The Problem with Evolutionary Theory as a Guide for Understanding Human Life

I don’t know how the earth was created and how God transformed unorganized matter to the amazing creations and ecosystems we find on planet earth today. If the process took billions of years and numerous mutations interacting with selective forces, I’m OK with that. I don’t believe the Gospel requires believing in a young earth or that dinosaurs were frolicking with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But if they were, I’ll be OK with that, too. I’m terribly curious about how the earth came to be, but realize we may have to wait for a lot of details. God will get all the credit as the Creator in my book, even if evolution was a key tool of His in bringing about the majesty of life on earth.

I do have trouble with the theory of evolution, though. Not so much with the facts, extrapolations, interpretations, and guesses that scientists make, but with the applications of evolutionary theory to contemporary human life. When evolutionary theory is used to guide human thought on moral and social issues, the results often are appalling. I just heard the local story of a woman in our part of the world who was told by her husband that it’s morally OK for him to have relationships with other women because his evolutionary purpose in life as a male is to spread his genes around, whereas it was her duty to not leave the house and just take care of the kids. Evolution as a justification for immorality has been a factor in so many cases, always making people less than they were meant to be and bringing sorrow. Many vicious and selfish acts are justified with a smug statement like, “Hey, it’s survival of the fittest, man.” Fidelity, charity, compassion, self-sacrifice, and so much that can be noble about human beings can be dismissed for being out of line with “science.” There is a recognition that caring for children and occasionally even self-sacrifice can be explained as (just) a way to fulfill the drive “to pass one’s genes along.” Ironically, those letting evolutionary thought be their guide are, in my limited experience, more likely to be the ones advocating and practicing abortion on demand and much less likely to be the parents who raise large families. (Yes, there are exceptions, and there are some very loving, wonderful families raised by devout and noble atheists who believe in a purely materialistic, evolutionary existence. I’m talking about trends and averages here.)

When people make decisions that I feel make them more noble and more helpful to the rest of our species–decisions like giving blood, giving a large part of their income or time to a charity, serving on a volunteer mission, or shoveling snow for a widow–it seems to me that they are responding to something within them other than good evolutionary science, even if that’s what they say they look to for intellectual explanations about our purpose in life. When evolutionary science is used to inform decision making, too often, in my opinion, we may get things like eugenics, adultery, and violence. Ugly. There’s just something about evolution as popularly taught and understood that brings out the beast, not the best, in mankind, if it is not tempered with higher perspectives.

For all its incompleteness on the scientific front, I think the Christian perspective is a much better guide for understanding life and making decisions about how to live and deal with others. We need that foundation of knowing that however life evolved or was created, that there is a loving God and that we are His children, immortal spirit beings in mortal clothing who are and will be accountable to Him for how we live and how we treat others. We need to know that we can overcome the temptations of the flesh and have sin removed from our hearts and lives with the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and become born again–new creatures (or, if you must, more highly “evolved”).

Our purpose is not so much to pass our genes along (though still a good thing, within loving family bonds) as it is to pass His love along. In the long run, it is not our physical but our spiritual health that matters most.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

69 thoughts on “The Problem with Evolutionary Theory as a Guide for Understanding Human Life

  1. I agree, there is nothing more debasing in human thought than to think we are just part of nature and should be tossed around according to our instincts in the which scientists tell us is just part of our natural evolutionary environment and make-up. Having schools ingrain in our childrens minds that they are nothing more than animals with instincts to survive in any way possible relinquishes our status to that of a pack of wild wolves which feed off the weaknesses of the less fortunate. Before long it will effect our very laws that are still yet "morally" bound in truth. If society ever gets to the point where belief in human evolution is the cause of perceived sin, then sinful natures will be allowed and perhaps even kindled. We have seen all to well the degradation of the marriage covenant and all types of fornications now litter the world.

    Who is to blame? Its Satan mostly teaching men to forget their God, forget their divine lineage, and instilling instead a belief that we are mere animals in a dog eat dog world where passions rule and compassion is out.

  2. Why do you find it impossible to see altruism as anything other than an evolutionary negative? This is not only a disturbingly bleak picture of life but also against pretty much all current evolutionary theory.

