Immutable Species-brought to you by the Great Apostasy

The Great Apostasy is generally considered a bad idea. Christianity, therein imbibed a whole draught of Greek philosophy which needed the Restoration to clean it up. Indeed, in the Nag Hammadi Library they not only found the writings of all kinds of extra New Testementy stuff, but Plato’s Republic. As I read Christian theology (admittedly, my reading in Theology is more about its relation to Darwin than the stuff stalking the hallways of Mormon Theology these days (and the fact that I even used the word Mormon Theology shows how out of touch I am with Mormon Studies discourse)), anyway, as I was saying, as I engage with Christian theology, I can’t help but notice, that there is a big pile of extraneous ideas from Greek thought. Many of these ideas came right out of Plotinus, the great heathen Neo-Platonist (and I mean heathen in its most kind and respectful sense). Not that I don’t think the Greeks are chalk full of good ideas, I just don’t consider it revelation as such.

Let me explain.

The restoration spiffed up a lot of this stuff that was gumming up Christianity and we got back a whole slew of great doctrines that had been jettisoned when Plato was the cool kid on the block. We got things back like the embodiment of God and the preexistence, not to mention the ordinances of salvation and the Priesthood. Great stuff that just flat-out disappeared. Nevertheless, as we see the restoration unfold, and make no mistake I think it is still unfolding, there is yet some of that Greek philosophy splashed here and there, willy-nilly, that I think needs some attention.

I think this is important because, I think the war with Darwinism has at its roots in Platonic ideas that crept into Christianity with the above shenanigans marking out the Great Apostasy. This is how it worked in broad outline: Plato believed that every idea had its analogue in a place called the world of forms. (If you haven’t heard Plato’s illustration of this in the allegory of the cave, crack open his Republic Book VII and read the opening paragraphs.) The forms exist in a world of archtypes where every form exists and there is a single entity for each. So there is a form for triangles, for chairs, for dogs, cats, doors etc. If you can have a thought about it, then pretty much there is a form for it floating about in Formland (a place that actually exists somewhere, he thought). Also note, even though there is a form for doors, there is not a form for blue doors, secondary qualities don’t get new forms.

So this form world exists and along comes a creator God known as the demiurge, who, while not omniscient, is not a bad sort and creates a world based on the forms. A great idea in theory, but in practice left much to be desired. Now, enter Plotinus who argues that all the forms have to be represented in the creation (which is a complicated affair with The ONE (something with the three omnis that sits around contemplating itself) shattering off a piece of itself resulting in the creation with this world in the bargain) and, add some thinking from early Church Fathers and out pops the idea that all of creation was embedded in a Great Chain of Being. This included the idea that every species is a reprehensive of the Platonic forms and that they all exist and can be lined up loosely from trees, to worms, to dogs, to people, to angles, to God. Viola, we have a new Christian doctrine that insists that species are immutable because they represent all the species there are, and there is no such thing as something in-between two species. This ordering and categorization into a hierarchy of forms is the Great Chain of Being, which as slipped into our heritage by stealth.

There it is, the Great Apostasy in action. From Plato to your door, via old school Christianity. And, the weird thing is there are still people arguing this immutability of species. I can still remember a certain instructor who drew a cat spirit on the chalkboard (you could tell it was a spirit because it was made of dots) and a dog spirit on the board and said, “There are cat spirits and there are dog spirits, but there is nothing in between.” He was specifically refuting evolution. QED. Ignoring the fact that Shasta the Liger (a species known for their power in magic) from the Hogle Zoo was sitting stuffed in the entrance to the Bean Museum at BYU. So this Cat-spirit/Dog-spirit argument did not seem very convincing to me.

Now I know its source of this doctrine: The Greeks. If it were not for such Greek influences it’s unlikely that this idea would have slid into Christianity. Darwin would have had a much easier go of it and Christianity might have embraced evolution by natural selection with warmth and joy. All would be well in the world. Well, I simplify, maybe there would have been no biology since a big activity in the early years was in identifying species and discovering missing ones–but I digress.

