Dear Gentle Reader,
I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown tired of all the evolution skeptics saying: “If evolution is going on right now, then why haven’t we seen it in the human race over the last few thousand years?” Well at last we can put those silly arguments to rest.
We now have solid evidence showing that humankind is evolving! That’s right folks; humanity is currently evolving and it will continue evolving into 2 species over the next 100,000 years – so says London School of Economics professor Oliver Curry.
Curry, an evolutionary psychologist, reports that by the year 3000 (that’s about 1000 years from now) microevolutionary processes will breed men into “tall, handsome studs with deep voices, square jaws, and substantial [reproductive organs].” The ladies are not exempt from changes. Curry claimed that females will have “smooth, hairless skin, glossy hair, large eyes, and perky [mamillary glands].” Hmm, sounds interesting, even scandalous!
But what about macroevolutionary changes - that is what we are most interested in, right? Here it is: Professor Curry says that in 100,000 years (that’s the year 102,009 for you doing the math), macroevolution will split the human race into two species. Yes! In your face anti-evolutionists! Curry says that there will be a species of “tall, slim, intelligent privileged” people, and a “short, squat, ugly, dim-witted race of servants.” Brilliant! (Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6057734.stm)
Oh, I know what race I would want to belong to - the short, fat dim-witted race because in the year 102,009 the hard working short species will rise up and annihilate the tall, lazy species. And after annihilating the tall species of humans, members of the short species will place Randy Newman’s song “Short People” on the Index of Prohibited Songs.
I further predict that after the annihilation, short academicians and evolutionists will become embroiled in a heated debate about whether they and the tall people evolved from the same ancestors (common descent). The evolutionists will say that the fossil record and genetic facts clearly indicate that common descent took place. The skeptics will demand more proof. They will insist that evolutionists prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they evolved from the same ancestor(s) as the repugnant tall, lazy people.
Ah yes. Doesn't history seem to repeat itself?
Have you ever heard or read the phrase, "Evolution is a fact"? I am hearing this statement more often these days. What does it mean to say that evolution is a fact?
It is important to note that this statement is most often construed as referring to the ontological status of the theory. In other words, it is a statement about whether the theory agrees with what is happening in the natural world. Now some people like to say that evolution is a fact because it is based on factual data like fossils and genetic data. I would argue that that saying evolution is a fact because it is based on factual data is a misleading argument and should be avoided.
Fine. Now let’s move on.
There are two major categories of research in science; there is theory explanation and there is theory testing (justification). Sometimes these two categories overlap and they share similar research characteristics, but they are very different. I bring up these two categories (theory testing and theory building) because sometimes evolutionists and others confuse them. This confusion leads to unjustifiable truth claims about evolution (more on this in a bit).
When talking about the factuality of evolution, it is essential to distinguish between two types of evolution. Now I know that some evolutionists don’t like to distinguish between micro and macroevolutionary processes, and that’s fine; the distinction may not be important in their everyday work. However, the distinction is important when exploring the question “Is evolution a fact?” It turns out that one type of evolution has been subjected to rigorous testing and passed while the other has not.
Microevolutionary processes within a species is a demonstrable fact. It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt with rigorous testing. Specifically, random genomic mutations and environmental selection have been shown to create change within a species.
However, macroevolutionary processes across life forms is not a demonstrable fact. It has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Then why do so many evolutionists and others claim that macroevolution is a fact? I think there are two main reasons for this mistake. First they confuse the theory description and theory testing processes, and second, they do not understand the kind of testing that justifies “beyond a reasonable doubt” truth claims.
Much of the evidence for macroevolution is descriptive in nature. Here is what I mean. Macroevolution involves a lot of descriptive research wherein one goes out into the real world, gathers data, and best explains that data in a manner consistent with macroevolution. Gathering real world data and explaining that data in a manner consistent with a theory is an inductive process. Sometimes it is called making an inference to the best explanation or it is sometimes called ‘abduction’. Much of the real world data “fits” into the macroevolutionary theoretical framework, however, because the data are inductive in nature, they do not provide certain evidence of macroevolution.
If you are feeling confused, the following example should help.
