Why (Religious) Evolutionists Bug Me

January 19, 2013    By: Jeff G @ 4:26 pm   Category: Before Abraham,Truth

Let me lay some cards on the table, if only to provide a bit of context for what I want to say.  I am a strong and unequivocal evolutionist who places Darwin at the very core of my philosophical mindset.  My relationship to religion, on the other had, is …. complicated.  I don’t think any of the standard categories unambiguously matches up with what I think and feel, and I’m somewhat okay with that.  I just hope that these confessions serve to clarify rather than obstruct the conversation I hope to have. 

As one of the old-time evolutionists in the bloggernacle, finding annoying posts, comments and statements by creationists has always been like shooting fish in a barrel.  But like any other social movement which binds and blinds us, I had a difficult time seeing what might be stuck in my own eye.  Of course, whether this “something” is a beam, a mote or something in between, is certainly a matter of perspective.
What bugs me most about the (religious) evolutionist is his universalist language.  It is one thing to say that one cannot reject evolution without violating the widely accepted rules of Liberal Science.  That seems to me like a pretty safe assertion.  It is something else entirely to suggest that the only way to reject evolution is through ignorance, insanity or wickedness.  That seems a little… far fetched, shall we say?
I think the source of the problem lies in the evolutionist’s inability to see a difference between these two assertions.  For him, the rules of Liberal Science are not merely a contingent set of rules which belong to a particular way of approaching the world around us.  No.  For him, the rules of Liberal Science are the very rules of Rationality itself –  not just contingently enforced by fellow members of the scientific community, but necessarily and universally binding due to the nature of Reality itself.  In the evolutionist’s mind, to violate the widely accepted rules of Liberal Science just is to be ignorant, insane, wicked, or whatever suitable euphemism he chooses to use instead.
Consider the following:
I hate to read the whiney little complainers who do not bother to sample the richness of this feast. Those who slog forth their narrow vision of the cosmos and claim that evolution should be held under suspicion because it does not fit their small-minded interpretation, and stale reading, of past leaders…
And the most galling thing of all is they have never bothered to read a book on evolution (unless it is from Creationist clearing houses). Their entrenched ignorance of evolution is staggering…
They will wring their hands and grind their teeth and pull out their beards on evolution, but it will go on. But let me just offer some advice. Learn some of the wonders spilling from the pages of people studying this magnificent universe and its processes. It’s no threat to your faith, unless it is so shaky and built upon stacks of out of context quotes that it can’t stand face to face with the wonders of the given universe. I suspect this is actually the heart of the matter for these zealots…
 So the whiners and wresters, the gospel anti-evolutionary hobbyists, bury their heads in the quotes, plug their ears and scream “I can’t hear you.” One thing they know is facts are dangerous to the shallow faith they’ve developed, so they don’t bother to learn anything about what they criticize. But their ignorance shows. Oh how it shows.
All three accusations are here:  Any creationist must either be ignorant from not having read the right books, insane to the point of hand wringing, teeth grinding and beard pulling, or wicked such that they obviously have a weaker faith than the evolutionist has.  Other euphemisms for this irrationality include small-minded, suspicious, entrenched, zealous, whiners and wresters, etc.
Of course all such rhetoric is meant only to distract us from the rather obvious question which is really at hand:  Why should we allow the rules of Liberal Science to govern each and every aspect of our lives?  Why is it that science – and only science! – gets to tell us what we are and where we come from?  This is a difficult question which I do not propose to answer or even address here.  I’m not really trying to remove that “something” which is stuck in the evolutionist’s eye – only to draw attention to that things existence.


  1. Gimme that old time evolution.

    Comment by Dave — January 19, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

  2. Science can’t provide meaning in itself, but esthetics’ meaning-making is ultimately impotent without science. Those esthetics that do not account for science will die. Those that account for science will remain to compete for flourishing, and the surviving religious esthetics, provoking their communities more strenuously, are likely to win that competition.

    I enjoy these related thoughts from Emile Durkheim:

    “This is what the conflict between science and religion is about. People often have an inaccurate idea of it. Some say that science denies religion in principle. But religion exists; it is a system of given facts; in short, it is a reality. How could science deny a reality? Moreover, insofar as religion is action, insofar as it is a human way of living, science could not possibly take its place, for it expresses life, it does not create it. Science can indeed seek to explain faith, but by this very fact it presupposes it. So there is no conflict except on one limited point. Of the two functions that religion originally performed, one exists, but only one, which tends increasingly to escape it: that is the speculative function. What science disputes in religion is not its right to exist but the right to be dogmatic about the nature of things, the kind of special competence it claimed for its knowledge of man and the world. In fact, religion does not know itself. It knows neither what it is made of nor what needs it satisfies. Far from handing down the law to science, it is itself an object of scientific study! And on the other hand, since apart from the reality to which scientific reflection applies, religious speculation has no proper object, religion clearly cannot play the same role in the future that it has in the past. Yet it seems called upon to transform itself rather than to disappear. We have said that there is something eternal in religion, namely the cult, the faith. But men cannot celebrate ceremonies for which they see no rationale, nor accept a faith they cannot understand. To spread it, or simply to maintain it, one must justify it — in other words, generate a theory of it. A theory of this kind is, of course, bound to rely on various sciences from the moment they exist: first, the social sciences, since religious faith has its origins in society; then psychology, since society is a synthesis of human consciousnesses; and of course the natural sciences, since man and society are a function of the universe and can be separated from it artificially. But as important as these borrowings from the sciences might be, they would not suffice; for faith is above all an impulse to act, and science, even pushed to its limits, always remains at a distance from action. Science is fragmentary, incomplete; it progresses slowly and is never finished; life cannot wait. Theories that are meant to promote living and acting are therefore compelled to run ahead of science and complete it prematurely. They are possible only if the demands of practice and vital necessities, such as we feel without any clear perception, push thought ahead of what science allows us to confirm. Thus religions, even the most rational and secularized, cannot and will never be able to dispense with a very special sort of speculation that, while having the same objects as science itself, could never be properly scientific: in it, the obscure intuitions of sensation and sentiment often take the place of logic. On the one hand, this speculation resembles the kind we encounter in older religions; but on the other it is quite distinctive. While claiming to go beyond science, it must begin by knowing science and finding inspiration in it. Once the authority of science is established, it must be reckoned with; one can go further than science under the pressure of necessity, but science is the starting point. One can affirm nothing that science denies, deny nothing that it affirms, establish nothing that does not rest, directly or indirectly, on the principles borrowed from it. From then on, faith no longer exerts the same hegemony as before over the system of ideas that we can continue to call religious. It is countered by a rival power that, born from it, submits it henceforth to its criticism and control. And all indicators predict that this control will become ever more extensive and effective, with no possibility of assigning a limit to its future influence.” (Emile Durkheim, Elementary Forms of Religious Life, 325-327)

    Comment by Lincoln Cannon — January 19, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

  3. I greatly appreciate Steve and the work he has done on this issue but it seems like he can’t stop himself dumping on his ideological enemies Richard Dawkins-style from time to time. Not the best way to win friends/influence people but there you go. Writing zingers is probably more fun than certainly easier than trying to pursuade someone. No one’s perfect.

    Comment by Mephibosheth — January 20, 2013 @ 12:46 am

  4. I really feel that we have too many people who argue by cheap shot. It leads no where and provides nothing in the way of the Spirit.

    It also leads to cheap shots in return.

    I think you have made that point well here.

    A rationalist should be able to get beyond argument by cheap shot which only serves to obscure and deflect any rational discussion.

    Thanks for your clarity.

    Comment by Stephen R. Marsh — January 20, 2013 @ 8:15 am

  5. While I did use Steve’s post as an example, I’ve found myself guilty of all these same grievances too. When I found that creationists didnt take the same rules of rational discourse to be as binding as I thought they were, what else could I do but call them names? But that was the problem, that science can’t tell us why we *must* follow science.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 20, 2013 @ 10:33 am

  6. Jeff,

    Thank! You! I, a non-scientist, accept evolution pretty-much because of where the scientific community is on the matter. But even so, I do get frustrated at times when evolution is laid down as the final existential trump card.

    Comment by Jack — January 20, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

  7. People like to throw occasional haymakers when debating, whether they connect with the swing or not. Heaven knows I’ve thrown more than my share over the years.

    But of course you are right that often the real problem is not addressed. In this case it is which set of rules/assumptions should we rely on most when asking important questions.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 20, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

  8. Of course, the kicker is that science actually doesn’t say anything about what we are supposed to do with the observed universe or what it MEANS.

    Science is a neutral – merely a descriptive sort of thing. It can never bestow meaning on anything. That’s a uniquely human conceit.

    So finding out the causes of heart disease won’t tell you whether to kill the people who have it, spend health care resources on them, or let them run for president of France.

    If you want meaning, look elsewhere. Science has none to offer.

    Comment by Seth R. — January 21, 2013 @ 6:17 am

  9. I think the purpose of science is to determine objective fact to our best ability, and then to form those facts into some framework. The success of science lies in its ability to generate working theories and principles that provide predicatability. Through science we can drive cars, fly in airplanes, cure diseases, go to the moon, among others. However, I also agree that science provides cold comfort on a lonely night.

    Science is not intended to provide meaning, tell us what is beautiful, write poetry, feel love, provde compassion to the poor, free us from fear, etc. This is what humanity does for itself. However, this works from the more subjective side. There is no objective definition of love, or what makes a poem good or a symphony beautiful, or allows art to speak to the heart.

    Ethics are the same. I do not personally believe that morality is objective. I think we create our own morality, just as we create our own meaning. Science may play a role in this, but it is only part of the equation.

    So I would say the difference between the two lies in objective vs. subjective. Once religious believers deny what is objectively held up by an enormous pile of evidence and fact, then, yes, they do look silly and foolish. Evolution is one such example.

    By the way, I am new to this site. What is “liberal science”? Is there conservative science? I am not trying to be flipant, I am just curious as to what you mean?

    Comment by Fred — January 21, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

  10. I wonder how many evolutionists have been baptized by fire or spoken with the Savior whilst yet in the flesh?

    Comment by log — January 21, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

  11. Maybe I should say more.

    14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

    15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

    16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

    17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

    18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

    Evolution produces neither prophets nor saints, but it does produce this:

    “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as the truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing….” – Jeffrey Dahmer

    Comment by log — January 21, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

  12. Seth,

    I’m not sure if it really matters or not, but I strongly believe that science has values…. it’s just that these values are different from those which we have received from other sources. That is the very heart of the problem. If science didn’t have any values at all then there would never be any kind of science/religion debate to be had.

    When science tells us that we ought to follow logic and empirical evidence and keep tradition or personal preference out of it, this is a prescriptive value judgment.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 22, 2013 @ 11:02 am

  13. Thanks for the feedback, Fred.

    Just to be clear, I mean “liberal science” in the sense of “liberal arts” or science as it is taught in a liberal education. I had no intention of bringing in any kind of left-wing/right-wing dichotomy.

    As for the objective/subject divide, I am very suspicious of it. Objectivity was a value which emerged with modern thinking in order to discredit other pre-modern forms of thought. “Instead of tradition, we follow logic. We don’t allow appeals to authority, only appeals to evidence.” And so on. But there is nothing which is more intrinsically binding or “objective” about following one set or rules rather than the other.

