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My Current Thoughts and Research and an Interesting Interfaith Conference in China

January 16, 2010
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At the risk of overstating the obvious, I’ve been taking a significant break from Mormon research and blogging lately.  I’m continuing to grow in my understanding of my own personal weaknesses, one being the tendency to become intensely passionate about a topic to the exclusion of all else until I am so burned out on that topic that I never want to have anything to do with it again. I almost shut down the blog entirely near the end of last summer, but then decided to keep it up and only contribute on a more occasional basis.  I still enjoy the people in the blogosphere, but have grown weary of the topics and frustrated with the debates.  I’m also well aware of my own need for improvement in being an effective ambassador to those of other faiths and my break from blogging has been allowing me more time for personal reflection and study.  I hope you have been enjoying Stephanie’s posts as much as I have.

In other news, I have been fascinated with the evolution controversy lately and am probably going to burn myself out on this topic as well.  I have recently learned that Western scientists who are married to Darwinian theory have apparently lost some credibility with scientists in the East and have been accused of adopting evolution as a religion.  The controversy revolves around the increasing fossil evidence surfacing in China that there are no precurser transitional forms for the fossils in the Cambrian explosion. These discoveries in China are causing one of the world’s leading researchers of the Cambrian explosion (J. Y. Chen, paleontologist at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology) to turn Darwin’s Tree of Life upside down.  In the clip I just linked to, Zhou Qui Gin, a senior research fellow at Chengjiang, states her conclusion simply: “I do not believe that animals developed gradually from the bottom up. I think the animals suddenly appeared.”

An article in The Washington Times shares more on the Chinese perspective of Western scientists as reported in the Communist Party’s Guang Ming Daily:

Valuing theory over data is giving Western science a bad name in the East. During the same week that Westerners read reports in Science and Nature that stressed the Darwinian lessons to be learned from Chen’s discovery of the earliest chordate, the Communist Party’s Guang Ming Daily gave the Chinese people a different story. “Evolution is facing an extremely harsh challenge,” wrote Chinese reporters in an article, “Darwinism — Science or Religion?” Using adjectives such as “dogmatic” and “authoritative” to describe America’s neo-Darwinism, the paper suggested that the theory had taken a wrong turn somewhere in the West. : “In the beginning, evolution was advanced as a scientific hypothesis; one that should be under serious scrutiny from all angles.” The article concluded that, because of the need to contend with creationists, scientists became hypersensitive to any dissent from their “immature science,” and “evolution eventually changed into a religion.”

The article above describes a scientific conference held in China where some Western scientists apparently became enraged at the idea that the lack of evidence would require that they consider new hypotheses to explain the Cambrian explosion.  “’It doesn’t matter if you find it or not!’ declared German biologist Dieter Walossek, rallying his Western colleagues around him. ‘It’s there! It’s by law! All of the major taxa should have been there in the Precambrian, whether proved or not!'”  When encouraged to consider alternative theories, including intelligent design, one American paleontologist stood up and shouted, “This is not a scientific conference!”

For those who may be less familiar with the Cambrian explosion, I highly recommend the new documentary, Darwin’s Dilemma.

Here is a short summary of the controversy:

Evolutionary scientists usually explain away the lack of transitional fossils by claiming that the gradual process of information-gaining changes takes so long that we do not see evidence of this in the fossil record. However, the Cambrian explosion happened so quickly, with no precurser transitional forms in the fossil record, that Darwin conceded that this fossil evidence was a legitimate objection to his hypothesis. This evidence bothered him greatly. After 150 years evolutionary science has not resolved this problem and further discoveries have only served to increase the evidence against Darwin’s hypothesis. Darwin’s rescuing hypothesis for the Cambrian explosion was his suggestion that perhaps Precambrian fossil evidence had been lost due to the very soft tissues of the very tiny organisms that he assumed would have later evolved into the complex animals of the Cambrian explosion. More recent discoveries of Precambrian fossils in China, however, have proven that very soft tissues of very tiny organisms can be preserved in the fossil record, thus nullifying Darwin’s rescuing hypothesis for the Cambrian explosion.

A number of Christian scientists would take exception to the old earth assumptions in this new documentary (Darwin’s Dilemma).  They cite scientific evidences that are incompatible with a universe that is millions or billions of years old and point out the circular reasoning in geological dating methods. The more that I have been researching these issues the more I am becoming aware of how much our preconceived biases affect not only our investigation of faith issues, but even scientific research, which is supposedly so objective and based on observations and facts.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2010 2:29 am

    Fascinating, Jessica.

    I’m not a science person at all. I’m a complete agnostic on Christian protology due to the fact that it takes me a long time to digest scientific arguments and I usually end up feeling like I’m simply at the mercy of much smarter people who know much more about the topic than I do.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. faithoffathers permalink
    January 17, 2010 9:01 pm

    Jessica,

    I appreciate your thoughts on this topic because it is one about which I have thought a great deal.

    My experience going through a major state run university molecular biology program followed by medical school was quite the ordeal as it relates to this issue. Talk about dogmatic positions. Whenever I asked sincere and legitimate questions about the assumptions upon which Darwinism is based, I was dismissed without any thought whatsoever. Believe it or not, I was sometimes told “well, everybody knows that X principle is true- you will just need to accept it.” No lie or exaggeration here. The theory was true because so many people believed it was true.

    It is funny how the atheist circles of the world will portray religionists as categorically dogmatic and without any curiosity in questioning what is true. I found that to be fairly consistently true of the “scientific” educational system of which I was a part.

    Global warming- another body of “knowledge” that will likely be completely abandoned in time.

    Makes a person step back and wonder how much one should really trust in “accepted scientific theories.”

    I submit that the same could be said of that body of knowledge critical of the LDS church from an “objective” or “scientific” standpoint. (for example evidences against the BOM). The crowd mentality mixed with biased motives and assumptions does not make for a reliable perspective of truth.

    But who is 100% objective? That is a tough one.

    fof

  3. January 18, 2010 4:39 am

    But who is 100% objective? That is a tough one.

    No, it’s an easy one. NOBODY.

  4. January 18, 2010 5:57 pm

    Jessica,
    I can relate to your feelings you expressed in the first part of your post. I have gone thru the same. 🙂

    Hang in there & keep on keepin’ on!

    In Christ,
    gloria

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