Archive for April 3rd, 2012

Nitpicking the Apostles

April 3, 2012

Every six months, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide meet in General Conference. There, all the members of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and many other general authorities of the church address the members in topics they have chosen in 7 two-hour sessions. On the Sunday Morning session, Elder Russell M. Nelson, a heart surgeon with not a short list of achievements, gave his talk he entitled “Thanks Be to God.”

Along with these conferences, comes the critics. They try to nitpick every word, finding fault wherever they can. That they can only find so few minute things to fault is evidence that the church is lead by a divine power. Nevertheless, I feel it is important for my readers, particularly those not of the church, and particularly those of no faith at all, to defend Elder Nelson’s talk.

I can’t think of many people in this world more familiar with the subtle details of how our bodies actually work than Elder Nelson. If you know someone who does know better how our bodies actually work, then I’d appreciate you telling me why you think they know better. As far as an authority on the subject goes, Elder Nelson is one of the most reputable witnesses to our body’s magnificent form and function. I’d wager that he understands our bodies to such an extent that even biologists and geneticists can’t compare.

Let me draw a parallel for you. Imagine you knew two people, one, an auto mechanic, and the other, an automotive engineer. The mechanic spends 50-60 hours a week working on cars. The engineer spends 50-60 hours a week designing cars. Who do you think understands how cars actually work better? While the engineer is familiar with how cars are made and put together, and what manufacturing processes are used, the mechanic can diagnose and fix errors. By comparison, Elder Nelson was a renowned mechanic who could diagnose and fix cars that would otherwise be trashed. Any biologist would, at best, be comparable to an engineer, except for the fact that no biologist has been successful in creating life.

With that, all the appeals to authority are meaningless and pointless. If Elder Nelson is at least as good an authority as any scientist, then his testimony cancels out theirs. If he is, as I believe, a better authority on the subject of life, then his testimony supersedes theirs, the same way I would trust a physics research at CERN over a high school physics teacher on the nature of the fundamental particles.

I believe that Elder Nelson has additional, spiritual, insight that makes him a better witness and expert than any earthly expert. I believe that he has received personal witness of the divinity of God’s creation, and perhaps he has even received some insight into how the creative process actually occurred. I do not think he will find it appropriate to share his personal knowledge and revelation with the world, but instead he will focus on the basic doctrine that we are a creation of God and not a random chance occurrence.

Now that I have shown that Elder Nelson is a superior expert than almost all others, we should carefully consider the arguments of those who are opposed to Elder Nelson’s ideas about the universe without an appeal to authority at all.

On the one hand, you have Elder Nelson’s testimony that life, if it was a chance occurrence, is such a remote possibility that it is comparable to an explosion in a print shop producing not only books but books that can heal themselves. Some people nitpick this, perhaps believing that the relative probabilities of those occurrences are not comparable, because there is no chance that an exploding print shop could produce such a result, while it is possible to produce life from random events.

I disagree. No one can even map the progression from non-life to life, and since no one can imagine a scenario in which life is created from non-life, it is just as likely as an exploding print shop creating self-healing books. When I say “imagine”, I mean map out a specific sequence of events that culminate in something we can consider alive that could be the ancestor of all the world’s life. There are too many gaps and not enough information to claim that you have a definite pin on the probabilities.

Let’s suppose that someone did have a specific map of events that could lead to life. I would hope that they were fairly imaginative and could not just find one or a few possible event sequences, but perhaps even map all possible event sequences that would lead to life. With this information, combined with the knowledge of all event sequences period, you can find the probability. I register a guess that such a probability will be so small that it will be infinitesimal, almost as small as the smallest real number. Not in a billion billion billion universe lifespans could the event be expected to occur even once.

Even assuming that this proto-life event occurred when the earth first cooled, you still have the problem of arriving at the diversity of life we have today. As I have qualitatively shown, such a diversity of life isn’t possible in the way that evolutionists explain it. Why? Because of the nature of random processes. Consider the random walk. Starting at a certain point, you randomly take one step forward or backward, with equal probability of each. This is comparable to how random mutations may be introduced into populations of living creatures. It may be a step “forward” or a step “backward”. In such a scenario, you can reasonable expect to be N steps away from your starting point after NxN steps. Of course, the most likely outcome is that you have not strayed at all from the beginning at all.

This was a 1-dimensional random walk. As you can imagine, if you introduce a 2-dimension random walk (forward, back, left, right), then it would take even more steps to be a certain distance from the starting point. In three dimensions (up, down, left, right, forward, back) things take even longer to move a certain distance. In the many-dimensions of genetic mutations (any number of attributes can change in a large number of ways at any point in the evolutionary scale), to arrive at the diversity of life that takes, say, 1,000,000 changes between our “cousin” the Chimpanzee and Homo Sapiens Sapiens would take more time than the universe has existed, or even several thousand universes.

Simply put, given the random nature of evolution, evolution is not a reasonable explanation of the current diversity of life, even if you take into account billions of years of life on earth.

