I am a Geology student at a South African University. I am a member of the Mormon Church and believe strongly in a living God who created us. My concern now is that creation seems to contradict with the provable and demonstrable theory of evolution of species to the current ones. For a time I’ve been firm in opposing the theory but the more we are made to study it the more I tend to see truth in it. The fact that it can be proved and creation relies on faith makes matters worse. I love paleontology and wish to study it further, but the fact that it makes me doubt what I already know to be true, is a good reason not to. I have heard notable and respectable leaders of the Mormon Church say if you believe in evolution it will be difficult to fully understand or appreciate eternal progression. I want eternal progression more than anything. Please tell me how evolution fits in with Heavenly Father’s creation that the scriptures tell of and of which I have a testimony.
Ntando, from Durban, South Africa
You pose a most interesting question. It has a definitive answer that would concur exactly with your religious beliefs. But since the question is based on a full-blown scientific discipline, a complete answer would take much more space than we have available in this column. However, there are some things that I feel that would be well for you to consider. You state that the theory of evolution is demonstrable and provable. That may be true only if you accept the a priori premises on which it is based, and the methodology and accuracy of the experimental data.
The theory of evolution is based on and is a part of the more general theory of uniformitarianism, which states that changes in the earth’s topology have occurred exclusively as the imperceptively slow erosion processes of rain, wind, freezing and thawing, and the counter imperceptively slow mountain uplift from tectonic plate motion. Catastrophism, the counter theory to uniformitarianism, which includes catastrophic flooding, volcanic action, earthquakes, meteoric impact and near misses by planetoids, has much more to commend it than does uniformitarianism. You must remember that the proponents of uniformitarianism, which comprise essentially all of academia today, are steeply ensconced in their theory. For the most part, they believe that the evidence is so overwhelming that they teach it as a provable and demonstrable theory. However, the fundamental facts are that 1) they generally have heard nothing else, 2) they are protecting their jobs and 3) they are protecting thrir egos. Let me give you an example–
There is one and only one way of dating any geological, anthropological or paleontological event, and that is by the potassium-argon decay rate. Potassium, the most prevalent element in the earth’s crust, has a radio-isotope, K40, found in a concentration of the order of .01%. The half life of K40 is 1.8 times 10 to the 9th years, and it decays to the stable A40, which is a gas. While any rock is molten, any argon produced from K40 escapes, but if the rock is solid the argon is captured. The only dating process ever used to place a time line on any geological, anthropological or paleontological event is to measure the K40/A40 ratio in a sample of rock taken from the site. In the first place the date thus established does NOT measure the age of the site. It measures the age of the rock found at the site! Secondly, this measurement technique is highly unreliable, but its unreliability is never taken into account since it is the only possible way of dating into the distant past. So the method is accepted without question, as shown by the following experiment—
Two samples of volcanic rock were submitted for dating by the K/A decay method. One sample measured to be 65 million years old and the other, 2.5 billion years old. These two samples were taken from the lava flows from two volcanoes in Hawaii. The eruption from which the first sample was taken occurred in 1800 AD, and the eruption from which the second sample was taken occurred in 1802 AD.!!! When confronted with this data the researchers concluded that the two rocks could not have been part of the lava flow, but were picked up as debris while the flow was yet molten! This demonstrates the tenacity with which any currently held scientific theory or method is held. Data that are contrary to the currently held theory are merely discarded. In truth, it takes a veritable scientific revolution to change the currently held theories of science. Each of the proponents of the theories of past ages, beginning with the Greeks, knew that they had the ultimate truth. But each was finally proven to be completely wrong and was replaced by the succeeding theory, in the same manner that the theories currently held to be true will also find their way into the dustbins of history.
There are two books that treat this subject and I strongly recommend that you read. One, which has turned out to be a classic is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas S. Kuhn, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Massachusetts of Technology, University of Chicago Press, 1926. You can find it at Amazon.com. The other is a very short treatise by H. Clay Gorton, called The Demise of Darwinism, or the Rise and Fall of the Theory of Evolution, to be published. This work is brief enough that I will include it as an attachment, because I think that in there you will find the answers for which you are searching.