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God, Evolution, And Meat


Lamanite

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Sometimes I wish I had never read the posts from you and Tarski explaining this to me... This has been one that I have spent many an hour trying to rationalize without any success.

Grrr...

Do you have a huge problem with the idea that God came into being through the same evolutionary process that we did? Only on another earth...question - what are you doing? reply "only that which has been done before.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying.

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I am amazed. The light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. You can look squarely at the human animal form and not see the obvious limited animal whose very form is a consequence of a long history of grubbing around on a ball of mud, teeth tearing into the flesh of fellow creatures, and adaptations to a specific environment where vibrations in a thin layer of air make ears a very finite and ungodlike and indirect way of contacting the environment, and where hair protects the the finite fleshy brain from cold and where goose bumps recall a time when hair standing on end made our distant ancestors look bigger to approaching predators. The human fleshy meaty form is a story of blood and guts, tooth and claw struggle for survival in a cruel animal world. We are meat! We are animals as surely as muskrats and cattle. We only look ocassionally glorious and beautiful to ourselves--also for evolutionary reasons. In reality we are limited by our form in our form and are no more a universal pattern for a god than is a racoon.

This is the genesis for this discussion. I think the crux of the problem is that because our form is a result of a fairly lengthy and primitive evolutionary process how can we be made in Gods image. My assertion is that he "may" have been through the same process. I like answers that don't require too many mental gymnastics. Anyway, Doctor Steuss from a previous thread mentioned this and I just wanted to run this explaination by him.

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Do you have a huge problem with the idea that God came into being through the same evolutionary process that we did? Only on another earth...question - what are you doing? reply "only that which has been done before.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying.

I have no problem believing that G-d â??evolved.â? In fact, this would be one of the things that allows me to maintain belief in a deity of sorts. When I look at an amoeba, and compare it to myself, I think it is plausible that throughout the eons of time in the multi-verse that there has been an organism that has evolved into a â??godâ? species. In an LDS construct, perhaps part of that evolutionary path is â??forcedâ? per se through manipulation or obedience to certain universal â??laws.â?

The problem is not that G-d came into being through an evolutionary process. In a way, eternal progression is â??evolution.â? What causes my brain to squirm is that this perfect evolutionary process has produced a homo sapien. If He did indeed go through â??the sameâ? evolutionary process as we have, then there is no guarantee that it would necessarily produce homo sapiens. In fact, the probability is that it wouldnâ??t produce homo sapiens. There are far too many variables.

Also, that our form is somehow the most efficient and beautiful andâ?¦ well, you get my point, that it would necessarily be the form of the Almighty Himself doesnâ??t make sense.

This is where my brain has trouble reconciling things.

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I have no problem believing that G-d â??evolved.â? In fact, this would be one of the things that allows me to maintain belief in a deity of sorts. When I look at an amoeba, and compare it to myself, I think it is plausible that throughout the eons of time in the multi-verse that there has been an organism that has evolved into a â??godâ? species. In an LDS construct, perhaps part of that evolutionary path is â??forcedâ? per se through manipulation or obedience to certain universal â??laws.â?

The problem is not that G-d came into being through an evolutionary process. In a way, eternal progression is â??evolution.â? What causes my brain to squirm is that this perfect evolutionary process has produced a homo sapien. If He did indeed go through â??the sameâ? evolutionary process as we have, then there is no guarantee that it would necessarily produce homo sapiens. In fact, the probability is that it wouldnâ??t produce homo sapiens. There are far too many variables.

Also, that our form is somehow the most efficient and beautiful andâ?¦ well, you get my point, that it would necessarily be the form of the Almighty Himself doesnâ??t make sense.

This is where my brain has trouble reconciling things.

I wouldn't worry about finding a satisfactory explanation for me. I'm not about to go and run off to the next Ex-mo Conference solely because of this. This is just one of those things (amongst many on my slowly expanding list) that makes my noggin itch.

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I'm not sure I follow you. That was a conversation I had with my wife when she found me making breakfast this morning.

I think it is an interesting question and to answer it, I personally have no problem with that the idea that God evolved in the same way as us. However, I don't feel any strong reason to believe one way or the other.

Regarding the fair game comment, I was just wondering if there are any quotes that repeat what you said outside of temple content. Entirely possible, I was just asking. Otherwise it makes doctrinal discussions tricky since we aren't technically allowed to quote it? Maybe I'm just too paranoid?

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What causes my brain to squirm is that this perfect evolutionary process has produced a homo sapien.

Who's to say that he didn't "guide" evolution to this outcome. Mammals could have never come to dominate w/o some of the volcanic/meteor extinction causing events that wiped out many reptilian species. A little nudge here and a little tweak there could help the process reach an end result.

