A big reason why so many people are leaving the church

By Sean Pitman

Some may wonder why Shane, David and I, and many others in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, are so concerned over the fact that mainstream evolutionary theories are creeping into our schools?  Why is it a problem that the theory of evolution is being promoted as the true story of origins, in our schools, in direct conflict with the Church’s position on a literal 6-day creation week?   What’s the big deal?  Who really cares?  After all, isn’t it enough to know Jesus?  Why is the Church’s stand on origins so critical?  After all, as Eddie asks below, who has ever been converted from atheism to Christianity through apologetic arguments for creationism? – especially young-life creationism?

Eddie wrote:

“Many Christians have lost their faith because of the empirical evidence for long ages of life on Earth. Do you know of any atheist who became a Christian because of the empirical evidence for life on Earth being less than 10,000 years old?”

First off, there aren’t that many true atheists. Only about 1.6% of Americans describe themselves as atheists and 2.4% as agnostics (we won’t even talk about ‘atheists in foxholes’). And, when people do end up referring to themselves as atheistic, in a public manner, they’re usually pretty set in their ways, having passionately made up their minds against the idea of God. Because of this, it is pretty hard to convert a self-proclaimed atheist.

Yet, I know of a number of former agnostics or atheists who became Christians due in no small part to the evidence for creation – to include the evidence for a recent arrival of life on Earth: Walter Veith, Clifford Goldstein, Rick Lanser, Jerry Bergman, and John Sanford to name a few.

Really though, such examples are meaningless when it comes to my own basis of faith and a solid hope in the future… and the faith of many who remain Christians because of the evidence in support of the Biblical account of origins.

More to the point, as you point out, many many people do in fact leave the Church because the Church is not offering them good apologetic arguments to counter the prevailing opinions of mainstream science.

Various studies, to include one reported in the book, Already Gone (by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer) and the following report, by an evolutionist, on a pole taken by the Montana Origins Research Effort (M.O.R.E.) in 2011, support your argument:

“But let’s talk about a fact that we could both agree on: People are leaving the church because of the creation vs. evolution issue. It was stated several times during the conference that 66 percent of the young people in their church were not returning after college. When polled, the number one reason for leaving was because of their religion’s stance on evolution.” (Read More…)

Obviously then, hiring scientists who promote the mainstream perspective, or offer nothing but blind faith to counter it, only exacerbates the problem. Flipping your argument around, if the Church were able to provide better empirical arguments for its position on origins, I think even you would agree that such evidence would play a big part in keeping people in the Church. After all, if they’re leaving in droves because of the empirical evidence against the Church, if this evidence is effectively countered, such an effort would obviously play a key role in keeping a great many people in the Church.

Sure, a few like you may stay in the Church in spite of the perceived weight of evidence against it or because of empirically blind faith alone. But, for many many people, blind faith arguments just aren’t good enough. They aren’t appealing to many rational people who will follow where they think the empirical evidence leads. The Church should be urgently trying to help such people, people like me, who actually need to see the weight of empirical evidence favoring the Church’s perspective as a basis for rational faith. The Church would only be contributing to the vast exodus from its own doors, especially among the youth of the Church, by failing to substantively address the arguments of mainstream scientists that are being brought against it – according to your own argument.

“Let me be transparent about my personal position: I believe in a young age of life on Earth, but not because of the empirical evidence. I see through a glass darkly and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Whatever happened in the past happened. Other matters are more important.”

Again, empirically blind faith must be a wonderful thing for you and others who share your view. The problem is that many like me don’t understand a faith that is not backed by empirical evidence as rational or personally meaningful. Simply choosing to believe contrary to what I understand to be the weight of empirical evidence would be, for me, a form of irrationality – kind of like living a lie.

I therefore remain in the Church because I actually see the weight of evidence as strongly favoring the Church’s fundamental goals and ideals – to include its position on origins (a position which I consider to be one of the most fundamental aspects of Adventism and Christianity at large).

This is why, if I ever became convinced of Darwinism or long-ages for life on Earth, I would leave the SDA Church and probably Christianity as well. I might still believe in a God of some kind, but certainly not the Christian-style God described in the pages of the Bible.

Obviously many people feel the same way. They simply cannot see themselves clear to be a member of any organization that is so fundamentally opposed to what they perceive to be rationally true. I, for one, strongly sympathize with this mentality and see a great need to meet the needs of this very large community – many of whom are our neighbors and close friends.

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390 thoughts on “A big reason why so many people are leaving the church

  1. Sean,

    Are you aware that the promotion that this is a “Big Reason Why So Many People are Leaving the Church” is in direct controdiction with the churches appeal from acctual research?

    “Research on why members leave Seventh-day Adventist Church fellowship suggests that social and relational factors are much more significant than disagreement with denominational teachings. In fact, many who leave denominational fellowship remain supportive of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and even maintain church practices for some time following their departure.

    The reasons most frequently cited by persons who leave local church fellowship are found in the realm of relationships, the absence of a sense of belonging, and the lack of meaningful engagement in the local congregation and its mission. Therefore, the loss of members for these reasons should be preventable.”

    http://adventist.org/beliefs/other-documents/conserving-gains.html

    John




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    • @John:

      I didn’t say there weren’t other important reasons why people might leave the Church – or treat the Church as a nice social club. What I said is that what people perceive as the scientific opposition to various Church doctrines is a very big reason why many people leave the Church or find it irrelevant – especially highly-educated young people.

      The secularization of society is in no small part the result of the success of mainstream science as opposed the the Church’s seeming ignorance of obvious “facts of nature”. Consider reading through the highlighted book, “Already Gone”

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. Sean Pitman: Sure, a few like you and Prof. Kent may stay in the Church in spite of the perceived weight of evidence or because of empirically blind faith alone. But, for many many people, blind faith arguments just aren’t good enough.”

    Parroting myself from a previous thread in which you wrote the same thing, neither Professor Kent nor I exercise or promote blind faith. Speaking for myself, my faith IS based on evidence: for design, historical accuracy of the Bible, fulfilled Biblical prophecies, testimonies of fellow believers, personal experiences, etc. But not much of the evidence can be subjected to scientific scrutiny. My faith is NOT based on empirical evidence for life < 6,000 years old or 100% of the world being covered by Noah's flood.

    I'm not satisfied that science can or ever will in my lifetime provide a conclusive answer to origins, so that is where faith fills the gaps where evidence is lacking.

    I think we need to be humble in recognizing that science is limited in answering many of the fundamental questions about origins. If my beliefs were based purely on science I would be agnostic, like our friend Ken. But I would rather take a leap of faith and place my trust in a Creator who designed life and created it in 6 literal days less than 10,000 years ago.

    Sean Pitman: I therefore remain in the Church because I actually see the weight of evidence as strongly favoring the Church’s fundamental goals and ideals – to include its position on origins (a position which I consider to be one of the most fundamental aspects of Adventism and Christianity at large).

    Good for you, but I think there are far more important aspects of Adventism and Christianity than believing that life was created in six literal days 6,000 years ago and that 100% of the planet was covered by Noah’s flood. I don’t recall Jesus telling the young ruler or the healed blind man or the healed paralytic or the healed demoniac or Nicodemus or any of his disciples or the thief on the cross that they needed to interpret Genesis literally in order to be saved.




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    • @Eddie:

      Assuming I correctly understand Professor Kent’s position, neither of us exercise nor promote blind faith.

      Kent and Brantley, in particular, have been quite clear in stating that their faith that the Bible is the Word of God cannot be subjected to or based upon any form of empirical test or criticism of any kind – according to their understanding of the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. In other words, the Bible is the Word of God “by definition” – no questions asked. If you don’t pick the Bible as the true Word of God by sheer luck, among all the competing options out there, oh well… too bad for you!

      Speaking for myself, my faith IS based on evidence: for design, historical accuracy of the Bible, fulfilled Biblical prophecies, testimonies of fellow believers, personal experiences, etc. But not much of the evidence can be subjected to scientific scrutiny.

      All forms of empirical evidence that are held up as providing a degree of predictive value to support a hypothesis or an assertion of truth are based on a form of scientific reasoning and scrutiny…

      My faith is NOT based on empirical evidence for life < 6,000 years old or 100% of the world being covered by Noah's flood.

      Yet you claim to believe that life is in fact young… while still claiming to believe that the weight of scientific evidence strongly counters the Bible’s assertions on this particular topic? That’s nice for you, but for many intelligent candid minds, that just doesn’t cut it. And, as you yourself point out, many are leaving the Church because they are convinced, by the claims of mainstream science, that the Bible’s claims are seriously out of touch with empirical reality and therefore cannot be trusted with regard to its metaphysical claims either.

      I’m not satisfied that science can or ever will in my lifetime provide a conclusive answer to origins, so that is where faith fills the gaps where evidence is lacking.

      Science never provides a conclusive answer to any question – by definition. If a conclusive answer could ever be obtained for any question science would no longer be needed at that point. Science is only needed when one has limited information to use in making an educated “leap of faith”. Science is all about making leaps of faith – but not entirely blind leaps of faith…

      I think we need to be humble in recognizing that science is limited in answering many of the fundamental questions about origins. If my beliefs were based purely on science I would be agnostic, like our friend Ken. But I would rather take a leap of faith and place my trust in a Creator who designed life and created it less than 10,000 years ago.

      Yet you claim, as “overwhelming”, the scientific arguments for the need for a God-like creative mind and power to explain various anthropic features of the universe and of the functional complexity of life? How then can you claim, at the same time, that if one follows scientific explanations of the available evidence that the most rational conclusion regarding even the basic existence of God or a God-like Creator is that of agnosticism?

      I’m sorry, but if that is what you are teaching your students, don’t expect many of them to remain in such an apparently irrational Church organization.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  3. Sean Pitman:More to the point, as you point out, many many people do in fact leave the Church because the Church is not offering them good apologetic arguments to counter the prevailing opinions of mainstream science.

    Prove it. Show us some empirical data; not just anecdotes, but real data. Don’t expect us to accept your opinion on faith.




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  4. Sean Pitman: Sure, a few like you may stay in the Church in spite of the perceived weight of evidence or because of empirically blind faith alone.

    Eddie has never stated that his faith is empirically blind. He’s on record with multiple posts stating the reasons why he accepts the Genesis account, including some support from science but also much faith in God’s word. The problem is not Eddie’s faith; it’s your opinion that everyone who sees things differently than you has no comprehension of science or ability to reason.

    Have you forgotten that God’s word says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness?” Hint: you’ll find it in the chapter that follows the Genesis account. There’s some good reading elsewhere in the Bible.




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  5. Sean, can you name one person who accepts the Bible on empirically-blind faith? Has anyone claimed this–here or elsewhere? Or is it a convenient label that you use to neutralize others?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      One day you say that the Bible’s credibility as the Word of God cannot be subject to testing or critical investigation of any kind – “by definition”. The next day you say that you’re not a proponent of empirically-blind faith. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways. Does your faith require a basis in some form of empirical evidence or not?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  6. I would like to see an unbiased study of the reasons people leave the church.

    While I can’t prove it, I believe modern media with its hype contributes to a loss. What Pastor can, or even should, attempt to emulate the fevered hype of the media.

    In today’s world where many SDA children are latchkey kids with many mothers working there is much more opportunity to fall into pernicious habits and fall away from the church.Incidentally, not all these mothers need to work but the feminist agenda of “fulfillment” has disturbed the family Christian ethos.

    Finally, those who have been faithful members for many years find themselves discarded as they enter old age. Younger members no longer make time to visit and encourage such members. Thus the commitment to Biblical values are diminished.




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  7. Dear Sean,

    Why do people leave the church? When you speak of relational – it is not just whether or not people have found friends and peers in the church, though this may be the most common reason. There is also disappointment on the part of some regarding the administration of the church. Once a person has left for those reasons, they will quickly find doctrinal reasons for their leaving, which are more acceptable. It is easier to claim that they left because the church was “wrong” doctrinally, than to leave for disagreements or lack of friends.

    These doctrinal reasons quickly find a life of their own. People who have left will soon actually believe what was at first just an excuse. At this stage it is almost impossible to convince them that the doctrine of the church is reasonable and correct.

    But, again, why do people leave the church? I will come back to the relational factor – but it is not human relations, but a living relation with Christ. We live in a time when every person is battered with hundreds, even thousands of impressions every day. It takes a real determined intentional effort to make time for prayer and Bible study. One has to clear away so much of the trash in which we all live.

    Lacking this, a person becomes jaded, Biblically illiterate, and is pulled to the materialistic culture of the day. On this, I agree with Ted Wilson, our greatest need is for revival and reformation. We need to study the first of the Ten Commandments, and clear away all and everything that interferes with our own personal relation with Christ.

    This also leads to the path a person must tread to come back to the church. His love and his commitment to Christ must be revived and strengthened. When a person is re-converted and spends real time in Bible study and prayer, he will find true doctrine and true friends too.

    Hubert F. Sturges




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    • @Hubert F. Sturges:

      Certainly relationships play a role in why people stay or leave the Church. However, relationships are not the only reason.

      Another big reason for leaving the Church, especially for young people as they become more exposed to secular ideas and education, is that they no longer see the Bible as rationally tenable as the true Word of God. They loose faith in its credibility and therefore see no need to remain associated with any Bible-based Church that teaches silly fairytales for children.

      The newer generations simply don’t have the same social club mentality toward Church, and so they leave when their parents (who often don’t believe the doctrinal positions of the Church) stay for social reasons.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  8. Sean Pitman: Read the book listed in the article, “Already Gone”.

    It’s not listed in the article. But I looked it up. Here’s the advertising blurb I saw:

    ——————————————————————————–

    Statistics reveal a huge disconnect taking place between our children and their church experience
    Nationwide polls and denominational reports are showing that the next generation is calling it quits on the traditional church. And it’s not just happening on the nominal fringe; it’s happening at the core of the faith.

    No Problem, just wanted to compliment you on the book “Already Gone” Ordered one and not even through with it, I just ordered a bulk shipment.

    It is right on the money on hitting on the main reason I left the church after high school. I am thrilled by your work and thank God for your ministry. Keep it up!

    —G.G.
    In the first scientific study of its kind, the “Beemer Report” reveals startling facts discovered through 20,000 phone calls and detailed surveys of a thousand 20–29 year olds who used to attend evangelical churches on a regular basis, but have since left it behind.

    The results are shocking:

    â–  Those who faithfully attend Sunday School are more likely to leave the church than those who do not.

    â–  Those who regularly attend Sunday School are more likely to believe that the Bible is less true.

    â–  Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend that abortion and gay marriage should be legal.

    â–  Those who regularly attend Sunday School are actually more likely to defend premarital sex.

    In this powerful book, popular author Ken Ham and consumer behavior research/analyst C. Britt Beemer combine to reveal trends that must be dealt with now . . . before we lose another generation!

    What do you think it says? Does it say anything specific to the retention of Seventh-day Adventists?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      From Ken Ham’s blog:

      In 2009, the book (which Britt Beemer from America’s Research Group and I co-authored) Already Gone, was published. This book detailed results of nationwide research into why two thirds of young people will leave the church by the time they reach college age.

      It was found that the teaching of evolution and millions of years had a lot to do with creating doubt in their trust in Scripture. Such doubt (as Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 11:3) can lead to unbelief.

      Read More

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  9. Sean, do you reject the conclusions of the empirically-based statistical study of a large sample of Seventh-day Adventists by Roger Dudley? A summary was published in 2000 at http://spectrummagazine.org/files/archive/archive26-30/28-4dudley.pdf

    Here are some conclusions:

    The reasons for dropping out of Church seem to be highly interrelated. Those who choose to disconnect perceive the Church as irrelevant because they sense they are unaccepted and their needs are neglected. They also feel unaccepted because they don’t discern their Church as attempting to provide them with relevant and targeted programming. The inconvenience of waking up early on Sabbath morning is another indicator that the Church is oblivious to the reality of their lives. This combined with various personal issues and a high distate and disappointment with perceived intolerance, hypocrisy, and condemnation have estranged young adults from their Church.

    By the way, no one seems to be angry toward or talking about perceived intolerance, hypocrisy, and condemnation at our colleges. Can anyone say “Praise God” in this VERY IMPORTANT regard?

    Anyone have an idea where condemnation in the Church is coming from these days?

    Here are more details showing that relationships are integral to retention of young in the Church:

    http://circle.adventist.org/download/vg2-update-v6.pdf

    Hubert F. Sturges: This also leads to the path a person must tread to come back to the church. His love and his commitment to Christ must be revived and strengthened. When a person is re-converted and spends real time in Bible study and prayer, he will find true doctrine and true friends too.

    Hubert, this is beautiful. Thank you.




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  10. Sean,
    About that “Social club” mentality … What if you called it “fellowship” would that affect your thinking? They say that if a new convert does not make real friends within the first six months, he will leave. Maybe that “social club” is a good idea?

    I believe that doctrine is important — very important. I also suspect that people who don’t “believe” the doctrines of the church are more likely “ignorant” of what they are.

    Evangelists and pastors over and over again will say that a relationship with Jesus Christ is primary. In this area, a young person will likely adopt the attitude and interests that his parents or mentors are excited about. What we need in this church is more “holy excitement!”

    Doctrines? I believe that a person must have an understanding of the Bible and its doctrines that matches his level of education. If a PhD has a fourth grade understanding of the Bible, he is vulnerable to questions he cannot answer. With a PhD understanding of the Bible he will be ready with the answers he needs.




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    • @Hubert F. Sturges:

      I’m all for good social clubs or good fellowship. I think that’s very important. However, good fellowship does not trump a solid support for Church doctrines. After all, you can get a bunch of people to go to Guyana and drink poisoned Kool Aid using “good fellowship”.

      If the Church does not actively support is fundamental doctrinal goals and ideals, in a rationally consistent way that is atractive to candid intelligent minds, it is going to decay because young people, those who are well-educated in particular, simply aren’t going to stay because of the Church’s “good fellowship”. If the doctrines are seen as irrational, there are a lot of other excellent social clubs out there to compete with.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  11. Ultimately, the most relevant question is this: Do more people leave the Church than remain in the Church because of the teaching of theistic evolution?

    Sean, if you have data relevant to this question, please share. Otherwise, you are making faith-based claims, which even you would concede to be useless.

    There is no question in my mind that SDA faculty must treat and teach respectfully the Church’s position on origins. However, I’m open to the possibility that more remain in the Church when students and members in general are given leeway to choose their own beliefs.

    Sean’s statements are not (quite) God’s word. We need empirical data before we can accept them at face value.

    PK
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears




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  12. Sean Pitman: Yet you claim, as “overwhelming”, the scientific arguments for the need for a God-like creative mind and power to explain various anthropic features of the universe and of the functional complexity of life?

    I never claimed that.

    Sean Pitman: How then can you claim, at the same time, that if one follows scientific explanations of the available evidence that the most rational conclusion regarding even the basic existence of God or a God-like Creator is that of agnosticism?