    Do you really belive that being a decent person make you 'less fit' in evolutionary terms? That's not only deeply sad but also deeply ignorant of the science.

  3. First, I will only say that those people who justify infidelity and selfishness with evolution are idiots. Plain and simple.

    Second, why in the world would evolution imply that our only purpose is to pass on our genes? Sure, maybe it can be argued that that is what our genetic makeup is designed for, but there is soooooo much more that makes me me than simply my genes.

  4. Able to leap from is to ought in a single bound, it's scientism man!

    I agree with the essence of Jeff's post, that science doesn't create values. Agnes rightly points out, though, that there is an evolutionary explanation for the rise of altruism. People who argue that evolution justifies selfish behavior don't understand 1) evolution and 2) the difference between demonstrating what is and what should be. A lot of scientists don't make that argument because master craftsmen know the limitations of their tools.

    Conversely, people who try to argue what is from what should be (e.g. that evolution is false because selfish behavior is wrong) are on mighty thin ice as well. What happens when the evidence doesn't conform to their view of how the world should be? They usually deny the evidence. May I suggest that they instead learn the difference between facts and values and thereby erect a stronger foundation for their morals.

  5. Here's my take:

    "The beginning" spoken of in Gnesis 1:1 is not an absolute beginning. In an infinity of time, going backward and forward, there can be no abolute beginning. There are only relative beginnings; beginnings of eras.

    I don't believe "the beginning" in Genesis 1:1 is even this planet's beginning. It is more along the lines of our beginning in terms of this planet, or our turn on this planet.

    In other words, this is a recycled planet. The dinosaurs lived and died prior to Genesis 1:1.

    Abraham 3:24 also hints that the creation started in Genesis 1:1 was not an absolute beginning:

    24 … We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

    "These materials" leaves open the status of those materials, raw unorganized atoms, molecules, or even planetary fragments, or even an old previously used planet.

  6. I don't think the point of this post is if evolution is true or not. The point is, what do we do with that knowledge? Do we base our behavior on the fact that we are simply primates? Or do we base our behavior on the beauty, culture and belief that makes us uniquely human. If some choose poor behavior based on the fact that we are mere mammals descended from a common ancestor to modern chimps, that doesn't change the fact that 1) it's poor behavior and 2) we did indeed evolve from a common ancestor. People who make these poor choices should be taught the gospel, not taught that evolution is false and we shouldn't take their poor choices as evidence that evolution is false.

  7. Agnes, I'm discussing the way people interpret and apply what they hear. The science does not require or advocate adultery or violence, and can explain altruism in some cases (kin selection or reciprocal altruism in social groups), but have you ever heard a person on the street apply evolutionary theory to make such a choice for them personally? But we do see many cases of people justifying bad behavior with an appeal to the popular understanding of "science." And certainly the ideas that there is no God and no accountability after death are commonly drawn from the metaphysical and unscientific extrapolations of professors of science teaching that we all began by chance, by evolution alone, and that there is nothing beyond the material vale. Such doctrine is more likely to be lead to selfish behavior than to the altruistic service and charity that helps make saints out of human animals.

  8. One part of human behavior is that horn-dogs will grab on to any excuse to justify horn-dog behavior.

    Is there, or has there ever been an anti-religious agenda among some of scientists in the postulation and propagation of evolutionary theory? I think so.

    Just look at the example of religion-hater Dawkins. He clearly has an axe to grind. It would be naive of us to assume people like him are new on the scene.

    Using "science" or any other beliefs in the non-existence of Deity as an excuse for libertine behavior is nothing new either.

    There have always been libertines who have claimed superior knowledge and sophistication. That's one of Satan's tools.

  9. "When evolutionary theory is used to guide human thought on moral and social issues…"
    I really disagree with the premise of this post. Evolutionary biology, like any other scientific field (physics, chemistry, geology, computer science) is by definition non-moral. It is only when imbued with human perspective that science and our observations of the natural world take on the role of moral allegory. I would suggest it would be better phrasing to say "when evolutionary biology is misused to guide…"

    Many modern thinkers have used evolutionary biology to support notions of altruism; explain, contextualize and manage the urge for infidelity; and draw connections between biology and spirituality, highlighting the healthfulness of 'good' living. While these secular approaches to what we as Mormons tend to view as faith-based and absolute may not always match up with our views, it is a stretch to lay the ills of society and individual rationalization of bad behavior at the feet of Darwin. If it wasn't evolution it would be some other lame excuse. Cheaters are cheaters, as they say.

