Sunday, February 05, 2012

Evolution and the origin of birthday cake

Scientists who study the origin of man often cite abundant physical evidence that points to Darwinian evolution. Personally, however, I believe scripture contradicts that conclusion and I do NOT believe God is trying to trick anyone by putting false evidence in the earth's crust.

Consider these two statements: (1) Cakes are made using sugar, flour, and eggs, etc., and (2) Wives have been known to bake birthday cakes.

The scientific search for human origins may be likened to a man walking into his kitchen on his birthday after work and seeing eggshells in the trash, flour spilled on the floor, and a birthday cake on the table.

A reasonable conclusion based on the evidence is that earlier in the day his wife made a birthday cake. But that conclusion will probably change when he discovers (1) a voice message to his wife left that morning by his son about her earlier promise to bake a batch of cookies for his school class, and (2) a credit card payment dated that very day to Cakes Unusual.

Although his initial conclusion was wrong, his problem wasn't false evidence. His problem was incomplete evidence. And nobody can be certain that today's science has all the evidence. Note also, that the wife clearly wasn't trying to "trick" anyone.


Blogger Brooke said...

a. Cake is awesome.
b. Cookies are awesome.
c. This analogy is awesome.

2/06/2012 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

R. Gary,

If the evidence supporting Darwinian evolution was sketchy at best, your analogy might work. However, the evidence shows beyond reasonable doubt that evolution truly does occur. Taking into account all the evolutionary evidence that we do have, it would be more accurate to say that the man had a video tape of everything that happened in the kitchen that day, but there are a few areas where the tape gets fuzzy, yet you can still reasonably conclude what happened there. Sure, we don't know with perfect clarity what happened while the tape was fuzzy, but we can get a pretty good idea.

Within the scientific community, the few who disagree with it (such as Michael Behe) are those who are deeply motivated by religious causes, and their attempts to disprove evolution with logic and scientific facts have proven futile (for examples, see Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller. It is obvious that your motivation is also based on religion, rather than scientific evidence.

2/06/2012 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave C said...

What this analogy is trying to point out is that evolutionary science has largely been inductive in nature. By inductive I mean that it is largely comprised of gathering physical evidence to build and develop the theory.

If the husband sets up a camera in the kitchen and then observes how the cake came to be in his home, he would be able to ascertain with a high degree of confidence the manner in which the cake came into existence. This sort of crucial experiment is what evolution lacks. It is unable to set up a controlled experiment showing evolution from one life form into another. Such a deductive experiment is the holy grail of evolutionary research. Until then, we are expected to take macroevolutionary processes on faith.

"Just believe you non-scientific heretics out there!" is the language we keep hearing. But they haven't shown evolution across life forms. "It does not matter!" they protest. "Just accept it." But what about the divinely guided apostles who say that mankind did not evolve? "Oh, they don't know what they are talking about!" the evolutionists protest.

"Evolution is taught at BYU, so it must be true!" they argue. But many theories of man and science that have faults and incorrect propositions are taught at BYU. "Just shut up and drink the evolution Kool-Aid!" they say.

2/06/2012 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

Dave C,

Most evolutionary changes take place over a long period of time, which is why we don't have the pleasure of sitting down in our backyards and watching new species arise in one sitting. This isn't always the case, however. What about Dr. Richard Lenski's research with bacteria? If this is the kind of "holy grail" you've been waiting for before you'll believe in evolution, well, it's been here for quite some time. Just look up "E. coli long-term evolution experiment" on Wikipedia for starters.

2/06/2012 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  Let me see if I understand what you're saying. Several days after his birthday, our guy goes to a Krispy Kreme store and films cake doughnuts being made. And that proves his wife made the birthday cake?

2/06/2012 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

R. Gary,

No, I am saying that on his birthday, the man comes home and reviews the tape of everything that happened in the kitchen that day. By doing this, he learns what happens the first time. There is no need for him to speculate and come to a different conclusion at a later time. He knows who made the cake, who made the cookies, and what happened when.

2/07/2012 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Reviews WHAT tape, Stanton??

2/07/2012 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave C. said...


When the bacteria in the Petri dishes grow legs and start walking around then I will get excited. Until then I honestly think evolution science should continue unabated in our best universities as long as the researchers don't make unwarranted truth claims.


2/07/2012 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

R. Gary,

The tape that I spoke about in my very first comment.

2/07/2012 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Stan said...

Stanton, welcome to the hall of fame for willful ignorance.

2/07/2012 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  No mortal witnessed the Creation, not in person and not by video recording.

Fossils may infer something but they prove nothing about human origins. Okay, I understand how fossil evidence can be convincingly supportive of human evolution for those who approach the evidence from that point of view.