    In other words, “objectivity” is a value which legitimately holds sway *within* the practice of science and as such probably shouldn’t be applied to the practice as a whole from without. This attempt by science to tell us why we should listen to science is no different than the religious attempt to tell us why we should listen to religion.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 22, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  14. log (#10),

    If God used some evolution-ish process to organize this planet then 100% of the people who “have been baptized by fire or spoken with the Savior whilst yet in the flesh” eventually became evolutionists if they weren’t already.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

  15. Geoff J (#14)

    The witnesses to the process of the organization of this planet and all things on it refrain 100% from describing some evolution-ish process.

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  16. Here’s another question for both Jeff G and Geoff J – if the prophets have been demonstrably wrong about the creation, while claiming to be witnesses to it, why should anyone believe them about anything?

    On the other hand, if you accept the prophets about the atonement, the need for repentance and holiness, and the resurrection, then why do you reject them with respect to the creation?

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

  17. log,

    Yep, ancient prophets didn’t describe creation in 21st century scientific terms. Big deal. Ancient prophets described their visions and revelations about creation the best they could in the context of their language and cultures. They didn’t understand the science God understands, but that doesn’t make their descriptions demonstrably wrong.

    It is logically possible that God really did poof this planet together in a week like they said. I just don’t believe it. If you want to, knock yerself out with that.

    The truly foolish thing to do is pretend to know the mysteries of God and the universe with certainty. We can believe that God exists and organized the worlds without knowing exactly how God did it.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  18. Geoff J,

    Your argument fails by way of Joseph Smith, who was a modern prophet who spoke English well enough to distinguish a naturalistic, unintelligent, stochastic chemical process from intelligent action. His account is preserved and reenacted in the temple.

    It is a bold Mormon indeed who would accuse Joseph Smith of foolishly pretending to know the mysteries of God and the universe with certainty.

    I suppose you are going to continue to decline to answer the questions posed in #16?

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  19. So log, since you are clearly the Amazing Answer Man, how exactly did God organize this world then? You seem to think the prophets have laid out all the details. Let’s hear it!

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

  20. BTW — regarding your #16: Being open to the possibility that God used some variation on evolution to organize this world is not rejecting the scriptures or prophets. To claim otherwise would be somewhere between arrogant and ridiculous.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

  21. Geoff J, in reading #17, I could not help but be reminded of the following.

    9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

    10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

    11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

  22. #19 – Geoff J,

    It is sufficient to know that plants and animals and all living things on this planet were placed here (again, that aforementioned temple account says this explicitly), and therefore did not originate here, to know that the evolutionary hypothesis is false. Unless, of course, Joseph was foolishly pretending.

    #20 – which of the accounts of the scriptures, or the temple, is consistent with naturalistic abiogenesis + random genetic change + natural selection = all of biological history, and how do you arrive at that conclusion?

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  23. Geoff J,

    When will you give a straightforward answer to #16?

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

  24. log #22,

    Great. Living things were “placed here”. HOW God went about placing those things here and how long that took is still a mystery so some variation of evolution is very much in play as one of the possibilities.

    I have been careful to use phrases like “some variation on evolution” to avoid the lame arguments about randomness.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  25. See my answer to #16 in #20.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  26. Geoff J,

    “Placed here” means just that – taken from elsewhere and put here. The temple account was given in English.

    #20 does not answer #16. You are not simply “open” to the possibility that God simply did not “poof” things into existence, but you and Jeff G rather insist that he did not, and that he used some “evolution-ish” process, left undefined because you don’t wish to address “lame arguments about randomness”.

    You are aware that without the random stuff, it’s not evolution – any purposeful intelligent intervention in producing an outcome makes the process producing the outcome a specimen of intelligent design and not evolution at all.

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

  27. log,

    Your immense arrogance is showing when you proclaim things like “Placed here means…”. You don’t know that. You have know idea how God does what he does. It is hubris to imply otherwise.

    What you also don’t know is what I believe. I am partial to the idea that modern science isn’t all wrong about the history of our planet. That’s it.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 4:44 pm

  28. Geoff J,

    When someone insists they don’t believe “God really did poof this planet together in a week” and consistently insists on evolution or evolution-ish processes, then I take them at their word.

    It is not arrogant to believe someone when they tell you what they believe.

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

  29. It is also not hubris to point out that “placed here” means “moved here from elsewhere”. That is what the English phrase means.

    I may be immensely arrogant, but you don’t know what I know – and wouldn’t your claim to the contrary be exactly what you are accusing me of?

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

  30. It is arrogant to claim to know how God did what he did.

    You can have your guesses, and I get mine.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

  31. As Alma said, anyone can know how God did things, if one does not harden one’s heart. It is arrogance that prevents us from asking.

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  32. Yes, log, it is hubris to insist that God must have taken all “plants and animals and all living things on this planet” from some other place and dropped them here. Are you claiming God is not powerful enough to home-grow these things? Or are you just arrogant enough to tell God how planets must be organized?

    Just because you have a theory about how God might have accomplished what he did doesn’t make it true. I know that must be hard for someone as arrogant as you believe.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

  33. log #31,

    I’m starting to wonder if you are just trolling now. The irony of someone as prideful and arrogant as you talking about a hard heart being the problem is too rich.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

  34. Geoff J,

    #32 – I am powerful enough to buy a water-balloon kit to make water balloons enough to fill up my bath by dropping them in it. However, that is not how I filled my bath. I ran the faucet into the bath.

    Likewise, God has all power – and he told us through Joseph that he directed Jehovah and Michael to place things here, rather than doing it himself or “poofing” them into existence. It is not arrogance to believe that which God has spoken through the prophet, just as it is not arrogant to believe that I filled my bath using the faucet, since I have told you that is what I did.

    #33 – I may indeed be prideful and arrogant. I am contemptible insofar as I seek to dominate or excel above you.

    I used to be an atheist. I used to believe that evolution was not only an adequate explanation for why things are the way they are, but that it was in fact the actual process by which all things got where they are.

    I have all sympathy for the difficulty of trying to hold incompatible claims apart in one’s intellect, trying to reconcile them and being continually sensitive / defensive / dogmatic at the point where they intersect.

    The only way out is up.

    Comment by log — January 22, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

  35. Great. So like I said, you can have your guesses, and I get mine.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 22, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

  36. Log, I sense that you equate fact with truth. Since prophetic accounts of creation are not factual, they are therefore not truthful. Am I getting this right?

    I personally think it is a mistake to try and harmonize biblical creation accounts with modern science. Both accounts are true, but they can’t be reconciled.

    To give a parallel example: It is true that whales are mammals. They are warm blooded, need the open air, and give birth like mammals. HOWEVER, you could also say, quite convincingly, that whales are fish. They swim like fish, they live underwater, and they have similar body shapes to fish. Therefore they are fish.

    Both accounts can’t be right at the same time, nor can they be harmonized. However, both accounts are right, in at least some sense. Granted, pretty much nobody today will accept that whales are fish, but that is simply because there is no incentive for it. It’s up to us as humans how we want to define whales. But if we wanted to say they are fish for some purposes, and then say they are mammals for others, then that would be totally fine.

    Another correlate wholly within the scientific realm: scientists treat light like either waves or particles depending on whichever is more helpful to them at the time, but both characterizations can’t be true at the same time. Yet scientists will still hold as true depending on what they are after. And it works.

    The point is, it doesn’t matter if the prophets’ account of creation is consistent with science. We can accept two contradictory accounts, call them both true, and be just fine.

    Comment by DavidF — January 23, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

  37. #36 – Truth is reality, past, present, and future. Anything more or less than this springs from evil.

    The real issue is whether science has successfully accounted for reality in terms of particles, forces, and the void – and evolution is the foundation of the claim that it has. If it has, then the divine is superfluous, and by Occam’s razor, need not be posited. As Korihor said, our testimonies would be the product of frenzied minds and usurping priests.

    If believing in evolution-ish processes combined with metaphorical creation accounts helps you maintain the possibility of belief in the claims of the Gospel, then I do wrong in emphasizing the tensions in that approach.

    In that light, I owe Geoff J an apology.

    Comment by log — January 24, 2013 @ 2:42 am

  38. Log,

    “The real issue is whether science has successfully accounted for reality in terms of particles, forces, and the void”

    If that’s the issue then the answer is absolutely not. Science is filled with inconsistencies. Theories, which are explanations of observed phenomena, also rest on assumed principles that are often unsound when subjected to a different theory.

    So here is an example. The acoustic theory of sound (how we understand the way sound travels) requires that we assume that air is fluid. But the kinetic theory of gases shows that air is not fluid, but a collection of unconnected particles bouncing off of each other. BUT in order for the kinetic theory of gases to work, we must assume that these particles don’t act upon each other unless they are touching. Yet this assumption runs contrary to Newton’s theory of gravity (which contains the law of gravity) which only makes sense if these particles have gravitational pull on each other at all times. BUT Newton’s theory of gravity is absolutely useless at speeds close to light. For that we need relativity, which doesn’t make sense from the standpoint of quantum mechanics. And on top of all of that light acts like a wave and a particle!

    The point is, scientific theories are only as good as the phenomena they are trying to explain. That is how science actually works. But that’s perfectly okay. We can describe the air around us as fluid for some purposes, and gaseous for others. We can’t think of air as both at the same time, but we can use whatever assumption is most useful for our purposes, and treat them as both true depending on our need.

    I would simply assert that a religious creation story and an evolutionary creation story are similarly valid explanations. We can use either. We just can’t use both at the same time.

    Comment by DavidF — January 24, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

  39. I would also add that the story of evolutionary science is incomplete. I think we focus far too much on the randomness of evolution without much regard for the possibility that mutations follow patterns that work almost like rules.

    Take this related example: When Russians bred the silver fox for domestication in the 80’s, they found something remarkable. As the foxes became more docile, their ears grew floppier and their coats shinny. These traits mysteriously followed domestication.

    What makes this even more interesting is that baby wolves have floppy ears. And, in fact, biologists note that dogs, which often have floppy ears, were basically domesticated by selecting traits that kept them in the wolf puppy stage. In a sense, dogs have the personalities of year old wolves.

    The point is, evolution may not just be purely random. It may follow consistent patterns that we haven’t discovered. So we could theorize this: In order for advanced stages of life to begin on any planet, those lifeforms would need to consume organic “producers;” that is, plants. To get a plant to grow, you need photosynthesis, and to get photosynthesis, you need cells that absorb the appropriate spectrum of light in order to absorb the right chemical reactions for growth. We call these cells chlorophyll, and chlorophyll reflect green. But why green? As far as I know, the answer is disputed. But if reflecting green is important for photosynthesis, then the evolutionary ramifications are huge. Put simply, take a million different worlds with plants, and on every one of those worlds all of the plants would always end up being green. That is, if photosynthetic reactions require the repulsion of green light waves.

    In any case, I think animal domestication provides clear reason to believe that evolution itself is not as random as we tend to think. Random yes, but perhaps it is only as random as the channels of mutations, elements, possible natural chemical reactions allows it to be. And that might be much narrower than we have so far believed.

    Comment by DavidF — January 24, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

  40. Nicely put, DavidF.

    Science strives mightily to enforce a fact/value divide.

