Elder Russell M. Nelson, professionally a world famous heart surgeon, testifies regularly about the miracle of the human body, its ability to progress and heal, and that these qualities cannot have happened by chance. His excellent print shop explosion analogy to illustrate his point in last year’s conference reveals several fallacies in common reasoning sequences used all the time by evolution proponents that every one of us should recognize and be able to cheerfully refute.
In the April 2012 General Conference, Elder Nelson stated:
“Anyone who studies the workings of the human body has surely seen God moving in his majesty and power.'(D&C 88:47) Because the body is governed by divine law, any healing comes by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated.
“Yet some people erroneously think that these marvelous physical attributes happened by chance or resulted from a big bang somewhere. Ask yourself, Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary?’ The likelihood is most remote. But if so, it could never heal its own torn pages or reproduce its own newer editions!”
Practical Limiting Conditions to Explosion Analogies
Intuitively, we know that an explosion in a printing shop cannot produce even a pamphlet, much less a dictionary. The many months of careful intelligent work of typesetting, printing, proofing, all the way to binding the book cannot be done in a few seconds during an explosion.
It is asserted that there is a theoretical possibility that an explosion creating a dictionary could happen, rare but possible. This is based on some imaginary world with one chance in 10 to the gazillionth power. And often once the discussion moves to the theories of probability in mathematics, those who believe that evolution is an incomplete and inadequate theory abandon the argument.
In real life, logical boundary conditions on the processes required make it impossible for an explosion in a print shop to create a dictionary. These conditions go all the way from the bomb being likely to cause a fire in the print shop that destroys both paper and tools to a bomb not being able to cause the intelligent work of typesetting a multi-page forme that can then be printed on the press. Any modern computerized devices would, of course, be rendered useless by the explosion or the loss of electrical power.
The descriptions of the process of printing the Book of Mormon show the details of working in a 19th century print shop. Look here to view an episode of the Joseph Smith Papers series with analysis by Royal Skousen of the BYU Linguistics Department.
Just Label It Impossible When It Is
These “impossibility conditions” are evident in every example that claims the miracles of life occur by chance and we should become skilled in detecting them. We should cheerfully assert that these conditions preclude the test of ever becoming a real possibility.
In normal scientific research, we often declare a 95% or 99.5% statistical confidence level as a reliable proof for a theory’s validity. However, for some strange reason, we will allow false reasoning based on odds that are truly astronomical against the theory of Darwinian evolution and instead accept “hand waving” false reasoning that ignores impossibility conditions.
10 to the 150th power is called by intelligent design proponents the “Universal Probability Bound”–bigger than the number of elementary particles in the known universe and bigger than all the possible particle transitions in known time together –certainly big enough to quit worrying about any probability of the assertion being possible. The meaning of this limit is “don’t bother to go any further in an analogy if you pass this probability limit.” The proposed case in point is impossible! Use this concept of a universal probability bound in discussions where the probabilities become insanely unthinkable.
Why are Explosion Analogies Brought up?
Big explosions are theorized in modern astronomy as important parts of the theory of how the universe works. A “Big Bang” explosion is believed to be the origin of the 100 billion or so known galaxies in the universe that are hurdling through space. Supernova explosions of large stars are believed to create and distribute the essential elements needed for a world like earth and life as we see it here.
But just because an explosion might be an important part of the process that results in the building blocks of life, it does not mean that it is the cause of the creation of everything as in the printing shop analogy.
Consider the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Abraham.
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;” (Abraham 3:24)
Latter-day Saints do not believe in the ex nihilo “out of nothing” creation of the universe. We believe that God obeys natural laws and that matter, spirit and intelligence are eternal–without beginning and without end.
Problems with “by Chance” Mutation Component
Chance evolution proponents condescendingly critique statements like Elder Nelson’s by asserting that “evolution is not by chance’! Mutation is, but natural selection is non-random.” It is as though natural selection can make up for the low quality, without purpose, by chance’ physical mutations that feed the natural selection module of the theory.
We ought to recognize the fallacy of the logic of this approach. The theory of evolution has a serious “garbage in/garbage out” problem. Natural selection is theorized to allow for intelligence and innovation for a living being to try to survive. However, everything selected is theorized to come from the physical only chance mutations. The output can only be as good as its input.
If natural selection of the weak by chance’ mutation component cannot explain the examples of life that we see in the world, then the theory of evolution should be categorized as an incomplete theory.
In my experience, this line of reasoning is compelling in discussions with those who believe in Joseph Smith as a true prophet, and who believe in the revelations regarding physical and spirit matter, and intelligence. It is also persuasive in discussions with religious non-Latter-day saints who believe in the “Spirit of God” as an essential part of living beings and do not believe in a pure materialistic universe.