    Because science, which relies on our senses and those of our man-made instruments, cannot falsify the existence or absence of God in the universe.

    Sean Pitman: I’m sorry, but if that is what you are teaching your students, don’t expect many of them to remain in such an apparently irrational Church organization.

    I wish you weren’t so hasty in judging what people believe and teach.




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    • @Eddie:

      I wrote:

      “Yet you claim, as “overwhelming”, the scientific arguments for the need for a God-like creative mind and power to explain various anthropic features of the universe and of the functional complexity of life?” – Sean Pitman

      To which you responded:

      “I never claimed that.” – Eddie

      I’m confused. A little while back in another thread I wrote:

      Sean Pitman: “Certain aspects of Creationism are “overwhelming” – such as the need for a highly intelligent Agent to explain certain features of the finely tuned anthropic universe as well as high levels of qualitatively novel functional complexity within living things.”

      To which you responded:

      “Agreed. And I believe nearly all SDA science professors would agree.” – Eddie

      Did you not, therefore, agree to the idea that science has in fact produced very good arguments for the existence of God or at least a God-like intelligence at play behind certain features of the universe and living things? Are you now going back on this statement?

      Sean Pitman: How then can you claim, at the same time, that if one follows scientific explanations of the available evidence that the most rational conclusion regarding even the basic existence of God or a God-like Creator is that of agnosticism?

      Because science, which relies on our senses and those of our man-made instruments, cannot falsify the existence or absence of God in the universe.

      And science can’t absolutely falsify the existence or absence of the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Are you putting the theory of God into this same catagory here?

      How can you agree, on the one hand, that science strongly supports the theory of God’s existence, as an explanation for certain features of the universe and living things, and then, on the other hand, argue that science, or empirically-based scientific reasoning really can’t get anyone beyond agnostism? It’s like you’re a different person on different days or something…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  13. Sean Pitman: One day you say that the Bible’s credibility as the Word of God cannot be subject to testing or critical investigation of any kind – “by definition”. The next day you say that your not a proponent of empirically-blind faith. Which is it? You can’t have it both ways. Does your faith require a basis in some form of empirical evidence or not?

    I can’t escape noticing evidence. No one can. Yet I trust God’s word implicitly; you claim this to be useless and that it should not be done. I can’t fully separate the two–faith and evidence–and neither can you, though you insist otherwise.

    I choose humility rather than make grandiose claims about my power of reason. I want to be like Lazarus unwound: filled with a spirit of gratitude, not skepticism.

    PK
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      I can’t escape noticing evidence. No one can. Yet I trust God’s word implicitly; you claim this to be useless and that it should not be done.

      In other words, your faith has the power to trump empirical evidence. It doesn’t really matter if you do or you don’t have empirical evidence. It’s fine that you do, but you could take it or leave it since it really doesn’t affect your faith – right?

      That’s the very definition of empirically-blind faith my friend. It’s fine that this is the sort of faith you’re promoting. I’m sure a lot of people have a similar definition of faith. My problem is that it doesn’t make sense to me and many other people I know.

      Empirical evidence plays a very important role in my own faith and in the faith of many other people. It is for this reason that many people leave the Church when they percieve that the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence speaks against the Church’s various doctrinal positions – to include the Church’s position on a literal 6-day creation week. Such a ludicrous position, in many people’s minds, prevents them from taking the Church seriously…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  14. Sean Pitman: All forms of empirical evidence that are held up as providing a degree of predictive value to support a hypothesis or an assertion of truth are based on a form of scientific reasoning…

    Science can empirically demonstrate small behavioral, morphological, and physiological changes in contemporary populations of organisms. Science can empirically demonstrate changes over longer periods of time in the fossil record. Science can empirically demonstrate how long it takes for carbon-14 to decay to carbon-12. Yet when science uses empirical evidence to make conclusions about the past and predictions about future discoveries, you dismiss it as faith. It’s no different than your insistence that empirical evidence leads you to believe that a serpent can talk, a man can survive inside a fish for 3 days, an axehead can float on water, a virgin woman can have a baby, a man can walk on water, a man can be resurrected from the grave, and a blind man can be cured with mud.




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    • @Eddie:

      As I’ve repeated many times, science does indeed require leaps of faith beyond what can be absolutely known. That’s the whole point of science – to make leaps of faith. Yet, these are not blind leaps of faith. They are leaps of faith based on empirical evidence and rules of logic and rational thought. If we could know the absolute truth about anything we wouldn’t need science at that point. It is only when we have limited information that science is useful. Science is all about making leaps of faith in an informed manner than increases, but does not guarantee, the odds of being right.

      When I disagree with the conclusions of mainstream scientists I’m not disgreeing with the basic concepts of scientific thinking as the basis, the only rational basis really, of approaching or understanding truths of any kind – to include what are generally thought of as religious truths. I’m only disagreeing with the notion that mainstream scientists always interpret the data and understand its implications as well as they can be understood given all currently available information.

      Of course, I could always be wrong – that’s the beauty and the risk of basing faith on empirical evidence. Note that because I accept the potential for being wrong, that my position is actually a more humble position than that of Prof. Kent or Phil Brantley who do not accept even the possibility of error with regard to their interpretation of the Bible as truly being the “Word of God”. When you cannot be wrong, even in theory, you have taken on a rather arrogant position regarding your ability to consistently and accurately detect and understand truth…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  15. Thank you so much, Sean, for speaking out on a critical issue. We as a denomination have sadly lost much ground here recently. We have lost touch with our roots, if we expect people to join, or remain in, the church without answering the questions of educated minds. William Miller and Adventist pioneers reasoned with people from the Scriptures and history(and, by the way, had surprising success), just as Jesus did after His resurrection. It’s easy to misapprehend faith as a kind of stubborness that is not moved by evidence. If that is the case, Adventism is doomed. Indeed, it would have been stillborn.




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  16. When Jesus was asked by some guy, who supposedly really wanted to know, how he could “inherit eternal life” (which I assume is why many people want to join, stay in, or participate in the churches activities) Jesus told him, with a very simple answer.

    He didn’t “like” the answer because he thought he had something else more important and didn’t want to “trade.”

    Jesus didn’t try to “coddle” him or plead with him to “reconsider” or even get into a discussion about who was right or wrong.

    No “negotiations” were done. Jesus evidently didn’t try to “rephrase” his answer to make it less offensive.

    I have been an SDA for over 42 years,and I know many who have “left” the Church. Most left because it was simply “too tough” to live in today’s world, with all its enjoyments and really live a truly Christian life. These types of people are NOT likely to “tell it like it is” but give an answer which relieves them of the responsibility of “owning up” to their decision.

    You hear some of these excuses here on this website: “So and so wasn’t nice enough to me. “Pastor Smith did something wrong.” “The Church “wasted” some of my hard earned money on something I didn’t want” Etc. Etc. Etc’

    No “survey” is going to give you a truly honest answer as to why people leave any Church. The human tendency is to blame somebody else.

    How many that left said, “I just got taken in and caught up in the secular world and decided I liked that better?”

    Or, “I found a different Church that didn’t ask me to really believe or do anything, except just come to church whenever I felt like it, clap my hands, smile, and then go home.”

    Surveys have the weakness of taking people at their word, which is problematic when dealing with “leaving the Church.”




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  17. Sean, are you trying to tell us that EVERYTHING you believe is based 100% on empirical evidence and 0% on faith? And that all SDAs should base their beliefs 100% on empirical evidence and 0% on faith?

    Sean Pitman: Did you not, therefore, agree to the idea that science has in fact produced very good arguments for the existence of God or at least a God-like intelligence at play behind certain features of the universe and living things?

    I agree with your statement about a “highly intelligent Agent” but not with your statement about a “God-like creative mind.” There is a distinction. Evidence for design does not necessarily provide evidence for the Christian concept of a personal, benevolent, loving, supreme being who we call God. How does one explain the violence of nature, such as meteorite impacts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, supernovas, black holes, etc., some of which we observe beyond our fallen planet?

    Sean Pitman: And science can’t absolutely falsify the existence or absence of the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Are you putting the theory of God into this same catagory here?

    Yes. Science as defined by Karl Popper cannot falsify the existence or absence of God.

    Sean Pitman: It’s like you’re a different person on different days or something…

    Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic and so am I.




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    • @Eddie:

      You wrote:

      Sean, are you trying to tell us that EVERYTHING you believe is based 100% on empirical evidence and 0% on faith? And that all SDAs should base their beliefs 100% on empirical evidence and 0% on faith?

      How could you come to this conclusion based on what I’ve tried to explain several times now in this very thread? – that if 0% faith is required to know something then science is no longer needed at that point? Faith is always required by any scientific or empirically-based conclusion. There is no such thing as 100% confidence in empirical science. There is always, I repeat, always a required leap of faith before any scientific or empirically-based theory can be accepted as most likely “true”.

      I really don’t know how to make myself any more clear in this regard? It’s almost like you’re responding to me without actually reading what I wrote…

      Sean Pitman: Did you not, therefore, agree to the idea that science has in fact produced very good arguments for the existence of God or at least a God-like intelligence at play behind certain features of the universe and living things?

      I agree with your statement about a “highly intelligent Agent” but not with your statement about a “God-like creative mind.” There is a distinction. Evidence for design does not necessarily provide evidence for the Christian concept of a personal, benevolent, loving, supreme being who we call God.

      I didn’t qualify my use of the word “God”, in this context, as the “Christian-style God”. The extremely high level of Creative Power we’re talking about here would be classified as a type of God or God-like creative power by most people – Christian or non-Christian. A further classification of what the personality or character of this Super Intellect might be like requires additional information, as you point out.

      But hey, if you don’t like the term “God”, because this word has unavoidable Christian conotations to it, what is your preferred term for the evident creative and very intelligent “Agency”? – Super Intelligent Massively Powerful Life Form Otherwise Non-classifiable (SIMPLFONC)? 😉

      How does one explain the violence of nature, such as meteorite impacts, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, supernovas, black holes, etc., some of which we observe beyond our fallen planet?

      Some people, who don’t have the Christian story of Jesus and the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, think that “God” has an evil side. Yet, even without the knowledge of the truly loving and generous nature of God, it is clear that a God of some kind with access to unimaginable creative power does in fact exist and is responsible for various features of the universe and of living things.

      Sean Pitman: And science can’t absolutely falsify the existence or absence of the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Are you putting the theory of God into this same category here?

      Yes. Science as defined by Karl Popper cannot falsify the existence or absence of God.

      You really don’t see the evidence for the existence of God as being any different from the evidence for the existence of the Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Tell me then, why do you believe in God, but not the Flying Spaghetti Monster? – or even Santa Claus?

      You see, the difference, at least for me, is that various features of the universe exist that can only be rationally explained by the creative act of someone that I cannot readily distinguish from a God or someone with God-like creative power. There is nothing in existence, that I know of, that requires the existence of Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to explain.

      Karl Popper

      Oh, and as far as Popperian science is concerned (and I’m a big fan of Karl Popper), the God-only hypothesis is easily falsified by showing how any other non-God-like creative force could also produce the effect in question. Such a demonstration would effectively falsify the God-only hypothesis.

      If you suggest that the God-only hypothesis is inherently irrational, you really have no basis to criticize someone like Pharaoh for not believing that Moses was really speaking for God – just because Moses seemed to have some pretty good magic tricks… big deal! Right? 😉

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  18. Sean Pitman: Tell me then, why do you believe in God, but not the Flying Spaghetti Monster? – or even Santa Claus?

    As I’ve said before, I accept evidence for God, just not the kind that can be readily subjected to scientific scrutiny.

    This site happens to be the only place I’ve ever heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster–and I have yet to see any evidence for his or her or its existence.

    As for Santa Claus, I have seen plenty of evidence for his existence as well as for the existence of his flying sled and reindeer, which is why I am a firm believer. Remember those documentaries about Tim Allen signing the “Santa Clause”?




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    • @Eddie:

      As I’ve said before, I accept evidence for God, just not the kind that can be readily subjected to scientific scrutiny.

      If none of God’s works could possibly be subject to scientific scrutiny in a manner that would lead one to accept the God hypothesis as the most rational explanation for the phenomenon in question, where would be the rational evidence for God’s existence (or even that of the SIMPLFONC) – as superior to the evidence for the existence of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy?

      Need some help from Tim Allen on this one?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  19. Sean Pitman: As already noted, there are many reasons why people leave the Church – to include the reasons you’ve listed here. This does not discount the fact that a lack of belief in the rationality of Church doctrines also contributes, significantly, to the exodus from the Church – especially among the young and well educated.

    Sean, if you were more engaged in experimental science, you would know better than to use the word “significantly” unless there was a statistical test of probability to support it. And I’m highly skeptical of it.

    I have browsed a large number of reviews of Ham’s book, Already Gone. I’m not seeing any statistics that compare the different reasons why people leave the Church. A proper comparison, using multiple regression or other multivariate tests, would evaluate which among many possible variables contribute significantly to departures from the Church. The statistician would also include basic demographic variables to control for potential confounding effects. If you have the book (surely you do, having told me to read it as if you yourself know the contents), perhaps you could find within it the beta-values or partial coefficients for the multiple independent variables considered. I’d really like to see the effect sizes that support the claims by you and the authors, and how they compare to other independent variables considered in their model(s).

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I strongly suspect that Ham’s claims regarding doctrinal dissonance are more faith-based than empirical. The first hint derives from a major conclusion of his study: only 11 percent of those who left the Church did so during the college years, while almost 90 percent were lost in middle school and high school. At the time their study subjects were “lost,” they did not have well-developed abilities to assess your so-called empirical evidence for validity of the Bible. How could they truly understand whether the Bible’s claims were indeed “rational?”

    Ironically, these statistics actually indicate that your attacks of tertiary educators are grossly misdirected: if the statistics are to be believed, you will need to reorient your witch hunt to the primary and secondary educators. How could you have missed this obvious conclusion? Seems to me you haven’t read the book yourself.

    Professor Kent
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Why not just buy the book and read it (Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer)? After all, since you’re spending so much time trying to find out what it says, isn’t your time better spent simply buying the book itself?

      After all, it was our friend Eddie who first argued in this forum that, “Many Christians have lost their faith because of the empirical evidence for long ages of life on Earth.” Do you not agree with Eddie’s observation?

      In any case, I will give you a few of the findings from the book:

      The top ten reasons to the open ended question, “Why did you leave the church?” were like so many other studies asking this question – not at all surprising:

      1. Boring service (12%)
      2. Legalism (12%)
      3. Hypocrisy of leaders (11%)
      4. Too political (10%)
      5. Self-righteous people (9%)
      6. Too far to travel (7%)
      7. Not relevant to personal growth (6%)
      8. God would not condemn to hell (6%)
      9. Bible not relevant/not practical (5%)
      10. Preferred denomination not local (5%)

      Such are the usual standard excuses given. However, answers to more specific questions are a bit more revealing.

      According to the study, those who accepted the accounts and stories of the Bible as true had a much different viewpoint throughout all the questions in the survey.

      When those 20-29 years of age were asked, “Do you believe that the accounts/stories in the Bible are true and accurate?” 38% of those who left the church said “Yes” while 44% said “No” and 18% “Didn’t know”.

      When those who did have doubts regarding the reliability of the Bible’s stories were asked when their doubts first started to arise:

      Middle school: 38.9%
      High school: 43.7%
      College: 10.6%

      When asked the question: “Do you believe that God used evolution to create human beings?” 24.6% of those who went to church school said “Yes” while 18.5% of those who did not attend church school said “Yes”. When asked if God used evolution to create the different varieties of animals 27.2% of church school attendees said “Yes” while 18.8% of those who did not attend church school said “Yes”.

      It seems, ironically, that church school attendance actually fostered a belief in evolutionary theories over the biblical view on origins!

      Further questions revealed that only 12% of those who left the church fully accepted the Bible as credible and Divinely inspired.

      What is also interesting is that there was a group who said that they were planning to return to church when they had children (about 1/3 of the total) and a group who said that they would not return when they had children (also about 1/3 of the total). When these two groups were asked, “Do you believe in the creation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?” 91.3% of those planning to return said, “Yes” while only 50.6% of those who did not plan to return said, “Yes”. When asked, “Do you believe the Bible was inspired by God?” 76.4% of those planning to return said “Yes” while 41.9% of those not planning to return said “Yes”. When asked, “Do you believe in creation as stated in the Bible?” 92.1% of those planning to return said “Yes” while 47.8% of those not planning on returning said “Yes”.

      To add to this perspective, it seems like the Methodist Church was having a similar problem.

      “Methodism has been sidestepping the issue of evolution for quite a while now,” Kuelling says, adding he believes it had to be confronted to keep young people from leaving the church. “I walked from my commitment to be a minister, and I walked away from the church for over a decade over this,” he says. “Now Methodism is joining many other denominations around the world that find no conflict between religion and science.”

      Kuelling, who has worked with youth and whose wife, Judith, was a United Methodist Christian education director, says he felt he needed to press the issue because he had missed opportunities to pass along to young people his understanding of the biblical creation stories as “a metaphor.” When a Methodist pastor cast the Bible in that light and told him many other Christians do as well, he says, he immediately felt comfortable again with the church. If the church doesn’t acknowledge the legitimacy of evolution in science, religion comes off as “out of touch with reality” and loses credibility when it makes moral statements on areas involving science and technology,” he says.

      “What we’re saying is the Bible … tells us who created the world and what we should do to care for it,” he says. “Genesis teaches about relationships and responsibility. But it does not teach science.”

      Read More…

      Then, there’s the following report, by an evolutionist, on a pole taken by the Montana Origins Research Effort (M.O.R.E.):

      But let’s talk about a fact that we could both agree on: People are leaving the church because of the creation vs. evolution issue. It was stated several times during the conference that 66 percent of the young people in their church were not returning after college. When polled, the number one reason for leaving was because of their religion’s stance on evolution. [emphasis added]

      Read More…

      In short, I think that college, high school and even middle school kids are a lot more perceptive than you seem to think. They are, generally speaking, very intelligent and know when they’re being sold a bill of goods – and they don’t like it. This is part of the reason why many organizations specifically target young people. They know that if you convince them when they’re young, you’ve pretty much got them for life.

      After all, there seems to be some truth in the purported Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” – said to be based on a quotation by Saint Francis Xavier.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  20. People leave “the church” when the church presents the true cross of scripture. And people don’t want to “bear the cross” and find a reason not to.

    Unbelievers receive massive doses of affirmation by other unbelievers who affirm a crossless religion that they claim is supported by the bible. In the end, most people are deceived because they want to be.

    By the way, nice to see you comment here Hubb. Hope all is well with you and your family.

    Bill Sorensen




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  21. Sean Pitman: In short, I think that college, high school and even middle school kids are a lot more perceptive than you seem to think. They are, generally speaking, very intelligent and know when they’re being sold a bill of goods – and they don’t like it. This is part of the reason why many organizations specifically target young people. They know that if you convince them when they’re young, you’ve pretty much got them for life.

