Questions About Evolution

Summary: The theory of evolution is the explanation of how all life originated on earth and how all living organisms, both plant and animal, have evolved into hundreds of thousands of different species. Although this theory is accepted as an undisputed fact there are questions about it that evolutionists don’t have a tangible answers to. This article looks at some of them.

Evolution is often explained as the result of primarily two things: natural selection and genetic modification.

Natural selection happens when two living organisms who have different characteristics produce an offspring who then exhibit some of the characteristics of both parents. However, under this process, the offspring cannot have a characteristic that neither one of its parents is missing. For example, if a horse and a mule mate, their offspring cannot have claws or horns or a beak or wings, simply because neither one of its parents have any of those features. Therefore, during natural selection, the offspring can only have those traits that one or both of its parents already has.

The evolutionary process of genetic modification occurs when a random change in the DNA of one animal results in that animal’s offspring having a different characteristic than its parents. This process is also known as gene mutation, where a gene in one of the parents becomes damaged or is not an identical copy of the gene it was reproduced from and it is when this new gene is transmitted to its offspring that the offspring is born with a different feature that its parents didn’t have. And, according to the evolutionary model, it is this process that accounts for the vast majority of variations we see between animals.

Even so, most animals have common features. For example, most animals have eyes, ears, a similar breathing system, similar reproductive systems, similar brain structure, etc. However, for that to happen, every animal that has the same physical features have to have come from one common ancestor.

For example, since evolutionists say that all life began in the ocean, and since all fish have eyes and we have eyes, we should be able to trace our ancestry back to one particular fish that had eyes but whose parents didn’t have any. Therefore, according to the theory of evolution, every animal that has eyes has to be an ancestor of that one particular fish.

To better understand this principle, we have to look at the evolution of fish. It is said that all life on earth began as a single cell organism, much like bacteria, and then after millions of years the first multi-cell animal evolved which then evolved into worm-like creatures who lived in the sea. These primitive animals had no eyes but did have a jawless mouth of sorts whereby they took in or scooped in food.

From these came more sophisticated worm-like animals who eventually developed a tail and could therefore travel more efficiently through the water, and over millions of years these began to evolve to where they developed a bony skeletal structure, and a more defined head shape, such as a group of primitive fish called Pteraspidomorphi, who had no eyes.

But, to go from this to a fish that had eyes – even if this development happened gradually over millions of years – there had to be one fish that eventually was born who had a fully functioning eye system that its parents didn’t have.  This certainly couldn’t have happened through natural selection unless one parent had eyes and the other one didn’t. But if this is what happened then where did the one parent get its eyes from?

There are many different kinds of eyes in the animal kingdom. For example, the eye of a fly is very different from the eye of a human. The pupil of a goat is square instead of round like most other animals. The eyes of a cat are designed to see in the dark, while the eyes of a hawk can see details from a very long distance away. Yet, evolutionists say that all of these different kinds of eyes are merely modifications of the very first fish who had eyes. Therefore, every animal who has eyes has to be a descendant of one particular fish.

If that is not the case then every animal who is not a direct ancestor of that first fish with eyes had to come from some other fish who also had eyes but whose parents didn’t. But for that to happen there had to be another fish (and probably quite a few) over millions of years who also had the same exact, identical, random, unpredictable change in their DNA which produced the same eye system in a different fish. However, the likelihood of that happening is almost an impossibility if we accept the theory of genetic modification.

But what about all the other primitive fish, such as the Pteraspidomorphi, who didn’t have eyes? They too had offspring who produced more offspring for hundreds of millions of years, all of whom had no eyes. Therefore, we should expect to see many more fish who have no eyes than we do fish who do have eyes. Instead, the great majority of fish we see today have eyes.

This situation is further compounded when we consider animals who all have multiple similar characteristics. To understand why, we’ll use a simplified version, even though it is said that this process takes place over very long periods of time and happens in small incremental changes. But let’s say, for the purpose of illustration, that in the beginning there were one hundred fish, all of whom didn’t have a developed brain, then one day, one of their offspring was born with a brain. In all likelihood all of their offspring would also be born with a brain while none of the offspring of the other ninety-nine fish would have a brain.

Many generations later, one of the fish with a brain had an offspring who was born with eyes. Then we could expect that all of the offspring of this fish would also be born with a brain and a set of eyes, while all the offspring of those other fish who only had a brain would not have any eyes, and the offspring of all the other fish would have neither a brain nor eyes.