Examples of Processes Similar to Evolution’s Theoretical Components
To what may we liken this discussion in the manner that the Savior would use parables to teach useful spiritual analogies?
What about a water treatment plant? There is a world of difference between a plant with input from a mostly unpolluted well vs. input from the polluted liquid sludge from a Mississippi River flood. The plant’s performance or even its ability to purify anything at all would be affected by this input.
What about an electrical transformer? It must process the power fed into it. It too is a serial system where the second component depends on input from the first component. What about the difference between mostly clean power from the electrical grid going into the transformer vs. the erratic power levels from a lightning strike or an electromagnetic pulse (EMP)? Ordered and clean power input and it does its job. Random and erratic power levels coming in and the transformer might burn out.
A Non-Random Mutation Component Addition?
Now, if the evolution mutation model were expanded to include directed or adaptive mutations via the life form being quickened by the light of Christ, “which giveth life to all things,”(D&C 88:13) the characteristics of the theory would change dramatically. There would be a non-random and non-by chance’ mutation component in the system as input for the natural selection module to operate on. It gets even better if the theory’s components were expanded to include the functions of a genetic engineer, or even a Genetic Engineer.
Testimony of Spiritual and Intelligent Dimensions
A testimony of God, the Savior Jesus Christ and the spiritual and intelligent dimensions of life comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. As well as a strong testimony from the Spirit, we should also be able to reason about logical implications of the Gospel plan, the scriptures and the words of the modern prophets and apostles who walk the earth in our day.
At the end of the talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson, he quoted King Benjamin in one of my favorite scriptures, so applicable to this discussion of the miracles of life.
“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.” (Mosiah 4:9)
I would beware of the philosophies and theories that challenge or deny the truths found in this scripture. A wonderful talk by Elder, and preeminent Doctor, Russell M. Nelson!
 “Elder Russell M. Nelson to Address Graduates,” LDS Business College, March 30, 2011,
“Elder Nelson met his medical career goal on a grand scale. After earning a B.A. degree at the University of Utah, he completed a four-year medical school course in three years, and by age 22 was practicing medicine. He served a two-year term of medical duty for the U.S. Army during the Korean War in Korea, Japan, and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Following his military service, he earned a Ph.D. in 1954 at the University of Minnesota.
Elder Nelson worked with a team of specialists to construct a machine that performed the functions of a patient’s heart and lungs during surgery. This medical breakthrough enabled Elder Nelson to perform the first successful open-heart surgery in Utah. Over the years he held numerous positions including professor of surgery and director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency at the University of Utah, and chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. He became internationally recognized as a skilled surgeon and medical researcher.”
 Russell M. Nelson, “Faith in Jesus Christ,” lds.org,
“My long road to become a doctor of medicine was only the beginning. After that came years of hospital work, research, specialty training, and certifying examinations. Then followed many years of teaching, service, and the challenges of the newly emerging field of open-heart surgery, all of which brought me to a profound reverence for the structure and function of the human body. I was convinced that its creation was divine.”
“Approximately 22 days after these cells unite, a tiny heart begins to beat. At 26 days, blood begins to circulate. Cells multiply and divide. Some become eyes that see; others become ears that hear or fingers that feel the wondrous things about us. Each organ is an amazing creation. The eye has a self-focusing lens. Nerves and muscles allow two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The ear converts sound waves into audible tones perceived in the brain.
“The heart has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. They open and close more than 100,000 times a day-36 million times a year. Unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand this stress almost indefinitely. No man-made material can be flexed so frequently and so long without breaking. Each day, the adult heart pumps enough fluid to fill a 2,000-gallon (7,570-L) tank. At the crest of the heart is a source of electricity that transmits energy down special lines, causing myriads of muscle fibers to work together.
“Think of the body’s backup systems.
Each paired organ has instant backup available from the other of the pair. Single organs, such as the brain, the heart, and the liver, are nourished by two routes of blood supply. This protects the organ if blood flow should be impeded through one of those routes. Think of the body’s capacity to defend itself. To protect it from harm, the body perceives pain. In response to infection, it generates antibodies. They not only help to combat an immediate problem, but they persist to bolster resistance to any future infection. Think how the body repairs itself. Broken bones mend and become strong again. Skin lacerations heal themselves. A leak in the circulation can seal itself. The body renews its own outdated cells.”
 Russell M. Nelson, “Thanks Be to God,” Ensign, May 2012,
“How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God’s providence and love and express that gratitude to Him. Ammon taught, “Let us give thanks to [God], for he doth work righteousness forever.”2 Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for Him.”