    Ultimately, we extrapolate from nature that which we already believe, imprinting on it our own view of the world. Christ used natural phenomena to teach truths, and Satan may do the same to teach untruths. Personally I try to follow the Savior's example and take a spiritual and positive view of life incorporating my understanding of evolutionary history. It's a story of perseverance and indomitable optimism. A story of overcoming death and competition, yielding instead beauty, diversity, and ultimately a species capable of altruism, self-awareness, and unity. It's really about the triumph of life in spite of death.

  10. If biology and geology teaches us about the creation, then evolutionary psychology teaches us about the Fall. But it sounds like much of your problem with evolution is use of the naturalist fallacy. Just because it is natural or we are born with it, does not necessarily make it any more desirable than snake venom or malaria.

    But part of what annoys me about the example used about the wife giving the husband permission to philander, is that that isn't even good science. We each have two contrary instincts for promiscuity AND building families. The science is more complex than that.

  11. Mormanity,

    If that's the case, then your issue seems to be with human nature rather than science. When we do something good, we look for ways to take credit for it ourselves. When we do bad things, we look for reasons why it wasn't our fault. Evolution simply shouldn't be an issue.

  12. Jeff G- That is exactly the problem. Much of what we want to take credit for, is also a result of biological and evolutionary forces. In this case, evolution suggests that genuine righteousness requires more than doing what comes naturally, even if what comes naturally is good.

    In other words, evolution suggests we have less to be proud of than we realize.

  13. The underlying problem that evolution poses in discussions of morality is that evolution does not account for the unseen- that which we cannot see but really exists. For example- we know evil exists, even as an actual entity- Satan and his forces. We also know spirits exist and that we ourselves are housed with both a spirit and a physical body. We also know that our own moral behavior before we came here allowed us to come- some with more moral integrity than others.

    The problem with leaving evolution to disect moral behavior is that it just can't. We learn that moral behavior comes froma choice from choosing obedience over lawlessness. Evolution of physical traits does not effect the morality of society, no, it is our own spiritual nature that decides that.

    Because the natural sciences like evolutionary biology cannot nor does not account for the unseen then they naturally have to presume that it is strictly the physical body and the physical mind that attributes to everything that is perceived as "moral". Therefore, when you remove the cause of true moral character, then all that is left is morality being the mere substance of the totality of survival of the fittest brought upon by random mutations. It can be strongly argued from a sole evolutionary standpoint that moral decisions made by humans are made only in light of "survival instincts" ingrained in our DNA. The problems are empiracal to society and its downfall with this approach.

    If our decisions are merely the sum of our DNA interacting with nature to ensure survival, then the obligation to be morally true in society means nothing. Evolution is all about "survival". According to modern evolutionary theory, only that which is best adapted to survive, at any cost to others, is that which succeeds.

    Morality in society hinges off of whether or not we answer to a higher power than nature. If sciencs says that all that exists is "nature", then by default we only have nature to blame for our faults. But, if we understand and realize that it is our spirit in charge of our physical body,then it is to God that we answere to for misconduct with our stewardship.


  14. Rob – It is not an either/or situation. Not even science says that. You are making a straw man argument out of evolution.

    Truth is, we have two dueling aspects within us. We have the fallen aspect of our character inherent in our bodies and spiritual aspects in our spirits. Much of our battle here on earth is spirits overcoming physical bodies. Evolution just explains exactly what the "natural man" is.

