Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Science not always a good bet

According to today's Mormon Organon, science has two main goals:

"(1) Figure out why things are as they are; and (2) be able to predict the way things will be."

What about the way things will be "when the lamb and the lion shall lie down together without any ire." (Hymns, 2; see also Isaiah 11:6-7). What are the scientific principles or natural laws that explain how this will happen?

What about the way things will be when earth moves from its present stage of existence into the next, when "Christ will reign personally upon the earth" (A of F 1:10) and certain of today's natural laws no longer apply?

What about the way things will be, for example, when there "there shall be no sorrow because there is no death" (D&C 101:29)? Can the condition of "no death" be observed in today's world? Can experiments be done to test hypothetical ideas about such a world?

What about the way things will be during the Resurrection? What can science tell us about the eventual Resurrection of all men?

All of the telestial knowledge accumulated by man cannot tell anyone anything about terrestrial or celestial worlds. And if you're talking about extrapolating current telestial knowledge very far into the future, science is simply a bad bet.

Take, for example, Carl Sagan's view of earth's future. Carl Sagan was an astronomer who excelled at popularizing science. His book Cosmos is one of the best-selling science books ever published in the English language. His award-winning series by the same name stands as the most widely watched TV series in the history of American public television.

Carl Sagan believed that "solar evolution is inexorable." (Cosmos, New York: Random House, 1980, Ballentine paperback edition, p.188.) He used physics and astronomy to predict that our sun will become

"a degenerate white dwarf, cooling like all those points of light we see at the centers of planetary nebulae from high surface temperatures to its ultimate state, a dark and dead black dwarf." (op. cit., p.189; emphasis added.)

Prior to our sun's death, according to Sagan, earth's

"oceans will boil, the atmosphere will evaporate away to space and a catastrophe of the most immense proportions imaginable will overtake our planet." (op. cit., p.188.)

Should Latter-day Saints bet with Carl Sagan or should they bet with their own apostle scientist who said:

"It is decreed that this earth shall become a celestialized, glorified sphere; such is the revealed word. Science has nothing to say on the matter; it can neither refute nor prove." (James E. Talmage, The Earth and Man, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931, p. 16; emphasis added.)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Creating evolutionists

Creating evolutionist Church leaders has become an occasional pastime among LDS evolutionist members. For example, there was an interesting discussion last week on another blog where Chase Tingey said:

"In the late 1930's Widstoe affirmed the First Presidency's feelings that evolution is one of many possible explanations (see Evidences and Reconciliations by Durham)."

Chase seems unaware that no Church published First Presidency statement exists saying evolution is a possible explanation for anything. Therefore, Elder John A. Widtsoe could not possibly have "affirmed the First Presidency's feelings" along those lines.

In that same discussion, Chase Tingey also said Elder Widtsoe (among others) was

"all for evolution."

Apparently, Chase hasn't read Widtsoe's essay on the origin of life on earth or the one on whether the doctrine of evolution should be accepted (here and here). And apparently, Chase isn't familiar with what Elder Widtsoe said the year before he died:

"One of the theories of evolution based largely upon the work of the great scientist, Charles Darwin, was that man was only a product of changes in organic life, throughout long periods of time.... Today,... ' we are more keenly aware than in Darwin's day of our ignorance as to the origin and affiliation of the greater classes.'

"Clearly the theory of evolution has added nothing to our understanding of the beginning of things. The ancient view that God is the Creator of all things is still the best, because it is true." (The Improvement Era, July 1951, p.531; emphasis in the original; see also Evidences and Reconciliations, pp.166 & 169.)

Cap feels Widtsoe believed in evolution in spite of the above quote. Said Cap:

"Widtsoe says, '...the theory of evolution has added nothing to our understanding of the beginning of things.' - I understand that God created this world, I understand that there was a process to it. I understand that Men are ordained of God. I understand that we are the spirit children of our Heavenly Father. I don’t see how it took anything away either. With my belief of evolution, I still believe all that I listed above. (And yes, even more technical stuff, but I didn’t want to make a long list).

It turns out, however, that Cap's comment is about what Cap believes while the Widtsoe quote is about what Widtsoe believed and whether he was "all for evolution."

As far as I'm concerned, it's okay for people like Cap and Chase to believe in evolution. But I don't think they should try to make evolutionists out of Church leaders who weren't.

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