Then, many generations later, the offspring of one of the fish who had a brain and eyes was born with gills, which would be a very different system for processing oxygen from the water. All the offspring of this one fish would also have a brain, eyes, and gills but the offspring of none of all the other creatures in the sea would have any gills. Therefore, we should expect to see some fish who had a brain, eyes, and gills, a larger number of fish who had a brain and eyes but no gills, a larger number of fish who had a brain but no eyes or gills, and there would be even a greater number of creatures who had no brains, eyes, or gills.

And as we continue to see more and more complex systems developing in animals, what we would expect to see is a great many more animals who don’t have a complete set of highly developed systems. But, instead, what we find is that nearly all fish have the same systems. It doesn’t matter if we look at a minnow, krill, a pufferfish, a stingray, a shark, or a whale, they all have a brain located in their head, eyes, and fins. The question then becomes, what happened to the vast number of other fish who lacked some or all of these features?

The answer that evolutionists generally give is that they died off because they couldn’t adapt as well to their environment as did the better developed fish. This is known as the theory of “survival of the fittest,” but since it is said that evolutionary changes occurred over hundreds of millions of years then that also means that animals with less developed systems were able to survive very well for millions of years, and there is no reason to suppose that they couldn’t continue surviving even after more highly developed animals arrived.

In fact, everywhere in nature we see a wide variety of animals who are very different from one another but who are able to survive and defend themselves against other animals who are much larger, faster, stronger, more intelligent, and better adapted to their environment.

Take for example, the skunk, who is a slow-moving animal that has soft skin that can easily be penetrated by sharp teeth, who cannot out run a bobcat, is no match for the strength of a bear, nor can it easily hide from a hawk, and yet it still survives very well. There are species of living organisms in the ocean who have no eyes or gills, or fins but who continue to thrive in their environment.

This includes the starfish who don’t have gills, a head, a brain, or the kind of eyes that are well developed like those in regular fish. On the underside of each of its “legs” are “eye spots.” These can detect light but cannot make out much in the way of details. It could be argued that this is evidence of the evolution of the eye, but if that is true then it must also be true that sea animals who lack eyes don’t necessarily become extinct because they can could no longer adapt to their environments due to the existence of fish who do have eyes. Clams and jellyfish also have no eyes and yet they too have not become extinct.

Another example involves whales. These giants of the sea eat enormous quantities of fish of all kinds, such as shrimp, crabs, krill, and squid, and yet none of these animals have become extinct, even though they are no match or have no defense against a larger and better developed predator.

If that is true then, according to the genetic modification theory, animals who have less developed systems should be in the majority since they can survive and thrive in their environment as well as the more developed animals can. But instead what we find is that they make up a very small minority of sea creatures. Therefore, the theory of survival of the fitness doesn’t adequately answer this phenomenon.

Genetic mutation is often the cause for the differences in species of animals. For example, there are more than 27,000 different species of fish, most of whom look very different from one another, have different eating habits, and different defense systems. And yet, they all survive very well among each other, despite the fact that some fish are better developed. And the same is true of the 10,000 species of birds, the 20,000 species of bees, and the 22,000 species of ants.

When we consider that there are always going to be some animals who have more advantages than others and who prey on those weaker than themselves, we should expect to see a lower number of species according to the theory of survival of the fittest, but what we find is just the opposite. Therefore, the theory of survival of the fitness doesn’t adequately answer this perplexing phenomenon.

At the same time, according to the genetic modification theory, animals who have less developed systems should be in the majority since, as we have just seen, they can survive and thrive in their environment as well as the more developed animals can and have been around longer. But instead what we find is that they make up a very small minority of sea creatures, and the same can be said of land animals.

The other theory of how animals evolved is through the process of natural selection, where two different animals mate and produce an offspring that is a hybrid of its parents. It is said that this accounts for those changes in evolution that genetic modification doesn’t. But there are problems with this theory as well.

To understand why, we need to once again look at the evolutionary history of animals, which is often represented as a tree. At the base of the tree is the one cell animal which was the very first living organism. From there animals began to come forth that were the result of random changes in their DNA which created new creatures that branched out from the parent trunk. Over millions of years, as different creatures were born, they formed other branches on the evolutionary tree.

The original one cell animal had no bones but there came a time when an animal was born who had a soft form of bones called cartilage. At this point there was a split in the evolutionary tree, where one line of animals went on to develop bones and another line of evolving animals had no bones. These two different forms of animals are referred to as vertebrates (those with a vertebra or backbone) and invertebrates (those without a vertebrae).