    Thus, the scientist is left to choose between the two options:

    1) Truth and values are distinct and separate.


    2) Truth and facts are distinct and separate.

    The pre-modern mindset (aka religion), on the other hand, saw truth, facts and values as all being part and parcel with each other.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 24, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

  41. And am I the only one who doesn’t think that D&C 93: 24-25 can be used in the way that Log used it? Sure, if you read those two verses, without reading what comes before or after, it gives the impression of a representationalist theory of Truth. If, however, one reads the entire paragraph in which those two verses can be found you get a rather different impression. (But then, D&C 93 has always been one of the those sections which I’ve never understood very well.)

    Comment by Jeff G — January 24, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

  42. The excerpt log quoted basically just says “truth is true stuff” anyway.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 24, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  43. “The witnesses to the process of the organization of this planet and all things on it refrain 100% from describing some evolution-ish process.”

    Not even close. Have you read the various versions of the Creation? Evolution is everywhere, even if like the Temple shrouded in sign and symbol. I suppose you are right that it doesn’t describe the process, but it does show the products of the “final” steps.

    “I personally think it is a mistake to try and harmonize biblical creation accounts with modern science. Both accounts are true, but they can’t be reconciled.”

    Yes they can! I have done it myself. Its not that difficult once there is clarity, but it does take lots of pondering and spiritual struggle. That is one reason I get sick of the battle between Evolution and Creation – both sides setting up strawmen and red herrings to demoralize each other.

    Comment by Jettboy — January 26, 2013 @ 7:56 am

  44. whether the two can or cannot be harmonized is a question which I myself am not terribly interested in anymore. However, I strongly object to those who think that the two *must* be harmonized. With that in mind, I think my thoughts are much closer to DavidF’s, because I can’t see why anybody would put in the effort to harmonize the two unless they felt that the two ought to be harmonized in some sense. In the end, I see the two ways of construing the world as either doing a job with a hammer/nails or with a screwdriver/screws. They both have their strong and weak points, but trying to mix the two just makes me look like a fool.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 26, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

  45. Than I will gladly be a fool for I have seen them as one and the same harmonized.

    Comment by Jettboy — January 26, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

  46. The two should (even must) be harmonized because science is epistemic charity, caring for others’ experience as much as one’s own, and caring for all experience to the fullest extent possible through serious systematic analysis. As epistemic charity, science is an essential aspect of the Atonement.

    Comment by Lincoln Cannon — January 29, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

  47. I don’t think the words “charity”, “caring” and “experience” mean the same thing in a religious context that they do in a scientific context.

    Comment by Jeff G — January 29, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

  48. Evolution as we are taught is more a rejection of vitalism than a rejection of creationist dogma. Modern evolutionists recoil at Lamarckian inheritance, which Darwin was partial to, simply because it’s not strictly materialistic.

    A more interesting, if not mind blowing, theory is Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance. All of creation is constantly learning, and once one member of a species learns something new the entire species learns it. Experiments have confirmed this.

    So the whole evolutionary process becomes one of conscious learning, where the consciousness is collective to all life and tends upward. This is, of course, taboo to talk about in respectable society. In both modern science and in classic western religion.

    Comment by Bradley — January 30, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

  49. I know I’m late to the party, I always am so rarely comment, but on this one I’m going to ask a couple of questions to figure out what side I’m on here.

    Jeff – when you say you believe in evolution does that mean you believe that this earth and the life that is here would be here even if God didn’t decide to create it? Randomness alone was all that mattered?

    Log – do you believe life has power in itself to ever adapt or evolve to its surroundings or in the face of extinction?

    Comment by greg — February 6, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  50. Greg,

    I guess my answer to your question is “who cares?” I’m sure that isn’t exactly what you were looking for, but I simply see no use to which such questions can be put.

    Evolution is an indispensable tool for doing empirical (especially biological) science… But there is so much more to life than empirical science and it seems to me that questions about where we came from, why we’re here and where we’re going all fall squarely in this “more” category.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 6, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

  51. Well maybe I’m mistaken but I think my question to you is the assumption Log is making about your argument and most others who argue the same side are assuming about those who argue in favor of evolution.

    So that is why I care I guess, just want to know if his assumption is correct… Seems to me like it would make a huge difference in these arguments.

    Comment by greg — February 6, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  52. Log – do you believe life has power in itself to ever adapt or evolve to its surroundings or in the face of extinction?

    This question presupposes too many background assumptions to give a straightforward “no” to.

    Comment by log — February 6, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

  53. Greg,

    I apologize if my response sounded a tad bit dismissive to you and your contribution to this conversation. Such was certainly not my intent. Rather, the whole point which I was trying to make in my post was to dismiss questions such as those which you raised. My whole point is that doing science and doing religion are two very different things and that trying to mix the two by asking scientific questions about what happens in hypothetical worlds in which God does (or does not) exist just makes us all look a little ridiculous.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 6, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  54. Your questions do seem helpful at clarifying the points of disagreement between Log and myself though. For instance, my answer to what you asked Log is a resounding “yes”, followed quickly by a “so what?” Log seems to think that what science does or does not say about our biological origins is somehow relevant to our religious beliefs when this is exactly what I am trying to deny. Log, on the other hand, thinks that because the answer which he will give to that question does have some bearing on questions of faith, that we had better un-ask the question altogether.

    Let me approach this point a bit differently. Log thinks that the arguments for or against God’s existence are important. But this just is to accept the scientific mindset which says that arguments – along with the logical and empirical rules which constitute them – are important. Accordingly, like a good, modern scientist, he sees that if evolution has enough creative power, then this undermines one of the more potent arguments for God. Etc….

    I disagree with this line of thinking from the very start. Religion is not about arguments, logic or empirical data. Many scriptures support this assertion. Religion is about faith and loyalty to duly appointed authority figures, fellow members and tradition. Thus, what the logical consequences evolution has are pretty much totally irrelevant to religion. Religion doesn’t need or want arguments for it or arguments against its enemies. All religion wants is faith and loyalty.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 6, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

  55. That doesn’t actually cover my position, but I would argue your claim in general is undercut by the Book of Mormon, rather directly.

    Alma 30:6 But it came to pass in the latter end of the seventeenth year, there came a man into the land of Zarahemla, and he was Anti-Christ, for he began to preach unto the people against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets, concerning the coming of Christ.

    7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.

    8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.

    9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.

    10 But if he amurdered he was punished unto bdeath; and if he crobbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed dadultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished.

    11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.

    12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying:

    13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

    14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.

    15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.

    16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a afrenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.

    17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

    18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.

    Comment by log — February 6, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  56. Implications are mighty things indeed… and it appears many of the ancient Nephites understood the implications of Korihor’s teachings quite well.

    And Alma responded with arguments which also had implications.

    Comment by log — February 6, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

  57. I have no clue what that passage is supposed to mean in this context.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 6, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

  58. That’s an interesting point which I’ll definitely have to address later. For now I might suggest that the story that korihor was in is more important than the argument he was in.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 6, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

  59. Jeff,
    No worries, I think what your saying though is that you have the ability to compartmentalize…one box for science and one box for religion. I don’t think most people can do this very effectively. I say this because I get in a few discussion at work on these subjects and most folks that deny God of course use evolution as the main source of their arguments.

    I guess the other part of what your saying that I’m not sure I’m with you on is that
    “Religion is not about arguments, logic or empirical data” Faith comes from living the commandments and being blessed for that, it comes by reading the words or teaching or I might say arguments of the Prophets. Again I don’t have the same ability you have to compartmentalize. Its all the same to me. If it is then my questions matter because they paint the extremes. If we can’t agree that the extremes aren’t where we want to be than we never can harmonize which I guess your against anyway.

    Comment by greg — February 6, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

  60. Greg,

    Let me jump in here. My position is fairly close to Jeff’s. I think that not only do religion and science need to be kept out of each other’s way, but science itself has to keep out of science’s way. See my post #38.

    Science isn’t consistent. We rely on many competing theories which have conflicting assumptions. It is impossible to reconcile all of our scientific theories as presently constituted. But could they ever?

    This is the debate between two philosophical camps that have been around since the middle ages (and they are both still going strong): realists and nominalists.

    Realists believe that as our scientific understanding progresses, we will eventually be able to resolve all of these inconsistencies. If we have enough time, we will one day be able to arrive at the theory of everything. That is, an explanation for everything that is unified and consistent. You seem to be swaying toward the realist perspective.

    Nominalists don’t believe that there is such a thing as a theory of everything. Our theories are tailored to whatever phenomena we seek to explain. But our theories will never be fully consistent because they can only address whatever related group of ideas that we apply them to. So for example, the kinetic theory of gases and the acoustic theory of sound contradict. It’s not that we don’t know how gases work or how sound works. We know how these things work. Science can explain these unconnected phenomena, but it can’t discover a meaningless connection between sound and gases that doesn’t actually exist.

    Comment by DavidF — February 6, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  61. Ooops. Conclusion: I’m a nominalist. Realism is an optimistic illusion (my biased view). Nominalism explains how science actually works (that is true).

    Comment by DavidF — February 6, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

  62. Log thinks that the arguments for or against God’s existence are important.


    But this just is to accept the scientific mindset which says that arguments – along with the logical and empirical rules which constitute them – are important.

    I don’t think we can accuse Alma of having a scientific mindset.

    Accordingly, like a good, modern scientist, he sees that if evolution has enough creative power, then this undermines one of the more potent arguments for God. Etc….

    It undermines the Gospel in its entirety.

    Religion is not about arguments, logic or empirical data.

    It is about belief in the first instance. As Dan Peterson is wont to cite,

    Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.

    Many scriptures support this assertion. Religion is about faith and loyalty to duly appointed authority figures, fellow members and tradition.

    That does sound right out of Korihor’s playbook.

    Thus, what the logical consequences evolution has are pretty much totally irrelevant to religion.

    Jeffrey Dahmer disagreed, and so do most atheists.

    Religion doesn’t need or want arguments for it or arguments against its enemies. All religion wants is faith and loyalty.

    Alma would, again, disagree.

    Comment by log — February 6, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

  63. If the proprietors can fix that hyperlink, that would be awesome.

    Anyways. Religion starts off with belief, and it is at this stage that argument matters, for argument undermines or bolsters belief. You will receive a witness from time to time, as a star in the darkness, and you choose to either act on it or not. If you begin to act on your beliefs – to the point you are willing to do so even in the face of apparently contradictory evidence – then you obtain the answering power of Heaven to your soul, because it so happens the Gospel is true: this answering power is faith. At this point, you will be baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost, and it will be as the light of the moon in your heart. If you then walk in that faith you have received, obeying every commandment and every prompting given to you, performing every sacrificed asked, you will in time be given knowledge, where you see with your eyes and handle with your hands the Son of God, where your faith will be a continual light as of the sun in your heart, being enabled to see clearly and commune with God continually.

    Comment by log — February 6, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

  64. “where your knowledge will be a continual light as of the sun…”

    Comment by log — February 6, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

  65. Log,

    There is a significant different between the arguments which you find in scripture and the rigorous and formal arguments which constitute scientific thinking. For example, 2 Ne. 2 and Alma 32 are certainly presented as arguments, but they’re aren’t even close to valid. If these arguments were presented for peer-review (which is really at the heart of the Enlightenment turn toward dialectic, formal reasoning and science in general) they would be torn to pieces…. but so what?