    And you think the answer to convict our youth of God’s existence and love is to tell them that the “weight of evidence” says the Bible is true?

    I totally agree with the importance of teaching respect for and belief in the Bible, but I think the Holy Spirit will do a far more effective job at conviction than apologetics will ever succeed with.

    Apologetics, by the way, is just as faith-based as any other spiritual enterprise. Our young people do not go to the source of scientific information (which even you, lacking detailed training in experimental design and statistical analysis, cannot interpret adequately); they simply place their faith, instead, in self-acclaimed experts like yourself who tell them what the “evidence” is and what they should believe. The younger one is, the more susceptible they are to such teaching. That’s another reason why organizations target youth. Cigarette manufacturers prey on this vulnerability because, in contrast to your assertion, it’s easy to sell them “a bill of goods” without their knowing it.

    Our kids need the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, not apologetics.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      The younger one is, the more susceptible they are to such teaching. That’s another reason why organizations target youth. Cigarette manufacturers prey on this vulnerability because, in contrast to your assertion, it’s easy to sell them “a bill of goods” without their knowing it.

      We’re not talking about quantum physics here you know (and I have in fact taken several fairly advanced statistics courses as well as courses in evaluating experimental designs). We’re talking about the relatively basic ability to see the problem between a Church that claims that all living things on this planet were created in just six literal days by a loving God vs. mainstream scientists who claim that all living things evolved over hundreds of millions of years of time from a common ancestor via the brutal uncaring mechanism of random mutation and natural selection or “the survival of the fittest”.

      You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to tell that there’s a problem here. Who are young people going to believe? A Church who tells them to ignore empirical evidence and “just have faith”? – or scientists who tell them to use their brains to rationally understand the world around them? Where not talking about a physical addiction here, like smoking. If that were true, kids who were confused early on could “grow out of it” when they become older and wiser adults. The problem, as you know, is that most never grow out of believing in evolution once they become convinced of it. And, those who ardently believe in evolution are not likely to join or come back to a Church that has a fundamental belief in a literal 6-day creation week…

      Apologetics, by the way, is just as faith-based as any other spiritual enterprise.

      Do you not know that science itself, as a collective enterprise, is heavily reliant upon apologetics? – convincing one’s peers with the use of evidence and arguments that they might find appealing and convincing? That’s what apologetics is all about. You seem to share Eddie’s notion that science deals with absolute truths or proof or “the facts”… but not with “faith”. That’s not true at all.

      Science is impossible without a component of faith. Science requires one to make leaps of faith beyond that which can be absolutely known. It is for this reason that truly scientific theories are potentially wrong – potentially falsifiable. True scientists, by definition, must therefore always admit to the possibility of being wrong when any scientific theory is proposed. This is a far more humble position, in my opinion, compared to your more self-assured assertion that your exclusively faith-based position cannot be wrong, even in theory, since it cannot be subjected to any form of testing or empirical evaluation…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  22. Hello Dr. Pitman,

    We did buy Ken Ham’s book, as well as subscribe to the Answers in Genesis magazine, and many of his other books and DVDs. Our grandchildren love them, and so do we. We plan to visit his museum in Kentucky.




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  23. Dr. Sean

    This is an excellent response!!! Please consider making this into an article for the ‘Ministry Magazine’ or the ‘Adventist Review’

    Blessings,

    Ron




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  24. Hi Sean!

    I was just reading in the Bible yesterday where Jesus is rebuking the disciples for their unbelief in all that the scriptures said would take place concerning His death and resurrection. Interestingly, He did not point them to His miracles. He pointed them to the prophecies, explaining them to the disciples and calling upon them to exercise faith in the clearly logical and physical evidence provided by the Bible in order to give a solid foundation for faith in Him.

    While the disciples knew within themselves what they had seen and heard and felt of Jesus, knowing Him to be the Son of God, they pointed their hearers to the “more sure word of prophecy, where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” Their evidence and reason for faith in Jesus was based upon actual evidence. They had tangible proof for their faith and a reason that they did not teach “cunningly divised fables”.

    I am amazed at how logical and practical the scriptures are, presenting adequate evidence for the belief and faith we are are asked to exercise in Jesus. I love how Jesus says, ” whither is it easier to say to the sick with the palsy, thy sins be forgiven thee, or arise, take up thy bed, and walk. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to fogrive sins.. I say unto thee, Arise, take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” In another place He says, ” and now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” (John 14:29).

    Jesus always points his followers to evaluate the evidence for faith in Him. Even for belief in His resurrection, He points us to prophecy. “And he said unto them, ‘these are the words which I spake unto you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’ ”

    Thus, we can agree with Mrs. White that “God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existance, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant.”

    God Bless,

    Drew




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  25. Sean Pitman: Who are young people going to believe? A Church who tells them to ignore empirical evidence and “just have faith”? – or scientists who tell them to use their brains to rationally understand the world around them?

    Our young people need to learn about the Rock of Ages, not the age of rocks.

    Science is impossible without a component of faith. Science requires one to make leaps of faith beyond that which can be absolutely known.

    So your arguement is to substitute faith in science for faith in God’s word?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Our young people need to learn about the Rock of Ages, not the age of rocks.

      You forget, or do not appreciate, that learning about rocks can lead one to the Rock of Ages…

      The study of God’s signature in nature can lead our young people to the Rock to Ages and to His Word, the Bible… as the Bible itself explains.

      So your arguement is to substitute faith in science for faith in God’s word?

      A rational faith in God’s Word can be based on a form of scientific thinking since the ability to think rationally or scientifically is also a gift of God – a gift that He actually desires us to use to full benefit.

      A rational faith that the Bible’s claim to being God’s Word is in fact true is, or at least can be, supported by a form of scientific reasoning based on empirical evidence.

      Your notion that empirical evidence and rational thought are not needed to accept the Bible as God’s word doesn’t appeal to me and many others like me. We need something more than an appeal to blind faith as a basis for our hope.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  26. Bill Sorensen: People leave “the church” when the church presents the true cross of scripture. And people don’t want to “bear the cross” and find a reason not to.Unbelievers receive massive doses of affirmation by other unbelievers who affirm a crossless religion that they claim is supported by the bible. In the end, most people are deceived because they want to be.By the way, nice to see you comment here Hubb. Hope all is well with you and your family.Bill Sorensen

    You’re right on target again Bill! Sean’s lengthy post about Ken Ham’s book points out that most “reasons” involve some else’s “fault” or problem–“too boring” “legalism” “self-righteous” “hypocrisy” “too political” etc. Even the “too far to drive” is a total copout.

    No one (or at least very few) seemingly stated, “Boy, I just thought it was going to be too tough to live a Christian life!” Instead, they use the loaded word “legalism” both blaming someone else and, in the process, avoiding having to state the reason in a personal way, taking responsibility for their choice.




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  27. Re Sean’s quote

    “True scientists, by definition, must therefore always admit to the possibility of being wrong when any scientific theory is proposed.”

    Hi Sean

    That is absolutely correct.

    I submit all forms of knowledge and belief should be subject, and subjected to, the same premise.

    Evolution is not a sacrosanct, quasi religious, concept not open to challenge. It is a scientific theory open to being falsifiable and requires ongoing empirical evidence. That is a work in progress.

    I respectfully suggest faith should be subjected to the same scrutiny so its root causes be understood.

    We either trust human reason or throw it out as an impostor. If you shackle human reason, to whom do we give the doctrinal authority to do so? Who do we trust? Speak to Copernicus and Galileo about that.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken: “Evolution is not a sacrosanct, quasi religious, concept not open to challenge.”

      In theory, it shouldn’t be, but in practice it is. In fact, “sacrosanct, quasi-religious concept not open to challenge” is a perfectly accurate description–perhaps the best I’ve ever heard–of Darwinism as it is actually practiced by professional scientists. Almost every scientific paper published in many decades (that touches on origins in any way) has simply assumed the truth of the Darwinian origins narrative as a starting point.

      Openly challenging Darwinism is the quickest and surest way to career suicide that there is in science, as is amply demonstrated by the Richard Sternberg story and many others like it. Evolution is never challenged as an overarching theory or framework, although scientists often argue over the details. Just as it is never challenged, there is never any attempt to prove it; it is simply assumed to be true, and to be the foundation of all further discussion. (Because Darwinism is always assumed to be true, and never challenged by scientists to other scientists, scientists themselves are not particularly good defenders of it. One of the best Darwinian apologists is Mark Isaak, keeper of the “talk origins archive,” who is a computer programmer.)

      It may not be in theory, but evolution is in practice exactly a “sacrosanct, quasi-religious concept not open to challenge.”




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      • @David Read:

        I also agree with David here. While Ken’s comments are the ideal situation, this ideal isn’t the reality that many who are not well informed on this topic might believe it is when it comes to the real world. Mainstream scientists are in fact treating Darwinism as a sacred untouchable doctrine that is supported by ardent blind faith and passion rather than solid empirical evidence.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.cmo




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  28. Sean Pitman: Your notion that empirical evidence and rational thought are not needed to accept the Bible as God’s word doesn’t appeal to me and many others like me.

    It’s not my position, which I’ve stated many times. It’s a matter of weight. I place the Bible and faith in God’s word ahead of Science, empirical evidence, and human reason. I didn’t realize SDAs were opposed to that. I always thought SDAs believed in primacy of the Bible and Sola Scriptura.

    Thank you for the ongoing education.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      The reason why I don’t seem to be able to understand your position is that you keep making seemingly contradictory statements – over and over again. Yet, you are very consistent about one thing…

      Since you place the Bible ahead of all empirical evidence and human reasoning abilities, empirical evidence and rational thought are not really needed, not at all, to accept the Bible as God’s Word – right? If one’s acceptance of the Bible as God’s word is not in any way dependent upon any form of empirical evidence or rational interpretation of the empirical evidence, then one’s stand on the Bible can be taken without any reference to empirical evidence or rational thought.

      I’m not sure how else to interpret what seems to me to be your very clearly stated position? – that the Bible is God’s Word “by definition”, to be accepted as such without question or critical evaluation.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  29. I think we should understand that Pluralism is the mother of the final liberal and spiritualistic movement that eventually leads to Universalism. To embrace these theories means the abandonment of bible Adventism in favor of the eccumenical spirit of modern man.

    Anyone who has read or posted on A-today, Spectrum and/or other liberal forums can easily see the underlying emphasis that attacks bible Adventism in particular and historic Protestantism in general.

    You can not have a universal doctrine without lowering the requirement of bible Christanity. And how can this be accomplished? By claiming the gospel transcends the law and lowering the standard.

    We should be able to see and affirm that the Christian community is created by the Holy Spirit by way of bible doctrines. And the doctrines define the spirituality of any given Christian community. And finally, the dynamic of any community is defined by what it teaches and is “radical” to the norm of a generic confession.

    So, it is not what we hold in common with others that defines our spirituality and gives meaning to our particular community. It is our radical confession of faith that makes our ministry dynamic.

    People leave because of the radical confession of faith and they find it inconvenient and are easily persuaded that the radical element is devisive to the common whole of Christanity.

    And this defines much of modern Adventism that is far more interested in affirming what we hold in common with others and downplay what we hold that is contrary to the commmon confession of faith.

    Small wonder that our popularity has grown while our spirituality has diminished. Would the devil persecute a church that he is substancially influencing to join his side? He is not stupid, you know. Why persecute and create questions and undermine his own goal while he has the “bully pulpit” to sell his agenda?

    As long as Pluralism is embraced and supported by church leaders, there will be no persecution and we will drift closer and closer to modern Babylon until we have no definition worth defining or defending.

    We must be pretty close to that scenario now since there is no discipline to even hold accountable those who flagrantly abandon the bible and ignore the SDA basic confession of faith. When God ceases to hold the winds of strife, we will see a conflict in the church that emulates the war in heaven. And if you think people are leaving now, we haven’t seen anything like the mass exodus to take place in the near future.

    Remember this, the spirit of the beast always precedes the mark of the beast. And the spirit of the beast is in the SDA church far more than many suspect.

    Bill Sorensen




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  30. Re David’s Quote

    “It may not be in theory, but evolution is in practice exactly a “sacrosanct, quasi-religious concept not open to challenge.”

    Hello David

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I remember studying evolution in University. There was never any mention of atheism or religion whatsoever. When I read or watch shows on evolutionary biology, atheism or religion is never mentioned.

    That is not to say that there are not atheists who are evolutionary biologists ( Dawkins etc.) But there are also Catholic, Muslim, agnostic, theistic evolutionary scientists as well.

    Evolution as a scientific theory is not the property of atheists or theistic evolutionists. I understand the rhetorical need to paint it so stand in stark contrast to creationism. Remember, once upon a time Copernicus and Galileo were persecuted by the church for their scientific theories. Should those that think evolution is correct be treated the same?

    Furthermore is there not growth in the intelligent design movement? Are you saying that the ID movement is not starting to provide a challenge to the main tenets of evolution?

    Sean is right to challenge evolution on an empirical, rather than rhetorical/faith basis. That is the only way to gain scientific credibility. Otherwise creationism risks being tossed into the bin of mythology. Branding evolution as some sort of quasi religious theory will only marginalize Adventism, not advance it as a science supported faith.

    Respectfully
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken: Ken, just so we do not misunderstand each other, I did not mean to say that Darwinism or evolutionism is actually a religion, just that it is treated as sacrosanct, untouchable, unchallengeable, by most professional scientists. In other words, most scientists simply assume Darwinism–by which I mean the molecules-to-man view of the history of life on this planet–to be true.

      (Obviously, biblical creationists and intelligent design theorist do challenge the big Darwinian picture, but these are still a small minority of working scientists, and cannot challenge Darwinism in mainstream journals, but have to publish in a small handful of creationist or ID journals; that’s the lesson of the Sternberg lynching.)

      I agree that evolution ought to be challenged first on scientific and logical grounds, in purely naturalistic terms. But I don’t agree that it is not legitimate, especially when explaining to other Christians why we cannot go along with the big Darwinian picture, to attack its essential atheism.

      I and most other creationists have no problem with methodological naturalism in most contexts, but I cannot agree to interpret all the evidence bearing on origins pursuant to the assumption that life from the cell up through mankind developed by accident. To do origins science in a purely naturalistic way, when the Bible teaches that God created, is (to me at least) philosophically naturalistic, not just methodologically naturalistic. It is atheism in action, and it serves truth and clarity to say so.

      Interestingly, I just had sort of an online debate on this issue with a very good friend of mine who is also a lawyer. He believes that naturalism is the sine qua non of science, extending even to origins science, and that creation science, which brings in explicitly supernatural concepts from the Bible, is therefore a farce.

      But it seems obvious to me that naturalism, by whatever name, has assumed an exaggerated importance in mainstream science, that it is the true philosophical undergirding of Darwinism, and that it is the chief driving force behind such sterile enthusiasms as abiogenesis, i.e., trying to come up with a plausible, detailed explanation for the accidental development of life from non-life, despite the, by now, near hopelessness of such an endeavor.




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  31. David Read: Evolution is never challenged as an overarching theory or framework, although scientists often argue over the details. Just as it is never challenged, there is never any attempt to prove it; it is simply assumed to be true, and to be the foundation of all further discussion.

    What aspects of evolution are you speaking of, David? The vast majority of publications are dealing with evolution in a microevolutionary sense. Evolution is simply defined as change–which after Darwin’s passing has become recognized as changes in gene frequencies. Measuring such changes is no different than counting beans. A child could do it. Are you suggesting there is no attempt to prove this? And that scientists are disingenious to assume this?

    The origin of life and transition from unicellular to complex multicelluar organisms is another story altogether. Evolutionists know they cannot prove this, just as we creationists know we cannot prove that God created life. In the absence of proof, both groups make assumptions. Who are you arguing with?




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  32. Sean Pitman: Science is impossible without a component of faith. Science requires one to make leaps of faith beyond that which can be absolutely known.

    I disagree. The whole purpose of science and the scientific method is to eliminate faith. There are vast amounts of scientific observations or facts which can be empirically demonstrated, such as the observation that Archaeopteryx had feathered and clawed wings, and such observations or facts do not require any faith whatsoever to believe.

    Any scientific hypothesis is initially regarded with skepticism and is not accepted until it is supported by an overwhelming weight of evidence. When inferential statistical tests are used to test a hypothesis, the hypothesis is not accepted unless the statistical probability of it being correct is greater than 95%.

    Scientific hypotheses may be difficult if not impossible to prove, but there are many, such as the hypothesis that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer, that are so strongly supported by empirical evidence that believing them requires only the tiniest step of faith. That’s how the scientific process works: evidence supporting (or falsifying) a hypothesis is amassed until the faith required to believe (or reject) it is minimized or eliminated.

    Some scientific hypotheses, such as Bob Ryan’s detested hypothesis that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, are more difficult to falsify than others simply because there is much less evidence, or because the crucial evidence has yet to be discovered (or no longer exists), or because they are based on one or more assumptions that cannot be falsified.

    Believing in a scientific hypothesis for which the evidence is not overwhelming indeed requires a leap of faith–but that is NOT science and has nothing to do with the process of science. Faith is believing in something which science cannot demonstrate with certainty (or with the slightest amount of doubt). Faith begins where science ends.




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    • @Eddie:

      I disagree. The whole purpose of science and the scientific method is to eliminate faith. There are vast amounts of scientific observations or facts which can be empirically demonstrated, such as the observation that Archaeopteryx had feathered and clawed wings, and such observations or facts do not require any faith whatsoever to believe.

      You confuse observations with “science”. Science doesn’t end with observations. Science begins with observations. Observations are only the first step in the scientific method – a method that is in fact all about making educated leaps of faith or logic or intuition (whatever word your prefer) into the unknown. Scientific hypotheses are often called, “educated guesses”. In any case, science is indeed all about making predictions, using the limited facts or observations (i.e., knowledge) currently in hand, beyond that which can be known with absolute certainty. Obviously, therefore, if one had perfect or absolute knowledge science would not be needed. Science is only useful when known facts or observations are limited to at least some degree.

      It is also for this reason that true scientific theories are open to at least the potential for falsification given future observations. Mere observations or “facts”, by themselves, are not open for testing or falsification because, well, observations aren’t scientific hypotheses or theories. Science isn’t needed to make observations. Science is needed to make hypotheses about what the observations mean and predictions of future observations based on past observations.

