Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday Afternoon Poll - Evolution and the Restored Gospel

Evolution in the Gospel was touched on briefly in an earlier post and its comments.


Doug Towers said...

It is quite likely that the earth was made up of particles that have been around for some time.

However I believe the literal formation and all preparations of this planet were completed 7 thousand years ago, and took 6 thousand years to complete.

I believe all parts of living things that remain upon this earth are of things that have died within the last 6 thousand years. - I believe that any parts of animals from other planets would have been resurrected.

Evgenii said...

Thanks for commenting Doug. Does that mean that you selected the "other" option or the "No" option? I tried to be inclusive in my answers but would like to get an idea of where you thought your answer should be.

Jeremy said...

Hey Doug, as Elder Widtsoe once pointed out, within the Church there are at least 3 prevailing positions on the length of the creative periods: 1) Each day of the creation was 24hrs; 2) Each day of the creation was actually 1000yrs; and 3) The creation of the earth extended over very long periods, the duration of which we do not yet accurately know.

Of the 3, it is the last that I adopt since, to me, it seems to best fit our present scientific evidence.

I can't agree with some beliefs that this earth was formed from parts of other earths. They argue that fossils and bones from ancient animals are from other worlds, but this does not explain the sequential way in which they are preserved - in strata or layers. Fossilized plants and animals found at great distances from each other all over the earth are found in equivalent strata, and in the same order within these strata.

All these indicate to me that death was part of living things millions of years ago.

S.Faux said...

Members of the Church are free to think however they want about evolution. The vast majority of LDS life scientists (in my experience) advocate evolution, just as they advocate notions of gravity, round earth, and calculus. To me, all those topics are in about the same factual realm.

Does Church doctrine contradict gravity, round earth, and calculus? No. Those who insist that evolutionary ideas are evil, false, and without substance, are ultimately fighting a battle that already has been lost.

Russ said...

Evolution is false therefore I would have hit No if it did not have a modifier attached.

Doug Towers said...

I selected "other".

While GAs can be quoted to suggest that there is some religious conflict, I don't see any conflict in Scripture. Scripture completely opposes theory science on this issue.

That people in important positions within the church have been confused is sad.


Quoting real science as evidence for the accuracy of "theory science" is like quoting the prophet to support Catholicism.

However I fully support your right to believe as you feel.

Jettboy said...

Your "NO" choice is not about Evolution, but about Earth. Therefore, that question in Mormonism makes this a worthless poll. Even the most "literalist" of Mormons believe the Earth has a long and perhaps storied existence. It is the how and for how long of Life that is at issue.

Don't confuse Mormon anti-Evolution from the Evangelical brand. They are not the same, even if they look to outsiders like there isn't much difference. Philosophic nuances can be hard to fit together.

Evgenii said...

Despite my "No" option not being very clear, I would hardly call the poll "worthless". It showed that a majority of voters still believe that some form of evolution is permissible in the restored Gospel. This seems to signal a shift in general LDS thinking that, for a variety of reasons, evolution does not explain how we go to where we are.

I still think that the "No" answer fits perfectly well because there are some people who feel this is true which would make evolution impossible. There are others who think evolution is not possible because of the Fall. In order to avoid diluting the poll with multiple choices, I chose to allow for an other tab where people can then share their opinions.

Thanks for stopping by!

Nate said...

Doug said "Quoting real science as evidence for the accuracy of "theory science" is like quoting the prophet to support Catholicism."

I disagree with the analogy, it is more like quoting a catholic teaching to support mormonism...(i.e. quoting the unsettled truth as teaching truth).

In some cases catholic teachings are true, especially when understood in the proper context.

I understand that this is a subtle difference, but it is important. One should not hastily claim teachings/theories are false. The Church is an excellent example of this with their official stance on this topic. To paraphrase: We don't know, it has not been revealed.

Doug Towers said...


I don't quite get your point in regard quoting Catholicism.

Real science is correct all the time, as it must produce real evidence. "Science" being from the Latin, meaning to know. Whereas Catholicism is only correct sometimes, and is based on blind obedience, so you don't know.

Mormonism is correct all the time (within the bounds of the understanding of those to whom it is given). Whereas theory science can't even be proven to be correct or false. That is why it is a theory (from the Greek meaning speculator). If it is known to be correct it isn't a theory.

Therefore Catholicism matches theory science and Mormonism matches real science.

Nate said...

Doug, I don't know if I follow either of our analogies at this point. All science at some stage of development can't be proven to be correct or false. It is a shortcoming of man's abilities. That does not mean we should forget about the theories. Additionally, what people may define as 'real science' also can be faulty.

The crux of my point is that one shouldn't toss out a teaching that could possibly be true because of the messenger, or because you don't like the message.

After re-reading your post though, I can see that the real issue between us...in which we will probably have to just agree to disagree...is where you state that scripture opposes the theory of evolution.

I see no conflict.

(neither in time lines, methods, etc., in fact the limited science hinted in the scriptural accounts of the creation show that God understood and utilizes genetic manipulation/mutation for the creation of eve)

I see gaps in both accounts (science/scripture). The relevant revelation and relevant science on this topic are incomplete. This fact is recognized by both the Church and scientific communities.

Doug Towers said...


The chapter before Abraham gives his account of the creation, states that a day (yom) to God is 1,000 years of our time. It would be confusing if he then talks of some other period for a day.

Kolob is stated to be the planet setting the periods.

While I'm aware that some are confused about wording in the Scriptures relative to the word "day" (yom - which could be some other period) the statement clears it up by stating that each period was one period of light and darkness. A day.

This establishes a set (and equal) period for each step.

It should also be noted that insects were created AFTER fish and birds. This also stands to oppose the theory of evolution.