So is this idea of the Great Chain of Being, which was such a force in keeping religion and science at odds, really a part of the Gospel? Why should we keep this silly idea that has a genealogy right out of bits and pieces we don’t embrace at all (My apologies to Mormon Neo-Platonists who will no doubt raise their fists at me). Don’t get me wrong I love Plato and I might even be a Platonist when it comes to Mathematics (I haven’t decided yet). But this doctrine really has been influential in dismissing Darwin. I hear people all the time say, “Oh I believe in evolution within a species, but not between them.” Why not? We know now that species are just certain strings of DNA. Nothing’s really marking out species but a certain distance between DNA types reflected in phenotypes (how a species looks). But species are derived from DNA. This idea that species are somehow sacrosanct real entities, is right out of Plato. It’s not part of the restoration as far as I can see.

There is the reading from Genesis about ‘Kinds’ but there is no reason to translate this to species. It means (as far as the two Hebrew scholars I asked) pretty much what we mean in English by kind, and you could use it in everything from meaning species, “Noah brought two of every kind on the Ark” to “There are many kinds of insects.” So this word can mean everything from taxonomic levels like Orders (butterflies and moths) to varieties (Chihuahuas and Great Danes).

So why keep this bit of Greek thinking in our conception of the universe? It’s no longer thought important in science, and holding on to it seems like giving into a bit of the Great Apostasy at the expense of all of modern biology.

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27 comments to Immutable Species-brought to you by the Great Apostasy

  • SteveP,

    Ive always enjoyed your posts and had a nagging question for you. If there is physical evolution between various life forms which lead eventually to us, then why could there not be spiritual evolution in the sense that intelligences move from very basic levels to higher forms?

    In other words, why is evolution of our intelligence less palatable than evolution of our physical bodies?

    I personally tend to believe in physical evolution, do not believe in viviparous spiritual birth (ie God birthed our spirits), and have no personal objections to my intelligence once being equal to that of a slug.

  • I am sure you realize that most mormons do not have a problem with the idea of one species evolving into another species. What they have a problem with are the implications of speciation, especially with regard to the origins of mankind. In fact, I could accept common descent, as long as adam and eve’s bodies are left out of consideration. Mankind had to be created in the image of God – a nearly impossible task if the creation of mankind were left to unguided environmental selection and random mutations. On this matter I give preference to what scripture says, rather than trying to fit my theology into what science says.
    Is this being religiously dogmatic or unscientific? Not at all, as long as we allow science to continue unimpeded. There are a lot of things in science that I disagree with and challenge – I don’t call it being close minded. I call it critical thinking and allowing the religious truths I have acquired to guide my thinking about scientific discovery and truth claims.

    I agree that there are vestiges of Greek thinking in modern christianity, including mormonism. It appears that you may have hit on another potential influence, the Chain of Being.

    Some LDS scholars have published on the influence of Greek thinking on Christianity, including Richard Hopkins and yours truly.

  • I have difficulty relating to anti-evolutionary arguments that suggest it is demeaning to humans to be related to the animal kingdom.

    All organisms are made of the same basic stuff: strings of amino acids, a few other organic molecules, salts, and minerals. Organisms are born from the same materials and the same basic recipes. Consequently, to say humans are unrelated to the rest of life is a disservice to the word “unrelated.” If this is the kind of language we are going to insist on using, then we might as well start arguing that gravity consists of the earth moving up, merely creating the illusion that objects are falling down.

    If humans had a non-DNA-based genetic code, a different physiology, and a different skeletal design from all other animals, then maybe I could be convinced that Adam & Eve were made in a divine “test-tube” and not in a womb.

    While I am venting, I really dislike how some of your readers toss around the word random, implying that natural selection is an inferior mechanism. Evolution is a systematic process much more than it is a random process. Evolution is naturally guided complexity.

    If I were laying on Freud’s psychotherapy couch, and he ask me to free-associate to the word “evolution,” a lot of words would come out of my mouth, and NOT one of them would be “random.”