    These religious sermons were never meant to be logically air-tight. These rules of science were nowhere near as binding to the speakers or the listeners as the rules of religion were. That’s why I say that the story in which Alma finds himself is more important than the argument in which he finds himself…. and this is precisely because the audience and the implications which the audience takes from these arguments is certainly what matters.

    Yes, Jeffery Dahmer and the atheists would certainly disagree with me… but that’s the point! Nearly all of the arguments (there’s that word again) simply do not get that religion is under no obligation to live up to whatever standards science decides to set for it. It doesn’t care what the logical or empirical implications are, only the practical implications for us in this and the next life.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 7, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

  66. Greg,

    That is exactly right! I do feel like I’ve found a powerful way of “compartmentalizing” religion and science. So often the intellectual feels like the only way of accepting science and religion is by way of apologetics and theology, but I’m suggesting that there are other ways available as well.

    More to the point, I simply do not like the word “compartmentalize” when it comes to the two modes of thought. It suggests that there are two “kinds” of truth boxes into which non-false claims can be placed. But this metaphor meets strong resistance by those who want to circumscribe all truth into one great whole or box.

    This is why I prefer to compare religion and science to hammer/nail and screw/driver sets of tools: both sets of tools can exist in the same carpenters tool box, but only the fool would try to apply some mix of these sets in the same task.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 7, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

  67. DavidF,

    We are certainly the same in our non-realism, although I simply do not see the point of committing myself to nominalism.


    I don’t really have any problem with Dan Peterson and what he strives to accomplish with his apologetics. His efforts certainly do help a lot of people and I would never want to undermine that success. However, I feel like he tacitly gives science WAY to much credit by presupposing that religion can (and in some sense must) subject itself to the logical and empirical rules of science. All the arguments and evidence which he marshals in favor of religion give the impression that if such there were no such evidence or valid arguments then religion would be in trouble. This is exactly the mindset which I am striving against.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 7, 2013 @ 11:58 pm

  68. Jeff G,

    I would disagree with you that Alma’s argument is invalid, and I would disagree with you that Lehi’s argument is invalid. I would say that your perception of their apparent invalidity stems not from the arguments themselves, but from you having accepted as true certain axioms which undercut their foundation – namely, uniformitarianism and the efficacy of natural selection and random variation to reduce the improbability of observed outcomes in the biological sphere.

    And I think Dan Peterson would be addressing you in the article I culled that citation from. (The opening parenthesis was supposed to be an opening bracket, which is why the hyperlink is broken.)

    Comment by log — February 8, 2013 @ 11:24 am

  69. Of course you disagree with me regarding the validity of those arguments and my take on apologetics…. Because just like any scientifically minded person you think that validity and evidence are important. I don’t really have a problem with that since my argument isn’t that apologetics and validity mustn’t be important to us; only that they don’t have to be. I can happily accept both religion and science without having a single care about what arguments or evidence can be marshaled for or against the former by the latter.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 8, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

  70. Sigh. Nobody – and I mean *nobody* – is not scientifically minded in the trivial sense you use the term. If even dogs use predicate logic with evidence – and they do – then it is beyond incredible that someone might claim, with a straight face, that some humans do not.

    Comment by log — February 8, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  71. propositional logic, my bad…

    Comment by log — February 8, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

  72. Sigh. And that’s how I know that you are far too scientifically minded for my taste.

    Dogs do not use propositional logic at all. Rather *we humans* can (but do not have to!) use propositional logic to model the behavior of dogs. Propositional logic is simply one ways which we modern people have learned how to construe the world around us. There is nothing “deep” or “necessary” about logic such that religion must be bound by it. True, we *can* subject religion to logical analyses if we want, but we do not have to.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 8, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  73. Jeff G.,

    I get the impression that our positions differ somewhat, sort of in the way that two different politicians agree in the same party. But maybe I’m wrong, and you’re free to correct me.

    I think religion has to, or at least ought to, conform to some basic logical rules. I don’t think, for example, that two beliefs may logically contradict each other. Of course there are contradictory commandments, but a healthy dose of reason can tease out a reconciliation of sorts. So I may be a little softer on that position than you are.

    But just because I think logic in religion is important, and logic in science is obviously important, I don’t think that science and religion feed into each other. And if they do, it is only by choice, not necessity. And I think that goes back to where we agree.

    Comment by DavidF — February 9, 2013 @ 11:39 am

  74. I would certainly agree that we are close. I’m just not sure how close, if only because I’m not sure where or if I want to draw the line on the subject. Of course, I would agree that the rules of logic do apply within a religious setting, but they are no fine grained or non-negotiable. I want to pose the tension between religious and scientific rules of thought as being just like any other moral dilemma. When or if moral rules clash, then we will certainly be obligated to smooth these differences over in one way or another, but to actively seek such a state of affairs seems bizarre to me.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 9, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  75. I’m extremely late to this post, but I’d like to make one comment:

    I know a lot of creationists, but I’ve never met anyone who’s taken a high-level evolution course in college who’s still a creationist.

    Such people may exist. But I have a feeling that if you go around asking BYU grads who’ve taken the BYU evolution course (a 400-level course) about evolution, they will overwhelmingly accept it.

    The “creationists are ignorant” argument, then, has some merit. Because it’s really hard–almost impossible–to look at all that evidence for evolution and still come away with the mindset that it’s all crock.

    Comment by Tim — February 11, 2013 @ 5:57 am

  76. A comment on the long-running argument between Log and Geoff J (which, after the first half-dozen interchanges I just skimmed): There is another argument. That is that nearly all scripture, but especially ancient scripture, referring to prophets’ and others’ visions of the Creation are metaphorical or allegorical baloney. IF there were any actual visions/revelations from God, He was purposely manipulating these men, and through them us.

    There (it seems to me) is significant evidence that much of scripture is purposely vague and ambiguous (perhaps so we can seek “truth” only through the Holy Ghost). There is a long history of attempting to do good through lying (anything less than clear, full truth). We can fault ancient scripture, especially with regard to the Creation, as being based on (or taken whole cloth from) even more ancient creation myths, or having been made obscure via many iterations of translation, etc. However, those given in modern times support all the ancient baloney.

    Haven’t we (enlightened and open-minded ones) come to agree that the Creation story and especially the Garden of Eden story are figurative? I cannot find it right now, and so shouldn’t mention it, but I thought I had read as much from one of our (vaunted and led by God continually) General Authorities.

    No, I shouldn’t mention it because even if they believe differently the primary role they are called to play is to support whatever the current story is. To manipulate and indoctrinate, for our good–and I don’t doubt that motivation, or even condemn it.

    Comment by fbisti — February 11, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  77. Tim,

    Can’t you say that exact same thing about any set of beliefs? “Almost everybody who doesn’t accept X are ignorant, having not been sufficient informed/indoctrinated in X.” Whether X is evolution, Mormonism, Islam, etc. the “argument” is equally uncompelling.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 11, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

  78. Fbisti,
    if you really believed what you are saying, you wouldn’t say what you are saying.

    Comment by Adam G. — February 11, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  79. Tim,

    I have often noted that belief in evolution by random variance and natural selection (and whatever other naturalistic selective processes you would like to throw in), like a lottery ticket, is almost universally found in possession of people with bad math skills. The only reason anyone finds evolution plausible – at all – is because of nearly (or utterly) complete (and invincible) ignorance of the probabilities involved in its claims. That is why whenever computer simulations are implemented intending to demonstrate the reasonability of the evolutionary hypothesis they universally use intelligent selection functions, otherwise the simulations do the opposite of what is intended – demonstrate decreasing complexity as generations go on, rather than demonstrate the complexity-building capacity oft attributed to natural selection. This is consistent with what we observe of darwinian processes in nature: evolution is known to break working structures, but has not been readily observed to build them.

    But don’t take my word for it – what is the probability of a self-replicating RNA strand arising on Earth with any reasonable starting conditions believed to obtain at the time such a thing just HAD to occur? And show how this calculation was arrived at, as well.

    Comment by log — February 11, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  80. Jeff G.,

    I know plenty of people who know a great deal about various belief systems, and yet don’t believe.

    Science is different. Study chemistry, or physics, or genetics, or evolution. I guess you can call those “a set of beliefs” if you want. But they’re also things we have a ton of evidence for. A ton of evidence most people would come to accept if they actually knew what it was. Ignorance is bliss. (And yes, for the record, I was raised a creationist and I’ve read a ton of creationism and “Intelligent Design” literature, so I know that stuff better than most.)

    log–“belief in evolution by random variance and natural selection…is almost universally found in possession of people with bad math skills.”


    You must mean people like the one discussed in this post, right?

    Except he has a PhD in biomathematics.

    I once applied to graduate programs in evolutionary sciences. My biggest hindrance in getting in? My GRE math scores were too low. I scored an almost perfect score on the evolution/ecology section of the Biology GRE, but that wasn’t good enough. My GRE math scores were well above average, but the people getting into these programs were experts at math and therefore the ones getting into the programs.

    Dumb at math? No, quite the opposite, actually.

    Comment by Tim — February 11, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

  81. You must mean people like the one discussed in this post, right?

    I mean precisely that person, and all others besides. The relevant branch of mathematics involved is probability.

    When you get around to answering my specific question about the probability of a self-replicating RNA strand arising on the primitive Earth, as well as how the calculation was arrived at, I will be all ears.

    I certainly won’t be holding my breath, though.

    Comment by log — February 11, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

  82. C’mon Tim, there are plenty of people who know a lot about evolution and still don’t believe. To be sure, there are differences between religion and science, but the fact that disbelievers do not tend to be counted among the well-initiated and well-informed is not it. Why would somebody who doesn’t believe in evolution ever waste time and money studying it? What could they possibly stand to gain from doing so?

    That’s what makes the case of Kurt Wise so puzzling.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 11, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

  83. For reference, we know of tC19Z, which is 198 bases long. 4^198 is a very, very large number. Would you play a lottery with a 1 / 4^198 chance of winning?

    Comment by log — February 11, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

  84. “C’mon Tim, there are plenty of people who know a lot about evolution and still don’t believe.”

    My personal experience says otherwise. I’ve had many discussions with people about evolution who don’t accept evolution, but I always run into the same problem–they can’t even speak the basic language of biology, let alone evolution.

    Take log, for example, who seems to believe that how the first RNA strand arose is evolution, and that scientists’ inability to know exactly how it happened somehow disproves evolution. Evolution is the study of how life evolves, not how it was first created. Anyone who’s actually studied evolution knows that.

    I’d like to meet these “plenty of people.” I keep hearing about them, but I’ve never had the opportunity to meet them in real life. (Note that Kurt Wise is a geologist, not a biologist–and his kind are, in my experience, so extremely rare that the few that emerge gain instant fame). If I meet ex-Mormons, I at least speak the same Mormon “language” with them. I say Celestial Kingdom and they know what I mean. But discussions with creationists always leads to confusion because they don’t have the background in biology necessary to speak that language.

    Comment by Tim — February 11, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

  85. It is definitely required for a naturalistic account of biological complexity, which is the sole purpose for evolutionary theory in the first place – as anyone who’s actually studied evolution knows.