      Again, if the truth of a theory could be known with absolute perfection, science would no longer be needed at that point. I repeat, science is only needed when the truth cannot be directly known with perfection, when at least the potential for falsification remains…

      “Science is based on the principle that any idea, no matter how widely accepted today, could be overturned tomorrow if the evidence warranted it. Science accepts or rejects ideas based on the evidence; it does not prove or disprove them.”

      http://undsci.berkeley.edu/teaching/misconceptions.php

      Also, just because science has the power to increase confidence or the predictive power of a theory doesn’t mean that this reduces faith, or confidence, in the proposed hypothesis/theory. It reduces the size of the leap necessary to accept the validity of the hypothesis/theory. However, this reduction in the size of the leap actually increases the confidence, or faith if you prefer, in the validity or credibility of the hypothesis/theory. For example, did the disciples of Jesus have more or less faith, or confidence, in His Divinity before or after His resurrection? Does a scientist have more or less faith or confidence in his/her hypothesis/theory before or after successful testing?

      You see, the greater the evidence in support of a theory, the greater the rational faith or confidence in the truth of the theory.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  33. Dear Sean and Eddie

    Re Leap of faith

    Often discussions of meaning come down to semantics. Following is the online dictionary definition of ‘leap of faith’:

    “A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of believing in or accepting something intangible or unprovable, or without empirical evidence.[1] It is an act commonly associated with religious belief as many religions consider faith to be an essential element of piety.”

    I hope that assists the discussion.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:

      A “leap of faith” can also be taken to mean, in this particular context in particular, that a step has been taken beyond that which can be absolutely known given the current information in hand. A leap of faith need not be random or uneducated or without basis in empirical evidence. That’s the whole point of science – to help one make more educated and more accurate leaps of logic or faith or “educated guesses” beyond that which can be absolute known or provable…

      “The Scientific Method is hypothesis-driven; one makes an educated guess to explain a cause-and-effect relationship.”

      http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~pyo22/students/hypothesis.html

      In fact, scientific hypotheses are often referred to as “educated guesses” because, after all, that’s what they are. They are, in effect, leaps of faith beyond what can be known with absolute certainty.

      Science isn’t about presenting absolute proof for the truthfulness of a hypothesis/theory. Science does not and cannot present absolute proof for anything. Rather, science is about establishing the predictive value of a theory that is better or more useful than a random guess or a random shot in the dark (i.e., blind faith) using the limited information that is currently available.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  34. Eddie: Believing in a scientific hypothesis for which the evidence is not overwhelming indeed requires a leap of faith–but that is NOT science and has nothing to do with the process of science. Faith is believing in something which science cannot demonstrate with certainty (or with the slightest amount of doubt). Faith begins where science ends.

    Well stated, Eddie. Science is a process by which we learn; faith is not required to undertake it or to assess its results. Faith applies only to how one chooses to view or believe results.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      “Science is a process by which we learn; faith is not required to undertake it or to assess its results. Faith applies only to how one chooses to view or believe results.”

      LOL… Oh really? Science doesn’t deal with how to view or believe the results of experiments or observations? No interpretations or determinations as to which competing hypotheses or theories are more likely true? Is that what you’re really saying?

      I don’t care what you want to call it, but science is clearly a method that allows one to determine to what degree one can trust or place one’s confidence in the proposed hypothesis/theory. It is all about establishing a rational basis for how one views results and to what degree one can believe in or rely upon the proposed truthfulness of the theory in question.

      Science, in essence, allows one to measure the degree one can rationally put faith or trust or confidence in the validity or truth of the proposed theory. Science never fully establishes a basis for absolute confidence in any theory. One may argue that science can bring one very close to absolute confidence in certain cases, but this is beside the point that a degree of uncertainty, or faith if you prefer, is involved when one accepts any scientific theory.

      I really can’t believe you guys are actually arguing this point… since you are supposed to be scientists yourselves. This is basic Philosophy of Science 101 stuff…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  35. Here are formal definitions of science that can be compared to what I stated (which caused Sean Pitman to laugh out loud):

    Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.” – The Science Council (United Kingdom), 2009

    Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are limited to those based on observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Explanations that cannot be based on empirical evidence are not a part of science.” – National Academy of Sciences (United States), 1999

    The National Academy of Sciences goes on to state: “Science is not the only way of acquiring knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. Humans gain understanding in many other ways, such as through literature, the arts, philosophical reflection, and religious experience. Scientific knowledge may enrich aesthetic and moral perceptions, but these subjects extend beyond science’s realm, which is to obtain a better understanding of the natural world.”

    Sean, I’m sure these organizations simply forgot to mention the word “faith,” but then again, they are probably less well informed about science than you are. Perhaps you would be so kind as to set them straight. I can’t speak for Eddie, but I apologize for getting it so wrong myself. You are right: science is “all about making leaps of faith.” No quarrel here.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Here are formal definitions of science that can be compared to what I stated (which caused Sean Pitman to laugh out loud):

      “Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.” – The Science Council (United Kingdom), 2009

      Indeed – and where in such a definition of science is there anything about science not being involved with what is and isn’t more or less rational to believe? Where is it said that science has nothing to say about which theory, among many competing options, is or isn’t worthy of greater confidence or trust regarding its likely validity?

      Pick your preferred word here, but science is all about making “educated guesses” or an “educated leap into the dark” as some have described it, as to what is most likely true based on limited information where the educated “guess” itself cannot be known to be true with absolute confidence – even after successfully passing numerous tests. On is able to gain greater confidence with successful testing, but never absolute confidence.

      If you don’t want to call such “educated guesswork” a “leap of faith”, fine. What would you call it? A leap of logic or intuition perhaps? – as many have? Whatever you call it, it is a leap beyond that which can be known with absolute confidence… a leap beyond the facts themselves. That’s what science does. It helps us make leaps across our gaps in knowledge where the leaps themselves, while often helpful, and certainly better than nothing, are not always accurate and can never be known with absolute confidence to ever be accurate…

      You know, if we had perfect unlimited knowledge, we wouldn’t need science. It is only because our knowledge is limited that we need the crutch of science to help us more accurately, but never perfectly, cross the gaps in our limited knowledge and understanding of the world in which we find ourselves.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  36. Sean Pitman: and where in such a definition of science is there anything about science not being involved with what is and isn’t more or less rational to believe? Where is it said that science has nothing to say about which theory, among many competing options, is or isn’t worthy of greater confidence or trust regarding its likely validity?

    And where in such a definition of science is there anything about scientists using calculators, or computers, or wearing shorts and t-shirts, or chewing tobacco? Where is it said that science has nothing to say about what is morally acceptable behavior among humans, orangutans, mushrooms, and spaghetti servings? Where in such a definition is there anything said about using the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the 1969 Sports Almanac as a source of definitive information?

    Do you worship science?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You’re not responding to the question posed: That is, what’s the point of science if it says nothing about which hypothesis or theory, among many options, is most likely true? – most reasonable to believe?

      You see, your prior assertion that science “doesn’t deal with how one chooses to view or believe results” is clearly mistaken. This is the whole point of science – to provide a useful rational method by which one can more reliably believe or view a given hypothesis/theory as most likely true… or false.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  37. [edit] Of course the whole point of science is to provide a useful rationale method by which one can more reliably believe or view a given hypothesis/theory as more likely true or false. You’re paraphrasing what I have said and the formal definitions I have supplied. Why should I answer a disingenious question which I obviously agree with? To make you look brilliant?

    Science does not endorse your fanciful “leap of faith” in believing something for which no evidence exists. But I’m sure you can convince others of this who, like sheep, follow your every command.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Science does not endorse your fanciful “leap of faith” in believing something for which no evidence exists. But I’m sure you can convince others of this who, like sheep, follow your every command.

      Where did I ever suggest that science asks one to believe without the weight of empirical evidence? Have I not been saying all along that rational belief in any hypothesis/theory requires the weight of empirical evidence? I’m at a loss then to understand how you could have missed an argument of mine that you yourself have often derisively quoted?

      Science is all about establishing the weight of currently available evidence as a basis for confidence, or a lack thereof, in the hypothesis/theory at hand.

      I also propose that faith can function in the very same manner. Faith can also be based on the weight of empirical evidence so that as evidence increases, so does faith.

      I ask again, did the disciples believe in Jesus more or less after the Resurrection than before? Obviously, it was the evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus that greatly increased their faith, changing them from quivering cowards to the bravest of men willing to die for their faith…

      Faith is not the antithesis of rational or even scientific thought. Faith can be just as evidence-based as that of any rational belief in the validity of a well-tested and well-established scientific theory…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  38. David Read: But it seems obvious to me that naturalism…is the chief driving force behind such sterile enthusiasms as abiogenesis, i.e., trying to come up with a plausible, detailed explanation for the accidental development of life from non-life, despite the, by now, near hopelessness of such an endeavor.

    You and others handicap science. You require that science experimentally demonstrate an event that presumably transpired millions of years ago. You mock the inability of scientists to succeed at this endeavor. Yet you cannot experimentally demonstrate an event that you (in contrast to Sean) accept by faith as having happened 6,000 years ago. You trump your view as superior without subjecting it to the same critical reasoning or level of evidence. That’s hypocritical.




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    • @Professor Kent: Kent, I’m not a hypocrite. I’ve frequently said that creationists and Darwinists are both operating on faith-based assumption, because no one can really know anything about origins. Both sides have their arguments, and it is good and right for creationists to have their reason-based arguments just as Darwinists do, but both sides are ultimately exercising faith.

      I handicap not science but atheism, and only when it pretends to be reason and evidence as opposed to philosophy and faith. It is only when Darwinists claim, as they frequently do, that they are operating from reason while creationists are operating from faith, that I want, and soon find occasion, to ridicule them.




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  39. Few creationists can resist the urge to mock and deride those who believe differently. It’s the tactic of childish bullies and contrasts sharply with Christ’s sermon on the mount.

    I smile when I read such comments at this website because I feel as if I am looking through a glass window to the seat of your soul. I don’t see the individual inside of you that you claim to extoll.




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  40. Sean Pitman: Science, in essence, allows one to measure the degree one can rationally put faith or trust or confidence in the validity or truth of the proposed theory.

    Your views are interesting. So are you saying that faith is proportional to the evidence? The more evidence supporting a hypothesis, the more faith you have in the hypothesis? As scientific knowledge increases, faith increases? If this is what you believe, it appears that you are essentially equating science with faith. What do you regard as the difference between faith and science?

    Dictionary.com gives eight definitions of faith:

    1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.

    2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.

    3. belief in god or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.

    4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.

    5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

    6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.

    7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

    8. Christian Theology . the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

    It appears to me that you are basing your definition of faith in the context of science on the first definition. The stronger the evidence for a hypothesis, the more faith you have in it. I have always viewed faith as the second definition. The stronger the evidence for a hypothesis, the more certainty and the less faith I have in it.

    Sean Pitman: I really can’t believe you guys are actually arguing this point… since you are supposed to be scientists yourselves. This is basic Philosophy of Science 101 stuff…

    I don’t know everything. I make mistakes all the time. I don’t have to win every argument. I think humility is a virtue. I need a Savior. I wish you could be more respectful and less condescending when you engage in these discussions.




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    • @Eddie:

      Note that among your listed dictionary definitions of faith is “trust in a person or thing” or “belief that is not based on proof”.

      Science is based on establishing trust or belief in the validity or credibility of a hypothesis/theory based on evidence, but not absolute proof. As the evidence increases, it is quite rational that belief or faith in the credibility of the hypothesis/theory will increase as well.

      Faith can be, and I think should be, linked to empirical evidence in the very same way that science is linked to empirical evidence. Empirically-blind faith is pointless, at least for me, when it comes to giving one true confidence or hope in the future…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  41. Dear Sean, Prof Kent and Eddie et. al.

    Prof Kent, thank you for the definitions of Science.

    Gentleman, excuse my penchant for being pedantic on semantics, but I believe it is helpful to define what we are talking about.

    Following is the definition of Scientific Theory from Wikipedia:

    “A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations of such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.[1]

    A scientific theory is a type of inductive theory, in that its content (i.e. empirical data) could be expressed within some formal system of logic whose elementary rules (i.e. scientific laws) are taken as axioms. In a deductive theory, any sentence which is a logical consequence of one or more of the axioms is also a sentence of that theory.[2]

    In the humanities, one finds theories whose subject matter does not (only) concern empirical data, but rather ideas. Such theories are in the realm of philosophical theories as contrasted with scientific theories. A philosophical theory is not necessarily scientifically testable through experiment.”

    Following is the online Encarta dictionary of an educated guess:

    “ed·u·cat·ed guess (plural ed·u·cat·ed guess·es)

    noun
    Definition:

    informed guess: a guess that is based on a degree of experience, knowledge, or information”

    Following is a definition of Scientific Hypothesis from the online Free Dictionary:

    “Scientific hypothesis

    Scientific hypothesis is a hypothesis (a testable conjecture) used as a tentative explanation of an observation, but which has not yet been fully tested by the prediction validation process for a scientific theory.[1][2] A hypothesis is used in the scientific method to predict the results of further experiments, which will be used either to confirm or disprove it. A successfully-tested hypothesis achieves the status of a scientific theory.[3]

    Theories can become accepted if they are able to make correct predictions and avoid incorrect ones. Theories which are simpler and more mathematically elegant tend to be accepted over theories that are complex (see Occam’s razor). Theories are more likely to be accepted if they connect a wide range of phenonomena. The process of accepting theories is part of the scientific method. If developing a hypothesis for an experiment in high school, students may be asked to follow the formulae of: If…Then…”

    Sean, I understand the thrust of your argument and appreciate that scientists make educated guesses and hypotheses all the time. However, with great respect, I don’t think these constitute leaps of faith as that term connotes acceptance of something unprovable by testing, observation, or empirical evidence.

    I think the distinction between Faith and Science is very important because I submit they are very different disciplines. So is philosophy, a branch of which is metaphysics.

    Let’s examine the question: does God exist?

    Can Science prove or disprove this notion. I submit Science cannot, even if evolution is correct. Atheists can certainly hypothesize about the lack of a God based on observations about the universe, but they will always face the conundrums of first cause or creation ex nihilo. Can intelligent design prove a God, or only a designer that could be an alien from another universe? Science has it limits.

    I’ve just finished reading Stephen Hawkings ‘ The Grand Design’. Interesting read which I recommend to you. However, when he suggests that the universe could have been created out of nothing, or spontaneously, I wonder if he is taking a ‘leap of faith’ vs. an educated guess? I’m going to have to understand a lot more empirical evidence and theoretical quantum mechanics to fathom that one. Where did the original matter/energy come from?

    Can philosophy or metaphysics determine whether there is or is not a God? I think these disciplines can come to either conclusion. However, I think the question what is the nature of God, the first cause, the creator, the designer the…. are perhaps more intriguing. Does empirical evidence about the physical nature of reality offer clues in this regard? As we understand more of nature do we understand more of a creator? What if our universe is one of an infinite number of universes, a metaverse; all with different physical properties and laws , at least one with organic life, others without. What would this say about an ultimate, dare I say ‘Grand’ design, versus a lack thereof?

    Can Faith determine if there is a God? You may find this odd coming from an agnostic but I think it can. For those that have Faith in God, God exists. How God exists is determined by their specific faith, otherwise God would be the same for all. God may have the ability to manifest Him/Her/Itself uniquely to each individual, perhaps even to agnostics and atheists through the guise of rational thought. As an agnostic I leave open that possibility but don’t take an obligatory ‘leap of faith’.

    I think both Prof Kent and Sean, as great protagonists of debate on this site, have an abundance of faith and scientific knowledge. While their differences are notable, essentially such are doctrinal, not theological. But the debate is important in that it helps us all think more deeply about the issues and what and why we believe. We should all relish that, rather than be overly concerned who is right or wrong.

    As always thanks for allowing me to contribute.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  42. Sean Pitman: You confuse observations with “science”.

    No I don’t. I specifically referred to “scientific observations or facts” and “scientific hypotheses,” both of which are a part of the scientific method, which I regard not as science but as a part of science. For me, science is knowledge learned by the scientific method.

    Sean Pitman: Science is only useful when known facts or observations are limited to at least some degree.

    Perhaps you are confusing science with the scientific method.

    Dictionary.com gives seven definitions of science (I like the second):

    1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.

    2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

    3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.

    4. systematized knowledge in general.

    5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.

    6. a particular branch of knowledge.

    7. skill, especially reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.




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    • @Eddie:

      I’m glad to hear that you view observations/facts as only part of science.

      However, now you seem to be suggesting that science is, or at least can be, independent of scientific methodologies. Tell me, how can “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world be gained through observation and experimentation” without the use of any scientific methodology that allows one to interpet what one observes and measures?

      It seems to me that observations and measurements are worthless without a mechanism of interpretation – a mechanism that establishes predictive value to one’s interpretation of the data so one can determine, over time, if one’s interpretation is more or less likely to be right or wrong…

      Without such a mechanism of interpretation, facts or observations, by themselves, simply aren’t going to help you gain useful knowledge.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  43. I see prof. Kent and Sean have moved their “bickering” to Spectrum. I can’t post there because I have been barred. So I will make a comment here.

    Scientific evidence is not the evidence Christians rely on to affirm scripture.

    We have “a more sure word of prophecy” that validates and verifies the bible. The bible is self-affirming in this context. It needs no “outside” proof, except as we see the unfolding of history and the future just as God has stated in His word.

    It is certainly not natural science that in any way “proves” creation in how it came about for natural science does not validate the possibilities of a miracle nor exactly how a miracle took place but must always seek proveable evidence of how the miracle happened. And it must necessarily happen in harmony with natural science itself. If not, science can not accept it as in harmony with itself.

    So it is useless to claim we can “prove” God created anything by way of natural science. Science can only claim that the “first cause” is unknown. It can’t go back far enough to validate any “first cause” and therefore, can only speculate as to how anything came into existence.

    Since science can not “prove” any first cause, evolution is pure speculation and those who affirm it embrace some kind of “religion” that goes beyond the science they claim to embrace.

    Since prophecy can be verified by history, we can truly embrace the biblical account as accurate. The bible affirms the super-natural and thus reveals God who transcends nature and natural law. Is there verifiable evidence? Yes. Prophecy and history. But this is not natural law “proof”. There is no natural law proof.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      We’re talking about a rational faith being based on the weight of currently available empirical evidence. Even your appeal to historical sciences as a basis to support the Bible’s credibility is an appeal to a form of external empirical evidence – a form of science actually.

      Also, not even your form of evidentiary support for the Bible constitutes absolute “proof” of its Divine origin or of the correct interpretation of the Bible by the organized SDA Church. The potential for falsification remains with the discovery of additional evidence.

      In short, since we are subjective creatures, we cannot know anything in absolute terms when it comes to the world in which we live. We are dependent upon limited external sources of information and our limited reasoning abilities. Because of this, the best we can say is that this is what we believe at the present time give currently-available evidence.

      It is for this reason that the SDA Church, in particular, promotes the idea of “present truth”, not an absolute understanding of truth…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  44. Dear All

    Re: the folly of atheism

    Coincidentally, today I came across a tribute article from Martin Amis to his dying friend, the atheist Christopher Hitchens.