    What evolution explains is
    a) what those inherited fallen tendencies are
    b) how we got them

    Do I exaggerate? Consider what the highly antagonistic to religion atheist Richard Dawkins says,

    β€œMuch of the message of my first book, β€œThe Selfish Gene,” was that we must understand what it means to be a gene machine, what it means to be programmed by genes, so that we are better equipped to escape, so that we are better equipped to use our big brains, use our conscience intelligence, to depart from the dictates of the selfish genes and to build for ourselves a new kind of life which as far as I am concerned the more un-Darwinian it is the better, because the Darwinian world in which our ancestors were selected is a very unpleasant world. Nature really is red in tooth and claw. And when we sit down together to argue out and discuss and decide upon how we want to run our societies, I think we should hold up Darwinism as an awful warning for how we should not organize our societies.”

    I am not overly fond of Dawkins but does know his science and he is making precisely the OPPOSITE point of the parent post.

  15. Zen,

    Evolution doesn't explain anything because it isn't proven we developed from a lower order of species. Evolution only sets up a possible hypothesis on why we exist.

    The reason we are fallen is because of our childish tendencies to cave into sin, it has nothing to do with if we evolved from apes or not. Why was Jesus so perfect? Because he is perfect in his spirit. He had no fallen tendencies to overcome- he didn't sin. How does evolution explain why Jesus was perfect yet no one else is? Could it possibly have anything to do with the nature of his moral integrity in spirit form? Absolutely!

    Evolution explains no reality, it just relegates man to the species of an animal in a dog eat dog world.

  16. That the 'natural man is an enemy to God,' discloses no matters of fact on the source of that natural man.

  17. Zen, thanks for the terrific quote for Dawkins – one of his most sensible statements. But his call for an escape from Darwinism in building society is not based upon science, but upon his civil and moral recognition that mankind needs something higher than survival of the fittest and promulgation of genes to guide us. The raw science alone does not provide the guideposts needed, and those who look to science to inform them about the nature of man and our moral obligations will, as stated, come up with dismal results such eugenics, various forms of totalitarianism, and an amoral outlook – because science does not inform us as to morality, as others here have noted. But surely you recognize that numerous teachers and shapers of public opinion do draw moral inferences from their interpretation of the science.

    To declare that science shows that God is dead or that Christianity is false or that there is no Creator is highly unscientific–these are metaphysical extrapolations and projections of human philosophy rather than conclusions of science–but so many people accept these unscientific statements as the natural results of "science." These teachings allegedly buttressed by science affect how people view the world and help shape their morality, and for some, they find justification for ugly, harmful behavior that benefits them.

    Yes, of course it's bad science to do selfish evil in light of evolutionary findings, but is it bad logic? If we are purely material beings, the result of accidents only with no ultimate accountability and no absolute moral principles, that what is illogical about Mao's conclusion that authority comes from the barrel of a gun? What is wrong with doing whatever it takes to succeed? True liberals, in the classical sense, have answered those questions and advocated sensible social norms based on recognizing inherent value in human life, but their enlightened conclusions do not flow naturally from the perspective of humanity offered by what is popularly taught as science. They appeal to something higher in us, something not readily explained or identified by science, but something which a theistic or Christian perspective can more easily provide (in some cases, anyway–I'm not sure the "totally depraved" viewpoints about humanity help that much, nor do viewpoints that largely deny moral agency in man)–and the LDS perspective I find to be especially fascinating when it comes to understanding who we are and why we are here.

    I agree that the problems I referred to are not inherent in the science, but in how humans interpret and apply the science.

  18. Jeff, I'd have less of an issue with your OP if your title suggested you were talking about Human Behavior instead of Human Life.

    You are right, of course: for a man to justify his immoral behavior for some genetic reason is senseless, just as suggesting that his wife should stay home for some genetic reason.

    That science is amoral does not mean it shouldn't be taught in school (in response to Rob O) — it just means we also need to teach morality. That may not occur in school (though it could), but may also happen in the home and in the church.

    We also teach business in schools, and business (the goal of which is to enhance shareholder value) is also inherently amoral. But we can counterbalance that amorality with education on ethics, as well.

  19. Carumba! Well this thread is interesting if nothing else. Nothing quite stirs a debate like the word 'evolution'. πŸ™‚

    You said this, ""These materials" leaves open the status of those materials, raw unorganized atoms, molecules, or even planetary fragments, or even an old previously used planet."