Nearly all fish have a bony skeleton that is covered over with skin. These have internal skeletons and they make up the vertebrate branch of the evolutionary tree. The other branch contains those who have neither internal skeletal bones or cartilage, such as sponges, starfish, jellyfish, clams, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, squid and octopus.  Since these come from a very different species of animal than those in the vertebra branch we would expect to see that their outer form and inner structure would be very different from those in the vertebra branch and, in most cases they are.

For example, everything about a jellyfish is very different from that of any vertebra. Besides having no bones or cartilage, a jellyfish has no well-defined head, no eyes, no mouth, no central nervous system, no heart, a very different form of digestion and an asexual reproductive system. These kinds of differences between vertebrate and invertebrates is what we would expect to see according to the theory of genetic modification.

But as these animals underwent continual changes in their DNA and new, more complexed invertebrates came into existence – such as the squid and octopus – suddenly we find these new creatures having a well-defined head, two eyes in their head, a mouth with a beak, a developed central nervous system, a heart, kidney, and a digestive and reproductive system similar to those of vertebrates.

According to the theory of genetic modification, each of these features had to develop from a lower form of animal. For example, the eyes of an octopus had to come from a more primitive invertebrate who didn’t have eyes. However, the eyes of a fish who has a vertebra would have to have come from that same invertebrate who didn’t have eyes but their offspring did. The problem is that there is no such creature on the evolutionary tree to which both an invertebrate and a vertebrate can trace their beginnings of an eye. And this problem becomes more acute when we add in all the other similar features between an octopus and a fish.

The answer to this dilemma is supposedly found in the theory of natural selection. According to this theory, an invertebrate mated with a vertebrate and their offspring had some features of both.  For example, it would take something along the line of a jellyfish mating with a sea bass to produce an offspring who had a well-defined head, with eyes and tentacles but no bones – i.e, an octopus.

The only problem with this scenario is that the reproduction system of both kinds of animals are incompatible with one another. For example, a jellyfish has an asexual reproductive system (as do most invertebrates), meaning that the eggs laid by a jellyfish don’t need to be fertilized by a male sperm, whereas, fish have a sexual reproduction system that requires both a male and a female to produce an offspring. In other words, it is not natural that an invertebrate would select to mate with a vertebrate. Therefore, the theory of natural selection can’t account for animals on different branches of the evolutionary tree having similar features and neither can genetic modification.

In fact, the “tree of life” that evolutionists have constructed can only be based on the idea of genetic modification. Since each new species of animal is a branch that separates off from its parent, in order to show a new animal that came about through the process of natural selection, whereby two different animals mated to produce a hybrid offspring, the “tree of life” would have to show two different branches coming together and melding to form a new branch of animal, but we never see that in any of the pictures depicting how animals evolved from one kind to another. Therefore, by their own accounting, natural selection doesn’t seem to play a significant role in the evolutionary chain of events.

As we look at the model used to explain the theory of how all life on earth came from a single microscopic, one-cell living organism it leaves unanswered may questions about evolution.

 

See related articles at Parting Thoughts

 

Love Thy Neighbor

Summary: One of the most cherished rights we have is that of moral agency – the right to decide for ourselves what we want to do. Because of this doctrine it has been said that God allows us to do whatever we want and that he will not interfere with any of our decisions. This sort of thinking then leads to the attitude that our life is our own and that we can do with it as we please, which can further lead to the notion that no one has the right to tell anyone else what they can and cannot do. But much of this kind of thinking results from a misunderstanding of what agency is all about. This article helps explain the reason why God has given us our agency in the context of his purpose for creating man.

In the book of Proverbs we read, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord ponderth the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2)

One of the most cherished rights we have is that of moral agency – the right to decide for ourselves what we want to do. In the beginning when our Father in heaven presented a plan for our advancement to become like him, there was a war fought over the very issue of compelling us to do what was right as opposed to us being given the freedom to choose whether we wanted to do what was right or not.

Because of this doctrine of agency, it has been said that God allows us to do whatever we want and that he will not interfere with any of our decisions. This sort of thinking then leads to the attitude that our life is our own and that we can do with it as we please. This then further leads to the notion that no one has the right to tell anyone else what they can and cannot do.

A variation on this is when people say that we can’t impose our morality onto others. In other words, what is right for one person may be wrong for another. And once this kind of thinking takes hold in a person’s mind, it’s easy for them to conclude that if there is a God then he too has no right to tell us what we should do or how we should behave because that would be imposing his morality on us.

Each generation seems to have its own label, such as “the Greatest generation,” “the X generation,” and the “Millennial generation.” Now there is the “Me generation,” which is so labeled because they seem to be focused on themselves. This is the era of the selfie where people are obsessed with taking pictures of themselves. It is a generation where people are in love with themselves and, not surprisingly, more and more we hear the philosophy being espoused of “finding” one’s self or “finding self-fulfillment” or “finding your own happiness.”