Sherlock Holmes used induction when he collected observable facts and used those facts to reconstruct what happened at a crime scene. (It is interesting to note that Holmes said he was using ‘deduction’ - actually he was using ‘induction’.) In philosophical terms induction is going from particulars to a single explanation, and that is what Holmes did; he went from particular evidence to a single conclusion about who committed the crime. In the same way evolutionists collect facts in the natural world and explain or describe them using macroevolution (common descent). This too involves moving from particular field evidence to a single conclusion (macroevolution). Although the evidence may appear to support a conclusion, we cannot be certain that either conclusion is correct. Holmes never saw the crime being committed and an evolutionist never witnessed common descent (evolution from one life form to another). This sort of evidence does not lead to certainty.
Yet evolutionists argue that macroevolution is on the same footing as relativity and gravity, because, they claim, relativity and gravity were built using the same inductive methodology. This is true. Relativity and gravity were built using the same inductive methods; however, evolution is not on par with these two well established theories. Why not? The answer is that macroevolution lacks rigorous testing; it has not been subjected to, and passed, tests of hypotheses to the same extent that relativity and gravity have.
What macroevolution lacks are controlled crucial tests of its core tenets, and assuming that such tests could be carried out, the theory would also have to survive those tests. A major barrier to carrying out a controlled, crucial test is time – too many years are required to observe change from one life form to another. (Note that some evolutionists like to point to one species of salamander evolving into another “species”. I am talking about going from a salamander to another significantly different life form like a platypus.)
On the other hand, relativity and gravity have been subjected to crucial tests of their core tenets, and survived. The last time you accidentally dropped something you unwittingly submitted gravity to a crucial test, and I am sure it passed (the item fell). In 1919 a research team led by Sir Arthur Eddington submitted relativity to a crucial experiment by measuring shifts in the Hyades star field near the sun during an eclipse. And in 1971 Hafele and Keating submitted relativity to a crucial experiment by measuring time differences in previously synchronized atomic clocks flown in jet airplanes. Relativity passed both tests. Because of these and other successes, we've elevated gravity and relativity to law-like status. For the time being they have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt – macroevolution has not.
So the bottom line is that microevolution is a fact, but macroevolution is not. This does not mean that macroevolution is necessarily false; it does mean, however, that it has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In a manner of speaking, yes, it is still just a theory.
In a comment to my recent post on secular humanism, S.Faux pointed out that secular humanists are free to believe the way they do. This doctrine is found in Alma 30:7-9, which readsNow 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. For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve. 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.S. Faux is correct. According to the great Plan of Salvation, people are free to believe whatever they want and to do so without ridicule. This was the case with Korihor. Korihor was free to believe whatever he wanted without ridicule. In this post I explore the following question: If Korihor was free to believe whatever he wanted without retribution, then why was he called out by Alma for his abhorrent beliefs, and why did he pay such a hefty price?Korihor was called out because he was “working devices that . . . destroy[ed] the children of God,” and his spreading of false doctrines was “bringing many souls down to destruction.” Alma warned Korihor that if he persisted, God would smite him so that he would “not deceive this people any more.” “Why was Korihor called out and struck dumb?” Answer: He became an unrepentant anti-Christ social activist.And so it goes with secular humanism. There are numerous secular humanists who keep their atheist views to themselves. I am fine with these folks. They have a right to their beliefs. I know and work with secular humanists who are good people. But those who become social activists for secular humanism have crossed the line, and I am calling them out. Specifically, I am calling out the secular humanism movement in America for propagating atheism in society. The following quote is a glimpse of what secular humanist activism is up to.[Secular humanism] is a vibrant movement, and there have already been successes. The newly formed Secular Coalition for America has brought the first lobbyist to Washington specifically representing the interests Secular Americans. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has "come out" as the first openly nontheistic congressman in American history.
The American Humanist Association initiated the first national advertising campaign promoting the notion of secular humanist identity, and now numerous groups around the country are doing the same. We now have Camp Quest, a camp for children of nonreligious families, and we have education centers, legal centers, charities, student groups through the Secular Student Alliance, and local groups all around the country, all affirming the notion of secular identity.