    I'm not totally sure what you mean to say as you're being a bit vague but I'm assuming you hold the theory that all the evidence for evolution is us mistaking material from some other planet for our own planet.

    If you think that this was once a planet that had evolving creatures and then humans were placed on it (long after some other very hominid looking creatures) then at least your idea would be somewhat in line with the things we see (although still would be argued as being a rather convoluted idea that doesn't come from the evidence but is rather a way of sidestepping things that are uncomfortable.)

    The idea that pieces from other planets were mixed into this one and that the fossils of dinos and the like came from it is much more problematic. It would have needed to be carefully set up to retain an unmistakable appearance of evolution and with all these creature from other planets leaving their alien fossils in regions that happen to match up with geographic locations where their body type and apparent abilities would have worked. To say that it's farfetched is an understatement. It's definitely not the most sensible answer to what we find in the earth, or to what we find with our genetics, or what lines up with our knowledge of how ecosystems work.

  20. The entire premise of this original post is so messed up to me. It's a total straw man argument to try and say that one person's abuse of a scientific theory shows that such a theory is bad. I can just as easily point to any number of atrocities that were done by religious people and state that dogmatic belief in a supreme being causes such things.

    @ Rob,
    I can see you feel very threatened by the idea of evolution but it's still the BEST (not perfect or finished but best) THEORY (such as the theory of gravitation or any other scientific theory that most people would never think to question.)

    Do we know all the details of how any particular animal evolved? No probably not. We may get close in some cases but many of these types of claims have a long ways to go. The idea that animals change and evolve over long periods of time is rather inescapable. One can pull the whole, "micro evolution happens but not Macro evolution" or argue from incredulity (irreducible complexity arguments) but these ideas have yet to hold much power and definitely don't do a better job of describing life and it's diversity on planet earth.

    As far as deriving morality from sources where it isn't found the idea that life was created as is by god because he wanted it that way could lead to equally horrible moral stances. It's a fact of life that life amongst all peoples animals and even plants has (and always will be) very brutal. Animals devour one another and take advantage, they even lie and mimic other species in order to get ahead. Couldn't one say, "god is perfect and this is the way he designed the world, so by emulating what I see his creatures doing I'm doing his will!" That would hardly be a good reason for saying that the idea that god created the things on earth needs to be thrown out, or that it leads people to be immoral.

    As Zen pointed out above, even the likes of Dawkins (who is about as in love with biology and the theory of evolution as a person can be) is very strongly insisting that doing what is natural is very different then what an ideal community would be. Heck, part of evolution is the development of thinking brains that are capable of finding better solutions that what their mere instinctual drives would warrant.

    Final note: biologist /= atheist. also, atheist /= immoral. There are plenty of good people (as Jeff pointed out) that are atheists and completely decent loving human beings, just as there are biologists out there that see evolution as an inescapable part of reality yet still believe in god. (just as people are able to believe that just because objects are attracted by gravitation and not by god pushing them together can reconcile this with their belief in a deity.

    I think in a couple of generations most religions will have moved on and the theory of evoltion won't cause such a stir. For some religions this is already the case.

  21. Osborn – What are you talking about Jesus had no tendencies to overcome? The entire point of the book of Hebrews is the exact opposite point. Brigham Young said no one was born with more weaknesses to overcome than Jesus. No only are you doing sloppy science, you are also doing sloppy theology!

    Your other comments are taking evolution out of its appropriate context and level of explanation, like using Newton to explain black holes. That is a straw man.

    Mormanity – It appears to me that the problem is
    a) bad science
    b) assuming we only need science in our starting assumptions (axioms).

    I think the war between the atheists and the hyper-literal evangelicals do a great disservice to the rest of us. They create a conflict where none need exist. The fact that some people set up Science as an idol god, is no condemnation of science itself.

    Matthew – if our earth is mixed from other planets, then most of those fossils should be far under the earth's crust. If we were mixed from other planets finding anything from it would be highly unlikely.

  22. Mormanity, here's a link showing the correlation between "morality" and religion at a country level. They are inversely correlated.

    The pretend fact that you cite, that people rarely cite godlessness as a reason for good behavior is meaningless. Refute the data, and we'll have a point of discussion.