I have disproven evolution using a simple proof that relies only on qualitative measurements. I am sure that this is not the only disproof. I can call your minds to the general lack of evidence. The two areas where evolutionists claim to have abundant evidence is in the fossil record and in the genetic code of the creatures living today. When you investigate the evidence, however, you’ll find, as I did, that compared to the evidence we have in physics, they have barely enough to qualify for any definitive statements at all. A good example is the Higgs Boson which the physics world is only comfortable in saying “probably” exists at such-and-such an energy level. They have sorted through countless millions of interactions and uncovered a large number of notable events that give themĀ  They have much more evidence than anything in biology, measured to much higher degrees of accuracy, and yet they are only comfortable in saying “probably”.

Then comes the kicker. Suppose, for instance, that I did uncover definitive proof that evolution were true and creation did not happen. Suppose I could prove that it was a lie, an invention, a fabrication, exactly as the atheists wish were true. Would I change my belief at all?

Given that religion brings to me a real sense of meaning and purpose, and fills my soul with happiness and joy that I cannot find anywhere else, no I would not abandon my belief. The reason is simple. Why would you stop fishing a stream that gave you fish, or why would you stop sowing in a field that gave you crops, or work at a job that paid well, if you could intellectually prove that there should be no fish in the stream, that things should not grow in the field, or that the job should not exist?

I think this is the part that really bothers atheists and anti-mormons alike. Why would I abandon my religion, even if I had definitive proof it was all a fantasy, if it were the only thing that gave my life the things my soul hungers for? As a wise man once said long ago, “Why do you try to interrupt their happiness?”

If we are free to do what we like in order to obtain for ourselves happiness, if you believe that statement is true, then why are you trying to interrupt our happiness? Do you have something greater to offer? Can you even comprehend the happiness we experience, to the extent that you can say that greater happiness can exist?

I do not find anyone who states that they are happier than the Mormons. I do know of people who once experienced that happiness for themselves, but no longer keeping the commandments, lose that feeling and find it more comfortable to be separated from the church altogether, but I cannot find any Mormon who, experiencing the “joy of the saints” who has said a greater happiness lies elsewhere.

Since science cannot offer anything more than temporary pleasure, I do not see why I should elevate science to the same level as religion. Certainly, I do not value pleasure over happiness. Indeed, nothing is more important to me than my own happiness.

The apostles and prophets of the church give me happiness when they speak to me. Nitpicking their message, trying to find fault with a few words here or there, is, in my eyes, like opening your Christmas present and complaining because the toy you had wanted for so long is a few microns too small for your liking. I am sure that the kids won’t even mind, let alone know, and even if you showed them, I doubt they will even care.


The GOP and Science

April 3, 2012

I can’t speak for all members of the GOP, but I can speak for myself. As for myself, my trust in scientific institutions is at an all-time low, but my trust in legitimate and honest science is at an all-time high.

I know this is hard for many people to understand, but scientists are not gods. They are not even remotely perfect. The best physicists that graced the face of the earth were not much smarter than you or I.

Putting your trust in any scientific institution is insane. The people who run these unions are just as susceptible to corruption as any other institution. That means that they can be influenced by money or prestige to falsify results. That means they will intentionally manipulate the peer-review process to obtain results they think are favorable to their interests. That also means they are likely to engage in conflict among each other, and set their professionalism aside to destroy the careers of the people around them.

Putting your trust in science is wise, as long as your definition of science is the true definition of science. Science is the pursuit of knowledge through the exposition of error. It is based on infallible logic and reason, and has no motives or intent. It is a mute, dumb beast. Scientific advances come over time spans of decades, not weeks, months, or years. New scientific thought is instantly questioned and subjected to an unending series of challenges. Scientists who work in true science do not think that our current understanding of science (which is different than true science) is correct, and are busily engaged in finding out why we are wrong.

Putting your trust into the things scientists say is not a good idea either. The current understanding of science, as you should see above, is not true science. It is wrong in many ways, and in surprising ways. In physics, we do not accept mere theory as fact. We only accept actual observation as fact. Theories seem to be pretty good at explaining why we see the things we see, but none of them are perfect. It is in the discrepancy between observation and theory that physicists spend their time. If you are a physicist, yes, you do have to understand what physicists currently believe is correct science, but you must also simultaneously reject it as incorrect. If you believed current science outright, then there would be no motivation to look for better or more accurate theories.

I know this is hard to accept for many people. You have been told to believe in the Big Bang Theory, in Evolution, in Climate Science, and all of these things, because groups of people with PhD’s after their names and who sit on important-sounding boards and councils say so. That is not science. That is religion. Think about it. The only reason why religion exists is because some man with an important title such as Prophet or Apostle or Priest said you should believe something.

Instead, you should treat every scientific article and discovery with deep skepticism. Until you can follow the logic and explain every step with solid, unshakable reasoning, you should treat it the same way you would treat your horoscope. And even then, you should be looking for where your logic and reason went wrong, and be actively pursuing every shred of evidence that seems to contradict any part of your reasoning.

Do me a favor. If you encounter a scientist that asks you, the non-scientist, to simply trust them, in particular with matters conce, can you do me a favor and treat them the same way you would treat a con-man?