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Who's to say that he didn't "guide" evolution to this outcome. Mammals could have never come to dominate w/o some of the volcanic/meteor extinction causing events that wiped out many reptilian species. A little nudge here and a little tweak there could help the process reach an end result.

That doesn't come close to the micromanagement necessary to get a species that turned out to be biologically compatible with Himself, the creator (who literally had a child with Mary).

I'm telling you guys, if God really wanted to create more homo sapiens just like himself, special creation in the blink of an eye would have been the way to do it. Or some kind of super-cloning from his own godly DNA. It's really stupid to waste millions and millions of years waiting for the right thing to evolve. Minus Darwin, Joseph Smith's version of God makes sense. Throw Darwin into the mix and you suddenly need volumes of mental gymnastics to make it keep working.

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Do you have a huge problem with the idea that God came into being through the same evolutionary process that we did? Only on another earth...question - what are you doing? reply "only that which has been done before.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying.

Not at all. Actually for a long time now I have entertained that idea (or something similar) as a real possibility. In fact, trivially, in the interest of just reconciling a lot of other theological/philosophical problems I think it's a fantastic idea.

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That doesn't come close to the micromanagement necessary to get a species that turned out to be biologically compatible with Himself, the creator (who literally had a child with Mary).

I'm telling you guys, if God really wanted to create more homo sapiens just like himself, special creation in the blink of an eye would have been the way to do it. Or some kind of super-cloning from his own godly DNA. It's really stupid to waste millions and millions of years waiting for the right thing to evolve. Minus Darwin, Joseph Smith's version of God makes sense. Throw Darwin into the mix and you suddenly need volumes of mental gymnastics to make it keep working.

I've been saying the same thing for quite some time now. This idea, which is very commonplace, that God guided evolution is simply silliness to me as an LDS and I can't help but feel that those who hold the position havenâ??t thought things through very far. However, I'm far from asserting the idea as a condition that necessarily follows from the premises of Mormonism since it is certainly possible that God did do things in such a way.

Look, if God has a body that is physiologically similar to our own then why on earth "waste millions and millions of years" evolving creatures that look like him when all he had to do was use put his reproductive organs to work (I promise I'm not trying to be crude.) I find that many of the LDS who hold that God guided evolution also admit that they believe God has these organs. Why does he not use them?

In the end I still don't mind throwing Darwin in the mix but as an explanation for all life, including God's (or 'the Gods' or more correctly just 'us').

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That doesn't come close to the micromanagement necessary to get a species that turned out to be biologically compatible with Himself, the creator (who literally had a child with Mary).

I'm telling you guys, if God really wanted to create more homo sapiens just like himself, special creation in the blink of an eye would have been the way to do it. Or some kind of super-cloning from his own godly DNA. It's really stupid to waste millions and millions of years waiting for the right thing to evolve. Minus Darwin, Joseph Smith's version of God makes sense. Throw Darwin into the mix and you suddenly need volumes of mental gymnastics to make it keep working.

Don't we believe that God works by natural laws? I don't think special creation would ever be welcome in Mormon theology, Darwin or not. And "super-cloning" probably wouldn't satisfy the natural law requirement either. And the idea that guided evolution would be "wasting millions and millions of years" is assuming that God is not outside of time as the church teaches God is. So its not a waste for a being for whom the beginning is the same as the end.

With that said I also don't beleive we should take that whole "created in his image" thing too literally. As has been pointed out before our bodies are amazing but certainly not God-like. They're full of vestigial remnants from forms gone by and organs that would be of no use to a God. I think we are probably in God's physical image generally, but the mainstream Christian idea that we are in his image in that we are capable of self-reflection and complex thought is sometimes appealing to me.

And no, for the record I don't believe that God physically had a child with Mary, nor does the church teach that. Obviously some early church leaders expressed that opinion but its been pretty heavily denied by subsequent prophets and apostles.

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And the idea that guided evolution would be "wasting millions and millions of years" is assuming that God is not outside of time as the church teaches God is. So its not a waste for a being for whom the beginning is the same as the end.

I was unaware that "the church teaches God is...outside of time." Of course, I'm taking that to mean you are implying that God's 'outside of time-ness' is official church doctrine.

Is the LDS God capable of producing a human of the same form we find them today by a method which would use less time and less energy?

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Unless He controlled the process, for example.

One can also argue from the current state of species in existence that despite the random nature of evolution there are many standards that it holds to. For example, look at the symmetry of all animals (body symmetry that is). Almost all plants produce pedals in ratios of 3 or 5. Appendages are usually 4. Many times has evolution produced other options, but it tends to "reign in" the possibilities back to these and other standards. One can see this when standing back to look at the forest instead of just the trees.