  23. @zen,
    I totally agree. The idea that fossils that seem to go along with the theory of evolution being put there by the mixing of planetary matter is pretty out there. Not only does it require even crazier ideas then evolution to be workable but it isn't substantiate by even the scriptures (saying they don't specifically say it didn't happen that way is NOT the same as saying it did happen that way.)

    I also agree that the arguments between biblical literalists and militant atheists is an exaggerated caricature of reality. Fun to watch, but doesn't really ever go anywhere. Both sides tend to get carried away.

  24. I am LDS and I am an evolutionist teaching human evolution as one of my courses. But, I must admit my dismay at the strong anti-religious tone coming out of so many evolutionists these days.

    For example, Evolutionary Psychology has just recently published a paper by Daniel Dennett, "Preachers who are not believers." The paper is fascinating but has nothing to do with evolution that I can tell. The paper does embarrass religion somewhat. Is embarrassing religion the new purpose of Evolutionary Psychology? I hope not. Science deserves better.

  25. Yeah, I don't know that Dennet is a very objective source for information on evolutionary psychology. I also don't quite understand the claim that because things evolved that god can't exist.

    To me all it would mean is that god uses specific physical characteristics of the universe to bring about his creations. Is that so surprising?

  26. If I'm reading you correctly, you're okay with the scientific concept of evolution but not with the misuse of it as a guide for living. I don't see how anybody could have a problem with that. Many people reject evolution simply on those grounds, not being able to separate the scientific value from what they see as the moral implications of it.

    However as others have pointed out here, most of the justification of immoral behavior comes from a misunderstanding of evolution. Even chimpanzees have an understanding of fairness and sharing, which is the beginning of morality. As research in evolution continues, more evidence of the natural origins of morality is being found.

  27. It was mentioned-

    "As research in evolution continues, more evidence of the natural origins of morality is being found."

    The natural origins of morality? Are you serious?

    This is exactly the point of this whole thread. If the origins of morality comes from evolution then we are all justified in and through our sins. For that matter there can be no sin because after all- we would just be obeying the law of our flesh in how we have evolved. What is it that controls true morality? It certainly isn't the "flesh".

    All the flesh does is provide a vehicle in the which our spirits can carry out their personal desires. "morality" itself is a "spiritual" journey. From LDS teachings we learn that this progression in moral truth and obedience began before we came here when we were in spirit form. Some proved to be more faithful than others. these selected individuals were thus set apart to help the less faithful on earth. It has nothing to do with how or even if our bodies evolved. But, the mistake is made constantly that it is the body- our DNA that is solely reponsible for morality. I totally disagree.

    Our physical body is more of just a tool for the spirit to operate in. The body itself does not think and make decisions- that is solely up to the spirit. Sure, we can condition our body to produce feelings that our spirit enjoys through physical senses, but it is not the body or mind itself that is responsible for moral obedience- that is left entirely up to the spirit of man.

    That is what Jeff is trying to state in this post I believe. He is stating that moral truth and choices made within that realm is not something that has come about through evolution.

  28. Rob, why is it surprising that our bodies influence us? And why does influence, good or bad, justify anything?

    If I do not eat, then I become hungry. None of us would argue that. And it does not mean our agency is automatically negated.

    We are not only spirits, but you come strangely close to the ancient herasy of neo-platonism. Our bodies ARE part of us – that is what a soul is.


  29. The examples of people using evolution as a justification are people who don't fully understand evolution.

    Lots of people use the religious books you believe in to justify things you probably think are wrong too (unless you believe in slavery and stoning people for wearing mixed fibre clothes).

    Evolution is an explanation of how we got here. It is not a moral code. Taking an explanation of nature and naively treating it like a moral code is the problem. For example, I could say 'gravity pulls us down, so we must now lie down together' – so by the same logic, you should also criticise the theory of gravitation.

    Evolution does explain human behaviours, so there is no to invoke a god to explain them. Altruism can make evolutionary sense for several reasons.

    Firstly, and most importantly, evolution is survival of the fittest gene. Genes which support their own reproduction are fit, those which don't are not. The genes in me which make me altruistic are helping themselves reproduce when they make me help my relatives out (and ultimately, all humans are related).