  • Dave C., the best fossil evidence we have of any mammal is in humans, to hold that evolution happens up to humans and then poof God made humans separately, seems a bit silly. If you read this blog on the five part series that culminates with Bergson’s thought you’ll see a careful development of how human form is easily gotten to though random mutation and natural selection, just like we get the repeated form of a dolphin-like form in ichthyosaurs, fish, and dolphins. Similar engineering problems are solved by similar evolutionary design solutions (without a guiding hand at every step) it’s woven into the fabric of the universe. From two rather rat-like creatures we got sabertooth cat-like solution to taking down large mammals, one on the placental line (regular mammals) and one from the marsupial line.

    S. Faux, I agree with you completely. It’s a creationist tactic that they ought to know better than using, because it’s been refuted so often. I’ve got numerous posts on this blog about the use of random but it keeps being deeply misunderstood and it is infuriating. I did an extensive post on this very thing over at BCC specifically looking at this misunderstanding, but it is a common creationist distraction that misunderstands evolution so completely, and is easily refuted but comes up again and again. This is the trouble with the ID and other creationist tactics they think that by repeating a thing it will make it true.

  • S. Faux & Steve,

    I find it somewhat disingenuous that theistic evolutionists deny the randomness argument. I don’t know what kind of evolutionary books you are reading, but from what I am reading I see over and over again that neo-darwinism is an unguided and unintentional process that relies on random events at the level of the genome.
    Appeals to some sort of metaphysical grand master evolutionary plan that’s woven into the fabric of the universe to buttress arguements that evolution is “not really random” is intriguing, but is ineffective at convincing me that evolution is somehow purpose-driven.

    Bascially I am led to conclude that your assertions that evolution is not random and unguided is theoretically inconsistent with the basic tenets of evolution theory, unless you are attempting to create a new neo-neo-darwinian theory. If you are not creating a new and better theory of evolution, then I suggest that you learn from the example set by Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett.

    Dawkins and Dennett’s views on theology are theoretically and consistent with the theory of evolution. They assert that at it’s core, evolution contains atheistic assumptions. I admire them for that.

    So are you proposing a new better brand of evolution, or are you just being theoretically inconsistent?

  • SteveP

    Dave C. I’ve explained what randomness means over and over again on this blog and BCC. In great detail in fact. Explaining it again I’m sure will add nothing to your understanding. If you don’t get it, read the books I’ve recommended.

  • DB

    I’d like to throw out an alternate theory – that Greek philosophy developed from Christian doctrine. The idea of forms and Formland sounds an awful lot like spirits and the Spirit World. Anyway, here’s what I’m getting at. As LDS, we believe that Adam and Eve were taught the gospel and received instruction from celestial instructors. Thus, the first philosophy on the earth was the gospel. From there, the gospel was taught to subsequent generations who either accepted it and taught it to the next generation or changed it and taught that to the next generation. It would seem, from an LDS perspective anyway, that all earthly philosophies and religions originated from Christianity or more correctly the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, some of those corrupted philosophies would continue to influence the followers of the true gospel and would eventually completely overthrow it, thus leading to the Great Apostasy.

    It is clear that some of these philosophies of men continue to influence the church today and we can certainly see the influence of American Protestantism on the church since it was restored in the U.S. and is based in the U.S. I often wonder how different the church would be if it had been restored in another part of the world like Peru, Armenia, Ethiopia, or China.

  • DB, Interesting Thought. I think Nibley might have agreed with your theory. I tend to discount it because we have a pretty good view of Greek philosophy development. And of course, I think the Great Chain of Being is flawed because I don’t think it reflects what we know about how the universe works.

    Your last point is very interesting because I was thinking about it while I was in Senegal last month. It might be fun to try and envision how the church would look it it had arisen in another culture. At the very least the music and dress would be different, but what else might be there (e.g., no pork)?

  • Steve,

    You have not convincingly argued the randomness issue.