Moses stated that Adam was the FIRST flesh upon the earth the first man ALSO. This doesn't fit with the idea of some past existence of flesh up the earth.

Evolution is an idea that has an enormous amount of financial backing. It has enormous amounts of staff being paid to find "evidence" to support the idea. If I had such funding and staff I could prove to you that the moon was originally made of cheese.

Many truths are kept from people in regard these areas of theory science.

For example, where you aware that some people are born with a brain the size of a quarter, and are as normal as you and I?

While some CHOSEN areas support the Ice Age concept, 2 RANDOMLY chosen areas don't support it. What is more is that these random areas were chosen by the same scientists that chose the other 3 areas presented as proof.

I see serious conflict both scientifically and Scripturally in these theories. When theories have to be proven in real ways we then see whether what sounds right really is. Unfortunately we can't scientifically either prove or disprove that which can't be seen.
And if it isn't known it isn't science.

We are wasting time and effort on something that can never be established. Not only that but there is no purpose in the study.

We have oceans full of water and people in drought. We have people suffering and dying of cancer. There are many useful things these people can be doing instead.

Nate said...

Your interpretation of scripture makes many assumptions and does not necessarily hold with a closer reading.

Regarding time: Your definition assumes that the reckoning of time at the day of Abraham was the same as during the creation. I doubt that is the case. In any event there is no definitive word on that issue.

Also, yes a day means sunrise/sunset/sunrise period...but nothing in BoA or OT states that the days were sequential. I could see how that could be inferred by the "it was the third time" language. But that could just as easily refer to the third time they worked. This is supported by how the language is always in terms of "prepare the waters to bring forth..." It would make sense that they'd prepare it, leave for a while so it can bring forth whatever, and then come back for day 4.

Creeping things does not necessarily mean insects (e.g. rodents). In fact "moving creatures" are discussed before "creeping things."

BoA: And the Gods said: Let us prepare the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life; and the fowl, that they may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven.

Gen: And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven

Regarding man:
BoA:So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image,

Gen: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness

This merely states that Adam was the first man made in God's image. Not that he was the first human-looking thing on earth. And the FLESH argument fails for the same reason. Monkeys were arguably created first, they had flesh. Obviously, Adam was seen as different. Would a pre-adamite be regarded more like monkey or man to Moses?

I could say more...but like I said before, we will probably have to agree to disagree on this topic.

Also, while I agree that funding science has elements of corruption; Halting science will not cure cancer. We have gained a great deal of knowledge by studying evolution. It has led to advances in our understanding of genetics, DNA, etc.

Halting science because of preconceived notions of what scripture may say is a scary precedent and can lead to as much corruption and distraction as chasing after what one may think is unprovable.

Jeremy said...

Nate said, "Regarding time: Your definition assumes that the reckoning of time at the day of Abraham was the same as during the creation. I doubt that is the case. In any event there is no definitive word on that issue."

In that same vein, Brigham Young theorized that our earth was created near Kolob, where time is classified as "eternity." If that be the case, then the creative periods could have occupied ANY amount of time.

B.Young then goes on to explain that when Adam fell, the earth was rolled into existence where it now sits in our solar system; i.e., time as explained in Abraham began at this point.

Evgenii said...

I also wonder why we read into Oriental documents an Occidental meaning of time and other interpretations. Occidental civilizations, especially now, are literalist in reading while Oriental traditions focus more on the meaning of the story than the factuality of certain points.

Arab sheikhs preserved (and some still do) their stories through oral traditions. The OT mentions giants and other animals that don't appear to have existed. Does that take away from it? Certainly no. Read the text through the lense that the author used to write it, not 21st century literalism. These books were not intended to be used that way. I can only imagine what the original authors would say if they saw how we were reading into their writings.

Doug Towers said...

Interesting perspectives. Thanks Nate for actually being the first to put some effort into the challenge of Scripture vs theory science.

It is true that there is a difference in that Abraham 3 and Abraham 4 cover different periods. However I do have to hold to the idea that it would be a confusing thing to change meaning one chapter to the next.

Your point about flesh can only hold if you keep reading the bit about the earth being prepared to bring forth this and that as you are. Unfortunately the Spirit refrains me from answering this. I can only assure you that there is no conflict in Moses stating that "..there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in water, neither in the air... and God created man, the first flesh upon the earth the first man also.."

Creeping things does not necessarily mean insects (e.g. rodents). In fact "moving creatures" are discussed before "creeping things."

Interesting thoughts again. But we don't have the earth prepared to bring forth anything other than grass. This would leave out insects, surely? Remember that at this point we hadn't prepared the earth to sustain animal life. So it must have been in some form that animals would sink into it, or something (I can't remember now, the pre-existence was too long ago).

I'm glad to hear that all that funding has helped in something. But I would still have to feel that it could have been better directed, and may have produced even more advancements.

I don't see holting investigations into unproveable theories as being halting science. I was suggesting that the efforts could be put into more useable areas.

Evolution can't possibly be proven. It is like if I claim that there is a space ship cloaked in the middle of the street between Woolworths and a book shop. All I can do is prove that the book shop is there and that Woolworths is there. That is all theory science has done with evolution - prove the known facts on which the assumption was originally made.

We can't PROVE evolution happened without having either a time machine or footage made by some aliens. We can only prove its not impossible.

Tim said...

I know I'm late to the game here--just wanted to say thanks for the post, and state that I'm particularly sad to see a failure of science education evidenced here.
There seems to be some misunderstanding here of what a scientific theory is.
There also seems to be some misunderstanding of the nature of science, and the importance of using our knowledge of evolution in medicine and agriculture.