The movement was assisted somewhat in recent years by a series of bestselling books debunking religion, and now awaits an important book to be released by HarperCollins this fall from Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein, Good Without God - What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, that promises to educate the public about the positive aspects of the humanist lifestance. Clearly, Secular Americans are emerging, and we have no intention of going back to the closet.
Secular Americans don't for a moment think that the election of Obama has eliminated the danger of the religious right. Critical thinking and rational public policy will not be secure until secular humanists have firmly established themselves as a recognized and respected demographic category, seen by the public, the press, and the government as being worthy of a seat at the table in the American public dialogue. Obviously, there is much work to be done and this is no time for complacency.
(Source: http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2009-08-why-secular-actvism. For another list of secular humanist activism visit http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=main&page=29).I agree with the last line. In these perilous times “there is much work to be done and there is no time for complacency.” If members of the LDS church and other Christian organizations do not recognize this movement and counter its influence, America may one day become very different nation. I don’t want my great grandkids living in a country where believers are the minority and America has become a predominantly secular nation because I failed to recognize the warning signs and did not take a stand.
Announcer: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to America’s favorite game show - Name that Organization! That’s right folks, Name that Organization is the game everryybooodyy loves to play!
In this game show contestants recieve clues about the identity of a mystery organization and then must guess the name of the organization.
(Announcer turns and points at you) Are you ready!? (You nod your head.)
OK – Here we go. Let’s play!
(Cheesy game show music playing)
(Lights dim and tense music plays)
Announcer: Ok contestant, the following are direct quotes from the mystery organization. These quotes express core beliefs held by the organization.
Clue 1. This movement claims that “reliable knowledge is best obtained when we query nature using the scientific method.”
Clue 2. This movement believes that “human values should express a commitment to improve human welfare in this world.”
Clue 3. This movement is trying “to encourage, wherever possible, the growth of moral awareness.”
Announcer: Sssounds pretty good, doesn’t it!? Ok, contestant, name that organization.
(Sound of ticking clock)
Announcer: What do you think? (You shake your head.) Can’t decide yet, huh? OK, here are your next three clues. These are affirmations embraced by the mystery organization.
Clue 4. “We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt . . ., tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than . . . irrationality.”
Clue 5. “We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.”
Clue 6. “We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility.”
Announcer: Wow! Those sound great! Okay contestant, lock in you answer using the key pad.
(You lock in your vote by entering three letters: B – Y – U)
Announcer: (Turning to the audience) Ladies and gentlemen, our contestant has locked in his/her vote. Now we we will present three more beliefs held by the same organization and then poll the audience on the identity of the mystery organization.
Clue 7. “We reject the divinity of Jesus, the divine mission of Moses, Mohammed, and other latter day prophets and saints of the various sects and denominations.”
Clue 8. “[We] place trust in human intelligence rather than in divine guidance.”
Clue9. “[We] reject the idea that God has intervened miraculously in history or revealed himself to a chosen few or that he can save or redeem sinners. . . . [and] that men and women are free and are responsible for their own destinies and that they cannot look toward some transcendent Being for salvation.”
Announcer: Okay audience, using your key pad, please lock in your vote on the identity of the mystery organization.
Announcer (pointing to large screen): Alright folks, we see that after the first six clues the contestant’s guess was . . . “BYU” (audience laughs). Okay, contestant - you have the option of keeping your answer or trading it for the audience’s answer. Do you want to trade? Deal or No Deal?
(Sound of ticking clock. You nod your head)
Announcer: (Turning to audience) Ladies and gentlemen, our contestant had decided to trade his/her response for your response! (Audience applauds.) Let’s look at the audience’s answer in our audience poll. (Pointing to the screen). Survey said . . . !
The Council for Secular Humanism!
(Sound of bells ringing and sirens.)
Announcer: That is correct!
You win, contestant! Thanks for playing, everyone. We’ll see you next time on . . . (audience shouts in unison) “Name that Organization!”