    Induction doesn’t work unless the N = 0 case is proved.

    And I thank you for conceding that the N = 0 case is, as yet, only an imaginative speculation. But then, so is every other step in the production of complexity from simplicity.

    Comment by log — February 11, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

  86. Tim,

    Wise was Stephen J Gould’s research assistant. There is no doubt in my mind that he knows evolution better than any of us in this thread. As do a number of the ID authors. To be sure, I think their arguments are pretty poor, but ignorance is certainly not their central flaw. Consider, for example, the obnoxious appeals to mathematical probabilities which are only as good as their (unstated) assumptions. Flawed? Absolutely. Ignorant? Hardly.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 11, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

  87. … After all, if allele frequency and shuffling were all evolution were actually about, there’d be no controversy at all.

    Comment by log — February 11, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

  88. I haven’t ever gotten the impression from you, Jeff G, that you have examined Dembski. Which of his books have you read? Did you ever read his latest account of specification? Which of his assumptions are flawed, in your opinion, and on what grounds?

    Comment by log — February 11, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

  89. Yes, I’ve read Dembski. However, not only do I think the merits of his arguments tangential at best to anything that’s really important, I also doubt that either of us are qualified to say very much on the subject. Suffice it to say that there are very qualified people to do disagree with him and they are not at all difficult to find on the internet. I wise man once said that if people can believe something that they want to believe (and they almost always can), then they will; if people don’t have to believe something they don’t want to believe (and they almost never have to), then they won’t.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 11, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

  90. I accept that you are declining my request to point up, directly, Dembski’s bad assumptions. That is unfortunate, but I also accept you at your word when you say you aren’t qualified to say much about it. But then, I have to wonder, why did you say Dembski’s arguments are flawed, when you don’t know that they are flawed, and when your understanding of his positions appears to be filtered through the lens of his detractors, whose claims you must likewise be unable to evaluate?

    Or am I misreading you?

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 12:11 am

  91. Jeff G, what is your dog in this fight? Why is it that, for you, evolution as a dogma must be established? Why is it unacceptable, for example, for God to have detectably intervened in reality to produce observed outcomes, in your view?

    I mean, we’re members of a religion that, at a minimum, requires belief in sociable angels delivering gold books written by ancient peoples in unknown languages to farmboys to be translated and published throughout the world, a man who claims to be the Son of God, along with others, being raised from the dead, and miracles.

    Yet, for some odd reason, you appear to balk at the idea that perhaps this intervening, capricious God figure so prominently featured in the myths of our faith might actually have remained an intervening, capricious God even during the fashioning of this temporal stage upon which we play out our lives. Why is that idea so abhorrent to you?

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 12:27 am

  92. Log,

    Where in the world did you get any of those ideas from? The whole point of all of my posts has been to defend all those religious beliefs which you think I’m balking at.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 1:49 am

  93. I read that Demvski piece, log. It’s actual argument was that he imagined that he could imagine that space aliens could have designed evolution. It’s an argument from incredulity with random mathematical notation.

    Comment by demon butterfly — February 12, 2013 @ 6:35 am

  94. Adam G, #78…

    Sorry, but I don’t understand your comment, “Fbisti,
    if you really believed what you are saying, you wouldn’t say what you are saying.”

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear: Much of what we are told (by scripture, by church leaders) is false–even though it is most often told to us out of good motivation, or ignorance.

    Comment by fbisti — February 12, 2013 @ 9:24 am

  95. Jeff G, I don’t quite get the notion that you are defending the historical claims of our religion. I instead get the impression you are trying to explain what you see as “religious thinkers” to what you term “scientific thinkers” without defending the reality and facticity of the claims of the “religious thinkers” contra the claims of the “scientific thinkers”. Instead of defending the reality of the claims of the religious thinkers, you seem more to be arguing that arguments in support of the reality of the claims of the religious thinkers is completely irrelevant, since religious thinkers don’t require argument and their claims are such that scientific thinkers cannot, and should not, respect arguments in their support.

    Maybe I misunderstood.

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 9:32 am

  96. Log,

    Your not far off. Facticity, historicity and reality (as you seem to be using the term) are all scientific values and standards to which religion is under no obligation to conform. I am defending religious claims and religious beliefs in such things as miracles, divine intervention and so forth. I fully reject the idea that those religious claims which aren’t supported by or even violate the standards of sound science are in some sense problematic. And since these religious beliefs are not problematic, why would I ever care about Intelligent Design, BoM historicity, etc? Religious faith simply doesn’t need to be pruned or supported by science or philosophy.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  97. Another way of putting it would be that nobody ever gets into theology, apologetics or ID unless they themselves think or fear that fbisti is right. But my whole point has been that “not meeting or violating the standards of science” does not equal “false”. Fbisti’s position is wrong from the very start and is thus a very poor reason for doing apologetics, etc.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  98. Would you agree that violating the law of non-contradiction equals false?

    People engage in apologetics for the reason you stated, and also to persuade others to believe the truth. It is for them – those who do not yet have faith, not having received the answering power from God, but are teetering in the realm of belief – that arguments matter.

    Comment by Log — February 12, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

  99. People enter into apologetics for the reason you stated OR to persuade to believe. Just to clarify.

    Comment by Log — February 12, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

  100. “Would you agree that violating the law of non-contradiction equals false?”

    Not in all contexts, no.

    As for apologetics, I thought argument didn’t create belief or conviction? When the disciples’ faith began to falter, Jesus didn’t offer any arguments or evidence. His approach was, “fear not, follow me, my yoke is light, become as a child, by their fruits ye shall know them, your Father in Heaven hath told you, etc.” When people didn’t accept his message, he simply moved on. It’s interesting that if anybody ever had authority to steady the ark through apologetics it would have been Jesus, but no. Rather, he and Paul acknowledged that the gospel is foolishness to the reasoning of man, shrugged their shoulders and carried on.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

  101. In case my last comment didn’t make it too obvious, I’ve recently gone back to re-listen to Nibley’s “Time Vindicates the Prophets” which I see as a treatment of the original Christian church’s confrontation and assimilation with the cosmopolitan and scholastic intellectuals of their day. If one simply replaces philosophers, sophists and dialecticians with their modern day equivalents, the lectures become all too relevant to so many threads in the bloggernacle. IMHO.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

  102. I have oft felt that Paul gets way too much airtime for his actual contributions. Peter said something different, of course: be ready always to give an answer (apologia) to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear; we have Alma entering into the argument with Korihor; and we have the Lord advising us to “confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private”.

    In which context can one’s position or claims violate the law of non-contradiction without being false?

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

  103. To be clear as well, I am only saying that arguments have their place in the preaching of the gospel.

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

  104. Christ himself engaged in apologetics with the Pharisees (John 10 and others). Ark-steadying is an altogether different topic.

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

  105. #101 – I think you’re right.

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

  106. I couldn’t have provided a better example than you already have. We are told that God doesn’t want us to provide arguments and we are told that God does want us to provide arguments. The law of non-contradiction has been violated, but I refuse to call these passages false. (Is it really that hard to find Biblical verses that contradict each other?)

    It should also be remembered that among Jesus’ primary opponents were the scribes, the literate caste who always had a proof-text ready to rationally defend the establishment which they were a part of. These people had traded in soteriology for theology by abandoning religious thinking in favor of scientific thinking: the endless nitpicking process of peer-review and dialectic.

    To be sure, the prophets and preachers in the scriptures do use arguments to their advantage, but these are almost always for rhetorical effect. There is never much concern for formal validity or air tight rigor. They rarely, if ever speak to the form of any argument at all. Yes, they do call up witnesses to testify, but never to offer any kind third-person accessible, empirical measurement or (supposedly) objective observation.

    Instead, all of these arguments and testimonies are for the purpose of rallying the troops, so to speak – to press onward on the path to salvation (which they equated with Truth).

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  107. The Bible has also been corrupted.

    And the example I provided actually does not touch the point at issue at all: there is always a difference between a specific command, and the general counsel, which always applies unless countermanded. That does not violate the law of noncontradiction. Nibley himself pointed that out:

    Recently I received from a Brigham Young University professor a list of scriptural passages in which God seemed to favor war; matching it on the other side of the page was another list of passages in which conflict was forbidden. This seems like a deadlock, a basic contradiction. But the contradiction is only apparent, for if one examines the passages on both sides throughout the scriptures, they fall clearly into two categories: general principles and special instances. The verses forbidding conflict are of a general and universal nature, while those which countenance it all refer to exceptional cases.

    On the other hand, the claims “naturalistic processes produced all of creation” and “God intervened to produce some of creation” cannot be reconciled, because jointly they violate the law of noncontradiction. At least one of them is false.

    Alma articulated the argument from design to confound Korihor in front of the priests – how much tighter could his argument have been at the time it was given? On the other hand, it has not yet been refuted through the centuries, even today, though Darwin was supposed to have laid it in its coffin. Its strength is not rhetorical, but factual: we recognize the signs of intelligent action in events and objects with high improbability combined with descriptive simplicity (and this is not controversial unless and until we apply it to biology). The argument was intended to give Korihor cause to reconsider his atheistic stance.

    I see Jesus as answering objections – he engaged in argument with the pharisees primarily for the benefit of those who were “following the Brethren” and watching the exchanges. Maybe you and I might agree in part on this.

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

  108. Perhaps I wasn’t clear: Much of what we are told (by scripture, by church leaders) is false–even though it is most often told to us out of good motivation, or ignorance.

    No, you can call the apostles liars and error-riddled all you want. What you aren’t free to do is like you did upstream, where you pretended to be a supporter of their ‘lies’ and ‘errors.’

    Comment by Adam G. — February 12, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

  109. Well all those responses look a little weak and contrived by my lights, but that’s okay. I’m not really trying to win you over to my perspective, only to suggest that there are alternatives to your perspective. The apologetics game isn’t necessary… at all. How good the arguments and evidence for and against religion are just doesn’t have to be a very important issue. If for some strange reason you feel like such things should be important, I wish you all the best with that. But in my experience, that game is full of confusion, tension, doubt, contention and a constant shifting in beliefs and perspectives.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 12, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  110. It is an important issue for some, depending on their specific needs, is what you are not acknowledging, and I find that curious.

    You might not need a defense of the faith for your own needs. Can you agree that hearing a defense of the faith might indeed “rally the troops” and give someone who otherwise would falter and fail in there beliefs strength to push past their specific stumblingblocks?

    Comment by log — February 12, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  111. #108, Adam G: “No, you can call the apostles liars and error-riddled all you want. What you aren’t free to do is like you did upstream, where you pretended to be a supporter of their ‘lies’ and ‘errors.’”

    You misunderstand my points and my position. I can take the position that what we are taught and told by God (though any errors in translation aren’t His), the scriptures, and apostles contains lies and/or errors and, yet, still “support” the process/religion/society in which it occurs.

    The intent is the thing. If the intent of all these sources of error and false-hoods is well-meaning, and I can’t think of a way to have nothing but the truth out there and still engender the faith and belief that would motivate we humans to do all the work necessary to be righteous–and eventually even become perfect–I can logically support the general wisdom in the use of such less-than-pure truths. Emphasis on “general.” I think much of the indoctrination and manipulation is excessive and needs to be eliminated. I am aghast at the baloney promulgated continually within the church. But I am still convinced that the baby in the bath water should not be thrown out.

