Duwayne Anderson Jul1593 03:00PM Mormonism and Evolution Hello. I've been following this n

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Duwayne Anderson Jul-15-93 03:00PM Mormonism and Evolution Organization: Tektronix, Inc., Redmond, OR, USA From: duwaynea@master.cna.tek.com (Duwayne Anderson) Message-ID: <224nht$30g@master.cna.tek.com> Newsgroups: talk.origins Hello. I've been following this news group for about the last year and find it very interesting. I don't have much time to post, but I would still like to contribute on rare occasions. There have been a few comments over the last few months regarding Mormons and their position on evolution. I thought the readers of this news group might be interested in learning of a recent article on evolution in the Mormon church's monthly magazine "The Ensign". This magazine is published by the Mormon church and contains regular feature articles by the highest Mormon officials. The article was in the June 1993 issue. The author, Dr. George Hill III, is a General Authority emeritus of the church, has a PhD (in Geology I think), and has served as the dean of the University of Utah's College of Mines and Mineral Industries. His credentials as a scientist and General Authority would certainly earn him the undisputed agreement of all Mormons (except for a few heretics that have developed a nasty habit of thinking for themselves). Dr. Hill begins his article by discussing the differences between what he calls the scientific and revelation methods of learning the truth. He claims these approaches are different but complimentary. Some truths are reserved by God to be discovered only by the "revelation" method, while others are left to discover through the "scientific" method. I find the two approaches are not similar at all. In fact, they appear to be opposites. Science welcomes skepticism and requires peer review and repeatable results that can be reproduced by any observer who is willing to properly perform the experiments. Religion discourages skepticism, and is founded on authoritarianism and personal experiences that are dependent on the observer, and generally not repeatable. After introducing the revelation and scientific methods Hill goes on to explain that theories are not laws and that facts never change, although our inferences from them do. His attempt here seems to be the usual one of discrediting an idea by branding it a theory and then arguing that theories are only the ideas of men. He tries to draw a distinction between laws and theories, but never tells the reader how to tell one from the other. He refers to the "Laws" of thermodynamics and the "Theory" of evolution. Both are products of human science. Presumably laws are those ideas that Hill finds comforting and in agreement with his preconceived notions, while theories are those things that put a wrinkle in his world view. After this philosophical introduction Dr. Hill goes on to discuss evolution and how he believes it fits in with religion and science. He starts right off by stating that "[evolution] conflicts with a basic law of chemistry, the second law of thermodynamics, which states in part that it is not possible for a spontaneous process to produce a system of higher order than the system possessed at the beginning of the change". To make his point he quotes an unidentified, "renowned", biologist who allegedly exposed grasshoppers to radiation and found that they only had deleterious mutations. There was no discussion about how a mutation was classified as deleterious or not, nor was there any discussion about any of the specifics of how the experiment was carried out. Anyone out there have any idea what studies he might be referring to? He also uses the argument that the second law of thermodynamics prevents boulders from rolling up hill. I thought that argument was quite interesting. I wonder, if rolling up hill violates the second law of thermodynamics, how does Dr. Hill suppose all those boulders got up the hill in the first place? As a part time mountain climber I never had any problem with rocks rolling up hill, as long as there is some source of energy to drive them. In fact, throughout the article Hill simply seems to ignore that great big yellow (yes, damn it, not green :)) ball of hot gas out there in space that is driving the weather, evolution, and a whole lot of other things here on earth. Dr. Hill seems to leave the door open for some sort of acceptance of evolution. His primary criticism seems to be against an evolutionary system that is driven by random events. Several times he discusses what he calls the need to have some outside directing force in order for organisms to advance or change in non deleterious ways. I found that interesting, as it possibly portends a change in Mormon Church doctrine. In the past the church has vigorously argued against any sort of change among "kinds" (yes, I know, and they never define what a kind is either). Some of their most prominent General Authorities have made statements to the effect that evolution is a doctrine of the devil and totally inconsistent with Mormonism. Perhaps Dr. Hill can see the writing on the wall (to use an Old Testament metaphor.) and is trying to tweak Mormon doctrine into a position that is not quite so obviously at odds with scientific facts. The article is copyrighted by the "Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". I would have typed in the whole article but I'm not sure how that would conflict with copyright laws. If you want, you can probably get a copy of the article from any meeting house library of the Mormon church. If you know any Mormons they would probably be very happy to loan you a copy. Hope this helps to end the confusion about where the Mormon church stands on evolution. Mormons are firmly on the side of the creationists and opposed to the theory of evolution. Duwayne Anderson


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