There are seemingly well-intentioned teachers, scholars, scientists, and academicians who are working to make the world a better place, but they are also doing the work of the devil. I am referring to secular humanists. Mormon tells us that “whatsoever thing persuadeth men to . . . believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil.” This is exactly what secular humanists are doing – they are persuading people to disbelieve in God.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they kept their atheism to themselves, but they don’t. They are the modern day Korihors who go about persuading people that there is no God, no divine law, and that “everyone fare[s] in this life according to the management of the creature.” A major Korihorian tenet of secular humanism is that the key to human prosperity is mankind’s own abilities. It claims that we can achieve lasting peace and happiness through human ingenuity, reason, and strengthening humanity through science and technology (compare to Alma 30:17). There is absolutely no place for God in achieving lasting peace and happiness according to this belief system.
Secular humanism has become more than a system of beliefs. It is now an organized religion. Its gods are science and philosophy. Its old testament is the book of human reason. Its new testament is the book of nature. Its holidays are the summer and winter solstices. Its priests are highly educated evolutionary spin doctors and academicians who are ever learning without coming to the knowledge of the truth. Its missionaries are teachers who openly criticize notions of intelligent design in front of our young children. Its “churches” and “meetinghouses” are websites that promote atheism and denounce Christian beliefs 24/7. And its current leader is a highly successful author, scholar, and retired professor of philosophy named Paul Kurtz.
There are positive teachings in secular humanism. There is an emphasis on freedom of choice, moral values, ethics, reason, and scientific progress. These are worthwhile pursuits, but as they say, “the proof is in the pudding.” In this case the pudding contains a dangerous mixture of a denial of godly existence, influence, and authority. Like a snare hunter, secular humanism lures people with attractive bait, and then springs the trap of atheistic dogma. That atheistic dogma traps individuals in a world devoid of hope and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are two questions regarding the secular humanists.
1. Deep down inside do some of them truly believe in a supreme being, as did Korihor? I think the answer is yes.
2. Will those who are intentionally deceiving others meet the same sort of fate as Korihor? I don’t know. I’ll leave that one up to the Lord.
Korihor had no evidence that God does not exist, and neither do the secular humanists. They have not been able to disprove the existence of divinity with their intellectualizations and pedagogical ramblings. Yet, like Korihor, secular humanists have plenty of reasons to believe in a supreme being. As Alma pointed out, the scriptures, the earth and its motion, all things upon the earth, and all the planets bear witness of the existence of a supreme creator (Alma 30:44). But until the learned secular humanists humble themselves and exercise a particle of faith, the Lord will not reveal himself to them (2 Nephi 9:42).
I am hopeful and prayerful, but am not holding my breath.
What did Isaac Newton, Renes Descartes, Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle, James Maxwell, and Michael Faraday all have in common?
They were highly successful scientists and scholars who lived during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Isaac Newton is one of the brightest and most influential scientific minds that ever lived. Descartes’ earned the title “father of modern philosophy” for his contributions on reason and scientific methodology. Galileo’s popularization of experimentation and mathematical analysis played a major role in shaping modern science. Boyle is a co-founder of the influential Royal Society and a founder of modern chemistry. Maxwell made groundbreaking discoveries in mathematics and physics, most notably in the area of electromagnetic theory. And Faraday revolutionized modern physics with his work in electromagnetism.
These men shaped the world in which we live. Without their contributions the world would be a very different place. They brought us out of the Dark Ages and laid a foundation of scientific progress and prosperity that continues to this day.
What some may not realize is that they were also devout believers. They were theists, which is to say that they believed in a Supreme Being who is actively involved in His creations. They believed in divine inspiration, guidance, and intervention, and accepted the divine mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is this significant? It means that if you believe in God and believe in science (in the sense of recognizing science as a noble pursuit of truth), then you are in good company. You are in the company of men like Newton, Boyle, and Galileo.
I’d rather be in the company of these men than in the company of contemporary godless scholars such as Dawkins (author of The God Delusion), Stenger (author of God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist), and Hitchens (author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything). I don’t need to say anymore about their work; the titles of their recent books speak for themselves.
For the past 250 years atheists and agnostics have been driving God out of science, and they have largely succeeded. Science is now packaged to our children as a secular endeavor that is entirely free of religious ideas. In today’s environment, mixing scientific and religious beliefs is considered scientific heresy and unscholarly work. Ben Stein’s recent film Expelled illustrates the hostility towards religious beliefs that currently exists in academia, education, and science.
