Monthly Archives: April 2009

Evolution: The wrong tool for the job

As the evidence for evolution mounts, more and more LDS are looking for the middle ground and adopting some hybrid theory of creation, usually adopting some form of “Theistic Evolution” in search of a middle ground that doesn’t make their heads explode.

I’ve heard many interesting and creative theories that blend the two (evolution and “God”), but most avoid one really uncomfortable aspect of evolution: If you know what you want to make, Evolution is an inefficient and inexact way to get there.  Basically,  it is the wrong tool for the job.

The whole idea behind evolution is that you don’t know how it’s going to end up. It’s gradual change over time, with improvements being made bit by bit (or with punctuated big bits).

But supposedly God knew all along exactly what the end product was supposed to look like (namely: like Him). He knew the form and function of all the organs, and the total anatomy from head to toe.  This idea is most explicitly outlined in the LDS doctrine of “Spiritual Creation“, in which things are actually created in spirit form before their physical creation.  But how can that be possible with evolution?

This theory would suggest that God using evolution was a process with a goal; it had to come out just right so it would look just like Him. It couldn’t result in humans with three arms, or one eye. That’s not what evolution is.

So what is the purpose of spending millions of years just kind of nudging the process along, with false starts and dead ends? It would be like trying to make chocolate chip cookies, but instead of just using the Nestle Toll House recipe from the back of the package, you make thousands and thousands of different batches, trying to figure out how to make Nestle Toll House cookies. Then, finally, after years and years of experimentation, you arrive at the exact cookie that you could have made the first time by looking at the package.  Even if you used that method, you wouldn’t say that you “evolved” the cookie.  You would say you developed the cookie using trial and error.   Do we really want to suggest that God created our physical world using “trial and error”?

The other problem is the ongoing nature of evolution.  The story of the creation gives the idea of a creative “period”, and then the state where things are “created”.  2 Nephi 2:22 certainly frames the creation in such a way.  But evolution doesn’t have an end.  How could it?  How could God be evolving thousands of different species, each moving slowly towards their intended finished design, and then find that one moment in time where a species is “created”, and then have it keep evolving?  And what happens when some speices are fully evolved/created after 20 million years, but other species need 80 million years, or 100 million years?  Do some animals get their spirits first?  Are there animals even today who are not yet “created”, and are spiritless lifeforms waiting to evolve into their final “spiritual” form?

And what happens if a species evolves away from it’s spiritually created form?  Does it become “uncreated”?

Sure, God could use evolution (a time consuming and wasteful process) to “create” life to the exact specification he had alreay prepared, but why would He?  Other than the fact that some LDS need to reconcile the evidence for evolution with a belief in God-centric creation, why would anyone believe that?

(If you want to brush up on what, exactly “Evolution” is, I highly recommend taking 10 minutes of your time and watching this fantastic, wonderful and interesting video:  Evolution )

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The Miracle of LDS Apologetics

I was recently giving my children one of my standard lectures about how they live in the greatest time in the history of the world. They have easy access to more books, movies, music and “information” than any other people in the history of the world. They can know more about any subject they wish than anyone who has ever lived in a time before. Truly, it is a wonderful time to be alive for children who have an interest in such things.

As I thought more about it, I began to consider the Miracle of Apologetics.

In the Church, “revelation” gets a lot of lip service. We talk all about God giving knowledge, restoring this or that, and giving us scriptures so we can understand His plans and feelings on certain subjects. And I’m not arguing the importance (and necessity) of having a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the gospel and the Church’s core claims.

But for those who have an interest in the Church, the scriptures, and the “details” behind the stories and doctrines, I think it is easy to overlook the miracle of Apologetics and scholars, and Apologetic theories, and their ability to grant us knowledge that eluded even previous prophets and apostles.

Because of apologetic writings, any Church member can do a reading and research and understand more about Book of Mormon geography and peoples than any past prophets had. Twenty minutes on the FARMS website and you could pass up Joseph Fielding Smith without breaking a sweat.

Thanks to apologists, future generations will understand the story of Noah’s flood (and the subsequent covenant) with far more accuracy than any LDS Prophet or Apostle of the last 180 years.

Apologists allow us to better understand the story of Adam and Eve, how they were born from mortal, non-human mortal parents who themselves were the result of evolutionary development. Such knowledge eludes even modern LDS church leaders and curriculum writers.

Modern scholars and apologists allow us to understand the true nature and provenance of the Joseph Smith papyri, Kinderhook plates, Zelph skeleton and other “artifacts” to a much greater degree than even Joseph Smith himself.

Modern apologists have made known to us the many cultures and peoples not specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon, who subtley mixed with and effected the Jaredites and Lehites (people who are still unknown and unmentioned by modern and past LDS prophets and apostles).

And apologists help us to understand Mormon Polygamy and the priesthood ban far better than any statements from the Church leaders (ironically, apologists even help us to ignore statements from Church leaders if necessary, while apologists never encourage us to ignore other apologists and listen to Church leaders if there is a contradiction.)

Critics often complain that the heavens are “silent”, and that God has been negligent in His proclivity to reveal knew and interesting things. But if the apologists are correct in their theories and suggestions, then God hasn’t been silent, he has just shifted his conduit from the pulpit to the Fair Wiki.

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