    If I could beg the indulgence from the Educate Truth editors, I would like to post a piece of the interview here. If anything it speaks to the need for a higher intelligence. Here it is:

    “The atheistic position merits an adjective that no one would dream of applying to you: it is lenten. And agnosticism, I respectfully suggest, is a slightly more logical and decorous response to our situation – to the indecipherable grandeur of what is now being (hesitantly) called the multiverse. The science of cosmology is an awesome construct, while remaining embarrassingly incomplete and approximate; and over the last 30 years it has garnered little but a series of humiliations. So when I hear a man declare himself to be an atheist, I sometimes think of the enterprising termite who, while continuing to go about his tasks, declares himself to be an individualist. It cannot be altogether frivolous or wishful to talk of a “higher intelligence” – because the cosmos is itself a higher intelligence, in the simple sense that we do not and cannot understand it.”

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken: The “higher intelligence” the cosmos needs is, surprise!, somehow the cosmos ITSELF? Pantheism circled back upon itself is de facto agnosticism, and v.v., however parsed and phrased and patched. Doesn’t even rise to generic Whoever Intelligent Design. It’s an old one, as old as Philos 101, as old as the hills, as old as the cosmos; a crowd pleaser; always good for a chuckle. But is that’s what Chris Hitchens needs, a good chuckle, his esophageal malignancy (and, alas, radiation esophagitis) tickled?




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  45. As the article points out –

    Yet, I know of a number of former agnostics or atheists who became Christians due in no small part to the evidence for creation – to include the evidence for a recent arrival of life on Earth: Walter Veith, Clifford Goldstein, Rick Lanser, Jerry Bergman, and John Sanford to name a few.

    And of course the inverse is also true as Darwin, Dawkins, Provine, Meyers and others have pointed out. Evolutionism embraced by Christians leads to atheism over time.

    3SG90-91 makes the same point.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  46. For those who haven’t already noticed, Prof. Jeffrey Kent has an article over on Adventist Spectrum attacking this website for Sean’s “blind faith” theology.

    We see here that he is being duped into discussing an issue that has no direct involvment with our concerns has allowed our opponents and enemies to attack us on a peripheral issue, which actually has not direct involvement as to whether Biol. Profs have been teaching “evolution as fact” and, if so, why the LSU administration and Board has allowed this to continue, while keeping their heads in the sand.

    We all should be wary of this tactic. It will and should be used by those who cannot defend the actual issue.

    Kent, Erv Taylor, and others will be diligent in this matter,and I’m surprised AT or Spectrum haven’t used this tactic more often.

    The most “dangerous” thing we can do is lose sight of our goal, which is to find the truth behind teaching “evolution as fact” at LSU and also the truth as to why this has been allowed to happen right under our “leaders” noses!




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  47. Sean Pitman: Tell me, how can “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world be gained through observation and experimentation” without the use of any scientific methodology that allows one to interpet what one observes and measures?

    Think about it: “observation” and “experimentation” ARE part of the scientific method.




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    • @Eddie:

      Observation and experimentation are indeed a part of scientific methodologies, but they are only a part. They are meaningless by themselves. Observations and/or experiments, by themselves, would be meaningless without the entire process of scientific reasoning that is used to extract meaning or useful knowledge from observations and experiments…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  48. Sean said…..

    “@Bill Sorensen:

    We’re talking about a rational faith being based on the weight of currently available empirical evidence. Even your appeal to historical sciences as a basis to support the Bible’s credibility is an appeal to a form of external empirical evidence – a form of science actually.”

    Here you use the word “science” in a generic way. EGW calls it the “science of salvation”.

    But it is not by way of natural law and its implication that anyone can “prove” that God created the heavens and the earth.

    All we can deduce is this, if the God who can predict the future with absolute certainity, claims He is also the creator God, we can choose to believe it or not.

    The fact that He can do just that, is sufficient “evidence” for any bible believing Christian. Most people converted by way of Adventism will usually admit our presentation of prophecy in Daniel and Revelation had a tremendous impact on their decision to become SDA Christians.

    And it is not by bombarding them with natural law scientific evidence that they choose to believe. We choose to believe the flood because the bible says so. There are other possibilities that have some remote evidence to support them. Ice age, for instance. But in the end, it is always, “the bible says” for a Christian.

    The genious of Satan’s attacks are always in this line…..”Maybe you didn’t understand what God said.” or….”Maybe you did not hear what He said correctly.” And….”Are you sure you know and understand what God meant by what He said.”

    This is how he approached Eve in the garden. And is how he continues to undermine scripture by skeptics and infidels who hope to escape judgment by claiming the bible is not sufficiently clear so that we can be held accountable for what it says. John Alfke is classic on the Spectrum forum.

    In the end, he hopes to deceive all by affirming that God is solely responsible, not only in creating moral beings, but for keeping them in His will. So man must be released from any “pressure” and/or intimidation and threats as part of the moral motivation to seek and know the will of God and do it.

    But God continues to threaten sinners with death and demands accountability to know and find truth and then do it. And this is what the “Great Controversy” is all about.

    Has God adequately communicated to man His will and made known His character in such a way that man is culpable and responsible for his final outcome? For a Christian, the answer is “yes”. For unbelievers, the answer is “no”.

    A very simple issue actually. One that Satan would obscure in any way he can to divert our attention to anything and everything except this question.

    Do I understand everything about God and His kingdom? NO. Do I understand enough to be held accountable for my decisions and actions? Yes. This is the crux of the controversy from the beginning of the rebellion in heaven to this very day.

    Bill Sorensen




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  49. Sean Pitman: Where did I ever suggest that science asks one to believe without the weight of empirical evidence?

    With these words:

    Sean Pitman: That’s the whole point of science – to help one make more educated and more accurate leaps of logic or faith or “educated guesses” beyond that which can be absolute known or provable. In fact, scientific hypotheses are often referred to as “educated guesses” because, after all, that’s what they are. They are, in effect, leaps of faith beyond what can be known with absolute certainty.

    Feel free to clarify.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      How is my statement confusing?

      Just because science does in fact make leaps of logic or “faith” beyond what can be absolutely know to be true (as is the case for all scientific hypotheses/theories) does not mean that these leaps of logic/faith are not based on evidence. They are based on evidence – on the weight of evidence. The weight of empirical evidence is precisely the basis for these leaps of logic.

      I’m not quite sure how you can remotely interpret such statements to mean that I’m really claiming that science can ever rationally ask anyone to believe anything without presenting the weight of currently known empirical evidence in support of a given hypothesis/theory? That’s just not true. You’re misrepresenting what I’ve been saying in no uncertain terms for some strange reason…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  50. David Read: @Professor Kent: Kent, I’m not a hypocrite. I’ve frequently said that creationists and Darwinists are both operating on faith-based assumption, because no one can really know anything about origins. Both sides have their arguments, and it is good and right for creationists to have their reason-based arguments just as Darwinists do, but both sides are ultimately exercising faith.I handicap not science but atheism, and only when it pretends to be reason and evidence as opposed to philosophy and faith. It is only when Darwinists claim, as they frequently do, that they are operating from reason while creationists are operating from faith, that I want, and soon find occasion, to ridicule them.

    Thank you for the clarification. I don’t have an issue with anything other than the ridicule. Of course, I am prone to that myself, but we would all do better to treat opposing views with more respect.




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  51. Sean Pitman: I ask again, did the disciples believe in Jesus more or less after the Resurrection than before? Obviously, it was the evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus that greatly increased their faith, changing them from quivering cowards to the bravest of men willing to die for their faith

    Jesus had something to say about their reluctance to accept his words prior to his death: “Oh ye of little evidence.”




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You didn’t answer the question…

      … and Jesus didn’t expect anyone to believe His words without first providing the weight of empirical evidence necessary for a rational mind to honestly accept His words as true. Those who rejected Jesus did not do so due to a lack of adequate empirical evidence. They rejected him because they had no desire to accept the truth no matter how much empirical evidence was provided.

      Jesus himself explained this problem when he noted, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” – Luke 16:31 NIV

      In other words, if truth is rejected despite the clear weight of evidence in its favor, the deciding factor in accepting the truth is no longer evidence dependent, but motive dependent – does one actually love what they know, intellectually, to be true? If not, additional information or empirical evidence isn’t going to help. Such a case is ultimately hopeless since nothing Jesus can say or do can convert a heart that doesn’t want to be converted…

      Such is a problem of desire or motive, not evidence. The same was true for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Despite your arguments to the contrary, it wasn’t that they were actually tricked because of a lack of adequate evidence (they had more than enough evidence of who God was and his trustworthiness and love for them – far more than the Serpent had demonstrated). They were deceived because they desired to believe what they knew wasn’t really true… they wanted to believe what they knew, deep down, was a lie.

      If Adam and Eve were honestly deceived by the Serpent, not really having any understanding of God and His character, God would not have been just in His condemnation of their actions. It is only because God had provided ample evidence of Himself and His character than He was just in making the judgments against Adam and Eve that He made…

      Your picture of God paints Him as caprecious and arbitrary. Who could love a God who condemns those who honestly didn’t know any better?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  52. Re Wes’s Quote

    “The “higher intelligence” the cosmos needs is, surprise!, somehow the cosmos ITSELF?”

    Hi Wes

    Good to hear from you.

    I agree, that part of the quote seems like circular reasoning doesn’t it?

    However, perhaps we can be a little more generous to Martin Amis and look at the context within which he was making the statement: as a rebuke against atheism and the observation that the existence of the magnificent cosmos bespeaks in itself of a higher intelligence. I think that was the point he was trying to make but of course it could be as simplistic as your interpretation.

    Now let’s consider a parallel to Mr. Amis’s circular reasoning:

    “Exodus 3:14 (King James Version)

    14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM:”

    Do you accept that statement Wes? If so, is your reasoning really that much different than Mr. Amis?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken: And greetings to you!

      But my immediate question is, is Martin any relation to Kingsley, the Sir Kingsley Amis? He is: son, which of course you know. Doesn’t everybody?

      Though circular, as you say, Amis’s anti-postmodernist reasoning (what he’s famous for, besides fiction, like his dad) is fine, and I’m in his circle. Hail, fellow anti-Postmodernist Orbiteer! Too bad there’s nothing, not even stray cosmic dust, at the center.

      Meanwhile, anent Ex 3:14, I AM THAT I AM (Ex 3:14 KJV), if that is circularity it is the consummate and ultimate circle encompassing every other circle and orbit from subatomic to hypergalaxic, not just a circle but a sphere, encompassing and enclosing, at once orbit and nucleus, the very nucleus of the cosmos, is what I think about Ex 3:14. And John 8:58, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

      Meanwhile?




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  53. Hello,

    I’m at the Minnesota Conference where Sean spoke at Camp Meeting last summer. I saw a quote in an essay appearing on the CNN website yesterday that I thought Sean would find interesting. The essay is titled “Why I Believe in God” from a man named LZ Granderson; I love this quote.

    ”When you get right down to it, everyone is walking in faith… it’s just not faith in the same thing. Thus I find the religion vs science debate a tad useless in the larger scheme of things. To me religion is man’s attempt to figure out who God is and science is man’s attempt to figure out what God is up to; both saddled with the same flaw – man.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/04/26/granderson.belief.pastor/index.html

    I thought that was a very succinct summary of both disciplines.

    Have a blessed year,

    Marilyn Carlson




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  54. I am a 25 year old medical student at Loma Linda currently, and would like to share my personal experience regarding Sean’s thesis–that the failure of many Adventist institutions to provide intellectually compelling reasons for faith in the Bible and in our Bible-based Adventist doctrines has made a major contribution to attrition of “young people” from the Adventist Church.

    Having attended Adventist Christian undergraduate and graduate schools for the past 8 years (where I have earned two degrees and am pursing a third), I have noticed a number of my friends who have either left or stayed in the church, based upon their perception of demonstrable evidence for faith in God and in the Bible, including a literal six-day creation and Noah’s flood.

    Personally, the only reason I did not leave the church long ago is that I find that the preponderance of evidence, mostly drawn from science and history, favors the Bible as the direct Word of God. I base these conclusions on evidence from the following scientific disciplines:

    Genetics
    Enzymology
    Biochemistry
    Geology

    History–via confirmation of the accuracy of Biblical predictive prophecies (yes, I have considered the historical-critical arguments against this position, but found them inadequate)

    Archaelogical findings in support of early dates for the writing of the Scriptures (e.g., the regulations on war in Deuteronomy and the city-state geopolitical environment described in Genesis are more characteristic of a second millennium BC date for the Pentateuch than a first millennium date, as claimed by historical-critical scholars)

    Medical evidence–the health principles of the Bible (and Ellen White) work. There’s a reason why the only Blue Zone in North America is in Loma Linda.

    Biology
    Paleobiology
    Cosmology (in a class I took from Stanford)
    Paleontology
    Other fields that I don’t have time to share

    I have written much more on these subjects, but will save those details for another time. However, I am not the only one who has been weighing the evidence. During my undergraduate experience, a number of my friends also had similar experiences:

    BK came to me and asked my advice after we both had graduated. He had a lot of questions because he couldn’t reconcile what he read about origins and the Bible on Wikipedia with what the Bible and the Adventist church taught. He is not a church member any more. Now, I know that there were relational issues that caused these questions to arise. Generally, I have observed that both my friends and I have tended to ask questions about the rational basis for faith more frequently when we see open hypocrisy in the church–especially in our families or among church leaders. This was BK’s situation. However, if young people can see that there is good experimental, repeatable evidence for faith in God and the Biblical account of creation, the flood, and the rest of human history, it means that we can dismiss our hypocritical families or church leaders WITHOUT dismissing faith in God and His Word.

    EHM has a similar experience, but had more questions about the historical basis for Adventist teachings. In this case also, relational problems were an underlying issue.

    NPN was raised in a country that promotes atheism. When we first met, NPN was an agnostic. She is a bright girl, who went to the best school in her country. She was attending an Adventist school, and expressed interest in our religion. We studied the Bible with her for more than a year, and she politely expressed her appreciation for sharing about our faith, but I didn’t see any special signs that she was seriously interested. (Incidentally, she also had numerous bad experiences with Adventists during her time at our school, that could have discouraged her. Money was stolen from her, and her boyfriend was framed and almost expelled.) However, when a religion professor (not even a science professor!) shared some basic scientific evidence in support of a short, recent Creation, she suddenly began to express more interest in our faith. Why? Because now she realizes that what she has been hearing could be for real. It could be more than just an American Christian tradition. It could be more than priestcraft. It could be a reality.




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  55. I suppose I should ask anyone who thinks science supports God as the creator this question….How, by the study of science, did you come to the conclusion that God created something from nothing?

    I doubt you can present any “evidence” to support the idea by way of science.

    Miracles do not harmonize with science. They contradict it.

    And science can not present any “first cause” by way of any scientific evidence.

    The same God who predicts the future by way of scripture, proclaims Himself as the creator. And there is no evidence by way of science to prove He did, or didn’t.

    Unless you consider the study of prophecy a “science”. But even so, it is not natural law science.

    As far as reason is concerned, it is more reasonable to assume and believe an intelligent mind created than to assume some unknown “first cause” is apart from any intelligent design.

    In the end, you either worship nature, or the God of nature. There are no other options. If you worship nature, then who ever you preceive God is, he is no more than nature itself.

    For a bible believer, the true God transcends nature and exists outside nature. Otherwise, He did not create it.

    It is true, He comes inside the circle of creation to fellowship with created beings, but He still exists outside the circle and is worshiped as the creator God. This set the Jewish religion over and above all the religions of the world and distinguished them from heathenism that always worships creation instead of the creator.

    The old testament writers always extolled the creator God and pointed to Him as above all the God’s of the heathen.

    Idolatry is nature above the God of nature. And includes the reasoning of man above divine revelation. A Christian places biblical revelation above human reason and natural law science below the biblical revelation as well.

    We function in the framework of natural law as far as our physical existence is concerned. But our spiritual preception ignores natural law to the point of death and faith in God’s word transcends death.

    I think far too many in the church today are spending way too much time trying to “prove” creation and the bible by way of natural law evidence.

    For the most part, the bible speaks for itself and the Holy Spirit works through the word to convict and convert the soul. I think we will have success in defending the word by the word and less “proof” by way of natural law science.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • Bill Sorensen: Miracles do not harmonize with science. They contradict it.

      @Bill Sorensen:

      On the contrary – the claim of the Bible is that the miracles it lists are NOT things that happen naturally – but they are things that require divine intervention in nature for such things to occure.

      Science is not in opposition to that claim as of this date.

      in Christ,

      Bob




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  56. Bill Sorensen: I suppose I should ask anyone who thinks science supports God as the creator this question….How, by the study of science, did you come to the conclusion that God created something from nothing?
    I doubt you can present any “evidence” to support the idea by way of science

    It seems to me that even atheist scientists are not now making that very claim— claiming that from “nothing” came the entire universe.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  57. Sean,

    Since you have demanded an answer to a question I overlooked (but continue to ignore some of the questions I ask), here is your answer: yes, the disciples believed more in God’s word after he came back to life. Did this fact make God’s word any more truthful or trustworthy?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Absolutely! Jesus’ word was much more clearly trustworthy after His Resurrection than before. Of course His Word wasn’t any less true before than after, but it was much more easily recognizable as true after the Resurrection. From the perspective of the disciples, the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection of Jesus added a tremendous amount of credibility to His Words… as it would for anyone who witnessed such an event. It had the power to turn the disciples from a bunch of quivering chicken-hearted men into men who wouldn’t flinch when threatened with death over their message.

      There’s a difference between telling the truth and expecting honest rational people to believe what you’re telling them – to the point of being so sure that you’d be willing to put your life on the line over it.

      It wouldn’t be rational for God to expect people to believe Jesus’ word without providing additional evidence as to why His word should carry more weight or credibility compared to anyone else’s word.

      Like it or not, the fact is, as you just admitted, empirical evidence is directly tied to rational faith for most people. The greater the evidence, the greater the faith. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way God made us and He doesn’t expect us to be more than we are.

      An expectation, on the part of God, for us to believe or have faith, to the same degree, if there is or if there isn’t supporting empirical evidence, would be irrational, arbitrary, capricious, and evil. No one could really love such a God as the one you’re describing… a God who is willing to punish even those who did not know and could not have rationally known better. That’s a very warped view of God…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  58. Re Wes’s Comment

    “Meanwhile, anent Ex 3:14, I AM THAT I AM (Ex 3:14 KJV), if that is circularity it is the consummate and ultimate circle encompassing every other circle and orbit from subatomic to hypergalaxic, not just a circle but a sphere, encompassing and enclosing, at once orbit and nucleus, the very nucleus of the cosmos, is what I think about Ex 3:14. And John 8:58, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

    Dear Wes

    A great metaphoric reply in its own right!

    Such are our human minds that we try to reduce a penultimate deity to ‘higher intelligence’ or a geometric form. That’s OK, it’s human to view reality from our model dependent points of view.