    “Lying” (in all its levels of white, gray, and black) has long been established within both religions and societies as justifiable when it is for the greater good. Clearly it is immensely over-used and excused via justification, but I think we would be much worse off if only the full truth and nothing but the truth were spoken all the time.

    Comment by fbisti — February 13, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  112. I have mixed feelings about it, which is why I’ve refused to acknowledge anything on that point. In an ideal world I would agree that a scholarly defense of the faith would rally the troops and would therefore be good. But this is not an ideal world and there are a couple problems which I see with it.

    First, if the purpose of apologetics is to rally the troops, then the standards by which they are to be judged are NOT the same as those of academia in the sense that apologetics are blatantly biased. This, in itself, is a violation of the rules of science which immediately puts the apologist at a disadvantage of sorts.

    Second, apologetics lend credence to the idea that religious belief is and/or ought to be bound by the rules of evidence, logic, etc. (aka the rules of science). If you busy yourself with collecting archeological evidence for the BoM, it gives the impression that the evidence for *or against* the BoM matters, and that is to take on an unnecessary risk.

    Other reasons could be given for why apologetics aren’t really what Jesus wanted his believers to do, but I think they are largely peripheral to what you are asking me. In the end, I’m willing to grant that apologetics might be convenient, but never necessary.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 13, 2013 @ 11:12 am

  113. Perhaps I can approach my point from a different direction:

    There are a good many rational and intelligent people in the world that play the game of science (philosophy, academia, logic, dialectic, etc.). But this is not the only game in town, there is also the game of religion. But when religious people try to play the scientific game in the form of apologetics, they are really trying to play two different games at once. This puts the apologist at a disadvantage since it is rather easy for the scientist to claim victory over the apologists as judged solely by the rules of science.

    Furthermore, the religious persons attempts to play the game of science gives the appearance that science really is, in some sense, the only game in town. Or worse, it gives the appearance that the rules of science aren’t just that, but are in fact the rules of being a rational and intelligent person full stop. It makes it seem that if somebody cannot play well by the rules of science then they are not intelligent or rational at all.

    After all, you don’t see any scientists delving into religion to “prove” that their science can live up to the rules of religion. “Why is this?” the scientist might ask. No matter what the answer is, this asymmetric relationship (where people try to dress their religion up as science, but not the other way around) is exactly what I’m trying to attack in my posts.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 13, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

  114. Jeff,

    Define “science” as you use it in this conversation. For me, “science”, broadly construed, is nothing more than logic and evidence, with evidence ranging from direct experience to the word of witnesses. I don’t think that’s how you’re using the word, though.

    Comment by log — February 15, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

  115. From my perspective, given my definition of “science” above, religion and science are the same thing. The truths of science and the truths of religion are the same.

    Comment by log — February 15, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

  116. Hey Log, Science can be verified, religion cannot. Big difference…. I would hope you wanted some evidence brought before a judge if someone accused you of wrong doing… not just a belief that you did something wrong… :)

    Comment by Robert — February 18, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

  117. Hey Log, Science can be verified, religion cannot. Big difference….

    I find the following section addresses your claim.

    Mormon 9:1 And now, I speak also concerning those who do not believe in Christ.

    2 Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation—behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God—then will ye say that there is no God?

    3 Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?

    4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.

    5 For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.

    6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

    As for me, I have verified my religion. I suggest taking verse 6 seriously.

    Comment by log — February 18, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

  118. log,

    I would say that this is an incomplete definition of science. Science is not simply logic and evidence. Scientists are almost entirely incapable of simply looking out into the universe and finding evidence of things. What really happens is that scientists come up with a theory, which is merely a technical word for an explanation of something. Then they use it to make experiments or otherwise observe strange phenomena. From these observations they derive facts and laws, but the laws and facts only are true if the theory itself is true.

    Let me give an example. One of the most important scientific laws is Boyle’s law. Boyle’s law can be derived from the kinetic theory of gases, but take away the theory, and the law isn’t true anymore. Same with Newton’s laws. Step outside the Newtonian realm, travel at speeds close to light, and the laws aren’t true. It’s because there is a different explanation for how matter works at speeds close to light.

    In other words, we’re not talking about simple logic and evidence. We’re talking about explanations, you could almost say narratives, that seem to make sense and in which we create laws (or more basically, in which we create facts). But those laws and facts don’t hold any water outside the theories we come up with.

    This is partly why I agree with Jeff G. Science applies only to a specific realm, the realm of empirical, testable phenomena. But it doesn’t work in realms that aren’t empirical or testable, because the explanations scientists use can’t possibly cover a larger area than that. Science is bound by its limits. And not only to the limits of things empirical, but to the limits of the conflicting theories scientists comes up with.

    Religion, on the other hand, applies to the realm of subjective, or otherwise untestable experience: miracles, revelation, and afterlife. When theologians expand their explanations of religion to the scientific realm, they typically lose. It’s a gulf that ought never be jumped, because neither science nor religion can adequately explain what happens on the other side of the gulf. And when they do, people almost inevitably lose their faith in religion, but never science.

    Comment by DavidF — February 18, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

  119. DavidF,

    Suppose a religion, call it M, asserts as a faith proposition that engaging in activity P will produce a result F, for all X which engage in activity P.

    Suppose further that each X which engages in P gets result F.

    How does M depart from testable experience?

    Comment by log — February 18, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

  120. Hey, we can even throw in a theory.

    Suppose M asserts an explanation T which accounts for the causal link between P and F.

    How does M fail to be science, by your own standard?

    Comment by log — February 18, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

  121. log,

    No doubt such a proposition mirrors what goes on in science. But you’d have to give me an example for #119. I don’t think you could come up with something that is truly empirical.

    Here’s an example of something that comes close. If you pray according to Moroni’s instructions about the Book of Mormon, you’ll gain a testimony of it. But some people do this, and don’t get a testimony of it. So what did they do wrong? Maybe they didn’t exercise real intent. Maybe they need to keep praying until it happens. I don’t know. The point is, in science, this isn’t a problem. If you do the experiment right the first time, it will get you the exact same results as everyone else. That’s because science depends on nature, which is consistent. But religion depends on God, who has His own agenda. I just don’t think you can come up with a truly empirical causal link in religion.

    Comment by DavidF — February 19, 2013 @ 9:37 am

  122. Here’s an example of something that comes close. If you pray according to Moroni’s instructions about the Book of Mormon, you’ll gain a testimony of it. But some people do this, and don’t get a testimony of it. So what did they do wrong? Maybe they didn’t exercise real intent. Maybe they need to keep praying until it happens.

    Let’s look at the verses in question.

    2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
    3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

    4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:2-5)

    And let us also keep the following in mind.

    I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. (D&C 82:10)

    There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)

    And we also know God is no respecter of persons, as he has said many times.

    So what are the conditions Moroni 10:3-4 imposes before one can claim the experiment is a failure and God is a liar?

    1. Read the Book of Mormon in its entirety.

    2. Remember how merciful the Lord has been to the children of men from the beginning until now and ponder it in your heart.

    3. Ask of God, in the name of Christ – which means in the Spirit – if the Book of Mormon is not true. When you make this prayer, you must:

    A. Have real intent, or, in other words, sincerity before God.
    B. Have faith in Christ, which means you already have been born again, since one cannot have faith without having both hope and charity, which comes through the baptism by fire.

    If you will fulfill these conditions exactly, God will answer as he has said; if you do not fulfill these conditions, he may or may not answer.

    But you have revealed your true definition of science, which is really the point you wanted to make in the first place: Science depends on nature, which is consistent. But religion depends on God, who has His own agenda. I just don’t think you can come up with a truly empirical causal link in religion.

    Thus we see your perspective in reality is not dependent upon experience, which our God will give you once you qualify yourself for it through obedience to his extremely clear directions, but are instead founded upon naturalism, which is most definitely a philosophy of man.

    I am going to argue here that that is a type of the true distinguishing characteristic between the religious mind and the scientific mind: the one has faith and does know whereof they speak, and the other has not.

    Comment by log — February 19, 2013 @ 10:37 am

  123. Forgot – your perspective is founded upon the sister philosophies of naturalism and uniformitarianism. Both are false, but that can only be known by performing the gospel experiment.

    Comment by log — February 19, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  124. log,

    First, I don’t think you’ve fairly characterized my perspective. I’m actually not quite sure how you drew the conclusion that I am drawing from naturalism. I believe in religious experience, I just doubt whether it can be objectively verified. So let’s take Moroni’s test. And just as a side note, I chose Moroni’s test as my example because I think of any principle in religion, it comes the closest to something that resembles science. I see the connection between commandments and blessings, or any other concievable causal link in religion as considerably more tenuous in terms of showing a necessary or sufficient link between A and B. I’ll use your numbering for convenience.

    1. In entirety? I think this is your criterion, not Moroni’s. But maybe that’s just quibbling.

    A. Sincerity is incredibly subjective. That doesn’t mean it isn’t authentic or real. It is just one of those things that is pretty much impossible to verify in any empirical way. In other words, if an investigator fails to get an answer, do I tell him he just wasn’t sincere enough. How sincere must one be? How can I verify his sincerity? Scientific experiments allow me to observe someone’s experiment for accuracy in each step of the process. It is because they are objectively verifiable. Sincerity is like courage. I know it when I see it, but I can’t subject it to empirical tests (this is partly why no one has ever been able to make a scientific morality).

    B. I would dispute your point on faith and hope. Moroni argues that faith comes from hope, but he also argues that hope comes from faith. His logic is circular. That’s alright. Moroni was a prophet, not a philosopher. It’s possible to get the gist of what he was saying, but his discussion of faith, hope, and charity and how they relate is a definitely a murky topic. But maybe this is just more quibbling.

    But then we hit probably the least scientific aspect of the entire process. Assuming you follow all of these steps, do you get an answer? Sure, but when? It’s not like nature. In nature if you do an experiment you can do it repeatedly and get the exact same results at the exact right time over and over again. If I blow air into identical balloons at a steady stream over and over again, they will pop at the exact same time each time I run the experiment. That’s how nature works. But what about receiving an answer that the Book of Mormon is true? It may happen immediately. But maybe not. I could feel peace, but maybe I feel something else, or something else verifies the Book of Mormon totally outside of a feeling. It is all dependent on God’s will. Science doesn’t work when the result is dependent on the will of an independent agent. That’s not science.

    Comment by DavidF — February 19, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

  125. DavidF,

    1. If you believe the antecedent to “these things” in verse 3 is anything other than “these records” in verse 2, I would like to hear your quibbling in detail.

    A. You assume points which are controversial when you use words like “objective” and “subjective”.

    B. You have misunderstood Moroni (and Mormon): faith, hope, and charity are a package deal. If you have not one, you have not any. If you have one, you have all.

    You get an answer when you meet the requirements. You might get an answer even if you don’t meet the requirements, but that is not assured. In any event, doing exactly what Moroni says and getting no result is equivalent to disproving Mormonism. The odd thing is, I don’t know anyone who has done it exactly as Moroni has described.