When believers reference deity and present evidence in favor of intelligent design, the response from atheists and agnostics is usually resentment and rejection. Objections from the non-believers usually sound like “There is no place for god in science!” and, “If we accept the supernatural into science we will digress to the way things were in the Dark Ages.” Scientific history indicates that these claims are misleading.
You see, Newton, Decartes, Boyle, Galileo, Maxwell, and Faraday would have disagreed with the claim that there is no place for God in science. For them, just the opposite was true. Newton mentioned the Creator several times in his book The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which is arguably the most influential science book ever written. Descartes claimed that the Creator played a major role in humanity’s acquisition of secular truth. Galileo thanked the Creator for his discoveries in astronomy that changed the way we view our place in the universe. Boyle believed that science enriched mankind’s understanding of the nature and purpose of God’s creations. Faraday’s belief in a unified Supreme Being likely contributed to his unification of electrical and magnetic forces. And Maxwell was motivated by the belief that the wisdom of the Creator’s handiwork can be found in scientific discovery.
Moreover, these men would disagree with the claim that allowing supernatural beliefs into science will hinder the latter. That they are among the greatest scientific minds that ever lived suggests their beliefs did not hinder their work. The opposite is true. Their religious convictions strengthened their resolve to uncover the mysteries of the God's creations and opened their minds to the enlightening power of the Spirit of the Lord.
When skeptics from academic, education, and scientific institutions scorn your beliefs in God, just remember, you are in good company.
When Rudy Giuliani was running for president he cited data comparing healthcare in England and the United States. This is the essence of what he reported:
In Britain about 44% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer were alive 5 years later. On the other hand, in the US about 81% men diagnosed with prostate cancer were alive 5 years later. So Giuliani concluded that the 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer in the US is nearly double what it is in England (44% for England vs. 82% for the US). He was wrong. The risk of death from prostate cancer is virtually the same in both countries.
In the US most prostate cancer screening involves looking for prostate-specific antigens (PSA). British doctors do not rely on PSA testing near as much as their American counterparts. In England most prostate cancer is identified through symptoms. These different approaches to diagnosing prostate cancer are key.
Here is how different screening practices lead to different survival rates.
The US has a higher proportion of prostate cancer diagnoses because US physicians rely on PSA screening. PSA testing often identifies small tumors that grow so slowly they do not harm a man before he dies from natural causes due to old age. These are sometimes called nonprogressive cancers. Nonprogressive cancers meet the pathological definition of cancer but never cause symptoms during a patient’s lifetime. On the other hand, because British physicians rely more on symptoms to diagnose prostate cancer, they usually do not diagnose men with nonprogressive cancers.
So if PSA testing in the US identifies 3000 men with prostate cancer, 2000 of those may have nonprogressive cancer while 1000 may have progressive cancer. The 2000 nonprogressive cancer patients survive along with 440 of the 1000 progressive cancer patients. Thus the survival rate is 2440/3000 = 81%
If England relies on symptoms to identify prostate cancer, then it will miss the 2000 with nonprogressive cancer and just diagnose the 1000 with progressive cancer. Among the 1000 progressive cancer patients, 440 survive, just like in America. However, England’s survival rate is 440/1000 = 44%.
The upshot is that over diagnosing prostate cancers with PSA testing in the US is inflating survival rates. In reality, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is virtually the same in both countries. A 2001 report showed that there were 26 prostate cancer deaths per 100,000 men in the US and 27 cancer deaths per 100,000 men in England (Shibata & Whittemore).
The other dark secret of PSA testing is that it may be leading to unnecessary treatment. If PSA identifies a tumor then a man may choose surgery and/or radiation therapy. These treatments may be unnecessary if the tumor is nonprogressive, yet the man could be left with impotence and incontinence as a consequence of being treated.
If PSA testing identifies a cancer tumor, I think the next important question should be: "Is it progressive?" The answer(s) to this question and a thorough discussion between patient and doctor should inform one's decision to withhold or undergo treatment. (Source: Gigerenzer et al., 2008. Helping Doctors and Patients Make Sense of Health Statistics)