“Our Heavenly Father loves His children.15 He has blessed each with physical and spiritual gifts. Let me speak of each type. When you sing I Am a Child of God,’ think of His gift to you of your own physical body. The many amazing attributes of your body attest to your own divine nature.’
“Each organ of your body is a wondrous gift from God. Each eye has an autofocusing lens. Nerves and muscles control two eyes to make a single three-dimensional image. The eyes are connected to the brain, which records the sights seen. Your heart is an incredible pump.17 It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day-36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand such stress almost indefinitely.
“Think of the body’s defense system. To protect it from harm, it perceives pain. In response to infection, it generates antibodies. The skin provides protection. It warns against injury that excessive heat or cold might cause. The body renews its own outdated cells and regulates the levels of its own vital ingredients. The body heals its cuts, bruises, and broken bones. Its capacity for reproduction is another sacred gift from God.”
 RPM Note: In the case of Elder Nelson’s example in a purely theoretical sense, a dictionary might consist of 100,000 words with an average entry containing 300 bytes of information. That would be 30 million bytes. The entries must be in the correct alphabetical order-another huge condition. But, ignoring that for now, just getting the 30 million characters, each one the right character in the right position and in the right order with say 64 possible characters would give the probability of getting them correct using randomly selected letters at 64 * 64 * … (30 million times). This would be one chance in 2^(6 * 30,000,000) or about 10^(6 * 30,000,000 * 3/10) = 10^(54 * 1,000,000) = 10^(54,000,000) –10 to the 54 millionth power-impossibly impossible!
 “Printing of the Book of Mormon,” The Joseph Smith Papers, May 19, 2009,
“Review the time-consuming process of typesetting a 600-page book with 19th-century equipment.”
RPM Note: I was able to study with Royal Skousen who is prominently featured in this video during work on my Master’s degree in linguistics at BYU. His comprehensive analysis over many years of the publications of the Book of Mormon has resulted in some great publications.
As you look at the detailed highly intelligent, organized processes to type set, proof, print, dry, cut and bind an actual book, to think that anything like this can result from an explosion is so ridiculous as to wonder if a person proposing such an argument can think clearly at all. Can a bomb set off in a car transform it into a carriage? Can a bomb in an airplane make it a Saturn V rocket? Can an explosion in a piano cause it to play Rachmaninoff’s Concerto number 2? I have always suspected that those who accept the Nicene Creed with all of its extreme contradictions have to overload their mind at a fundamental level to swallow such illogic as truth. I think that accepting some of the arguments for chance evolution similarly cause a person to stretch their logical thinking unit beyond its limits-hindering their ability to discern the truth.
 “Grandin Printing Shop picture, wikipedia.org, 2005,.
 William A. Dembski , “If Only Darwinists Scrutinized Their Own Work as Closely,” 2002,
“Let me repeat my caution in the preface to No Free Lunch: My strategy in writing this book was to include just enough technical discussion so that experts can fill in the details as well as sufficient elaboration of the technical discussion so that nonexperts feel the force of the design inference.’ In the deterministic form of the Law of Conservation of Information, not only is no specified complexity generated but no novel information at all is generated. Yet as soon as stochastic processes come into play, chance can produce information — indeed, unlimited amounts of it. Chance can also produce limited amounts of specified information. Any statement of a stochastic form of the Law of Conservation of Information therefore must incorporate a modulus of probability to control for the production of limited amounts of specified information by chance. The universal probability bound sets the limit to just how much specified information can be produced by chance. In particular, specified complexity is beyond its remit. The argument sketched above shows how the modulus of probability comes into play in the stochastic formulation of the law. This argument, with its focus on the limited free play of chance over the space of stochastic elements, was always implicit.”
RPM Note: Just four of the lines of the “to be or not to be” Shakespeare lines from Hamlet act 3 scene 1 goes way beyond the Universal Probability Bound.
To be, or not to be: that is the question: 42 characters
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer 41 chars
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, 44 chars
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 42 chars
Total chars = 129
Suppose character possibilities in each position = 64 = 2^6
(2^6)^129 = 2^774 = 10^(774 * 3 / 10) = about 10^232 which is much bigger than 10^150
 Daniel Midgley, “Mormon Apostle goes full anti-science,” April 3, 2012.
“Times come and times go, but religion provides an anchor of constancy (if an anchor’s what you need).
So it’s good to see Mormon apostle Russell Nelson engaging in the time-honored religious tradition of slagging science.”
“The printer’s shop analogy is extremely tired — evolution is not ‘by chance’! Mutation is, but natural selection is non-random. So yes, if books could reproduce and if only the fittest books survived to reproduce, then yes, we would see books that could heal torn pages and update themselves. Nelson is making a false analogy between a living being and an inanimate object, and the two have different qualities.”