But no scientist observed the Creation of earth and man. It was NOT filmed. Mortal man cannot even observe the earth as it was yesterday. Yes, now we can take photographs. But the very next day those photographs are only evidence (however strong) for what really happened the day before. I like Hugh Nibley's description of this:

-------------- quote --------------
My own children, long before they could read, write, or count, could tell you exactly how things were upon the earth millions and millions of years ago. But did the little scholars really know? "What is our knowledge of the past and how do we obtain it?" asks the eminent archaeologist Stuart Piggott, and answers: "The past no longer exists for us, even the past of yesterday.... This means that we can never have direct knowledge of the past. We have only information or evidence from which we can construct a picture." The fossil or potsherd or photograph that I hold in my hand may be called a fact—it is direct evidence, an immediate experience; but my interpretation of it is not a fact, it is entirely a picture of my own construction. I cannot experience ten thousand or forty million years—I can only imagine, and the fact that my picture is based on facts does not make it a fact, even when I think the evidence is so clear and unequivocal as to allow no other interpretation. (The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, vol.1, ch.2, 25-27.)
-------------- end quote --------------

There is no such thing as direct scientific knowledge about the origin of man. All of the scientific evidence that does exist is subject to interpretation and the interpretation itself is not fact.

2/07/2012 06:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

Thanks; I get a kick out of it. I've been lurking around reading this blog for almost 2 1/2 years now.

R. Gary,
I won't reply to your whole comment, but the fossil record, although wonderful evidence, is nothing in comparison to the molecular evidence that we have been able to gather in the last 50 years. I think too many people spend too much time trying to refute the fossil record, when it isn't even the most powerful weapon in the evolutionary arsenal.

2/07/2012 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  Okay, now that you have fossil AND molecular evidence (or in other words eggshells AND spilled flour) you know for sure by whom and how man (or the birthday cake) was made. And you are absolutely certain there couldn't possibly be any additional evidence found (such as a phone message or a credit card payment) to change your present conclusion.

My friend, no matter how powerful your evidence is, you simply cannot be sure that science won't find, in the future, new evidence that makes all of the present evidence look a little different.

2/08/2012 01:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

R. Gary,
Of course there could be more evidence found. That's always a possibility--one that science will never exclude. The thing is, all the additional evidence that comes in points to evolution being true. At what point does one accept it for what it is, instead of blatently disregarding factual evidence? As evidenced by bloggers such as Jared*, there is no need to stop believing in God or man's divine connection to him just because evolution is true.

I feel like we're having a Galileo affair 4 centuries after the first one.

2/08/2012 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  Actually you DO exclude certain evidence, such as if it is an apostle or prophet that brings to your attention the voice message or credit card payment and points out that it invalidates your earlier conclusion. We both accept the physical evidence, but only one of us accepts the spiritual evidence.

All truth is not of equal value. What science says about the Creation is not of equal value with God's word revealed to his authorized servants. The origin of human life is one place where science and the LDS religion do not agree. The Church teaches that revelation to God's authorized apostles and prophets is the ONLY way God will make known the truth about man's origin. According to the Church's official position statement, the scientific method cannot discover that truth:

-------------- quote --------------
"Man, by searching, cannot find out God. Never, unaided, will he discover the truth about the beginning of human life. The Lord must reveal Himself or remain unrevealed; and the same is true of the facts relating to the origin of Adam's race—God alone can reveal them." (First Presidency, "The Origin of Man," Ensign, Feb. 2002, 30.)
-------------- end quote --------------

And by the way, living prophets and apostles weren't running the Church four centuries ago. The Galileo affair is irrelevant.

2/08/2012 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Stanton S said...

R. Gary,
Evidence needs to be falsifiable in order to be evidence, and the way that you have set up your logic for apostle's statements excludes them from being labelled as such. They can be supportive points of view, which I think they are, but not evidence.

"The Church teaches that revelation to God's authorized apostles and prophets is the ONLY way God will make known the truth about man's origin." In the end, I guess nothing can really be known without it being revealed, since God is in charge of everything, right? I mean, sure, I can tell myself that I know how electromagnetism works, but I guess I don't really since it hasn't been taught in General Conference. At least, that's the vibe that I'm getting from your argument about man's origin.

"Man, by searching, cannot find out God." I absolutely agree. Science doesn't try to prove or disprove the existence of God, nor can it, as God is not observable and testable, according to the scientific method. The only way to gain a testimony of God is through the Holy Ghost.

2/08/2012 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Stanton S:  Evidence is NOT falsifiable. Assertions, hypotheses or theories are falsifiable.

There is a big difference between knowing the truth about electromagnetism and knowing the truth about man's origin. The Church encourages an unfettered study of the former but warns that the latter must be explained by God to his servants.

The theories of mortal men about the origin of man are appropriately questioned by believers when the Church insists that such theories will never be correct without input from those who are authorized by God to receive direct communication from Him.

The idea that everything we know must be taught in general conference is pure straw man. Nobody believes that.

2/08/2012 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

This is why they don't teach evolution at BYU. Oh...wait... http://nn.byu.edu/story.cfm/71097

3/18/2012 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Molly: BYU evolution courses are overrated by some people.