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Throw Darwin into the mix and you suddenly need volumes of mental gymnastics to make it keep working.

I disagree. I think we (including LDS) attempt to create God in our own image (because that's what we need to do to try to comprehend Deity.) If God created ALL life through evolutionary means and chose to put his children's spirits into the homo sapien because it was this form that could bring forth His purposes for mankind then I don't even have to do a single mindspring to accept it.

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Regarding the fair game comment, I was just wondering if there are any quotes that repeat what you said outside of temple content. Entirely possible, I was just asking. Otherwise it makes doctrinal discussions tricky since we aren't technically allowed to quote it? Maybe I'm just too paranoid?

THis is probably way off topic but I wanted to address this issue. First, there are only a few things I've covenanted not to reveal. Second, it is us (Mormons) that draw undue attention to statements that would otherwise seem commonplace. Third, to the uninitiated my comment would have meant nothing. The reason I use temple language sometimes is because it can express an idea or concept in one sentence better than I could in an entire paragraph. Kind of Neal Maxwellian-ish.

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This is where my brain has trouble reconciling things.

Now I understand. This problem does require quite a few mental gymnastics as one is trying to massage this into place.

Might I suggest leaving it on the shelf and maybe eating some choclate and watching some soap operas?

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When we humans can now manipulate DNA, when mankind can produce new species of bacteria and glow-in-the-dark rats by rewriting genes, and when humankind can create new genes entirely from scratch with machines, I have no problem with a belief in a Deity who manipulated the environment to produce humans via evolution over time. A little tweaking here by changing the environment, a little tweaking there using viruses or other means of altering DNA, and if you know what you are doing it is entirely possible to produce wholly new species until we reach homo sapiens. Add a touch of sentience (meaning not only complete awareness of self, but belief in something greater than yourself and the ability to communicate with written language) and you have modern man ready for implantation of the spirits of your children.

I do not pretend to understand everything but now that there is enough that we ourselves can do in the realm of species modification and gene production from scratch, it is entirely possible for there to be a higher Being who already knew how to do these things long before our entry onto the stage of existence, and who would know how to modify Simian DNA to produce the human form. It is said that there is about 98% of our DNA shared with chimps and around 90%-95% (or so I recall) shared with mice. It would not take much to shift genes around to get the desired effect once the entire genome is understood.

Just my few cents...

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Can't disagree with that at all. Well said also.

Thanks! :P

Another thing I thought about was the amount of power that someone would have to have to initiate even the smallest of such changes so far as the environment is concerned. When it was time for placental animals to arise, the precursors to mammals which would be modified into human beings, it was only necessary to split the continents and form, thereby, the Atlantic Ocean. The resultant increase in oxygen was just what was needed to allow the ball to roll. By tweaking a gene or two, the transition from egg-laying to primitive placental birth is not far away. A little natural selection to weed out what will not likely survive and do a little directed gene modification and the next step can be taken. But, imagine the power to split a continent by command!

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That doesn't come close to the micromanagement necessary to get a species that turned out to be biologically compatible with Himself, the creator (who literally had a child with Mary).

I'm telling you guys, if God really wanted to create more homo sapiens just like himself, special creation in the blink of an eye would have been the way to do it. Or some kind of super-cloning from his own godly DNA. It's really stupid to waste millions and millions of years waiting for the right thing to evolve. Minus Darwin, Joseph Smith's version of God makes sense. Throw Darwin into the mix and you suddenly need volumes of mental gymnastics to make it keep working.

I think just the initial spark was needed and then evolution could take over till a reasonably intelligent species, that was adapted to this planet, could emerge. There was no need for micromanagement, when the expectation was that sooner or later something desirable would arise and it has indeed arisen. We have a beautiful planet and we have been advised that God is well pleased.

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This is the genesis for this discussion. I think the crux of the problem is that because our form is a result of a fairly lengthy and primitive evolutionary process how can we be made in Gods image. My assertion is that he "may" have been through the same process. I like answers that don't require too many mental gymnastics. Anyway, Doctor Steuss from a previous thread mentioned this and I just wanted to run this explaination by him.

I think these quotes from Tarski are some of the wisest, most inciteful posts ever made on this board. That's my opinion. Tarski had a way of pointing out the absurdity of certain beliefs probably most of us hadn't even thought about before.