    May I suggest books from authors who take a position on evolution that is more consistent with its underlying theoretical and theological assumptions than what has been proposed by theistic evolutionists like yourself.

    Good day.

  • Doc

    Steve,
    I don’t understand the arguments of so may ID folks either. Dave’s objections seems to depend on randomness. So when you explain that selection of which random changes are kept depends on their usefulness, ergo, selection is NON-random even if mutation IS random, it falls on deaf ears.

  • Thanks Doc, I can hear them singing, “Evolution is random this I know, ’cause the IDers say it’s so.”

    I just did a five part series parsing out randomness, teleology, and the like but they still don’t get it.

  • Steve,

    I read your colorful smack down post. I don’t know how I missed that one. It must have been exam week for me.
    There is too much in that post for me to respond to everything, however, your all-star wrestling match was fixed (they usually are, aren’t they?).
    Anyway, since the match is long over, I’ll comment on something we have in common – that is we both disagree with NDBF now and then.
    Oh, another thing. I am afraid that I will not be the person who brings harmony to the debate.

  • Perhaps relevant to this post and some of the concerns made by Dave C. is my most recent post entitled: “Teaching Evolution: Do’s and Don’ts.”

    I really do believe that evolution as a concept is neutral to the concept of deity. True, Richard Dawkins does not think so, but I think he has gone FAR beyond the data, entering into philosophy, and leaving science behind.

    Concerning the issue of “random” and “unguided,” it is an orthodox evolutionary position that random genetic variation is simply a fuel upon which natural selection operates. By the way, the word “selection” means in part: NON-RANDOM. Each generation is a non-random representation of the preceding generation.

    So, I am sorry to day that Dave C. is either reading different books than I am, or we are reading things differently.

    But, honestly, I give a hat tip to Dave C. for even reading about evolution. And, part of me understands the struggle. I wish everything was clean cut. It is not.

    The concept of God cannot be intermingled with scientific theory. In that theater the word “God” is not even in the dictionary.

    Fortunately, on Sunday I can go to a different theater, Church, and praise God all day long. Some theaters just have to be kept separate, I am afraid.

  • I liked this post, but I question the basic thesis (that Christian rejection of evolution comes from Greek philosophy). As my evidence I provide the Jews. Many, many Orthodox Jews reject evolution for much the same reasons as Christians. Judaism (as far as I am aware) does not have the Greek influence which permeates modern Christianity. Therefore, having examined the control case, I have doubts that modern Christianity was poisoned against evolution by Platonic theory.

    That all said, I think it was a very fascinating and interesting hypothesis.

  • Uncertain

    If I understand SteveP correctly he is arguing convergent evolution is a possible solution to how we can be made in Gods image and at the same time the evolutionary process be undirected.

    For example due to constraints imposed by physical laws there is only a small number of ways to construct a functioning wing. Hence bats and birds both evolved completely independently similar wing shapes. So although evolution may be unguided due to limitations imposed by how the universe works there is a small number of solutions to powered flight and it is likely these solutions will appear over and over again as evolution proceeds. Even though the evolutionary process itself is undirected. Something similar is observed in genetic algorithms that attempt to imitate the evolutionary process. Even though they are highly stochastic the same fitness “peaks” will be found over and over again (given certain conditions).

    If I understand correctly SteveP would argue the human form is similar to the basic wing shape. That is due to inherent constraints caused by how the universe is put together the human form is inevitable it is a strong “peak” in the evolutionary fitness landscape (like powered flight) and given enough time it will inevitably evolve even though the evolutionary process itself is unguided.

    I think this is a innovative idea I do have a couple of reservations. First as far as I am aware there is very little evidence the human body plan corresponds to a strong peak on the evolutionary fitness landscape. There are a number of examples of wings evolving independently ranging from birds to bats to insects but no examples as far as I am aware of the human body plan evolving independently. Not every adaptation produced by evolution is necessarily convergent.

