@Eddie: You wrote: Sean, are you trying to tell us that …

Comment on A big reason why so many people are leaving the church by Sean Pitman.

@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
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman Also Commented

A big reason why so many people are leaving the church
@Professor Kent:

Rejection of the Seventh-day Sabbath because of a rejection of the clear reading of the Genesis account of origins is a rejection of the nature of inspiration of the Bible that Mrs. White (and the SDA Church) was trying to promote. Such a rejection completely changes the picture of God in one’s mind and the nature of the Bible as well as the Bible’s power to change one’s life and one’s world perspective. The Bible means something very different if it is viewed as a allegory vs. if it is viewed as literally true on those topics where the author(s) clearly intended to be taken as describing real historical events.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


A big reason why so many people are leaving the church
@Professor Kent:

There are many different ways to “believe in the Bible” that are completely opposed to the type of belief or faith that Mrs. White was trying to promote. Many believe that the Bible is a book of good moral instruction, but has nothing of any real value to say about the physical world. Many believe that the Bible is a collection of man’s best wisdom over the centuries, but is not actually the Word of God.

What Mrs. White was talking about is that a belief in mainstream evolutionary theories destroys a belief in the Bible as the clear Word of God on every topic it touches upon – to include the topic of origins. The evolutionary perspective undermines faith in the character of God that Ellen White understood and which the SDA Church is trying to promote. It undermines faith in the reasonableness and rationality of God – suggesting that God is willing to “command men to observe the week of seven literal days in commemoration of seven indefinite periods, which is unlike his dealings with mortals, and is an impeachment of his wisdom.”

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


A big reason why so many people are leaving the church
@Shane Hilde:

Exactly! Not even Abraham was asked to believe in the naked word of God devoid of empirical evidence that would appeal to the rational candid mind. God was not offended when Abraham asked for this evidence because without such evidence, Abraham would truly have been insane to simply follow voices in His head claiming to be the voice of God without any external empirical confirmation…

There are false spirits out there that will lie to us. These spirits must be tested. And, the only basis upon which to employ and interpret tests is our God-given human reasoning abilities.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.

Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).

As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.

I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?