    Comment by log — February 19, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  126. I’m actually not quite sure how you drew the conclusion that I am drawing from naturalism.

    I drew the conclusion that you are drawing from naturalism and uniformitarianism through the following statement.

    “Science depends on nature, which is consistent.”

    Comment by log — February 19, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

  127. log,

    On point one, I do think Moroni is saying you have to read the Book of Mormon. But I’m not sure that he is saying you have to read it cover to cover. He may have meant that, but I don’t get that from his words. I think you’ve over-stretched his argument.

    On faith, hope, and charity: perhaps. I do get from Moroni that they are a package deal. But I find the way he interrelates them confusing. I don’t think he presents a very logical case, but I’m perfectly fine with that. I still believe his message, I just don’t know if he has developed these concepts in a perfectly rational way (nor should he have to since, as I said, he is a prophet, not a philosopher). You may disagree with me on these two points, and that’s fine. They really aren’t what I am trying to get at anyway.

    The point is, I am confident that God will answer Moroni’s promise. Well, maybe He sometimes doesn’t, but for the sake of argument I am willing to believe He always does. Be that as it may, He doesn’t answer in the same way universally, nor does He answer at a predictable interval. Science requires that any result is universal and predictable (when replicated). Perhaps you don’t think these are essential components to science. If that is true, I think you may be the only person who believes as much.

    I’m not actually sure how objective and subjective are controversial, at least in the way I am using them. I can’t think of anyone who would argue that sincerity or courage can be objectively identified or known. Socrates couldn’t. He kept asking what is courage until he made his interlocutor give up trying to answer. log, how would you measure sincerity empirically? What scientific test would you use to show whether someone is sincere? I simply don’t think you can empirically verify something like sincerity, which means it isn’t objective. And that means it must be subjective. Perhaps we are using these terms differently?

    Finally, I think you have grossly mistaken my views on nature. Naturalism holds that all actions are determined by nature. Nothing exists outside of nature. However, I do believe in uncaused causes, such as God and humans. So by definition I can’t be a naturalist. However, believing that nature is consistent with itself is not an affirmation of naturalism. In fact, science depends on the consistency of nature (outside of some, specific uncaused causes). Let me give you an example.

    In pre-modern medicine, after bacteria were discovered, but before doctors showed they were necessary for some diseases, doctors assumed that bacteria could spontaneously generate. One moment you could have clean air, and then the next moment, there would be bacteria out of nothing. But such a belief was dangerous. If you believe that it is true (and, interestingly, it is impossible to prove that it isn’t true), then you can’t say that bacteria cause diseases, because the thing that causes diseases is whatever it is that makes the bacteria spontaneously appear. And if spontaneous generation is purely random, then it is impossible to prevent or cure any bacterial disease. It just wouldn’t even make any sense to use antibiotics. So doctors, starting with Pasteur, decided that spontaneous generation is false, and that bacteria followed consistent, natural processes. Out of this assumption modern medicine was born. Before then, medicine wasn’t really a science. Now it is. And the consistency of nature is one of the fundamental principles of all scientific theories. This post is getting far too long, but I could furnish many more examples of why consistency in nature is essential for science, and why all scientists must believe this no matter what their philosophical orientation (naturalism or anything else).

    Comment by DavidF — February 19, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

  128. DavidF,

    To make a long story quite short, the definition of science you are using is “applied naturalist philosophy” which also goes by the name “methodological naturalism” or “methodological atheism”.

    I disagree with your definition of science.

    Comment by log — February 19, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

  129. I’ve thought a lot about the conundrum that evolution introduces for believers; and like Jeff G – I don’t care whether I am able to harmonize all truths in my mind during this life. But I am absolutely convinced all truth is in harmony whether I understand the details or not, and that in time it will all make sense. With that said, if God has already revealed, or allowed man to reveal (discover) any truth I’m still extremely interested. And to back me up, there is even a “commandment” to be interested: The LDS church even state that its members embrace all truth: revealed through a prophet or not – we love it and should want it. We also believe there is loads of truth that He has yet to reveal; which is actually really exciting–we just need to hold tight.

    Comment by John — February 20, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  130. The most useful pondering I have done is to go back to the very very very “beginning.” But don’t think about the “beginning” too much, it will drive you crazy. So in light of not having a perfect accurate understanding of the beginning let’s use the big-bang theory vs. creationist theories as the beginning.

    First question that has to be answered by all humankind: Have the most basic building blocks of the universe always existed?

    Most people fall into one of two camps:
    1) yes (you can’t get something from nothing) and
    2) no (you can get something out of nothing)

    I haven’t read every scientific and religious theory ever written, but my gut and mind tell me a “no” answer would not jibe with any of existing theory. So…

    Second the question that all mankind must answer for themselves is: What are the most basic building blocks of the universe that have always existed?

    I haven’t studied all the variations in camps on this, but I’m satisfied that most everybody would fall, again, into one of two camps:
    1) Big Bang Theory: matter and energy are the two basic elements that have always existed
    2) LDS Theory: matter and energy and intelligence are the three basic elements that have always existed

    For the life of me, I can’t get comfortable with my ability to reason and think being the result of billions, maybe trillions upon trillions of years of matter and energy moving around in space and colliding. The Big Bang theory requires much more faith than I have, or will ever have. LDS theory also requires a lot of faith. I find the fact comforting that whether you are a scientist, atheist, believer or anybody who is willing to ponder and search for answers about our origin – we are all forced to have mind-boggling faith. I just believe non-believers have to have more of it. But again: no way around faith – on this point we’re all in the same boat.

    One other thing Big Bang Theory believers will be forced to wrestle with is: if something as complex as the earth’s biosphere could be created through pure chance, then why couldn’t a God be created by pure chance? If puny-minded humans are able to clone a sheep, who is to say that evolution hasn’t already created a God that is able to create life, planets, galaxies, and everything else? The Big Bang Theory does not and absolutely can not preclude Creationist Theory.

    Comment by John — February 20, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  131. log,

    I’m not sure how my understanding of science is “applied naturalist philosophy.” I’m actually doing quite the opposite. I’m pointing out that science has significant limitations. It can’t explain everything in the universe. In fact, my argument shows that naturalism can’t possibly be correct.

    Actually my argument puts me even further from naturalism than yours does. As you’ve stated, you believe religion and science share the same truths. Naturalism holds the same principle, except it believes that religion can be explained scientifically (in a nutshell). I know you don’t believe that, but your beliefs and naturalism brush shoulders.

    I believe that religion and science can’t even begin to address the same topics in the same ways. It’s not that they clash, it’s that they can’t even touch each other. And that means that science can never explain religion naturalistically. That makes my position much less naturalistic than the idea that science and religion answer the same truths.

    Food for thought.

    Comment by DavidF — February 20, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  132. DavidF,

    You have yet to show me where your definition of science is anything but “applied naturalist philosophy”, and until and unless you give a complete definition for science, as you use the word, there is no further point to discussing the topic with you, for while we use the same words, the content of those words is so radically different between us that there is no common ground.

    Comment by log — February 20, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  133. DavidF,

    That was a very good way of putting things. I’m not sure that I see R and S as being utterly isolated from each other as you seem to imply, definitely in 95% agreement with each other.


    The very essence of scientific thinking is peer review – the refusal to take anybody’s word as authoritative. This is why formal reasoning and the third person availability of empirical data is so important to S. Moroni’s promise does not lend itself to peer review and thus fails as S – although it makes for great R!. How do we know if the searcher is sincere? We take his or her word as authoritative. How do we know if the searcher really felt the right feelings? We take his or her word for it. Moroni’s promise is the exact opposite of peer reviewable and thus cannot possibly be scientific.

    Also, it is worth noting that the very name “science” is a relatively late-comer. The name by which science was known for most of its existence (Brigham Young called it by this name) was “natural philosophy”.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 20, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

  134. Jeff G,

    You, too, have left “science” undefined, but I once again believe you and DavidF share the same implicit definition.

    So, I would invite you, as I invite him, to give a full definition for “science”. Let us get into the nitty-gritty of things and see why DavidF holds to the “non-overlapping magisteria” and where you depart from him.

    Comment by log — February 20, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

  135. I’m not going to play to definition game. Any scientist would agree that the basic tenets of peer review as I have outlined them are a necessary condition for good science, even if it’s not sufficient. I don’t have to define science in order to show that Moroni’s promise just ain’t it.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 20, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  136. Log,

    I’ve been away for a couple days and I just read your definition of science as logic and evidence. I don’t really disagree with this, although I think it needs to be refined a bit more as I did in #133. The main essence of science and the modern mindset is a rejection of appeals to authority and tradition. S doesn’t accept something is true just because a particular person said it or it is written in a particular book. Rather, S appeals to reason and experience (logic and evidence as you put it) precisely because these are supposed to be open to everybody rather than some particular persons. The main difference, then, between S and R is being exposed to criticism and/or falsification from everybody (aka peer-review) rather than God or some other duly appointed authority figure.

    Thus, we come to Moroni’s promise. Who says you’re being sincere? You do, making yourself an authority figure isolated from everybody else. Who says that you really felt the proper feelings? You do, making yourself an authority figure beyond public criticism. Who says that those proper feelings mean that the BoM is true? Moroni does, making himself an authority figure shielded from peer review. At no point is any of this process based in or constituted by publicly available evidence or rigorous, unequivocal reasoning. Moroni’s promise is a clear case of pre-modern, religious thought that you can read in any non-scientific text… and that is perfectly okay!

    Comment by Jeff G — February 20, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  137. Jeff G.

    I suppose I am not committed to saying religion and science are 100% isolated from each other. That may be too strong of a stance. But I suspect that they are pretty close.


    I’m not sure what it would accomplish to give a complete definition of science. I think I’ve laid out many of the main components:

    Studies nature
    Is composed of theories that give validity to laws that
    Is objective
    By objective I mean
    -Can produce verifiable, predictable experiments
    -Is quantifiable

    Perhaps I’ve missed something, but I think that about sums up the pursuits and limitations of science.

    How do you define science?

    Comment by DavidF — February 20, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  138. DavidF,

    ‘For me, “science”, broadly construed, is nothing more than logic and evidence, with evidence ranging from direct experience to the word of witnesses.’

    I reject your definition, as it is, as I said before, simply applied naturalism.

    Jeff G,

    Let me rephrase my question: why should I accept your definition of science over my own? There seems to be exactly nothing to recommend it, and much to avoid it for. What’s more is I am going to assert that it is highly likely that my definition of science is very likely your actual approach to knowledge. I strongly doubt, for example, you have personally determined through experimentation the double helical structure of DNA.

    All experience and comprehension takes place within the individual.

    Your analysis of Moroni’s promise ignores the full scope of the requirements of his promise, and also you seem not to appreciate that fulfilling those requirements exactly and NOT getting an answer is sufficient to disprove Mormonism. For God, as we ought to know, cannot lie.

    Comment by Log — February 20, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

  139. And since God cannot lie, God is consistent. Nature is not, as any who are acquainted with miracles can attest.

    Comment by Log — February 20, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

  140. Log,

    What exactly do you reject in my definition and for what reason? I don’t think a single scientist would ever call something a science if it was not subject to peer review.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 20, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  141. Science is the pursuit of truth, in essence, and truth is true if it is rejected by a committee, whereas falsity does not become true when it is accepted by a committee. What is peer review but an appeal to the occupants of the great and spacious?