    And those models are changing within our very own lifetimes aren’t they? Once the earth was considered the centre of the universe – to follow your concentric lines of thinking- then the sun. Now we know the Milky Way is not the ‘centre’ of the expanding universe. In fact modern M theory, an extension of string theory, postulated there may be as many as 11 dimensions.

    Rather than the nucleus – composed of quarks, and even smaller components, which like God can’t be seen- perhaps we should turn to quantum physics for a metaphor for God. Feynman postulated that a particle takes all possible paths between any two points simultaneously. Maybe that’s what God does, wander everywhere in between the seams of 11 dimensions?

    As always thanks for indulging your agnostic friend all over the quantum/metaphysical map.

    Cheers from the Cosmos
    Ken




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    • @ken: “…a PENULTIMATE deity…” I Just can’t let that one go by.

      By whim or whimsy you may willy-nilly consign the cosmic Ultimacy to myth, metaphor, metonym, or model; to M, string, or Gaia theory; to quark or quantum; to geometric form, bronze, marble, or electronic, JPEG or TIFF; to pantheism or atheism, but never consign Him to penultimacy. Thanks, friend.




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  59. Dear Bill

    I really enjoyed your last post. It was so clear and well reasoned and showed the difference Faith and Science. They are certainly two different disciplines. When they dance with each other they sometimes step on each other’s toes.

    “And science can not present any “first cause” by way of any scientific evidence.”

    100% right, this is the realm of metaphysics.

    “In the end, you either worship nature, or the God of nature. There are no other options. If you worship nature, then who ever you preceive God is, he is no more than nature itself.”

    Bill, that is not exactly correct and a bit too narrow. Some of us don’t worship anything at all but rather ponder the nature of existence and reality.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  60. A Servant: I am a 25 year old medical student at Loma Linda currently, and would like to share my personal experience regarding Sean’s thesis–that the failure of many Adventist institutions to provide intellectually compelling reasons for faith in the Bible and in our Bible-based Adventist doctrines has made a major contribution to attrition of “young people” from the Adventist Church.

    Nice testimony! I encourage you to reconsider your career and become a biology professor in a SDA college or university, where you can more effectively fight in the front-line trenches of the battle between good and evil. After all, mainstream evolutionary theories are creeping into our schools and are a big reason why so many people are leaving the church. There is a crucial shortage of SDAs who aspire to become biology professors and even fewer who, like you, are actually fit for denominational employment, so there is a much, much, much greater need for biology professors in our schools than for physicians in our hospitals.

    As a biology professor you will you have many, many, many more opportunities to confront the viral influence of Darwinism and staunch the hemmoraging of young people from the church than you ever will as a mere physician. As you have observed first-hand, young people are eager to learn the truth about the scientific evidence for creationism. Rather than witnessing to one at a time in a clinical practice, you can witness to dozens if not hundreds of young people at a time in the classroom, and individually in your office during advising sessions. Plus you’ll have more free time to minister to young people during extracurricular activities. Just think of the possibilities! Sounds exciting, eh?

    But if you choose to become a biology professor, be aware that you’ll earn far less income than you would as a physician. You’ll probably earn even less than a first-grade teacher in our denominational schools, but that’s okay because professors are expected to sacrifice more than any other denominational employee. I doubt that you’ll have a problem with that. Surely you would rather have Jesus than silver or gold, and would rather be His than have riches untold.

    Also be aware that professors tend to be liberal, especially biology professors, which means that you will likely be viewed with suspicion by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. But naturally there are ways in which you can assuage any such suspicion. For example, you can conduct creationist research with students or at least post comments in support of creationism on creationist websites. You can also post your syllabi, lecture notes, and videos of your lectrues online so the whole world can see that you have nothing to hide.

    I sincerely hope that you will seriously consider this suggestion, and encourage your young friends there to also consider an alternative career as a biology professor. Again, there is a great need for devout SDA biology professors. May God bless you in your ministry.




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  61. Sean Pitman: @Eddie: If you are being serious, that’s great. You have to forgive me for being just a bit skeptical here since, if you are being serious, this is the first time, I think, where I actually agree with everything you said in a particular post. Sean Pitmanhttp://www.DetectingDesign.com

    @Sean Eddie is being about as “serious” as John Stewart on the Daily Show, and you know it, despite what he confesses.

    Sarcasm may ease Eddie’s “soul” and give him a “feel good” about this, bit will not change the serious nature of what is happening in our SDA institutions and churches.

    Eddie would probably make a similar “argument” for why those who feel a calling from God to enter the ministry should consider all the “benefits” such as congregational stressors, long hours, low pay, lack of gratitude from the parishioners, etc.

    Right, Eddie?!




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  62. Re Wes’s Quote

    “@ken: “…a PENULTIMATE deity…” I Just can’t let that one go by.

    By whim or whimsy you may willy-nilly consign the cosmic Ultimacy to myth, metaphor, metonym, or model; to M, string, or Gaia theory; to quark or quantum; to geometric form, bronze, marble, or electronic, JPEG or TIFF; to pantheism or atheism, but never consign Him to penultimacy. Thanks, friend.”

    Dear Wes

    Ooops, my faux pax, meant to say ultimate!

    You have my infinite apology.

    However I’m not sure about your selected gender of the Ultimacy. Gender neutral ‘It’ seems cold and impersonal. We need a new personal pronoun for God. How about Herim?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  63. Ron, I was being as sarcastic as the hole that is left in a cup of coffee after you pull your finger out of it. Nearly everything I wrote echoed stuff I had written earlier here. The SDA church is in desperate need of biology professors. And not just biology professors, but professors in all disciplines.

    I have repeatedly stated here that it’s very difficult to find suitable SDA candidates for many vacancies in SDA colleges and universities. If you don’t believe me, just ask any biology professor in any SDA college or university how many applicants they had for a recent vacancy in their department. SWAU, WWU and PUC just filled their vacancies. SAU is still searching. My department recently interviewed the only two suitable applicants. We were fortunate to have two, because a couple of departments on my campus can’t find anybody to fill vacancies! Which means–horror or horrors–that they may have to hire non-SDAs.

    Candidates often get interviewed by multiple SDA colleges and universities, which are competing with each other to entice candidates, but have very little to offer other than a lower cost of living for some fortunate campuses. And candidates often come from another SDA campus, which means hiring them fills a vacancy on one campus but leaves a vacancy on another.

    Very few SDAs feel called to become professors. Students who excel in sciences are urged to go into the health sciences, which is a strong part of SDA culture. How many of you have urged your children to become a professor? If you don’t believe me, Ron, why did you choose to go to medical school rather than go to graduate school to become a college professor? I suspect I know the answer. You often target administrators in the Pacific Union Conference, but do they really deserve the blame for the church’s culture of apathy for becoming a professor?

    Frankly a professor’s pay is abysmal. Years ago the SDA colleges and universities went off the denominational payscale. Wages are now set by each institution’s board, and by necessity many have been less generous than the denomination in giving raises. As a consequence, professors are the lowest paid (based on their qualifications) employees in the denomination. And they’re probably the least materialistic. They have to be, otherwise they would never choose to be professors in a SDA institution. How would you feel if you earned $15,000 less than a 1st-grade teacher in a SDA school across the street? One of my colleagues with a PhD degree could tell you exactly how he feels, because that’s how much more his wife earns.

    And that may explain in part why LSU is reluctant to fire any professors. Who would they find to replace them? I would never work there. Way too much scrutiny and controversy.




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  64. Dear Sean, Eddie, Ron et. al.

    Re Lack of biology profs at Adventist institutions

    Can’t well heeled Adventist alumni fund chairs of creation science at the respective institutions? Couldn’t part of the tithe be directed to the teaching of science to support FB6?

    Where there’s a will there’s a way…or an estate lawyer.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  65. Sean, if I may say so, your binary thinking on faith (“blind”) versus evidence (the basis of true faith), with seemingly no ground in between, is bound to offend many of your staunchest supporters. Your cartoon just adds to the image even conservatives are developing of you as one who enthusiastically mocks faith and those who believe that “emipirical falsifiable evidence” is subservient to God’s word.

    You’ve made this game quite fun, in a sense, to see just how far you will go. In all honesty, though, I’ve been more than a little surprised: I’m speechless (but my fingers seem to function just fine). Apparently, you cannot stop this train you’ve hopped upon. If you want to continue running down everyone who crosses the tracks, I suppose we can continue to do so.

    I keep waiting for someone at the General Conference or the Biblical Research Institute to take some leadership on this issue. Surely by now they have taken notice. I will find it quite interesting to learn their take on this issue.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      Sean, if I may say so, your binary thinking on faith (“blind”) versus evidence (the basis of true faith), with seemingly no ground in between, is bound to offend many of your staunchest supporters.

      I’m sorry, but aren’t you the one saying that faith need not be based on empirical evidence whatsoever? – not even a little bit? You’re the one saying that if there’s some empirical evidence in support of your faith, great! If not, great! – evidence really doesn’t matter at all to your faith. You can take it or leave it without any effect on your faith.

      Such is the extreme position you seem to be promoting and I don’t think very many thinking people are going to agree with you…

      The only reason people take such a position is because of their fear of having to admit that they might be wrong. Any potential for error must be avoided at all cost…

      I’m sorry, but if there is not even the potential for one to be wrong on any idea, even religious ideas, there’s also not much benefit from them either since they’re correct “by definition”. The irrational circularity of this argument is nicely highlighted in the above-listed illustration.

      http://www.educatetruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Blind-Bible-Faith.jpg

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  66. I have touched repeatedly on the fact that the original signature of God’s authorship on creation has been marred–to the point that evidence today could lead us in the wrong direction. Satan himself could have altered the evidence that Sean insists we must trust. I mentioned this concern in my recent article at SpectrumMagazine.org.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that, of all people, Clifford Goldstein agrees with me. In a recent piece, he wrote:

    I understand, too, that the world that science studies today is not the same as the original creation; instead, it suffers from the “double curse” (as Ellen White called it) of Adam’s and Cain’s sin, as well as massive water damage, i.e., the Flood. Therefore, what is can easily lead even the most astute observer astray about what was.

    Sorry, EducateTruthers, but I’m squarely with Clifford on this. We’re both concerned that others, like Sean Pitman, who claim to “go where the evidence leads,” are on a trajectory that will send them off a cliff.

    I also appreciated Clifford’s softer tone when he continued:

    Thus it isn’t hard to sympathize with those who are confronted with scientific “facts” that contradict all they have believed. We have to be sensitive to their struggles; we have to affirm them in their search; and we have to create an environment in which they can, without being judged or condemned, ask questions as they work through these issues.

    Thank you, Clifford. (And yes, for all those who object to LSU faculty who might have belittled faithful believers, they were disrespectful and wrong to do so.)




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      I have touched repeatedly on the fact that the original signature of God’s authorship on creation has been marred–to the point that evidence today could lead us in the wrong direction.

      Of course God’s signature in nature has been marred, but not beyond recognition. According to the Bible itself God’s signature is still recognizable in nature “so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV, Psalms 19:1 NIV).

      Your argument for a marred nature certainly doesn’t undermine the fact that a rational faith demands empirical support. A faith that is true “by definition” is an arrogant faith that does not even consider other perspectives and is therefore unable to even sympathize, effectively, with those coming from other faiths since other faiths are false “by definition” – no questions asked, no evidence needed.

      Are there those who are honestly confused by the evidence? Of course there are. But God does not hold anyone accountable for honest confusion or error. God only holds people morally accountable for acting against what they knew or could have known to be true, but deliberately rejected or refused to learn…

      By the way, I happen to be a personal friend of Clifford Goldstein. He often sends me his articles and outlines for his videos and television programs, particular on the topic of creation/evolution, to review before they are published. Cliff is a big supporter of creation apologetics for the very same reason that I am so heavily involved – because he also values empirical evidence as having a direct relationship to faith.

      Clifford has stated that if he saw the evidence as clearly favoring the Darwinian perspective on origins, he would leave the SDA Church. He converted to the SDA Church because he saw the weight of evidence, the empirical evidence, in strong support of the SDA doctrines. He’s not a social Adventist. He’s an Adventist because he actually believes the best available evidence favors the SDA perspective.

      You seem to forget, if you ever read it, that it was Cliff who wrote the famous Review article, “Seventh-day Darwinians” in which he states:

      Though raised on evolution, I one day found myself a born-again Christian who saw, immediately, an impossible conundrum between what I was taught my whole life and my new worldview. Within the first few days someone gave me the book The Genesis Flood, by Henry Morris, and for the first time I realized that the “proof” I was dogmatically given for evolution wasn’t as solid as I had been led to believe from grade school through college. Over time, and after more reading, I was soon purged of all macroevolutionary presuppositions. In fact, if (heaven forbid) I ever lost my faith, I could never go back to evolution. Alien seeding or the Babylonian creation story seems more plausible than the standard scientific paradigm of origins…

      What amazes me isn’t so much that people can believe in evolution (after all, I used to), but that those who do still want to be Seventh-day Adventists. I can respect someone who, believing in evolutionary theory, rejects the Adventist Church entirely. I have no respect for those who think they can meld the two.

      You see, according to Cliff, the evidence for creation and against mainstream evolutionary theories, played an important role in his conversion to the SDA Church… and still does. While he sympathizes with those who honestly believe in evolution (as do I), he does not believe that there is insufficient evidence, empirical evidence, to present a rational defense for faith in the credibility of the Biblical account of origins – as he himself was able to do.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  67. 1. I have never seen a post from an LSU administrator saying that the only reason they promote evolutionism as ” what really happened in nature to create all complex genomes seen today” – is because they “just could not find people who knew the right answer” and that “SDA professors are so hard to find”.

    2. If that truly is the “reason” for adopting an atheist-centric view of origins — it is odd that we do not see any other SDA school making that claim either.

    3. The constant ploy of claiming that God cannot be put in a test tube, to stop inquiring minds from making observations in nature that are consistent with the Bible – is not the compelling case some seem to at first imagine.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      And you can’t “prove” that Stonehenge wasn’t the result of some unusual mindless forces of nature stacking all those rocks just so.

      Stonehenge

      You can’t “prove” that a Boeing 747 can’t be produced by an explosion in a junkyard or some other mindless force of nature. Yet, without being able to absolutely prove it, we all believe that such things cannot happen without the input of high level deliberate intelligent design.

      The same is true for various features of the universe and of living things that strongly speak of the need for a God or God-like intelligence to explain. While absolute proof is impossible for us humans to realize regarding any hypothesis or theory, one doesn’t need absolute proof to gain a very very high degree of predictive value for the theory that God exists and could only have been responsible for various features of the world in which we live.

      So, we don’t need the Bible to detect God’s signature in nature – as the Bible itself explains. The Bible helps to fill us in on some key details, but God’s existence and key elements of this character are evident through the study of nature alone…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  68. Sean Pitman: I’m sorry, but aren’t you the one saying that faith need not be based on empirical evidence whatsoever? – not even a little bit?

    Nope. Do you even read my posts?

    I’ve all but screamed at you that NO ONE ADVOCATES BLIND FAITH, because THERE AIN’T NO SUCH THING AS BLIND FAITH (except in your post after post after post after post), and WE CANNOT HUMANLY IGNORE THE EVIDENCE.

    We just prioritize faith ahead of evidence for one simple reason: As Bill Sorenson just put it, you can’t “prove” God, you can’t “prove” miracles, you can’t “prove” the supernatural, you can’t “prove” what took place before our lifetimes.

    If you substitute science for faith, then where lie your loyalties?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      I’m having a very difficult time following your logic professor…

      Isn’t “Prioritizing faith ahead of evidence”, the very definition of empirically-blind faith? What this statement means to most people, at least to me anyway, is that you don’t really care if there is or isn’t good empirical evidence to support your faith because your faith is able to function with or without empirical support. While its great to have some empirical evidence, your faith really does have the power to ignore any and all forms of empirical evidence that happen to conflict with your faith.

      How is faith that need not be based on empirical evidence, faith that trumps and is “prioritized” ahead of all forms of empirical evidence, not blind faith? – not faith that is or at least can be blind to all opposing forms of evidence?

      Perhaps Phil Brantley can help you explain this one because I’m just not following you…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  69. Sean Pitman wrote:

    Clifford has stated that if he saw the evidence as clearly favoring the Darwinian perspective on origins, he would leave the SDA Church.

    And then quoted Cliff Goldstein:

    In fact, if (heaven forbid) I ever lost my faith, I could never go back to evolution.

    Somehow, this just doesn’t appeal to a rational mind.

    I’m certainly persuaded that evidence is important to Goldstein, but I think he makes quite clear that he prioritizes faith in God’s word. In all frankness, I think you do, too.




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  70. BobRyan: 1. I have never seen a post from an LSU administrator saying that the only reason they promote evolutionism as ” what really happened in nature to create all complex genomes seen today” – is because they “just could not find people who knew the right answer” and that “SDA professors are so hard to find”.

    During several job interviews at SDA institutions nobody ever asked me specific questions regarding my views on origins. I could well be wrong, as I often am, but I suspect administrators simply assumed that if a candidate was SDA and applying for a job, their views on origins were in harmony with those of the church unless somebody within the search committee raised a red flag. Now that this issue is blown wide open, which Educate Truth can legitimately claim credit for, I’m certain the views of origins for all candidates at all SDA institutions are being properly vetted before they are offered a job. No SDA institution envies the controversy and scrutiny provoked by the LSU biology profs, so no institution wants to hire a candidate who is going to stir up a firestrom.

    As for LSU, I wouldn’t assume that the highest level of administration intentionally recruited candidates who embraced theistic evolution. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the department leadership intentionally recruited such candidates. And given the fallout, I would be surprised if they continued to do so.




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  71. Eddie: As for LSU, I wouldn’t assume that the highest level of administration intentionally recruited candidates who embraced theistic evolution. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the department leadership intentionally recruited such candidates. And given the fallout, I would be surprised if they continued to do so.

    “If” the admin and department heads are either pro-Bible Creationism or at least “neutral” on the subject of faith in evolutionism, then you are right they have every incentive not to make the same mistakes as in the past.

    But if they are adamantly defending “evolution as part of Big Tent Adventism” they may not be inclined at all to seek out creationists or turn away evolutionists — no matter the cost.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  72. There is an either-or argument being promoted here of the form

    “either have faith OR seek out Bible affirming observations in nature”.

    It may also be stated as “either have faith OR claim that faith in evolutionism contradicts the Bible and undermines Christianity as we see claimed in 3SG 90-91”.

    At no point has the “no faith” option been promoted by those of us who claim that belief in evolutionism undermines the Bible and leads ultimately to atheism.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  73. BobRyan: At no point has the “no faith” option been promoted by those of us who claim that belief in evolutionism undermines the Bible and leads ultimately to atheism.

