Part 1 is a discussion on social media site of Professor Jared Decker on members of the church subscribing to the theory of evolution. This was written soon afterwards but publishing was delayed.
My argument is that biology and TOE (Theory of Evolution) does not contain transcendant truths. Not every member needs to be a biologist or even familiar with biology. They can and do still live happy productive lives even if they think TOE is false. I’m also saying the reason they think and say TOE is wrong is often because they’ve been lead to believe that TOE discredits the christina religion beyond saying that Jesus was a wise teacher and the resurrection is an encouraging metaphor. If I thought the TOE and my faith were incompatible then I too would jettison TOE and not look book. My faith has blessed my life immeasurably – TOE and genetics is a hobby. Now one can clearly believe TOE and also believe Jesus is the literal Son of God and Monson is the prophet. You and I are living proofs of that. But at the same time, we have to acknowledge that TOE has shaken the faith of some and has been an obstacle to others. That person in Sunday School is not making the statement about TOE in a vacuum. It is in reaction to the difficulties some have with it, and in reaction to attempts that are made to use TOE to shake peoples faith (which does happen). What that person is saying is that if TOE disproves the gospel then TOE is wrong because I know, that the Gospel is true and altogether good.
If I may share a scenario so you can see what it would be like if the shoe was on the other foot. I am an electrical engineer. I’ve noticed that most people are shockingly ignorant of even the basics of electronics engineering such as the right hand rule, let alone understanding more important things like Maxwells equations. And you know what – I’m beginning to suspect they have pretty much zero interest in the field. Shocking, I know. Yet somehow they manage to live good lives, get saving ordinances done and increase in faith, wisdom and charity with charity being the most important thing we can attain in this life. Yes I imagine that as part of our eternal progression we will learn all things including electronics – we will become polymaths. But that isn’t the focus of this life. So let us suppose then that you are one of those people, ignorant of how electronics work. Let us say that to make a point about some gospel principle you make an analogy based on an incorrect understanding of how your smartphone works. Then let us suppose I jump all over you and thoroughly demonstrate how your understanding of electronics is stupid and foolish. Result: you and everyone else in the class will think (correctly) that I am using my superior knowledge in that field to bully you. They will continue to be ignorant of the principles upon which electronics are based. And I will have completely missed your point which had to do with a gospel principle and not that you suddenly decided that you needed to educated everyone on electronics.
The bottom line is that richard dawkins and the like claim that biology has a transendental truth (It can make definitive claims on things outside of the field) more specifically that the Theory of Evolution discredits christianity and pretty much all forms of theism where god(s) has any particular interst in us. I say it does not contain an ovarching truth that is applicable to life the universe and everything. Like other fields the truth are applicable within its field, and those of us outside of that field can benefit from it without needing to be knowledgeable in it. For biology – I can take medicine and eat food without understanding biochem, genetics, or how application of the breeders equation and old school genetic engineering techniques have increased crop yields tremendously. If we really do all need to be knowledgeable in all fields (because we are voters or something?), then we are screwed because we simply aren’t smart enough. I think the last time the sum of human knowledge was small enough that one person could claim to be knowledgeable in all fields (and for simplification lets limit ourselves to hard science and leave out law and history and sociology and such), I say the last time someone could expect to be knowleadgeable of all fields was probably over a hundred years ago and probably a lot farther back than that. It ain’t going to happen. Thousands of smart people are resarching thousands of different things. They aint enough time in life to learn them all. And there are other things we want to do with our life. Fortunately just as the body of christ can have its different parts working together to function well, I believe our society can have its specialists working in their spheres to meet societies needs and wants. Some will need to be biologists, some doctors, some farmers, and so forth. The bottom line is we need to stop looking to researchers and scientists for transcendental truth. Not in fashion nowadays but once upon a time people claimed that Ensteins theory of relativity disproved religion. Again what happened is that people had looked to Newtonian physics to construct a framework of meaning within their religion and support their understanding of gospel truths and Einsteins theory of relativity showed Newtonian physics to be small part of a much larger and different looking picture. Oops!
The arguement that TOE disproves gods existence is a reformulation of an argument first popularized during the enlightenment but much older than that. The arguement goes like this: We live in a world full of misery, where both good and bad suffer and eventually die. TOE of evolution can at best be used as supporting evidence that this world is imperfect, people by nature are selfish, and we will die. How could a perfect and good God have created such a world? But for us, believers, these additional observations about the world have little power. “Well, duh, this is a fallen world after all.” Dragging the theory of evolution into this old argument adds little to it for the imperfection of this world is obvious to all*, but for the fact that the churches of those days had once again gotten into a scientific controversy, and picked the wrong side.
(*Except to Leibniz apparently, which proves the old adage that some things are so dumb that only a genius could believe them. If you were ever requireded to read the dreadful Candide; it rebuttals Leibnizs rosy view ad nasuem until in the end you want to punch Liebniz, Voltaire and the phrase, “this is the best of all possible worlds” in the face.)