.

With regard to our spiritual knowledge, what I am claiming is that for most of us, it is not knowledge at all. It was Joseph Smith's knowledge, but is now our belief. Am I saying that scientific knowledge should trounce spiritual belief? If it is real knowledge and real belief than yes. But there is a lot of reasoning that must happen before we pass such a verdict. Scientific knowledge, in my view, in truth, as eternal as anything every can be. For instance, Math is eternal and anything which has been proved, and I mean that in the most rigorous sense, is true and alway will be.

Could I be wrong? Of course. Could TOE be wrong, like I said, yes but I wouldn't hold my breath for THAT evidence to come out.

I don't mean to call IDer's flat earthers, because it is very easy to check on the flatness of the earth, simply hop on a plane. To check on all of the evidence for evolution requires a lot of time and work, something most people simply don't have the time or motivation for. Not only that, but evolution is said to happen over millions of years, how many of us can readily observe it over time?

But believe that people should acknowledge that evolution has a very strong base. It isn't going away. While we may need to adjust some things, this will be akin to einstein's theory of relativity: did it prove newton wrong, in a sense yes, but Newton's laws are still true. Flat earther's really are stupid. Young earth creationists are getting there. IDer's are not really that stupid, but are either not well informed or are too biased.

We have no good reason for rejecting evolution other than our distaste for its implications.
Evolution is true. It really did happen and we as Mormons should try to come to grips with this the best we can.

I hope to hear from you soon Greg.

3/18/2005 01:39:00 PM  

I can see I need to come here more often. Jeff commented that Gould, Mayr and Dawkins are better supporters of Darwin than Dennett. I am not impressed by Dawkins, he does not give evidence, but logic and argument, at least in the parts of Darwin where there is controversy. Darwin got much correct, and deserves much respect for his perception. However, in the origin of evolutionary novelties I have been unable to find any evidence at all. Dawkins' computer simulations apply well to microevolution, variation within a species, but he sets the rules so it tries to apply to macroevolution, the origin of evolutionary novelties. IMO he fails to show anything with this.

Mayr tries logic and argumentation, but fails to provide evidence in the crucial steps, as there is no evidence to be found.

Gould sets the record strait on the fossil record, where the overwhelming find is stasis. There is no evidence of gradual change in species between the long periods of stasis. Gould assumes that the proposal by Mayr of speciation in a small group isolated from the rest of the species, but this proposal is entirely without evidence. With rare exceptions, which can be explained, the fossil record shows species that remain intact from the first appearance until the last, with a jump to the next species. No gradual change at all.

Darwin requires gradual change at some point in a species life to make a following species.The fact that the fossil record fails to support that idea has required such proposals as the one by Mayr referred to above.

I have a proposal that fits the fossil record in every respect I can find. It also predicts the gap between successive species, and the recently found differences in DNA between closely related species. It does take some space to intelligently present this idea, so I will not include it here.

3/19/2005 08:04:00 PM  

Carl, don't leave us hangin' man. Either post it as a comment or email it to me and I'll post it.


3/19/2005 08:48:00 PM  



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