We see such slogans as: “Don’t just find yourself; create yourself,” “You are unique; be yourself,” “Don’t be afraid to be different,” “Follow your dreams,” “Pursue your passions,” “Life is too short; enjoy yourself while you can,” “You are as good as everyone else,” and the list of similar slogans goes on and on. Although the purpose of each of these sayings is to promote a positive self-image in people, what they also do is encourage people to put their own interests first in their life and focus on doing those things that makes them happy.

But it wasn’t that long ago when the slogan that people followed was: “God first, others second, me last.” Clearly there has been a shift in attitude away from serving others to serving one’s self.  However, people will say that today we are more enlightened as psychologists and social educators have better learned what makes us happy in life. Yet, at the same time, as people have sought to do what is right in their own eyes, several studies have shown that people have actually become less happier with themselves and in their relationships with others, and less satisfied with life in general.

Much of this kind of thinking has come as a result of interpreting the role of agency to mean that God allows us to do whatever we want, but is that the correct understanding of this God-given right? To find the answer to this question we need to gain a clear understanding of why God put us here on earth. In other words, what is God’s purpose in creating man?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that in a grand council in heaven, God, our Father, presented a plan whereby we, his spirit children, could learn to become like him. To do that we had to possess several things that we did not already have. The first was a physical body and so God proposed to build a physical earth on which we could obtain such a body. The second thing was that we needed to learn the difference between good and evil, and since evil cannot exist in heaven, it was necessary for us to leave our heavenly home and go somewhere else to gain that knowledge.

But just learning about good and evil isn’t enough. Our Father in heaven knows about evil but he always chooses to do that which is good and right. This is what makes him righteous, and if we want to become like him then we too must learn how to be as righteous as he is, which can only happen through learning to always chose to do good when choosing evil is always an option.

We also have to learn to have faith and develop it to the point where it is as great as our Father in heaven. In addition to this, the scriptures tell us that God is love and so we have to learn to love as he does. Therefore, we have to learn how to develop the same kind of faith, hope, and charity that God has if we want to become like him.

Of course, in order to learn anything, we have to be taught about it and so our life on earth is meant to be a school whereby we can be instructed about the myriad of things it takes to become like our Father in heaven. And our teacher, instructor, guide, coach, and mentor in this course of divinity is God himself.

However, we didn’t come to this earthly school against our will. We were given the choice of whether we wanted to live here in mortality and experience all the things that we need to grow spiritually, or whether we wanted to stay in heaven and remain as innocent spirits for the rest of eternity. The fact that we are alive here on earth means that we choose, of our own free will, to come here and wanted to go through this training course.

We also knew, before coming here, that some of the lessons we would encounter would be hard. We knew back then that part of our training would include experiencing pain, suffering, heartaches, disappointments, frustrations, and sorrows, and yet we still elected to come here because we knew that this is the only way to truly develop the divine attributes we desired.

It has often been said that we learn from our mistakes and failures and one of those mistakes is choosing to do evil.  However, with proper training we can learn from those mistakes and better understand through the consequences we suffer why it is important not choose to do evil. But without the proper instruction it is possible for us to make the same mistakes over and over again without ever learning from them.

Since we don’t know what will happen to us in the future such uncertainty provides us with the opportunity to develop the divine attributes of hope. When we encounter situations that seem to be beyond our ability to cope with, we can be taught how to strengthen our faith in God. When we have to deal with someone who is hateful, mean, rude, or violent towards us, with proper instruction we can learn how to show love to even those who despise us.

These are all things we have to learn if we want to become more like our Father in heaven, and many times we learn these lessons only after going through hard times that stretch us almost to the breaking point. But that’s why we came here. We choose to be born into mortality knowing full well what the curriculum was like.

For this reason, coming here to earth is very much like deciding to go to college. The first thing a person has to do is decide which college they want to apply to and, in part, that decision is made on what a person wants to learn as their career. For example, a person who wants to become a doctor doesn’t apply at a college that is known for its engineering classes, such as M.I.T., and neither does a person who wants to become a teacher select a college that specializes in political science such as Harvard.

We choose to come here to earth because we wanted to learn how to become like our Father in heaven and as such, our life here is like living on the campus of the University of the gods. And, just like college, there are times when we can have fun and do some of the things we want, but there are also classes we have to attend that we signed up for when we enrolled in this university.