    Several of us have repeatedly stated that you, Shane, Sean, and others do indeed accept much on faith. It’s good to get this straight.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      What’s good to “get straight” is that everyone accepts what they believe about the world in which they live on faith to one degree or another – on leaps of logic that cannot be absolutely known, with perfection, to be true.

      This is what science is all about, making “educated guesses” based on empirical evidence, but never enough empirical evidence to remove all possibility of error. The same can be true of a rational faith in God and His Word, the Bible…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  74. Sean said…..

    “This is what science is all about, making “educated guesses” based on empirical evidence, but never enough empirical evidence to remove all possibility of error. The same can be true of a rational faith in God and His Word, the Bible…”

    This is part of the present problem in dialogue, Sean.

    I am aware that any human conclusion concerning what the bible teaches may be faulty. In fact, we can be quit certain that all of us have some faulty ideas about what the bible teaches. None the less, all true bible believers confess and acknowledge that the bible itself is an infallible revelation of God and His will. This is a Protestant confession of faith.

    This theory can not be said about nature and science. Nature and science are a faulty revelation of God and not a final reliable source of information.

    We can not study scientific revelation from nature with the assurance that there is a consistent and ongoing source of information that is not subject to error in the revelation.

    We don’t make “educated guesses” as to what is true and what is not when we study the bible. Meaning what? You can study nature in its fallen condition and never come to a correct conclusion.

    We can study the bible with the assurance that it is in and of itself a complete and perfect revelation of truth. If we find inconsistency in the bible, we must continue to study its messages until, by the Holy Spirit, we see the perfect flowing continuity of truth that God has designed for us to see.

    This can not be said of nature.

    When the reformers formulate the phrase “faith alone”, it was “the merits of Christ alone”, “justification and pardon by Christ alone” and finally “the bible alone as a sufficient and final authority to govern and enlighten the human family.”

    And this confession about the bible was and is the foundation of reformation Protestantism. It is the single most important aspect of truth given to us by the reformation.

    We affirm faith in the bible by its own “evidence”, namely, Prophecy. We start within the bible and look for evidence without, namely, the fulfillment of prophecy. We do not start with nature and then look to see if the bible confirms what we see nature affirm. This is a false order of finding truth.

    Nature is too convoluted to be any authoritive source of final truth.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      What is faulty is not reality itself – regarding either the Bible or nature. What is faulty is the human ability to correctly appreciate reality – regarding the true nature of nature, the Bible, and all other forms of truth.

      I believe in absolute truth. I just don’t believe in the human ability to accurately comprehend absolute truth. The best that we humans can do is approach truth without ever fully realizing it.

      This means that all our beliefs, to include our belief that the Bible is in fact the Word of God, are subjective – subject to the possibility of error – to include your interpretation of history’s support of the Bible.

      By the way, history was a part of nature and evidence in nature is the basis for validating history. This is why historical sciences are true sciences that use scientific methodologies. When you appeal to history as evidence of the Bible’s Divine origin, you are not truly using the Bible to confirm its own authority. You are using a reference that is external to the Bible as a form of empirical evidence that supports your interpretation or theory that the Bible has a Divine origin.

      Thus, evidences in nature are what even you use to confirm your theories regarding the Bible’s meaning, origin, and credibility.

      With regard to the Bible in particular, I think the odds that the Divine origin theory is in error are so small that I’d be willing to put my own life on the line that the Bible is in fact the true Word of God. That being said, I could still be wrong. The Book of Mormon or the Qur’an may actually be the true Word of God. As highly unlikely as that may seem to me at the present time, I must and I should consider this possibility.

      My LDS friends, like you, refuse to even consider the possibility of error with regard to their belief that the Book of Mormon is the True Word of God – not the Bible. They will not even consider it a remote possibility that they could be wrong. No empirical evidence from history or anything else can convince them to consider the possibility of error. We need to try to avoid this trap of irrationality in our own religion…

      In short, there’s a difference between the existence of absolute truth and the realization or comprehension of absolute truth…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  75. I suppose I might as well add to the cross-chatter between Spectrum and ET. At Spectrum, David Read wrote:

    Phil [Brantley], I agree with you that, as Ellen White said, “there should be a settled belief in the divine authority of God’s Holy Word. The Bible is not to be tested by men’s ideas of science. Human knowledge is an unreliable guide.” PP. 114.

    I appreciated this post from David, and the clarification of his own position.

    It’s a bit disconcerting that Ellen White makes seemingly contradictory statements about the relationship between evidence and scripture. There are, of course, many forms of evidence. Perhaps someone could compile her statements on evidence to see if she is consistent at least on how she relates science (scientific evidence) specifically to the testing of scripture.

    I believe that Educate Truth proponents reject this very explicit quote from Ellen White and defer instead to quotes on other forms of evidence–including the inward working of the Holy Spirit–to support their view. I suggest that context should be given more weight.




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  76. Sean said…..

    “With regard to the Bible in particular, I think the odds that the Divine origin theory is in error are so small that I’d be willing to put my own life on the line that the Bible is in fact the true Word of God. That being said, I could still be wrong.”

    I doubt in the end, Sean, that you or anyone else would be willing to put their life on the line for anything related to religion and God if there was even the slightest possibility that your foundation for faith was faulty or wrong.

    I have already agreed and stated that our view of the what the bible teaches may be faulty and wrong. But that does not include its own affirmation of its own authority. If we have any reason to doubt this, then we have every reason to doubt everything else it affirms.

    We start with the basic Protestant Christian assumption that the bible is infallible for its intended purpose to reveal the will of God in all His dealings with man and man’s accountability in the relationship.

    This is non-negotiable and not subject to doubt or possible error.

    As we study God’s will and His own self-revelation, we admit we may need to qualify and re-qualify the revelation based on the bible itself. But if and when doubt becomes a viable factor concerning the bible’s self proclaimed authority, we have just opened the door to skepticism, and unbelief simply because we can not “prove” the bible ultimately except by prophecy.

    We should be grateful that in a Christian family, we have been affirmed and instructed concerning the full authority of scripture and its infallible self affirmation of its own authority.

    The bible alone gives us a “first cause” that appeals to fallen man to define his origin, meaning of life, and future.

    Every other religion makes man god. Such an affirmation is devastating to our self understanding and leads to ongoing frustration, confusion and finally, for many suicide.

    No book compares to the bible for this reason as well as many others. And nature can not affirm that the God of the bible is the creator.

    Nature can work as “the law that is a schoolmaster to lead us to scripture”.

    The enigma of life is not found in nature itself. It finds its meaning in the bible. Thus, Solomon can say, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

    Solomon sought a final meaning in nature and finally admitted he could find none. He could have said, “Frustration, frustration, all is frustration outside the word of God.”

    At any rate, Sean, I suppose you believe the bible is the word of God. If I or others would have any concern for your way of explaining what you embrace, it is because you at least seem to imply that the bible is not a sufficient revelation of truth and must be affirmed by nature. And the implication being, if nature is not in harmony with scripture, we must challenge and change our ideas of the bible and not visa versa.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      If weight of rationally perceived empirical reality were not in harmony with the Bible (as it is not in harmony with the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an), it would be just as illogical to present the Bible as the Word of God as it is to present the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an as the infallible Word of God.

      You yourself appeal to external empirical reality in the form of the historical sciences to support your claim to biblical authority. I do the same thing. It is just that I don’t pretend that the Bible’s credibility is dependent only upon itself. It isn’t. Many fables are internally consistent. Internal consistency simply isn’t enough to establish credibility when it comes to statements of past, present, or future empirical realities or metaphysical truths…

      By the way, people put their lives on the line for a lot of things that are not absolutely known or knowable. You think you know the truth with absolute assurance, but you do not. You are actually a subjective human being and therefore you cannot know anything with absolute confidence – without any risk of error. You cannot know, with absolute certainty, that your views on the Bible’s origin and credibility are true. I know that you strongly believe that you’re right, as do I, but you can’t be absolutely certain as a subjective creature… subject to limited information and the ever-present potential for error.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  77. Ken: Dear Sean, Eddie, Ron et. al. Re Lack of biology profs at Adventist institutions: Can’t well heeled Adventist alumni fund chairs of creation science at the respective institutions? Couldn’t part of the tithe be directed to the teaching of science to support FB6?Where there’s a will there’s a way…or an estate lawyer.Your agnostic friendKen

    Tithe is virtually or always used to directly “fund” the preaching of the gospel, as with pastors, evangelists,etc. I wouldn’t think our tithe was being used to pay Biology Profs to teach “evolution as fact” or even general Biology itself. Or am I wrong?




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  78. Your article on why so many are leaving the church is directly related to how people understand the bible and its authority over the Christian community. More than a few have developed theories that undermine the bible and this includes some church authorities and professors.

    We need to be sure we state our confession of faith in a clear and definitive way that eliminates confusion as far as possible. And how we understand the authority of the bible should have no loop holes that leave some doubts as to its position of authority.

    Perhaps we “over explain” the obvious in an attempt to make clearer what needs no futher statement.

    Or as it has been said, “Me thinks you protest too much.” Meaning, I doubt you really believe what you are saying yourself and are trying to convince yourself more than me.

    Is that possible?

    Bill Sorensen




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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      You can’t get rational people to simply accept the Bible as God’s Word just because you explain to them that the Bible makes this claim. Many other books make this claim as well, yet you don’t believe them. Why not? Your constant mantra that the Bible is self-verifying is an appeal to circular reasoning – which again does not appeal to most intelligent people.

      If the Church can’t present apologetic arguments in support of the Bible’s credibility, explanations that naturally appeal to rational candid minds, it is only natural to expect honest intelligent people to look elsewhere…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  79. Bill Sorensen:

    We affirm faith in the bible by its own “evidence”, namely, Prophecy. We start within the bible and look for evidence without, namely, the fulfillment of prophecy. We do not start with nature and then look to see if the bible confirms what we see nature affirm. This is a false order of finding truth.
    Nature is too convoluted to be any authoritive source of final truth.
    Bill Sorensen

    The affirmation you speak of above (prophecy) involves comparing the claims of the Bible against what is “observed” to have taken place in real history.

    The same method of affirmation is used in epistemology when comparing the claims of the Bible with observations in nature.

    Neither history nor nature are perfectly/infallibly understood. yet as you point out this does not stop us from using them to build our epistemological arguments in favor of the Bible.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  80. Sean, here is a quote from Ellen White:

    “There should be a settled belief in the divine authority of God’s Holy Word. The Bible is not to be tested by men’s ideas of science. Human knowledge is an unreliable guide.” PP. 114.

    Did she err? Is she actually telling us here that the Bible must be tested by science? That we can trust human knowledge?




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    • @Professor Kent: I don’t believe this comment is contradictory to her many statements regarding faith and evidence. Notice she says we should be settled in our belief of the divine authority of God’s Word. We must have good reason to settle first.

      In the same paragraph quoted, she says, “All truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is consistent with itself in all its manifestations.” This is why she was able to say, “Moses wrote under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and a correct theory of geology will never claim discoveries that cannot be reconciled with his statements.”

      Human reasoning is a necessary tool for detecting truth; however, human reasoning has its limitations. She says the Bible should not be tested by “man’s ideas of science.” What does she mean by this?

      First she makes the point that there are things we cannot understand because we are finite. She gives some examples of what men of science think:

      Yet men of science think that they can comprehend the wisdom of God, that which He has done or can do. The idea largely prevails that He is restricted by His own laws. Men either deny or ignore His existence, or think to explain everything, even the operation of His Spirit upon the human heart.

      She’s not saying Bible shouldn’t be tested at all, but it shouldn’t be tested by man’s ideas of science. She’s talking about a faulting knowledge base. While our ability to reason is by no means perfect, it’s all we have to use to detect truth. She says, “All true science is in harmony with His works” (PP 115).

      If they contradict each other, one of them has to be wrong. How do we determine that? God has given us the ability to judge and weigh evidence, and most of all he has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

      “Faith rests on evidence,” she says (T5 68). Of the Bible she says:

      In order to arrive at truth, we must have a sincere desire to know the truth and a willingness of heart to obey it. And all who come in this spirit to the study of the Bible will find abundant evidence that it is God’s word, and they may gain an understanding of its truths that will make them wise unto salvation. (SC 111)

      In the end there is a difference between man’s ideas of science and true science.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Did you not read the rest of page 114 of Patriarchs and Prophets?

      While Mrs. white does say that, “There should be a settled belief in the divine authority of God’s Holy Word. The Bible is not to be tested by men’s ideas of science.”, she is clearly talking about the popular notions of scientists of her own day which directly countered biblical statements of historical reality (as they do today).

      On the same page (p. 114) Mrs White goes on to explain the nature of faith and science – that both are intertwined with each. One does not exist without the other.

      Skeptics who read the Bible for the sake of caviling, may, through an imperfect comprehension of either science or revelation, claim to find contradictions between them; but rightly understood, they are in perfect harmony. Moses wrote under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and a correct theory of geology will never claim discoveries that cannot be reconciled with his statements. All truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is consistent with itself in all its manifestations.

      Notice how Mrs. White describes nature and revelation has being very closely related, both having a common source and both testifying to the truth of the other as each is correctly interpreted.

      She argues that the popular “science” of her day was “false science” – not a true form of rational thought or scientific investigation or understanding of the natural world:

      This is false science, and is not sustained by the word of God. Nature is the servant of her Creator. God does not annul His laws or work contrary to them, but He is continually using them as His instruments.

      Beyond this, on the same page (p. 114) she specifically argues that it is nature and natural laws that testify for the existence of her Author and form the basis of a rational faith in God’s existence and in the credibility of His Word:

      Nature testifies of an intelligence, a presence, an active energy, that works in and through her laws. There is in nature the continual working of the Father and the Son. Christ says, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” John 5:17.

      I’m not sure how she could have been any more clear in her support of the need for a rational understanding nature and the use of empirical evidence as a rational basis for faith in God’s existence and in the credibility of the Bible.

      You really need to read Mrs. White in context and not take a single sentence out of context from the many passages where she lists off many physical evidences and tells us that God intended for us to use these evidence to build our faith in the credibility of the written Word…

      God does not expect us to believe without a solid basis in empirical evidence. The appearance of axe heads floating is not contrary to the hypothesis of deliberate design (as I’ve seen with my own eyes). However, the notion that American Indians are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel (as the Book of Mormon claims), is inconsistent with well-established scientific evidence.

      Such statements that are so clearly contrary to seemingly definitive empirical evidence, if coming from the Bible, would certainly call its overall credibility into serious question for most intelligent candid minds… and rightly so.

      It is because the Bible, unlike any other book that claims Divine authority, is so consistent with empirical evidence for its historical claims (which can be investigated in a potentially falsifiable manner) that it is able to gain a great deal of predictive value and therefore credibility with the intelligent candid mind who is honestly searching for truth.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  81. Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence. {3T 255.1}

    In the history of the Flood, inspiration has explained that which geology alone could never fathom. In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but men, with their vain reasoning, fall into the same error as did the people before the Flood–the things which God gave them as a benefit, they turn into a curse by making a wrong use of them.
    {PP 112.3}

    Yet the works of creation testify of God’s power and greatness. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1. Those who take the written word as their counselor will find in science an aid to understand God. “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” Romans 1:20.

    God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith. {CCh 93.4}

    Many are so intent upon excluding God from the exercise of sovereign will and power in the established order of the universe, that they demean men, the noblest of His creatures. The theories and speculations of philosophy would make us believe that man has come by slow degrees, not merely from a savage state, but from the very lowest form of the brute creation. They destroy man’s dignity because they will not admit God’s miraculous power. {UL 156.4}

    God has illuminated human intellects, and poured a flood of light on the world through discoveries in art and science. But those who view these from a merely human standpoint will most assuredly come to wrong conclusions. The thorns of error, skepticism, and infidelity are disguised by being covered with the garments of philosophy and science. Satan has devised this ingenious manner of winning souls away from the living God, away from the truth and religion. He exalts nature above nature’s Creator.—Manuscript 4, copied May 22, 1882, “God in Nature.” {UL 156.5}

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  82. Shane Hilde: God has given us the ability to judge and weigh evidence, and most of all he has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

    Shane, these two sources of understanding are not entirely compatible. I think you are saying that the Holy Spirit must be prioritized ahead of reason. If so, I certainly agree.

    Regarding your quote from Ellen White, I don’t believe she is considering an external source. Read it once again:

    In order to arrive at truth, we must have a sincere desire to know the truth and a willingness of heart to obey it. And all who come in this spirit to the study of the Bible will find abundant evidence that it is God’s word, and they may gain an understanding of its truths that will make them wise unto salvation. (SC 111)




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  83. Bob, thank you so much for taking the time to post a compilation of Ms. White’s statements!

    I could be wrong with my understanding, but here are my thoughts regarding each of her quotes:

    3T 255.1 – I see no indication that the “evidence” she speaks to is beyond scripture, or has anything to do with science.

    PP 112.3 – By “establish faith,” I don’t think she speaks to establishing or testing the validity of scripture. She is saying that God intends for us to find evidence for the antedeluvians (which, by the way, remains frustratingly elusive–where are those giant-sized men?), but she herself points out that scripture explains that which “geology alone could never fathom.” This is hardly an enthusiastic endorsement of geological evidences.

    Unsourced passage (citing Ps 19:1, Rom 1:20) – She points out that nature testifies to the existence and power and greatness of God; neither she nor the scriptural passages make reference to the need to use science, empirical evidence, or human reason to establish the validity of God’s word.

    CCh 93.4 – Again, what is the “evidence” she speaks to? Is it internal to scripture? Does it embrace personal experience (the Holy Spirit)? Or is it referring to science and empirical evidence (this would be quite the stretch)? This quote actually speaks to the insufficiency of our “understanding,” and points out that we should not abandon faith because of it.

    UL 156.4 – This quote certainly denounces theistic evolution, which I would agree with. But it makes no recommendation to test scripture by external sources.

    UL 156.6 – This passage actually condemns reliance on human intellect, philosophy, science, and naturalism. How could one reach any other conclusion?

    I think you, Sean, and Shane are reading more into Ellen White’s endorsement of “evidence” than what she is really saying. None of these quotes remotely hint that we are to subject scripture to external tests of validity, particularly from science. Come on, guys, can’t you see this? I don’t mean to antagonize.




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  84. In the history of the Flood, inspiration has explained that which geology alone could never fathom. In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but men, with their vain reasoning, fall into the same error as did the people before the Flood–the things which God gave them as a benefit, they turn into a curse by making a wrong use of them.
    {PP 112.3}

    Yet the works of creation testify of God’s power and greatness. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1. Those who take the written word as their counselor will find in science an aid to understand God. “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” Romans 1:20.

    God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith. {CCh 93.4}

    Professor Kent: 3T 255.1 – I see no indication that the “evidence” she speaks to is beyond scripture, or has anything to do with science.

