My Position on The Universal Model

I had the opportunity to spend 12 months working with the Universal Model team to help publish and teach their research. My contribution to the movement and book has been modest but my experience was life-changing. I am very excited about many of the discoveries included in the Universal Model research. I have endorsed the author’s claim that there are some important theories being taught without sufficient evidence, and that in many cases there are much more simple answers to how nature works. The Universal Model claims to have found many of these answers. The book dives into every major body of science, working to disprove common scientific myths and “pseudotheories.”

Volume I of the Universal Model was published October 2016.

I’ve spoken extensively with many scientists who disagree and are even appalled with the claims made by the Universal Model team. The research is ridiculed as unscientific for having been published without having gone through a formal peer review process. It is condemned as a threat to the faith of Christians for “being held up as the best evidence of creationist views of science” and “will doom the faith of believers when the Universal Model theories are proven to be false.”

There’s really no way for me to comprehensively explain in a short post how I feel about the Universal Model volumes and those who have conducted the research and experiments over the past few decades, but I’ll do my best to summarize.

Too Much Confidence

I’m weary of anybody who approaches science with excessive confidence in their own research or in that of the current body of scientific research. I believe all scientists, whether considered mainstream or creationists, are treading in dangerous water when they use phrases like, “We now know that…” or “This is the way it works…” or “Those other scientists are/were so stupid to think/have believed that…” or any other phrases that imply that they know something for sure. I appreciate scientists who communicate about discoveries with an attitude of humility and a sincere desire to learn and understand, rather than to condemn. I have a lot of respect for any scientist (whether I agree with their conclusions or not) who says, “Based on what we have observed, the research we have conducted, and the experiments we have performed, it appears that … is true. That’s the best we know so far. Additional research will help validate or refine our conclusions.” I’m concerned that there are many scientists who speak about science with absolute confidence in phrases implying perfect understanding. Although the Universal Model team condemns this kind of language, I’m concerned that I have often seen members of the team slip into using the same kinds of statements. I’m learning that it’s easy for someone to have so much confidence in their own research that they are completely blinded to alternative explanations and other valid perspectives. I believe scientists should remain lifelong students and let the people come to their own conclusions about truth based on the collective evidence presented by all parties.

Doctrinal Influence

Critics of the Universal Model claim that members of the UM team are constantly looking for evidence to support their own perspective that is largely shaped by religious beliefs. In other words, they claim the UM team is biased and incapable of conducting honest research. I believe those supporting the UM would agree that they are biased, but they would challenge the condemnation of their research, saying that everyone is biased and that they are the only ones honest enough to admit it. They would also disagree that bias inherently causes someone to be dishonest. I personally believe bias doesn’t necessarily make someone dishonest–since dishonesty implies ill intent–but it can be very blinding. I believe to a degree, both modern scientists and members of the UM team are blinded by confidence in their own perspectives and are often unwilling to have an open conversation and listen to the other side.

The Geology Department at BYU is especially concerned that a misinterpretation of doctrine combined with poor scientific research will cause members of the Church to struggle in their testimonies. The concern is that if the UM team has misinterpreted doctrine and built a scientific model to promote those untruths, testimonies will be unnecessarily shattered among their followers by “true” science that refutes the UM’s false scientific ideas. While I believe the fears are overblown, I can empathize with their concern. I believe the solution is for people to gain strong testimonies of the gospel regardless of what the science says and then approach scientific research with an attitude of eager curiosity, trusting that whatever the truth is will only strengthen their faith so long as they aren’t stubbornly married to scientific theories that aren’t necessarily doctrinal.

Some Issues With The Universal Model

I’ve run into some things that I believe are major problems with the Universal Model. I’ll lay them out there so that others can see that I am willing to be objective and critical of everyone’s ideas, no matter the source of the models.

Before I get into the issues, I want to re-emphasize that I know God led me to the UM team and that I was supposed to spend a year doing an internship with them. I’m very happy to share that story with anyone who asks about it. I have no regrets about by closeness to the Dean and his family and am proud to promote several of the discoveries of the Universal Model. I just need to make it clear that I cannot endorse the entirety of the UM research.

The Universal Model has acknowledged some of the issues with claims made in the current edition of Volume I. These will be corrected in future editions of the book. My list below accounts for issues not acknowledged by the UM.

I’ve been shot down by the UM team multiple times when proposing models that I felt explained nature better than some of the things that are taught by the Universal Model before my evidence was even really considered. I admire the work they are doing but they often suffer from the same close-mindedness that they accuse other scientists of having.

Some of My Favorite Discoveries

I absolutely love the UM’s explanation for the source of volcanoes, evidence of a universal flood, and explanations for how stone crystalize rapidly in water and how petrification and fossilization can happen extremely quickly, among many other things.

It seems to me that many of the scientists who criticize the UM are like moths that are drawn to and obsess over the most glaring problems with the Universal Model and neglect to give serious thought toward many of the more viable items of research. Some members of the UM are quick to use fighting words and inflammatory language that puts scientists on the defensive, which only hurts the UM’s effort to share their discoveries.

If you would like to know more about these updates and my position regarding other specific UM claims or would like to help understand any of these issues better from any perspective, please comment on this post or contact me directly.