    Second it might be plausible for example to postulate intelligence is such a strong enhancer of fitness it will evolve multiple times. But the more specific you get with your requirements the more unlikely this becomes. It might be plausible to claim intelligence with some kind of manipulation digits will occur multiple times in evolution. But to claim the human body plan (i.e. upright naked bipedial primates) is inevitable or strongly likely is a dicier proposition. Are toenails for example required to be in Gods image? How about two arms and two legs? Would a human level intelligence octopus still qualify as made in the image of God? Suppose an asteroid never killed off the dinosaurs would an upright bipedial primate be inevitable in a world dominated by dinosaurs? Would an intelligent species arising from a dinosaur lineage still qualify as being made in Gods image?

    Monogamy is by far not the norm in the animal kingdom. For that matter a number of primates are very promiscuous Chimpanzee for example or Bonobos. What about evolution not just of the physical form but social practices? Consider in LDS theology faithfulness to your partner is very important. Indeed exaltation is in part marriage for eternity to your chose mate. Now suppose there is a hypothetical species in which the body plan is very similar to ours but in which the male mates with as many females as possible however he forms no lasting bonds and the female is left to her own devices (similar to many examples in nature). The LDS view of eternal families does not seem compatible with such an arrangement. In which marriage is a completely foreign concept. Can Bonobo’s get married how about mice? Does convergent evolution also act to produce hairless upright primates with biologically derived mating systems within acceptable bounds?

    The fundamental objection is the examples of convergent evolution we have in nature will only take you so far. And when you start arguing that a very specific body plan and set of social practices are the result of convergent evolution you start going beyond what the data shows in nature. A bat has wings like a bird and an insect but it is not a bird nor an insect there are still many important differences.

    (Sorry for the long response this subject fascinates me)

    All the Best,
    Uncertain

  • Thanks S. Faux, I love your posts they are always thoughtful, faithful and scientifically accurate. I hope Dave C. is reading the same books too. We’ll make a convert of him yet.

    Michael, interesting point, from what I’ve read (and we are stepping far outside my area of expertise), the influences of Greek extended to both the Islamic and Jewish scholarship of the era. The learned tended to read the same texts and be influenced by the same groups. Scholarship after the 13th Century was founded upon reading the Greeks and Roman Classics. I think all three Abrahamic religions where cross fertilizing each other as the Great Chain of Being was being solidified.

  • Uncertain, Excellent comment and you are understanding my argument very well. The problems you point out are real and important and we really won’t know how likely a human type of body would be until we see more of the universe.

    There are some reasons to think that tool making and hands could be a good solution several survival problems and be important in the evolution of intelligence and upright posture to free that hands exedra. So that part of the body might be easy to get.

    But since we only have a sample size of one (this planet) we don’t know how likely it would be (However, I as evidence, I hold up Star Trek which found humanoids all over the Galaxy :) ).

    Humans are weird though from a biological point of view and the social evolution is hard to get a grip on. I actually have a couple of Blogs on this at BCC (here and here), but we have to be careful. Evolutionary Psychology is considered a bit of a disaster because of their “Just-so Stories”(although they are catching on and rethinking their field and we might see a more maturing science down the road), but there is good work being done on mate-preference issues such as you bring up in many social species.

    You have to remember, though, there are two things outlining my project arguing that that evolutionary biology is completely compatible with Faith. One is that evolution through natural selection gave us the biological world in which we live including the human body. The other is that the restoration is true, including the fact that our body is like God’s in important ways. These two ‘facts’ form the focal points of the ellipse I’m trying to create.

    And I find the two completely compatible and we needn’t compromise on either point. You do raise relevant thoughtful questions, the trouble is I really don’t have good answers yet.

  • Uncertain

    Hi SteveP,

    Personally I think your solution is the best one I have come across yet. I did want to respond to a couple of your points.

    >There are some reasons to think >that tool making and hands could be >a good solution several survival >problems and be important in the >evolution of intelligence and >upright posture to free that hands >exedra. So that part of the body >might be easy to get.