    Secondly, people (and many other animals) evolved to behave using a tit-for-tat strategy. You treat someone nice, and they normally treat you nice back. You hurt someone, and they'll hurt you back (not necessarily in the same way). Furthermore, in human societies, we stand up for each other and collectively get back at aggressors on each other's behalf. This strategy evolved because it deters aggression against someone with the gene in the short-term amongst rational players. A long term effect of this strategy is that altruism is selected for.

  30. Evolution is a word, an idea, and either a fantasy or true. But what does it mean? My body evolved from two cells in my mother. One of those evolved from reproductive tissue in her and the other from reproductive tissue in my dad. The same story plays out many times since Adam and Eve. We each evolved from evolved materials but each were human.

    A 200 pound adult dog and a 2 pound adult dog are different breeds of the same species but if each were first discovered long after their deaths, they would be regarded as different species. That's "science." I have the quote marks because it isn't "knowledge" but deduction.

    The scientific process is about testing a hyposthesis. The two dogs mentioned can't even breed each other so experiments could be set up to confirm that they are in fact of different species, even though we know they are not. But if fossilized bones were all we had of them, we couldn't even set up an experiment. That means you wouldn't be able to accurately call such probable conclusions "science."

    The word "science" is being wrongly used to describe conclusions that cannot be supported by the "scientific methhod." As indendent thinkers, we cannot catch society, or ourselves, in this error unless we know what the scientific method is and recognize that for something to be something, it must be a product of that which produces that something.

    Science is a product of the scientific method. The classification of species took place long before DNA analyses was invented and long after the DNA strands became unavailable.

    True science is true and may be embraced as part of the religion of all who recognize it but not all "science" is truly science or true.

    Whether or not two breeds of finches are as genetically linked as two breeds of dog, let's quit putting the misnomer "science" as a god before the God of Christian scripture. To keep the misnomer as a higher god/God seems perhaps unscientic (in light of other evidence and arguments) and certainly unchristian.

  31. Matthew,

    You're still not envisioning the assembling of fragments the way that I am. Basically, it's all been one ball since life was put on it. But before life was started, it may have been smaller balls. You need to step back even further and get outside the box of thinking that this ball has always orbited around this sun.

    Plus, it's possible that if there were additions of balls of mass after Genesis, or after a pre-genesis "start", those additional balls were lifeless, or were separate "layers" that were added on top of pre-existing layers or cycles of creation.

    God could have accumulated the earth in sections like a mandarin orange, or perhaps built it like the layers of an onion. I dunno.

    My postulates don't require the jumps and convolutions you're thinking off. It's must my lack of ability of putting my thoughts into words that others can turn back into picture-thoughts.

    The various epochs or eras of this planet's 4 billion year history may indeed be "do overs" perhaps like Genesis 1:1 (Abraham 3:24) represented a "do over". There's nothing in the archeological record to require that today's life forms are descendents of the first life forms upon the planet. There could indeed be gaps in which God "re-seeded" the planet with life forms without a genetic descent connection from one era to the next.

    Personally, I think Genesis is just the last of a long series of "re-seeding" with life. And I do not believe evolution from lower to higher life forms has ever happened. The only sense in which "evolution" is true is evolution of one sub-species to another, more along the lines of favorable mutations, but never a higher life form.

    Genesis and Abraham are very condensed shortcut descriptions. When the true history of earth is revealed, it will then be seen that Genesis 1:1 was not the "absolute" beginning of the planet.

    However, "parts" of the scientific view of the history of the earth will then be able to be fitted into the overall true history, and religionists will be very surprised when they finally get the whole story. And also science-"ists" will be greatly surprised at the gaps in their knowledge, and the true correction of some of their incorrection assumptions.

  32. Andrew,

    The problem with letting evolution be the claim for how we act is problematic. It would mean literally that our choices are based upon an algorithim locked into our DNA. Do you see the problem of this? It would mean that true intelligence is nothing more than a complex math equation in our DNA. If this were true, then all we would need to make consciousness work in artificial intelligence would be this equation. Of course that is totally ludicrous. Intelligence (why we make decisions) cannot be summed up with an equation, no matter how complex it would be.