    Comment by log — February 20, 2013 @ 10:51 pm

  142. Okay, but you are winning a cheap and easy victory for scientism by simply defining science that way. I, on the other hand, have been talking about science as practiced by scientists.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 20, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

  143. Jeff,

    The real distinction is not between S and R, but between the carnal and the spiritual mind.

    There are, however, extremely few spiritual minds to examine, whereas the world has a surfeit of carnal minds and false claimants to spiritual attainment.

    Comment by log — February 20, 2013 @ 10:56 pm

  144. To label my view “scientism” is also itself a cheap and easy victory.

    Comment by log — February 20, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

  145. Log,

    The view that all truth is scrutable to science is called “scientism”. It is a very controversial doctrine which isn’t endorsed by many people at all. Most importantly, it is NOT true by definition as you try to make it seem. I’m not trying score a cheap and easy victory. Rather, I’m providing an independent reason for why your definition of science is wrong. Frankly, I’m confused as to why you’re clinging to this bizarre view of science to begin with.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 20, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

  146. log,

    You’re definition of science is incredibly different than anything I’ve ever encountered either in academia or in conversations with others. When you include the “words of witnesses” in your definition, you are including appeals to authority. You will never find a single scientist who will try to make a scientific claim by saying “a reliable witness witnessed X, therefore X is true.” Copernicus didn’t do it, Newton didn’t do it, NASA doesn’t do it. Not even Francis Bacon, who practically invented our modern ideas of science (although as Jeff G. noted, he would have called it natural philosophy), did it.

    I just don’t think you can change the definition of science to mean something that no one has ever used it for and then call the basic criteria of science (which I’ve laid out) naturalism. Especially since none of the scientists I noted above were naturalists. I can see that you are trying to support your definition of science from scripture, but none of the scriptural authorities you cite are making arguments about science.

    Additionally, I can’t see how miracles prove that nature is inconsistent. In fact, miracles are the exception that prove the rule. Unless God intervenes in nature (performs a miracle), nature will run consistently. That is what most religious people mean by miracle. I’m guessing you have a unique definition for what constitutes a miracle.

    Comment by DavidF — February 21, 2013 @ 12:37 am

  147. Jeff G,

    I proffered a model of truth-gathering and labelled it “science”. What I am referring to is apparently NOT what you are referring to by “science”. My definition cannot be wrong; it just isn’t the definition you’re using.


    Everyone believes things based on the word of witnesses. As I pointedly pointed out to Jeff G, I strongly doubt either you or he has personally verified the double helical structure of DNA. You believe it on authority, just as he does.

    As for naturalism being the basis for “science” as you use it, I’m hardly alone in my perceptions.

    To be accurate, I suppose that miracles don’t prove nature is inconsistent; it does prove that what is held to be “natural law” is no such thing. All it takes is one counterexample to explode any absolute.

    A miracle is something which occurs that cannot be accomplished by human technology, even in principle. Turning water into wine instantly without the middle step of growing grapes and so forth may very well qualify; certainly raising the dead does.

    Comment by log — February 21, 2013 @ 1:04 am

  148. Okay. Well since it was my post I thought we were commenting on, I had assumed that we were both using my definition. Either that or the standard definition inasmuch as mine deviates from it. The prospect of having spent all this time just to learn your own private definition of the word ‘science’ is a little frustrating.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 21, 2013 @ 1:21 am

  149. Jeff,

    You could have learned that in comment 114. I wasn’t trying to hide nor equivocate.

    Comment by log — February 21, 2013 @ 1:29 am

  150. But anyways, Jeff, back to the topic of your post, my comment in #143 is actually at the heart of the matter.

    I finally realized why your distinction between R and S has always seemed off to me.

    Comment by log — February 21, 2013 @ 1:36 am

  151. Because nothing whatsoever stops one who has been converted, having received the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost, from applying every rule of science by whatever definition you care to use, from methodological naturalsm + peer review to my more general logic + evidence. The difference between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind is that the carnally minded tend to reject things which cannot be demonstrated publicly, in particular the things of God, and this because of a desire to justify themselves in their course. Requiring peer review, or public demonstrability, happens to be a very straightforward way to counter the claims of of the prophets by a spurious appeal to authority that “that just ain’t the way things R”.

    Because the carnally minded accept as “knowledge” things which they only have heard of by the word of witnesses, and give credence to men based upon their perceived authority, since it makes the truth-seeking so much easier if one can just accept the word of the peer-review committee that certain rules have been followed so behold, this claim is true while that claim is false. That, in the scriptures, is one of the straightforward meanings of “putting your trust in men, or making flesh your arm, or hearkening unto the precepts of men”.

    The spiritually minded do not require things to be publicly demonstrable, as they have taken the Holy Spirit to be their guide and, as it says in Moroni 10:5, one may know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    I remember a conversation on this blog not so very long ago when I pointed out that we are supposed to have continual revelations. Someone opposed this claim by an off-topic statement by a GA which was declared to provide a sufficient justification to remain in a state without continual revelation. Yet if no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations, surely no man can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost without having constant revelations. This is the state of the spiritually minded, and surely you can see that while they may not require the rules of science to be followed, they surely do use logic and evidence.

    And that, in a nutshell, is why your R versus S dichotomy fails.

    Comment by log — February 21, 2013 @ 8:56 am

  152. An interesting but frustrating conversation to follow. You all “know” so much, you can barely communicate.

    But nonetheless you seem committed to doing so; which is probably the most interesting thing about this thread. It’s actually a breath of fresh air compared to the hundreds of comment sections I have spent time in.

    Why not take this conversation real time? Meet each other via Skype or in person. It’s an important discussion that could be recorded and posted as podcast or video. You lose the benefits of thoughtful reading and writing, but I think you would make more satisfying progress more quickly.

    You all have more patience than I have, good luck, and I hope it doesn’t end with agreeing to disagree.

    Comment by John — February 21, 2013 @ 9:30 am

  153. I have to apologize for my redundancy (“and don’t call me ‘Shirley'”). My already poor composition skills are even worse first thing in the morning, and y’all are getting the first draft of my thoughts as well.

    Comment by log — February 21, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  154. John,

    I’m impressed with your patience. If I wasn’t involved in this from the beginning, I wouldn’t have even dared to read the comments past 20 or so.


    “Everyone believes things based on the word of witnesses. As I pointedly pointed out to Jeff G, I strongly doubt either you or he has personally verified the double helical structure of DNA. You believe it on authority, just as he does.”

    Sure, but I’m not doing science when I take the words of scientists on faith. I also think you are missing the point of peer review. Peer review councils don’t decide the truth (contra your 141). They just verify the validity of tests and conclusions as experts in the field. They make sure the logic and evidence are done right.

    As for the critics of methodological naturalism, I can only comment on Popper and Plantinga. I guarantee you wouldn’t agree with Popper’s criticisms of naturalism. Popper’s views of science, which inform his critique of naturalism, equally clash with your ideas (as best I understand them) as they do mine. And since a critique of Popper would be a far off tangent, let’s just set him aside. As for Plantinga, well, Plantinga’s philosophy only really works if you accept Calvinism. He knows this, too. He doesn’t actually show any incoherence or infeasibleness to mainstream views of science, he just counters them with an idea he prefers based on his Calvinist leanings. In other words, there is no compelling reason to accept his argument, unless you want to.

    But maybe that is all I ought to say on this topic. If I understand your definition right, it opens science back up to “God of the gaps” kinds of conclusions. That’s what happens when religious authority is equally ranked with scientific experiments. Both science and religion suffer as a result (science is fallaciously limited, and religion gets stretched to assume things that don’t actually apply to it).

    Comment by DavidF — February 21, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  155. Why is evolution ‘liberal’ science? I thought it was just science.

    Comment by Nelson Chung — February 21, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

  156. First, it is primarily Americans who equate “liberal” with “left wing politics”. Second, see comment #13.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 21, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  157. Having had a bit more time to reflect on this thread, I can’t help but bring it back to the original post.

    To be sure, Log’s use of the word “science” differs from the way scientists use it… but so was my use of the word in the original post. As a reminder, I use the terms “science” “philosophy” “liberal education” “academia” “intellectualism” and “modernism” is roughly the same way. By my lights, science (or whatever you want to call the philosophies of men) construes truth in terms of a visual metaphor: a picture, a map or a puzzle. I think it is perfectly safe to say that Log fits squarely within this tradition and this issue, it will be remembered, was what sent us down our little tangent discussion. He most definitely sees truth as being a puzzle which is put together by various means, even if some of the pieces can’t *yet* be corroborated through peer review.

    Again by my lights, pre-modern religious thought is nothing like this. Rather than seeing truth in terms of a visual metaphor, truth is framed in terms of a path along which we must travel. In the end, I think it is unfortunate and somewhat misguided that believers such as Log think it necessary or obligatory to force the round religious peg into the square hole of scientific thought.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 22, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  158. I guess when the soliloquizing starts, the dialogue is over.

    But, a challenge: demonstrate that what it pleases you to call “pre-modern religious thought” ever existed in isolation.

    Comment by log — February 22, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  159. … that is, in isolation in a single mind, without the “puzzle-solving” aspect of truth-seeking which is to be found, I maintain, in every human.

    Comment by log — February 22, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

  160. Why? I never claimed they were totally isolated nor do I think my argument depends on such a total isolation.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 22, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

  161. Then S minds and R minds are the same minds, as you have defined S and R.

    There is no purpose served by your distinction between S and R.

    Comment by log — February 22, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

  162. You honestly think there is no difference between pre-modern, modern and post-modern mindsets?

    Comment by Jeff G — February 22, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  163. I am going to go out on a limb and say since all people at all times everywhere deploy both S / R / P reasoning types, and the mode they use depends solely upon the problem type at issue, there is therefore no difference between the pre-modern, modern, and post modern mindsets in the sense that one person displays solely one mindset, whereas another solely displays another.

    And there is no purpose served by distinguishing between them except to point out when someone inappropriately applies a certain mindset to the wrong problem type.

    Comment by log — February 22, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

  164. Let’s just assume that all people do have all three types (utter hogwash, but that’s beside the point I want to make). The issue is which mindset is to take priority over the others – which set of mental tools are or ought to be used on which tasks? An S-minded person such as yourself thinks that the modern, scientific set of mental tools takes priority over the other sets in a way which I think is both wrong and even slightly unhealthy. I think that advocates of S-thinking do all within their power make it appear that there is no other option, of that to “demote” s-thinking is equivalent to irrationality. Indeed, I would assume that most bloggers here at the ‘Thang are thoroughly infected with this very mentality – hence their proclivity toward theologizing. Consequently, all of my posts and my anti-intellectualism in general are aimed at attacking this misperception. Put another way, I think theologizing and apologetics are but symptoms of the S-thinking sickeness and I think that a more pragmatic construal of thinking in general is the cure.

    Comment by Jeff G — February 22, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  165. http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2013/02/authentic-religion/

    Seems pertinent.

    Comment by log — February 25, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  166. I would assume that most bloggers here at the ‘Thang are thoroughly infected with this very mentality

    It’s a fair cop.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 2, 2013 @ 7:13 pm