Now that the election is over it’s time to turn to other things like EVOOOOOOLUTION MAINIA. So it’s time to go head to head in a blog spectacular heavyweight smack-down! In this corner, the post on evolution at mormonsandscience—Hardcore rabid anti-evolutionists. In the other corner, Dave Bailey’s post at the Mormon Organon, where the enlightened pro-evolution theists boldly proclaim the truth. In this first round I take on:
- Regarding the second point, it is NOT possible that God allowed random mutations in the genome to evolve to the point of creating mankind. There are way too many changes and possible combinations for Him to leave this to chance. His house is a house of order, not randomness.
(Only when the subject is evolution do you see the Creationists use the word ‘God’ and ‘NOT possible” together. The rest of the time He gets to be omnipotent.)
It’s time for a WWF SmackDown match over ‘Random’.
The face off wherein we shout and grunt about our prowress
Do I know Random? Do I know Random? Brother I was raised on Random. I have Random for lunch. I’ve walked in the dark alleys of Random. I’ve seen its underbelly! I’ve taken advanced probability, teeth-aching stochastic process theory, even the dreaded Measure Theory—such a deep foray into probability that I’ve been scarred and mutilated by randomness. (Although to be fair, I would not have made it through Measure Theory without my Uyghur study partner from China, otherwise I’d be selling T-Shirts out of a shopping cart in Baltimore right now). So don’t be talking about randomness without having passed three-headed Cerberus on your way to its mysteries. Yeah! I got Randomness. And it has squat to do with what God can do or not do. Heck the odds makers in Vagas use it to their advantage without cheating (well . . . maybe) so why can’t God?
Wherein I take a metal frame chair and break it over the head of my opponent.
So you think randomness doesn’t have any rules? Man, it ain’t nothing but rules. It’s all about following distributions. Even if you have the flatout boring Uniform Distribution you know what the mean and variance are. And there are lots of distributions. Flip a fair coin a million times and I’ll give you the proportion of heads. Tell me how accurate you want that estimate and I’ll tell you how many times you’ve got to flip it. And yeah, pick any accuracy you want. Any! Randomness sure doesn’t mean all outcomes are uncertain. Even real randomness, mind you, not Intelligent Design-messing-with-the-odds randomness. God doesn’t have to wink and mess with my coin flying through the air to get at my certain prediction on the proportion of heads.
Wherein I lift my opponent over my head and begin to spin him.
So if God creates a certain kind of universe. Say with lots of space and lots of time. And some earthlike planets that show up at sometime in galactic history, then he could get any outcome he wanted. Just by waiting. Even the hardcore Mormon Creation/IDers I know grant the Universe is billions of years old. Why? Maybe because God needed all this space and time? Maybe there was a purpose to such a big and long-lasting universe? Maybe God wasn’t, like, just being arbitrary? Maybe some things needed to unfold? Ya, think? If God is just straight-line cooking the universe in a pot, why so much, well, waste? Maybe he wanted to try his spirit children’s patience? Or maybe, just maybe, he’s waiting for the coin flipping of the universe to reach a certain proportion of heads? or body-type maybe? Say, one like His. Why not? Oh yeah, ‘Its NOT possible for God to use randomness.’
Wherein I use a Pile Driver to force my opponent to the mat.
What is it? Mammal? Fish? No reptile. It’s a dinosaur. Why does it look like a dolphin? Why do dolphins look like fish? I’ll tell you why. Because they are solving similar engineering problems. You got four limbs? You need to swim. Some shapes are better than others, i.e., those with a little more stream to their line, a tad more fin to their stability, bit more thrust to their tail, survive better than their neighbors without these littles, tads, and bits. We call that Darwinism. If you have stuff that can be passed to your kids and there is some variation in that stuff, voila, evolution through natural selection. If something needs to swim through an ocean on some distant planet it might just look like our friend the dolphin, it’s a slick repeatable design. It’s evolved in fish, reptiles, and mammals three different times!
More examples? How about these two Sabertooth tigers (if you believe in that sort of thing).
But wait one of these is a marsupial. One is a cat. These both evolved from a shrew like thing that ate insects. We call this convergent evolution. Why? Because similar environmental needs require similar solutions. Need to dispatch large mega pray? How about some nice dagger-like teeth? Let me say that again. Similar environmental needs produce similar body type. And look, from the same humble rat-like beginnings, two sabertooth tigers. Evolution explains it again.
Wherein I pin my opponent to the ground for seven seconds.
So could a human body be got from random processes? Sure why not. Maybe, under the right environmental conditions the human body is as inevitable as getting a dolphin/fish body if you want to swim. Or as inevitable as getting a saber tooth cat thing if you want to hunt big, thick-hided prey. So given randomness (Again, true in your face, unadulterated randomness not Intelligent Design-God-has-to-mess-around-with-it-randomness), an earthlike environment, a little time and space maybe, just maybe, getting a human body in this universe isn’t just guess work, its in the works. The very structure of the universe—pure physical explanation for this shape. Who knows where or when, Baby, but, maybe, just maybe, it’s probability one! Just like planets with rings (big rings like around Saturn and delicate ones like the rings around Uranus), humans maybe be built into the fabric of the universe.
Does this have implications? You betcha. The most important of which is that Star Trek was right!
End round one
So wild cheers. I march around the arena showing my mental muscles and shouting insults to the boos and whip my hand in the air for the cheers. The smack down begins. For Death-match-two, look at this lineup of chimp-through humanoid fossils-through modern human skulls. Show me where the ‘missing link’ goes.
Note1: I’m not advocating that this is necessarily how God used creation. My purpose is to open a space where science and faith are fully compatable. This keeps being read as giving science priority over faith, and the oposite view of Creationism, reversing that order with Faith on top. This kind of ordering already assumes an incompatability. My assumption of full compatability means that both are ways of discovering truth. Fully. Both are fallible and need adjustments from time to time. Both require humility and courage to face the realities that each presents. The assumption that ‘God cannot do X’ or ‘My reading of the scripture is closed and will not allow adjustments in the face other sources’ is just bad theology. I hope I’ve opened that space for some. If you believe in evolution and feel marginalized by those around you because people tell you it’s not compatible with the gospel and you must chose one or the other—Use a head sissor lock and say, not in my Gospel, Baby.
Note 2: Dave the writer and keeper of mormonsience is a thoughtful and philosophically informed guy and a worthy evil archrival (kidding). I hope he knows I’m having fun and takes it in the tongue-in cheek spirit it was given. I expect he’ll give as much as I dish out. I think even Chancellor Gary R. over at No Death is getting used to my incorrigible manner of blogging (I like his passion and zeal too). (While I don’t think I’ll turn Gary R. to the light side of the force, I still have hope for Dave. I sense some good in him. The dark side of creationism may not have taken him over completely. Someday, I expect, when No-Death Gary has me held over a metaphorical gapping hole in some metaphorical deathstar filled with metaphorical lightening, Dave will look at him. Then look at me. Then look at him. And then suddenly he will leap forward and hurdle Gary (metaphorically of course) into the hole. Then gasping he will ask me to let him look upon the light of creation with evolutionary eyes. And I will remove his dark mask of creationism, he will breath in the unfiltered air of truth, and the good evolutionist within will stare back and smile. Then will the prophecy be fulfilled that Dave would be the one to bring balance to the Creation-Evolution debates.)
*All images were ripped from wikipedia.com