    As I understand it, our DNA is merely a computer program that creates new living reproducable tissue in all the right places at all the right times. It is not responsible for generating intelligence (making decisions). Our spirits however are responsible for generating intelligence.

    Morality in the world is based entirely upon the nature and progress of our spirits, not how many of our genes are screwed up or perfect.

  33. @ bookslinger,
    Thanks for the explanation. It's very possible that I'm still not seeing your explanation in the way that you have it invisioned but I think I see what you're saying. I guess here would be my issue though. Let's say one particular layer came form some other planetoid. Say this particular planetoid had what we know as the dinosaurs that lived on it (before they died on this planet and then it's material was used to create our own. If this is the case it would need some rather meticulous sculpting (as near as I can tell) to get all of the fossils to line up with all the other data that we find about out planet. For example dinos with a phenotype that would favor a marshland happen to be found in geographic locations where this sort of environment would be plausible along with plains dwelling dinos, or forest dwellers, etc. This does not seem to me to be very likely if one was grabing material from several planets to make this one. I also don't quite understand why in a universe where (near as we can tell) the vast majority of planets are completely lifeless he would use only peices of planets that had life to make his new planet.

    The idea of seeding the planet in intervals is interesting, and seems to fit better to what we see, but still has issues from my POV. Firstly it's a very round about way to explain things which have a much simpler (and common explanation.) Secondly we find some animals that are still around today in rather similar form to their ancient ancestors because their form is extremely successful (contrary to some common though, evolution does not state that things must become more complex over time, only that genetic change can and does happen, and that the most apt to survive does. Many simple designs are very very good at propogating themselves like bacteria.)

    There are any number of ideas that one can come up with to try to tie what we find on our planet with what one wants to believe. Evolution seems to be the most rational logical answer given the evidence, but if one chooses to come up with alternate theories then they are more then welcome to do so.

    You mention that you think we have evidence of species change but never of a higher life form. What do we mean by higher life form? Do we mean an increase of complexity in an animal? Do you believe that bats with enlarged claws on their feet and aberrant behavior from other bats (that can swoop down and catch fish out of the water. It's amazing to watch) were created that way, or do you deem it possible that this arose by natural causes? This is kind of the, "I believe that micro evolution occurs (small changes within a species) but not in macro evolution (a cat will never give birth to a dog.) The problem with this out look is that it's akin to looking at a redwood sapling and noting under a microscope over a course of several days that there is cell growth and saying, "Sure the sapling certainly grows. That's impossible to ignore, but there is no way this tiny plant can go into giant redwood tree. No person has ever seen that happen! I can't see it turning into one!"

    Anyways, I'm probably getting off topic here anyways, but needless to say I welcome people to believe what they will, but the combined planet theory is not one that seems to hold up well to empirical scrutiny and I still don't quite see where this idea came from as it certainly is not explicitly laid out in scripture as being the source of fossil diversity.

  34. It's been said many times before, but evolutionary theory is not a moral guidebook. It doesn't tell us how to live, or what we should do. It's merely a scientific observation on the most probable source of the physical form we find ourselves in using the physical evidence we find around ourselves.

    Perhaps this is what Jeff was getting at from the beginning, but what confuses me about this post and many of the comments here is why one would think that the theory of evolution is a moral teacher in the first place. Is it just the assumption that the 'origin of species' is the atheist bible? Since Christians assume their morals to come from god's holy books (which is definitely arguable) do they also sometimes assume that atheists must have a similar book or idea by which they derive their sense of right and wrong?

    I do find it odd that religion often claims a monopoly on 'good' behavior when so much of the behavior we speak of as being of high moral caliber doesn't come from scripture. In fact some of it is portrayed in scripture to be the opposite of what modern day man sees as 'good'. Such as the way men should treat their wives.

    At the end of the day people make altruistic choices because it improves their lives and the lives of others and this is a desirable thing in a society, and (near as I can tell) not because they are fearful of what god will do to them. To me it's a much more horrific idea to think that the only reason people don't steal from or kill one another is that they fear some sort of eternal punishment for doing so.