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More Fun with Andrew S.

Andrew’s original is in green; my responses are in black.

Let’s look at Alma 32.

OK.

Start with 17 & 18 to find out that faith isn’t knowledge. Faith isn’t to know something. Faith isn’t having a sign.

Correct. “Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.”

But here’s the deal in verse 22. 22 gives us two ‘conclusions’ that the proper LDS person should come to. 1) Believe in God. 2) Believe (or desire to believe) on his word.

Not exactly. It says that God wants us to believe and is merciful to those who do. But I’ll go with it.

How do we get there?

verse 27…But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

So, faith is what you use from the beginning. When you have 0 successes. When you don’t know.

How is this different from the scientific method? When you have a hypothesis, you have 0 successes – you’re trying to prove something you don’t know. Science is riddled with faulty hypotheses that have been disproven.

If we go to 28, he compares the word to a seed…a seed that you had to plant by faith to check if it is true. If it is a good seed, it should check out. You might say that if it is a bad seed, it should not check out (verse 32). BUT 28 (as well as 38-39) has the loophole…by simply not having faith, you can cast the seed out by your unbelief!. So faith (even if it is a mere desire to believe) ACHIEVES the conclusion that faith wants.

Nonsense. If you “cast out the seed with your unbelief,” you cut off the experiment before you get any results. Verses 38-39 talk about people who “neglect the tree and take no thought for its nourishment.” In scientific terms, you can’t tell if something is a seed or a pebble if you don’t bother to water it.

Let’s check out 34. This is the clincher. When you gain KNOWLEDGE, your FAITH is dormant. But doesn’t that make sense?

Yes, but look closer at verse 34. Your knowledge is perfect “in that thing.” What thing? Do you have a perfect knowledge of God, his methods and purposes? Not at all. Your knowledge is perfect that, in verse 33, “the seed is good.” As verse 36 says, “neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.” In other words, you have perfect knowledge that your faith is a good thing, so you have the necessary encouragement to continue to rely on it and help it to grow.

Again, I am not saying that religion is irrational. Rather, it is subjective. See, the about Alma 32 is that it is predicated on subjective response…what happens to *you*. Does *your* heart swell? Do *you* find the seed grows? Do *you* find your soul to enlarge? And this is why so many people believe. Because indeed, they do have such subjective responses.

I agree to the extent that it is impossible to measure subjective responses. I don’t agree that this experiment only works for some and not for others because it’s simply a reflection of your own personal preferences. Varied results, I believe, are the product of other elements being interjected into the experiment.

But the thing about subjectivity is that it differs by person…different people have different reactions. So, whereas one person might feel a swelling from the Alma 32 experiment, another might not. One might feel a “confirmation” from the Quran, or from completely different text. These spiritual confirmations are meaningful to the individual, but they do not say anything about the objective truth or falsity of the texts they espouse.

Subjectivity does not preclude truth, nor does it make it relative. Our criminal justice system goes to great lengths to ferret out the truth in the subjective, and they punish people accordingly. (Did he kill her in a frenzied moment of fury, or had he cold-bloodedly planned this out?) Subjectivity makes discerning truth difficult, because only God can perfectly know our hearts, but it doesn’t mean that there’s no truth to be found. The fact that I can’t conclusively determine why you and I respond differently to one text or another doesn’t make every text equally valid.

The issue is…where do these subjective experiences come from? Faith concludes that they are from God (whichever kind you believe in…) But we don’t have evidence of this. We have evidence that mental experiences comes from the brain. Now, whether these brain patterns still come from God is certainly possible, but since most religious people insist that we have no way of *naturally* studying and “testing” God scientifically, they by default make God inaccessible.

No, they don’t. If God were inaccessible, then no one would believe. God has set the parameters as to how access is granted, and they currently don’t include brainwave analysis. We’ve determined in this discussion that you can’t prove a negative, so the fact that you can’t measure God by means of scientific instruments proves nothing and suggests nothing. You can’t use any scientific instrument to prove how I feel about my cats unless I’m willing to tell you. (I don’t like them, BTW.) And you can’t prove anything about God unless He’s willing to tell you. (Which, I subjectively submit, He is, if you follow Alma’s experiment.)

I can guarantee you that no one seriously says, “transition species don’t fossilize.”

I don’t know whether they’re serious or not, but it’s a relatively common excuse, particularly with reference to the Cambrian explosion. See here“Perhaps there was no real ‘explosion,’ and the answer is simple that most of the Precambrian ancestors didn’t fossilize” – for starters. I could dig up more, I suppose, but I’m lazy.

No, the real problem is the environmental conditions for fossilization — it’s not the species, but where (in time and in location) they have lived that determines things. And even that isn’t said with no evidence. That is said with clear evidence of the chemical composition of various substrata of soil and the effects on fossilization.

I don’t really know what this means or how it’s relevant.

Why does the fossil record feature quick disappearances and appearances? That’s because evolution does NOT work via phyletic gradualism, which you seem to believe in and seem to think is what is “expected” of natural selection. This gradualism has been falsified. Natural selection and evolution works in a punctuated equilibrium. You can read more here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC201.html

I read that, and I’m familiar with “punctuated equilibrium.” All it does is acknowledge the fact that the fossil record has been brutal to Darwin’s initial concept of phyletic gradualism. The fossil record shows complex species appearing and disappearing suddenly with little to no variation. “Punctuated equilibrium” acknowledges this but provides no explanation for it, other than, “it must happen more quickly than we thought.”

Belief in “punctuated equilibrium” is an exercise in faith.

Remember that some photoreceptivity is better than none in most environments (even if rudimentary)…that is why we *do* have evidence of rudimentary photocells in more primitive species (e.g., euglenas, which you can study in HS biology). From photoreceptivity, there are plenty of places to go that provide natural advantage…for example, ability to tell direction of light. One *cannot* assume that an eye is only 1:0 in usefulness…either is or is not. That is not the case.

Even basic photoreceptivity requires a massive amount of microbiological complexity. A single cell is irreducibly complex, and natural selection and/or punctuated equilibrium provides no explanation as to how these moving parts could come together as a result of a series of accidents.

Similarly, one cannot assume that during an evolutionary process, something must be useful for the *same* thing and just progress more of the same.

Granted.

The question really is…how do we put the pieces together.

Yes. How you do it is determined by where you place your faith.

Here’s how you falsify evolution. Show a modern human in the same strata as the earliest bacteria. Find the fossil. Go.

What would that prove? What would that disprove? You can’t find a fossil with both a gopher and a toilet, either. So what? How does the absence of anything prove anything?

Falsification is showing how the explanation goes *against* the evidence. So, we know that transition species *do* fossilize (because every species is a transition species…any fossils we have are of transition species!) So, we know this is false. However, what we can say is that under certain environments, chemical composition will reduce chance to fossilize. The way to falsify this is show how these environments actually *don’t* reduce chance to fossilize (e.g., find as many fossils here as elsewhere).

This is backpedalling. You dismiss earlier the idea that anyone could seriously claim that transitional species don’t fossilize, and now you’re offering an explanation as to why transitional species don’t fossilize.

But you really have to do reading on what the theories actually say, instead of what you just think they say. A lot of this message was just correcting for the inaccuracy of your understanding of evolution.

Neat.

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