What would we think if space ships came down to Earth, the ramps extended, the doors opened up, and out walked the hyper-intelligent Squid People? Before Tarski I had realized the problematic nature of our anthropomorphizing of God into a being identical to homo sapiens, however he was able to point out with numerous details exactly how absurd this really is. His arguments about how the human eye works, how human ears work, and the limitations on our senses which came about by our adaptation to the very specific circumstances of our earthly existence, present problems for the notion that God's eyes and ears are just like that too, but in a completely different environment. I'm convinced that to this very day the vast majority of readers on the board never really understood Tarski's points, whether they were believers or not.

I believe that the notion of evolution having created and "perfected" our human form until it was ready to receive a human spirit, is exceedingly problematic. It assumes that evolution was somehow working toward a specific target, and that the process of human evolution would inevitably converge on our current form. That's simply insuportable, scientifically. The notion that this process of evolution was, if you'll excuse the pun, reproducible, such that Elohim could have sprung from a race on some distant planet which had eventually evolved from their primordial slime into a homo sapiens form and then, on Earth, the same process ran its natural course and inevitably resulted in the exact same species evolving here too, is mind-bogglingly unlikely. You know all those probability things anti-evolutionists try to use to disprove evolution? Well take those likelihoods and multiply them by infinity and that's about how unlikely it is that on two separate planets, homo sapiens as a distinct species would have evolved identically.

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Here's another thought. Mormon belief is that everything has a spirit body that is like its physical body, but made of a more refined sort of matter. So a dog roaming the Earth has a dog spirit, a humpback whale has a humpback whale spirit, etc. The question arises naturally, what happens when evolution on Earth results in the emergence of a new species? The members of this species must have matching spirits inhabiting them, but the fact that this species didn't exist before it emerged on Earth through evolution begs the question, from whence came the spirits to match? Evolution is happening on Earth. How is that form of spirit body coming about?

So, in the Celestial Kingdom, or whatever pre-existent state spirits find themselves in, are or were their Australopithecus spirits? Homo erectus spirits? How about Mastodon spirits? Sabre-tooth tiger spirits? Are there any of these mastodon spirits left, who are just spit out of luck because there are no more reproducing mastodons on Earth to create tabernacles for these spirits? Or were there only a finite number of mastodon spirits, and the very last one was used up when the last female mastodon gave birth to the last baby mastodon?

Were the actions of the Europeans who landed on Mauritius divinely appointed? I'm just curious, because they directly wiped out the dodo bird. Did the pre-existence just happen to run out of dodo bird spirits when the last egg was laid, so that it was providential that the Europeans clubbed them all to death, so that there could be no more dodos? Or are there still more dodo spirits in the pre-existence, doomed forever not to receive a body and fulfill the measure of their creation, because Europeans landing on Mauritius in the 1700s unfortunately clubbed the species to extinction?

Out of curiosity, do Italian Greyhound spirits actually look like Italian Greyhounds, or is there some sort of generic "dog spirit" that can inhabit any particular breed of dog body that comes into existence? If our eyes could perceive spirit matter, would we see Italian Greyhounds as they appear on Earth today? How about breeds of dog which never existed until humans interbred different breeds and developed new ones? Are there Pikapoodle spirits? Schnoodle spirits? Mutt spirits just waiting for the right combination of breeds to happen so they can get a body just like their spirits?

When a new species comes about on Earth, was there already a spirit body of that same species waiting to inhabit the first member of it? If so, how did the spirit body get that form, if it did so before the physical body type had evolved on Earth?

Or is the answer really that evolution isn't random, isn't producing new species that never existed before, and that it's all happening exactly the way it has to in order for the types of pre-existing spirit bodies to precisely match the types of physical bodies that result from it?

I guess you could posit a God up in heaven guiding each little molecule in each animal and plant on Earth to ensure that exactly the right species, and the right number of members of each species, comes about so as to exactly match the type and number of spirits that exist in the pre-existence for these species, right? Do you realize how unscientific that is? In truth, shoe-horning evolution and LDS spirit body and pre-existence doctrine together is absurd.

And don't even get me started on evolution and the LDS teachings regarding Adam and Eve. That's already been covered by recent threads, both here and on MDB. :P

ps: actually, the notion of "distinct species" is just a simplification. We see two species, one an ancestor of the other, as distinct, because if they are far enough apart from each other along the evolutionary continuum, they are truly distinct. But there were inevitably species in between them, to the point where at a fine enough granularity in time and genetic relationship, one could reasonably count a parent and child as being potentially slightly different in species, since they are individual links in a long chain of evolution. In truth, there would have to be a spirit of exactly the right "species", as it were, to match each individual. If homo sapiens really did evolve from homo erectus, there would not only have to be homo erectus spirits, and homo sapiens spirits, but indeed a great many spirits of intermediate stages in between the two, down to the granularity of the individual.

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