“Analogy aside, what Elder Nelson has done must be very strange and uncomfortable for Mormons. He’s waded into science, and sneered at ideas from biology, physics, and cosmology that he doesn’t undertand, and that there’s real evidence for and no real reason to disbelieve.”
“And just for comparison, no GA has ever trashed the Big Bang — the phrase doesn’t appear in the entire GC corpus. Nelson is really in deep water here.”
RPM Note: Notice how the fact that everything that the natural selection component selects comes from the “by chance” mutation component is ignored in this and so many other arguments for evolution being able to duplicate the biological miracles we see in nature. This serious “garbage in/garbage out” problem is not discussed at all.
Notice the misunderstanding that Midley has about Elder Nelson’s statement about the Big Bang. Elder Nelson may or may not believe in the Big Bang. However, he does not believe that the Big Bang could be the only process that affects the miracles of life that he was describing. An example of an explosion that benefits God’s creative process is a supernova explosion that creates and scatters around the universe the essential elements for life.
Consider this description in the Book of Abraham:
“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;” (Abraham 3:24)
Explosions may help create and arrange those materials talked about in this scripture. But, additionally, there are many other factors including spiritual and intelligent dimensions of the universe that so many of us strongly testify that must also contribute to the miracles of creation. It cannot all be explained by pure materialism or random explosions.
 “Water treatment,” NFI Blue Consulting.
 “Transformers Electrical Storm,” Transformer sales site.
 “New Evidence Casts Doubt on Classical Evolutionary Theory,” University of Rochester Press Release, June 18, 1990,
“A University of Rochester professor has found strong evidence that mutations in bacteria occur more often when they are useful than when they are neutral. The finding strikes at the widely held biological principle that mutations arise randomly and without respect to their usefulness, a belief that is critical to our understanding of how life evolves. The paper by Biology Professor Barry G. Hall will appear in the September issue of the journal Genetics.
“‘Some mutations happen more often when they are useful than when they are neutral,’ says Hall. I can demonstrate this every day in my laboratory, and there is every reason to believe that it occurs in nature as well.’
“Hall’s findings run counter to conventional scientific belief, which holds that mutations (changes in an organism’s genetic code) occur at an even and continuous pace, and that they occur regardless of the environment. Generations of scientists since Charles Darwin have believed that mutations which make the organism more productive or successful are selected’ and are subsequently passed on more often to succeeding generations, but that the process of generating the mutations is completely separate from the process of selection. Hall’s findings suggest a much more intimate relationship between mutation and selection, a relationship in which selective conditions may dramatically affect mutation itself.
If this turns out to be widespread, we will have to revise most of what we think about the way evolution works,’ says Hall, whose work opens up the possibility that adaptive evolution may be considerably faster than biologists have thought up to now. The assumption that mutations are purely random forms a key part of all mathematical and theoretical studies of evolutionary processes. The problem we face is that theory is simply not equipped to deal with these findings,’ says Hall.”
B. E. Wright, “Stress-directed adaptive mutations and evolution,” University of Montana, Missoula, 2004.
“Comparative biochemistry demonstrates that the metabolites, complex biochemical networks, enzymes and regulatory mechanisms essential to all living cells are conserved in amazing detail throughout evolution. Thus, in order to evolve, an organism must overcome new adverse conditions without creating different but equally dangerous alterations in its ongoing successful metabolic relationship with its environment. Evidence suggests that stable long-term acquisitive evolution results from minor increases in mutation rates of genes related to a particular stress, with minimal disturbance to the balanced and resilient metabolism critical for responding to an unpredictable environment. Microorganisms have evolved specific biochemical feedback mechanisms that direct mutations to genes derepressed by starvation or other stressors in their environment. Transcription of the activated genes creates localized supercoiling and DNA secondary structures with unpaired bases vulnerable to mutation. The resulting mutants provide appropriate variants for selection by the stress involved, thus accelerating evolution with minimal random damage to the genome. This model has successfully predicted mutation frequencies in genes of E. coli and humans. Stressed cells observed in the laboratory over hundreds of generations accumulate mutations that also arise by this mechanism. When this occurs in repair-deficient mutator strains with high rates of random mutation, the specific stress-directed mutations are also enhanced.”
RPM Note: Notice the complexity of the attempted explanation in this abstract of a paper on how directed or adaptive mutations might work. These mutations dramatically increase in frequency as they are needed when an organism is under stress and are not limited only to the pure by chance’ mutation model. Being “plugged into the light of Christ” as it were is certainly a much simpler explanation.
 “The Light of Christ,” A free inspirational musical fireside, Sunday, April 21, 2013.