    I think this is reasonable. The only real problem is there is a big jump between upright posture and tool use and the human body plan. In other words it is possible to think up many reasonable possibilities without invoking bipedal primates. For example certain species of birds show high intelligence even to the point of constructing and using tools. It is not unreasonable to speculate a highly intelligent birdlike creature could arise from such stock. Perhaps with modified wing tips of some type to perform manipulation. I am not sure the biological data supports the idea that the only possible highly intelligent form is an upright bipedal primate. And if so what of those hypothetical intelligent creatures who are not created literally in the image of God?

    >But since we only have a sample >size of one (this planet) we don’t >know how likely it would be

    Well I would argue on this planet there are many examples of convergent evolution. Ranging from wings to eyes to body shapes designed to go through water. But there is only one example of the human body plan evolving. And if indeed the human body plan is a strong fitness peak it might be expected to observe multiple independent evolutionary events. Similar to what we observe for the eye, wing etc.

    >(However, I as evidence, I hold up >Star Trek which found humanoids all >over the Galaxy :) ).

    I admit you make a good point :).

    >Humans are weird though from a >biological point of view and the >social evolution is hard to get a >grip on. I actually have a couple >of Blogs on this at BCC (here and >here), but we have to be careful.

    I agree with all of the above. I was just trying to point out monogamy is not the only successful mating strategy. Indeed it is not the predominate one observed in nature.
    And many mating strategies are not compatible with the plan of salvation. Including ones used by some of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

    Plus I am just using mating strategy as an example. Our behavior is profoundly affected in many ways by our biology. But there are many behaviors that may be evolutionarily beneficial but are not compatible with the plan of salvation. For example male lions will kill the cubs of the previous male so the female lions will go into estrous. It seems it is just not enough simply to have the form of a man. But also have to some extent the same social structure. And social structure is driven to some extent by biology. The more specific and restricted your requirements for being made in Gods image. The unlikelier it is the human body is the result of convergent evolution. Would it fit in LDS theology to have beings who look just like us and are as intelligent as us but through a deep seated biological imperative. The males of the species kill the children of their new mates?

    >You have to remember, though, there >are two things outlining my project >arguing that that evolutionary >biology is completely compatible >with Faith. One is that evolution >through natural selection gave us >the biological world in which we >live including the human body. The >other is that the restoration is >true, including the fact that our >body is like God’s in important >ways. These two ‘facts’ form the >focal points of the ellipse I’m >trying to create.

    This works great as long as you take it for granted the faith under discussion is true that is an accurate depiction of how the universe really works. It does not work so great if you are trying to decide that very question.

    But all this being said if indeed the human body is the result of convergent evolution. It does solve the problem of evolution being undirected and Man being made in the image of God. I am just not sure it is reasonable based on the data we have to argue Mans body plan is inevitable. And it is particularly unreasonable to argue it is the “only” body plan possible for intelligent beings. Can moral intelligent beings not made in the image of God fit in LDS theology and obtain exaltation? If so what then is so special about literally being made in the image of God?

    All the Best,
    Uncertain

  • Michael, Jewish religion was heavily Hellenized prior to the Christian era and probably a lot of Greek influence on Christianity came by way of Judaism. (Think Philo for instance) I tend to think that the Hellenization of Christianity gets too big a bum rap though. From an LDS perspective the biggest error in traditional Christianity was where they broke from Hellenism and adopted creation ex nihilo.

    In any case there was a lot of variation in Greek thought and not all of it was Platonism. (Aristotle was a materialist, for instance as were the epicurians, stoics and others)

    Steve, I’ve heard several compelling arguments that the biggest problem with EP is that they overemphasize sexual selection and tend to adopt some naive views of it. One can especially see this in their views of mating among humans where competing theories are rarely addressed. One example is that animal sexual dimophism is tied to one of the sexes being dominant. Which is a great “just so” story until you start to look at the data which suggests that it is social ingroups among sexes that often is selecting. So this is why some varieties of female hyenas have penises for instance. (There was a great Bloggingheads TV argument about this a couple of weeks ago)

  • Ken Reed

    This is an interesting discussion, but self-defeating. It is certainly logical that the platonic concept of forms became integrated into Christian theology, as Aristotelian views of the celestial spheres and the center (earth) being the most evil, became Christian dogma. In fact, I thing Steve is correct.