However, unlike going to college, in God’s university we don’t have the option of skipping classes. The lessons God teaches are going to come whether we want them to or not and that was part of the understanding we had before we came to earth. But as these lessons come, God, our instructor, is willing to teach us how to handle every situation so that we learn how to become spiritually stronger. However, he leaves it up to us to decide whether or not we want to listen to his instructions.

Imagine a student going to college and saying that they don’t want anyone teaching them. Imagine a student saying that instead of following the rules of the college they want to do whatever they want. If that were the case then there would have been no point to that student paying thousands of dollars to come to a college where they didn’t want to learn anything, which would be a complete waste of their time and money.

We fought a war in heaven as the price of admission to attend this earthly course of instruction, but when we refuse to listen to what God is trying to teach us by not following his commandments and instead choose to live our life the way we want to, then we are squandering our valuable time here on earth rather than learning the lessons, gaining the knowledge, and developing the skills we came here to acquire.

Satan is like the rich, spoiled, college frat boy who wants to encourage us to party and have fun rather than study and prepare for our exams. He’s like the college agitator who incites students to protest and destroy property in the name of social justice to the point where we become distracted from achieving our educational goals. He is like the huckster who wants to sell us on living life the easy way where we end up depending on others to provide for our needs rather than learning how to provide for ourselves.

Those who say that our life is our own and that we can do with it as we want are believing a lie. Going back to our illustration of college, imagine a wealthy father sending their child off to school after having paid their tuition, along with providing them with clothing, transportation, and money enough to pay for all their needs. All the child has to do is attend their classes, learn their lessons, and get good grades.

Then imagine what will happen when that child returns home from college and has to tell their parents that the reason why they failed their classes is because they wasted their time partying instead of studying. For that child to say to their father that they can live their life anyway they want after their father has paid for their entire education would be an insult that only an ignorant person would make.

God, our Father, has created an earth where everything we need is here to sustain us. He has provided the means whereby we can be clothed, fed, sheltered, and cared for, and has even sent his only Begotten Son to pay the penalty for our sins. But more than that, when we left our heavenly home we agreed to come here to earth for the express purpose of learning how to become more like God. As such the way we live our life has already been determined by us before we left our heavenly home, and once here we are duty bound to honor that agreement.

As such, our life is not ours. In the first place, it is God who has placed us here on earth for a very specific reason and, therefore our life has a God-given purpose to it. If he wants, God can take back that life any time he wants, and the scriptures are replete with instances where he has done just that. Furthermore, it is God who has provided for all of our needs, and it is God who has saved us from our sins. Therefore, we are indebted to him just like a college student is indebted to those lending institutions who have paid for their education. In like manner, there will come a time when our schooling will end and we will return to God to give an account of how we used the time he gave us to learn our lessons, and how well we kept the agreement we made with him before coming here.

But God’s university is not like a typical college environment where we sit in a classroom and memorize facts. God’s university is more like a vocational school where we learn by doing. Earth life is more like a mini-version of what God does where we can learn through practice how to do what he does. In that sense, we can think of earth as a laboratory or a vocational shop where we get to gain hands-on experience doing what God does.

For example, if we are children of God and he is our parent, then to become like him we must learn what it is to be a parent ourselves and how to raise children in righteousness just like God does with us. If God created the world through faith then we need to develop the kind of faith God has, but to do that we have to have our faith put to the test so it can grow and be strengthened. If God knows about evil but always chooses to do good then we have to learn to do the same, and the only effective way to do that is by experiencing the consequences of sin and learning from our mistakes.

Another lesson we must learn is to love those who we don’t like, and we learn how to do that through our efforts of serving people. In this way we can learn how to develop a greater capacity to love and care about people from all walks of life, who are living in all kinds of situations, and who have different beliefs and attitudes than our own. This is God’s attitude towards us, and the scriptures tell us, God loved us so much that he sent his only Begotten Son to die in order to save us from our sins while we were yet sinners. As such, serving others is one of the best ways to learn how to become more like Christ.

However, to serve others requires forgetting about ourselves and focusing on the needs of others which is just the opposite of the modern philosophy of focusing on our own needs, wants, and desires before caring about the needs, wants, and desires of others. Godly service embodies the slogan: God first, others second, and me last, and it is when we lose ourselves in the service of others that we truly come to find ourselves.

But if we genuinely want to become like God then we have to learn to serve others in the same way that God does, and God’s work is all about bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. It is when we serve our fellow beings in a way that assists God in doing his work that we truly become more like him. This is why Jesus said that the greatest commandment in the law is to “love the Lord thy God with all of thine heart, mind, and strength, and… to love thy neighbor as thyself” ((Matthew 22:36-40).

 

Related articles can be found at The Nature of God