3/18/2012 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

From your own post, a link to http://www.ndbf.net/010.pdf says: "For example, if one included statements by LDS apostles in a handout on evolution, the range of views would include some statements against evolution, some sympathetic to evolution and several shades of opinion in between." Sounds to me like a lack of unity, not a Church-wide disavowal of the scientific method. If the Church did have a firm stand against evolution, I would think they would say so. Hey, we don't let BYU sports play on Sundays just for filthy lucre, so you'd think we would just accept a poorly-regarded science program as well. If it was really true that the Church was against evolution. But it's not.

I don't care if you don't believe in evolution, but don't pretend the Church, as defined by prophets, apostles, or doctrine, utterly rejects it. It just is not the case.

3/18/2012 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Molly: The passage you quote was written by William E. Evenson, who at that time was a BYU Professor of Physics.

The apostles and prophets — the First Presidency and Twelve — hold the keys of doctrine, so I focus on their Church published words. In that context, the Church has never published a statement by any LDS apostle sympathetic to human evolution, and for only a few years in the early 1900s did two (2 of 97) apostles question the otherwise pervasive and persistent Church teaching that the Creation was paradisiacal with no death before the fall.

In my adult lifetime, including my high school and mission years plus 42 years of marriage, all Church published statements about evolution by the apostles and prophets have been against evolution. Not one apostle or prophet has been sympathetic to evolution. Contrary to Professor Evenson's assertion, there is no "range of views."

3/18/2012 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger AuthorandArtist said...

Not true, R Gary. David O McKay was sympathetic towards evolution, but was fairly quiet about his views for fear they could be taken as Church doctrine. Once at a funeral, he even quote Charles Darwin, talked about evolution, and how we would still be evolving in the eternities. So, yes, there is a range of views. Please don't make blanket statements.

4/06/2012 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Okay, let me say it again, in hopes you will read it this time.

The Church has never published a statement by any LDS apostle sympathetic to human evolution. Not ever.

ALL Church published statements about human evolution by apostles and prophets affirm the lack of harmony between it and the restored gospel.

Again, there is not one Church published apostolic statement endorsing human evolution.

There is no "range of views."


Private comments may imply that this or that apostle secretly believed in evolution. However, unless they are published by the Church, they do represent what the Church teaches anyway.

On the other hand, such private comments may sometimes be of interest.

David O. McKay, for example, did in fact liken Darwin's theory of evolution to the concept of man's eventual resurrection from the dead. It was a rhetorical comparison that President McKay used more than once during his apostolic ministry. In reality, of course, Darwin's theory is unrelated to the resurrection. But unfortunately, some people use such remarks as evidence that McKay believed in evolution. He didn't.

David O. McKay was one of five apostles asked to review a priesthood manual prior to its publication. The unanimous finding of five apostles was that the manuscript should not be published because it contradicted the creation accounts in scripture and in the temple ceremony:

-------------- quote --------------
"Adam having partaken of the fruit became mortal and subject to death, which was not the condition until that time. We are taught in the Temple as well as in the scriptures that man was the last creation placed upon the earth, before death was introduced. Adam was the first to partake of the change and to become subject to the flesh."
-------------- end quote --------------

The manual was not published. And if you reconcile the above statement, signed by David O. McKay and four other apostles, with evolution, you will be on the road to convincing me that McKay was sympathetic toward evolution.

4/06/2012 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger AuthorandArtist said...

According to Sterling McMurrin, David O McKay did believe in evolution. That's what McKay said to him in private. And by the way, just because something is published, doesn't make it official doctrine. Look at the Journal of Discourses. They were published, but not everything in it is considered official doctrine.

4/07/2012 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

AuthorandArtist: Where did you get the idea that anything published by the Church is official doctrine? I think you made that up yourself.

By the same token, official doctrine will always have been published by the Church. In other words, there is no such thing as official doctrine that has not been published by the Church.

But what the Church teaches is not limited to official doctrine. D&C 1:14 warns "the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people."

Thus even though the public Church published words of the apostles and prophets are NOT necessarily official binding doctrine, the warning in D&C 1:14 nevertheless applies.

So, if it pleases you, go ahead and believe that David O. McKay had personal inside knowledge contradicting the unanimous Church published teachings of the apostles and prophets regarding human evolution. I think you're wrong. That isn't what McKay believed.

4/07/2012 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

I like to think of it this way. Suppose you are walking in the Arizona desert and you come across an Intel Core i7 processor in the sand next to a junk yard. You might theorize that over many millions of years that sand and rain mixed with metal have grown many layers of transistors that have somehow connected themselves with metal from the junk yard form a computer chip whose functions work perfectly together and form an unbelievably powerful computer chip. Or you might on the other hand conclude that an Intel engineer has walk by. No one would conclude the former yet when confronted with the human mind that is many times more complex and powerful many quickly conclude that randomness created it. I don’t know how God created the world or man but I do know that randomness was not part of it. Life once created clearly has the ability to adapt and has a powerful desire to keep living, however, randomness never produces order, never produces life and never produces a human in the image of God.

4/29/2012 10:59:00 AM  

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