    However, we tread on very thin ice when we get to arguing about the nature of God and whether the human form is the only possible result. Mormons believe that we are in the Image of God. While the Creeds dispute this, God is always depicted as a man in popular art and literature, regardless of source. Apparently, nobody really believes in an infinite god without parts or passions, uncreate, etc.

    I look at the facts: humans are indisputably the result of a long evolutionary process. Our bodies are animal bodies. Simple as that. Because of our penchant for literal interpretation of a chosen creation myth, we assume that God must look like us.

    From Joseph’s first vision we learn that God has a body and Jesus does too. So far, so good. However, we don’t really know what God’s morphology really is – he could have simply shown Joseph a hologram of a form consistent with what Joseph would have expected.

    Now we have a problem – evolution is a blind process with only one selection criterion – fitness to changing environments. Thus, no end result is predictable, except that in the seas, fitness drives toward streamlining of vertebrates, whether mammal or fish, etc. Cephalopods evolved on a different track and even have different (better) eye structure.

    So how could God direct human evolution to get us? Well, he could have interfered and “bred” us, like we did with dogs. So the object would be to get to a primate of some kind, then breed the desired form.

    This would certainly be possible, given God, but all things in nature point to a universe ruled by the laws of nature, including natural selection.

    So, in my humble opinion, the mortal test bed of LDS theology merely requires mortality. The end form might not be particularly important. Since we have only one example of intelligent, self aware, God worshiping beings, we can’t be sure of anything that pertains to God.

    Nobody knows what God does when he goes to work each “day”. A being who could create the universe, endowed with all the right parameters to yield the universe around us, beautifully following set of powerful laws is pretty far beyond us. So we cannot “know”.

    But think on this notion: the universe had a beginning (14.5 billion years ago or so). It is expanding and big but FINITE. It is not eternal; it will suffer a heat death and go dark. All matter will become inert at absolute zero.

    Therefore it is FINITE. Not eternal. But God is eternal, and so are we – he have always existed. If the universe is FINITE, then there can be an INFINITY of universes.

    Therefore, the mortal form we have in this tiny speck of existence cannot be important. Resurrection will unite us with a perfected body (whatever that means). I’m content to wait to see what that form really is before I waste a lot of sleepless nights speculating on what cannot be known.

  • >>>So when you explain that selection of which random changes are kept depends on their usefulness, ergo, selection is NON-random even if mutation IS random, it falls on deaf ears.<<<<

    How is that usefulness determined, and by whom? What intelligent force makes this decision?

  • [...] where misinformed Mormon defenders of ID grab these ideas from Greek neoplatonists (as I show here), and in so doing unwittingly harm deeper LDS [...]

  • Mark D.

    ID in no way entails immutable species. You would be hard pressed to find a prominent ID advocate who maintains such a belief. Immutable species were philosophically obsolete (even in Greek philosophy) with the advent of Aristotle, ca. 400 BC.

    Off of the top of my head, I know only one prominent ID advocate who does not believe in common descent, and he is an attorney.

    ID is fundamentally a philosophical position that says that somewhere, somehow, LFW is necessary for a complete description of the biological world, and human psychology and civilization in particular, if not the evolutionary process in general.

  • Mark D.

    In other words, disprove libertarian free will, and your work is done. Without LFW – internal/external whatever, ID is false.

    Deterministic influences are no more a violation of the orthodox position on evolution than a petri dish.

  • sometimes its because they are sexually active, and sometimes its because it feels good,but my cat dont like it for some reason

  • [...] of a Harry Potter-like God that was appropriate in the Seventeenth Century, and which we borrowed from the Greeks, is giving way to more complex conceptions and more Mormonism-informed perspectives. These are [...]

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