How deeply I love studying the wonders of the universe. There was a report of a four billion light year across object! That’s 4,000,000,000 light years! Not miles. Lightyears! I watched a show on PBS last night that talked about the recent complete sequencing the the Neanderthal genome. A species near our own, but vastly different, and guess what? Unless you are from Africa, from one to four percent of your genome is Neanderthal! African populations missed this introgression. Now that’s genealogy! (If you don’t believe this, I would encourage you to become an activist demanding the release of all death row inmates convicted on DNA evidence. It’s of the same type.)
I count it as one of my greatest privileges to get to cavort with the great minds who have wrestled with trying to shed some light on the nature of this place in which we find ourselves living and learning. What a wonderful place to exist. We’ve learned so much! We understand only a glimmer of course, but even so, this small glance has exposed us to mind-blowing wonders. We get to peer into deep time because of the things found lying under the earth, above the Earth and in all places. We live in such an age! On a visit to the BYU bookstore I was left drooling. There are books on light, the formation of the universe, books explaining the wonders we see from such instruments such as the Hubble Telescope, the history of life on Earth as written in the fossil and genetic record! Books on how ecologies are structured, how the embryonic development of an organism proceeds from fertilization to birth. Amazing. I get giddy just thinking about it.
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. Oh they have quotes to mine, pulled out of context, forgetting the big picture, and the absolute fact that the Church has no position on evolution. And, they miss, that we believe in continuing revelation, both from prophets and the scripture of nature itself. However, they say the Church is wrong on this. It really has a ‘secret’ stance on evolution that they can reconstruct with the ever so careful twisting of past GA opinion and speculation. They blog that BYU, the Deseret News, and those that run such have all gone astray. Pffst. What little faith they have in the leaders of this Church and the way its demesnes are run.
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, thank goodness at least nowadays in High School they learn enough evolution to know how laughable the old “I believe in micro evolution, but not macroevolution” is–analogous to “I believe in inches, but not miles.” Gag.
But no matter. 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. These are the kind of people that leave the church over evolution. They become so firmly convinced that their reading of past GAs is the only ‘correct’ one, that when they meet the staggering amount of evidence for evolution they trip over it and become born-again atheists. 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.
But for you seekers, those of you with the spirit of curiosity that drove Joseph Smith to the grove and to visions of the universe, there are riches to be harvested. There may have to be adjustments. You may not get all the answers about how everything fits together at this time, but as Q tells Picard in Star Trek the Next Generation, “If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.”
And it’s amazing.
Administrative note: Because the author of this is about 2.3 % Neanderthal, he may have certain biases inherited from his ancestors. Don’t trust him further than you can throw a stone-tipped spear.