    1. You did not make that claim about Cch 93.4 so I take this to meant that you see the point clearly from that reference.

    2. While you appear to claim that the “observations in nature” mentioned in PP 112 above is not “science” many others would clearly differ with you. The parts emphasized appear to make that point for the objective unbiased reader.

    Professor Kent: CCh 93.4 – Again, what is the “evidence” she speaks to? Is it internal to scripture? Does it embrace personal experience (the Holy Spirit)? Or is it referring to science and empirical evidence (this would be quite the stretch)?

    We see it in italics in every way imaginable the quote is clear “will find in science an aid to understand God.”

    Your “I refuse to see science in that statement” is not as compelling a response as you seem to suppose.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  85. “If the Church can’t present apologetic arguments in support of the Bible’s credibility, explanations that naturally appeal to rational candid minds, it is only natural to expect honest intelligent people to look elsewhere…”

    Sean Pitman

    “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, though one rose from the dead.”

    In telling this story, Jesus affirms the bible’s self revelation and authority and states by way of the parable, that no outside “evidence” will convince anyone if the bible does not persuade them by its own inherent arguments.

    Prophecy foretells the future of the historical process. So, yes, evidence outside the bible testifies to its validity. Namely, the historical process.

    But you must start with the bible and its self affirmation and then examine history to affirm the biblical revelations.

    Could we first examine history and then turn to the bible to see if it has predicted the future? Yes. None the less, the bible spoke first, and history verified its declarations.

    If we study nature for the sole purpose of affirming the scriptural accounts of creation and to see in what way they may be in harmony, all is well.

    But since nature, in and of itself can not specifically “prove” that God created, we must accept the biblical statements and acknowledge that nature in and of itself can not be relied upon to prove origins.

    It always goes back to the “first cause”, doesn’t it?

    Bill Sorensen




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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      If they reject “Moses and the prophets” they’ve rejected empirical evidence that they know is true. It is for this reason that providing additional empirical evidence, even overwhelming empirical evidence, will make no difference.

      Why not? Why won’t the presentation of additional strong empirical evidence change the mind of someone who has already rejected the empirical evidence that they knew was true?

      The answer is obvious. If someone has already rejected what he knew was true, his determination of truth is no longer a matter of rational thought and empirical evidence. It is now simply a matter of desire. A rejector of known truth is simply saying, “I don’t like what I know to be reality. Therefore, I will do everything to act contrary to that reality. I will deliberately rebel against what I know to be true.”

      You see, for such there is nothing more that God can do or provide to convert them or change their minds. Satan and his angels are in this camp. They know far more empirical evidence than you or I will ever know on this Earth. Yet, they reject what they know to be true, not because they don’t believe it to be true, but because they don’t have a love of the truth. They hate the Truth. Therefore, they hate God. Additional evidence of the Truth isn’t going to change their minds because their minds are based on emotion, not evidence.

      Your argument that “prophecy came first, history second” is irrelevant to the fact that anyone or anything claiming to be a prophet (like Joseph Smith for example) is open to empirical reality to test the prophetic words to see if they are actually reliable and credible before the prophet or prophetic text is given any kind of authority by the intelligent candid mind.

      It is for this reason that we can have a pretty good idea that Joseph Smith was not a real prophet of God while Mrs. White was. It is also for this reason that we can have a very good idea that the prophetic passages in the Bible were also from God – unlike the prophecies of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon.

      So, you see, even Biblical prophecies are not “self-verifying” as you have claimed. They are verified against empirical historical reality – against a form of science known as historical science.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  86. BobRyan: We see it in italics in every way imaginable the quote is clear “will find in science an aid to understand God.”

    This is obvious, Bob. But where does she say that we are to elevate evidence above God’s word, or make it the foundation of our faith, as Sean insists? Surely you don’t agree with Bob. It’s clear that that Cliff Goldstein and David Read disagree with Sean.




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  87. The school year is drawing to a close and I have a lot of deadlines to meet. I am finished sharing my thoughts and answering questions on this and other threads.

    Professor Kent
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears




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  88. BobRyan said:

    We see it in italics in every way imaginable the quote is clear

    “will find in science an aid to understand God.”

    Professor Kent: This is obvious, Bob. But where does she say that we are to elevate evidence above God’s word, or make it the foundation of our faith, as Sean insists? Surely you don’t agree with Bob. It’s clear that that Cliff Goldstein and David Read disagree with Sean.

    As has been pointed out

    1. Belief in Evolutionism undermines belief in the Bible. Christianity and evolutionism are mutually exclusive belief systems regarding the way that life in all of its complex forms came into existence on this earth.

    2. Point #1 is magnified orders of magnitude when viewed from the SDA context.

    3. At no point do SDA sources or Bible sources state that belief in evolutionism is not a problem as long as you make sure you don’t contrast your belief in evolutionism with what the Bible tells you regarding the way in which all life forms came into existence on this planet.

    4. We DO have atheist and Christian sources complaining that a few T.Es DO try the nonsensical method listed in point 3 above.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  89. I remain astonished at the level that Sean Pitman, Shane Hilde, and others here stoop to place science, empirical evidence, and human reason above scripture. We should all be offended by the low esteem in which these individuals regard scripture by demanding that it be subject to criticism and external validity. And they don’t stop there; they belittle those of us who take a high view of scripture, denouncing our faith as “blind,” “circular,” and “useless.”

    A favorite tactic by Sean Pitman is to challenge anyone to explain how one chooses the Bible to be superior ahead of other sacred texts. The most lucid answer I have seen was posted yesterday at Spectrum Magazine by Phil Brantley, and it merits posting here as well:

    Phil Brantley – Thu, 05/05/2011 – 20:59

    Dr. Pitman, the evidence arising out of Scripture that supports the claim that Scripture is the Word of God includes the following:

    1. The messianic prophecies and their fulfillment in Jesus;
    2. The internal consistency of doctrine and teaching over the course of hundreds of years, as reflected in the writings of numerous authors;
    3. The sanctuary system’s typology that connects the Old Testament with the New Testament;
    4. The courage and zeal of the disciples after the crucifixion;
    5. The candor and self-effacement reflected in the descriptions of persons and nations;
    6. The fulfillment of some apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel, as reflected in New Testament writings;
    7. The numerous references in which the Scriptural writings of others are confirmed–e.g., Peter characterizes the writings of Paul as Scripture–(and why you would call this kind of affirmation “circular”scapes me);
    8. The relative ease in differentiating Scripture from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha;
    9. The confirmed fact that the ancient writers and their contemporaries did not always understand the meaning of what was written;
    10. The complementarity of the various models of the atonement that are extensively set forth in the Old Testament, and further discussed in the New Testament;
    11. The fulfillments of classical prophecies, especially in those cases where the prophecy and its temporal fulfillment are recorded in Scripture by separate authors;
    12. The absence of material mistakes and contradiction of facts–(there are some mistakes and contradictions but they are not material);
    13. The extraordinarily high quality and depth of the material;
    14. The self-testimony of Scripture, in that we are not required to superimpose our own assertions regarding what Scripture is;
    15. The self-sufficiency of Scripture, in that all major questions of life are addressed;
    16. Despite the barbaric practices described in Scripture, Scripture affirms values of ethics, equality, justice, mercy, etc., that are centuries ahead of the times in which those texts were written.

    I will stop here, but I could continue. I caution once again that while one can have a rational faith, reason cannot displace faith.

    You should understand that my belief that Scripture is the Word of God necessarily precedes my hermeneutical approach to Scripture. In contrast, your hermeneutic of criticism necessarily precedes resolution of the question whether Scripture is the Word of God. And because external data is always subject to change, the critic never arrives at the position that Scripture is the Word of God.

    The official SDA Church will NEVER embrace Educate Truth’s heterodox theology. And one day it will go out of its way to make this abundantly clear. I guarantee it.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Phil didn’t actually answer my question, but dodged it yet again. My response is as follows:

      Phil Brantley,

      You listed off a number of evidences that, “support the claim that the Scripture is the Word of God.” What I find strange about your list is that you include numerous evidence that are dependent upon extra-biblical empirical information, to include historically-fulfilled prophecies and an understanding of various elements of the text that is dependent upon extra-biblical historical knowledge of the existence of people, times and places… all dependent upon the historical sciences.

      Yet, you go on to explain:

      “You should understand that my belief that Scripture is the Word of God necessarily precedes my hermeneutical approach to Scripture. In contrast, your hermeneutic of criticism necessarily precedes resolution of the question whether Scripture is the Word of God. And because external data is always subject to change, the critic never arrives at the position that Scripture is the Word of God.”

      It seems to me like you confuse epistemology (how we know what we know) with hermeneutics (how to interpret or determine the intended meaning of a given text). While certainly being related, and even interdependent, they aren’t the same thing.

      The confusion I have with your arguments in this and other forums is that you seem to suggest that one’s epistemological conclusion that the Bible is in fact the Word of God cannot rationally “precede” one’s hermeneutic understanding of the text itself… that one must somehow definitively decide, without any question, that the Bible is the Word of God before one has actually interpreted what the author of the text was trying to say and if that interpretation does in fact match key elements of known physical reality – i.e., if what the author was in fact trying to say is most likely true or false.

      For example, given your approach one could conclude, a priori that the Book of Mormon, or the Qur’an, is really the true Word of God. Then, after coming to this conclusion, one would then proceed to actually read and interpret the Book of Mormon, or the Qur’an, according to one’s pre-established epistemology that the Book of Mormon, or the Qur’an, is in fact the true Word of God. It wouldn’t matter, then, if DNA evidence showed that the American Indians really aren’t “descendants from the lost tribes of Israel”, as the Book of Mormon claims, but are, rather, descendants from an Asian background. After all, since the Book of Mormon would be “true by definition”, such DNA evidence should not effect one’s faith in the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as being the Word of God – right?

      This is the circular element in your argument. The very same argument could be used to simply declare any text to be the true Word of God without any means to detect if one has in fact made an error in this “by definition” or “just-so” declaration.

      If no form of empirical evidence, to include historical knowledge, should have any power to change your epistemological view that the Bible is the True Word of God, then it really means nothing that you list off numerous empirically-based evidences that do in fact support this view. Your basic argument is that such evidences are not needed – that the Bible, by itself, without any reference to any such external empirical evidence or seeming reality, can stand alone as a self-evident revelation of God’s will.
      In short, I’ve specifically asked you, several times now, how one can rationally determine that the Bible, and not the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an, is the the true word of God without any reference to any external empirical evidences, and you’ve yet to provide an answer to this question – or to even directly address this question. You’ve not presented any reason, that I can tell, whereby one who did not grow up as a Christian automatically believing the Bible to be God’s Word could rationally recognize the Bible as the true Word of God among many competing options all making the very same claim… without any reference or appeal to external empirical evidences of any kind.

      Do you have an answer to this particular question or not?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean Pitman – Sat, 05/07/2011 – 06:51

        Phil Brantley,

        You wrote:

        “You ask the question how could an ignorant pagan come to believe that the Bible is the Word of God without becoming convinced of the Bible’s truthfulness through reference to external data. Ask Mark Finley or Doug Batchelor or any one of our Church evangelists. The question is irrelevant. My point is that for one who believes that the Bible is the Word of God, no criticism of the sacred text is permissible.

        The question of determining that the Bible is truly the Word of God vs. all other competing options is not at all “irrelevant” to the concept of a rational faith in the Bible as the Word of God. Your argument that the Bible is true “by definition” can be used, in the very same manner, by those upholding the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an. There is no difference, that I can tell, in your argument vs. that of my LDS friends. None at all…

        It is easy to make up a fairytale or an allegory or a novel that is internally consistent with regard to prophecies, times, places, peoples, and events – none of which are literally true. Such internal consistency is not, therefore, a rational basis for belief in the literal truth of the Bible as being the Word of God when it comes to its claims regarding my own empirical reality – current or future. Such a determination of truth requires something beyond the text itself if it is to appeal to the rational candid mind.

        You yourself actually cite real historical empirically-based evidence. based on historical science, as a basis for the Bible’s historical credibility when it comes to prophecies. I knew you would do this if pressed to answer the question of determining original credibility. You cannot help but do this because if prophetic statements were only verified by the Bible itself, having no basis in (or even in conflict with) known external historical reality, they would carry very little if any weight as evidences for Divine origin.

        As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of the main problems with the Book of Mormon, its prophetic statements, while largely being internally consistent, conflict with known historical reality. It is for this reason that many, like me, completely dismiss the metaphysical claims of the Book of Mormon – because those claims dealing with physical reality can be so clearly falsified.

        If the same is true of the Bible, how on Earth can you expect a rational person to still hold to the notion that the Bible is in fact the Word of God? – without any appeal to external empirical evidences / reality? That’s simply not a rational position in my book… and will not appeal to most candidly rational intelligent minds out there.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean Pitman – Sat, 05/07/2011 – 09:08

        Yakshaver,

        You wrote:

        “I think there is a difference between the concept of irrational (that Professor Kent is accused of encouraging) and the concept of non-rational. A big difference in my opinion, which might make the accusations [against] the writer of the article a bit… irrational.”

        Certain conclusions are indeed “non-rational” rather than “irrational” – such as a personal opinion that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate ice cream. No “rational” explanation is needed for this preference to be “true” for the individual. The same thing is true about personal notions in the existence of a God who has never interacted with nature in a detectable way outside of the pre-established mindless “laws of nature”. Such a belief is also a “non-rational” belief or faith.

        However, when someone makes specific claims regarding the existence of a God who has actually acted in real history and continues to act in a detectable manner, one has moved from the realm of non-rationality to the realm of either rationality or irrationality.

        Beyond this, non-rational beliefs aren’t really all that helpful beyond the individual since there is no rational argument that could be presented to convince anyone else of one’s own non-rational opinions or beliefs. How can I convince someone who likes chocolate ice cream that vanilla ice cream is truly better tasting? As another example, as already noted, some argue that a belief in a God who does not interact in a detectable manner within nature is a non-rational belief. Well, as Richard Dawkins famously pointed out, so is a belief in the “Celestial Teapot” or the “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” All such beliefs are technically “non-rational”. Yet, while they are not exactly “irrational”, non-rational beliefs are not very convincing or compelling for those who do not already subscribe to such beliefs.

        If you really want your faith to be shared in a meaningful way with other intelligent candid minds so that they are able to gain the faith and hope in the future that you have, you should be able to provide something more appealing than non-rational “reasons” for your faith (even if you aren’t being overtly irrational). You need at least a few rational reasons for your faith that are rooted in actual empirical reality. Otherwise, your non-rational faith will most likely die with you…

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  90. Sean Pitman: It seems to me like you confuse epistemology (how we know what we know) with hermeneutics (how to interpret or determine the intended meaning of a given text). While certainly being related, and even interdependent, they aren’t the same thing.

    True.

    An atheist can use the H-G model of hermeneutics to pinpoint the position of the Bible saying that all life on planet earth was created in a real 7 day week less than 10,000 year ago.

    Then he can use his own slant on epistemology (how we know that something is true), hammering away at the Bible position thus objectively defined. He simply uses the standard set of evolutionism’s many-storied puzzles (still waiting to be solved) to bash the clearly defined (by the H-G method) Bible postion.

    (A point both Phil and Kent have tried time after time to dodge on Spectrum and elsewhere)

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  91. Professor Kent:

    A favorite tactic by Sean Pitman is to challenge anyone to explain how one chooses the Bible to be superior ahead of other sacred texts. The most lucid answer I have seen was posted yesterday at Spectrum Magazine by Phil Brantley, and it merits posting here as well:

    It will be interesting to see if Brantley is able to bring himself to posting his position here.

    Phil Brantley – Thu, 05/05/2011 – 20:59

    Dr. Pitman, the evidence arising out of Scripture that supports the claim that Scripture is the Word of God includes the following:

    1. The messianic prophecies and their fulfillment in Jesus;

    Fulfillment of prophecy is a method used in epistemology – for knowing that something “is true”. The H-G heremeneutics by contrast is merely used to objectively render the claim being made by the text. Once rendered it can then be subjected to epistemology and tested against history to see if “it is true”.

    15. The self-sufficiency of Scripture, in that all major questions of life are addressed;

    Point number 15 would be a circular argument if used to determine whether the Bible is true or not because it argues that we should presume that the Bible is true as a starting point.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Both Christians and Atheists can be rational or irrational in their beliefs.

      Just because one may make the correct choice does not mean that rational reasons were employed in making the choice. A random choice may be correct, but that doesn’t mean it was anything other than a random or “lucky” guess.

      I would think that Christianity should be based on something more substantive and appealing to the intelligent candid mind than lucky guesswork. Is one’s choice of the Bible as the Word of God really based on nothing more than an arbitrary “lucky” choice? – and those who aren’t so lucky are just, well, the victims of bad luck? Is that really your view of God?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  92. If anyone wants to find out really why so many young people are leaving the SDA Church, please check out John Lomacang’s series on 3ABN “Pillars of Truth.”

    Pastor Lomacang is telling it like it is, and he is not afraid of naming names and showing what’s really wrong with the progressive’s theory of dumping our SDA beliefs and infiltrating secular humanism into our schools, churches and other institutions.




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  93. Anyone who places their own reason above God’s word will eventually go the same route as the atheists that some here are so fond of citing–they will abandon God’s word. They will become increasingly open to secular humanism and other non-Biblical ideas.




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  94. I was pleased to see Shane Hilde spell out his own personal convictions at Spectrum:

    I believe the “Bible is the ultimate authority and is not amenable to the principle of criticism: biblical data is accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc.” [Shane Hilde: http://bit.ly/lkhl9T, Mon, 05/02/2011 – 19:32]

    External evidence has it’s place. It confirms what I already know to be true, but it cannot be the foundation by which the Bible is true. Everything should rest of the Bible. [Shane Hilde: http://bit.ly/lkhl9T, Tue, 05/03/2011 – 06:32]

    Apparently, Educate Truth is closer to the Adventist Truth than I had believed.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Shane also said:

      I want to clarify what I’ve already said by adding the argument is not “The Bible is the Word of God because it says it is.” If this is all we had to go off of, then there wouldn’t be much difference [from the LDS belief in the Book of Mormon as the Word of God]; however, this is not the entire argument. I alluded to it an earlier post, but here it is again, more refined hopefully: “The Bible is the Word of God because it says it is and any alternative leads to absurdity.”

      While I’m inclined to agree with Sean, I’d like to add that even if the weight of external evidence (to the Bible) was not apparent I’d still believe in the historicity of the creation account in Genesis. Having said that I must clarify my statement, “If I ever became convinced the biblical creation was not true, not only would I leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but most likely leave Christianity altogether.” The truth of creation is the foundation to everything else in the Bible if I lost trust in that I’d have no rational reason to trust anything else. I’m really speaking about losing my faith.

      Shane is still struggling with the concept of the “weight of evidence” as well as the need for empirical evidence as a basis for rational faith.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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