A “Christian Agnostic”?

By Sean Pitman

Ervin Taylor

Ervin Taylor, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside. He is also a long-time supporter, executive publisher, and contributor to the “progressive” journal Adventist Today and is a fair representative of the face of “progressive” Adventism in general. As an ardent progressive Adventist, he has been a fairly active antagonist against some of the historic pillars of Adventism to include the efforts of this website to support and promote the stated goals and ideals of the Adventist church as an organization within our own schools – especially regarding the church’s position on origins.

It has never been a secret that Dr. Taylor is adamantly opposed to the Church’s position on a literal six-day creation week a few thousand years ago, promoting instead the mainstream evolutionary view of the origin of life over billions of years on this planet, or that he openly questions many of the other “fundamental” doctrinal positions of the Adventist Church.  At one of his lectures a few years back he was asked what he would tell his own granddaughter if she were to ask him for evidence of God’s existence, to which he replied, “I don’t know.”  Just yesterday he essentially repeated this very same agnostic perspective in one of his comments within this forum:

I have always been attracted to the position of Christian agnosticism. (Many, many years ago, at PUC I gave a talk with that title, as I recall, during a week of spiritual emphasis.) (Link)

What does it mean to be a “Christian agnostic”?  or an “Adventist in good and regular standing” when one believes in very few of the “fundamental” goals and ideals of the organized church?  And, perhaps more importantly, why would our own Adventists leadership invite a “Christian Agnostic” to come and regularly lecture our own young people, at schools like PUC and LSU, on the virtues of agnosticism?  to promote Christian ethics without promoting the promise and sold hope of Christ?  and the future reality of our world made new as it was originally intended to be (without the use of the evils of pain and death employed by natural selection or the ‘survival of the fittest’)?

Of course, when presented with specific questions regarding his various beliefs that directly undermine the fundamental positions of the church, Dr. Taylor, and others like him, argue that they believe in the “family model” of Adventism whereby one need not believe in or support the doctrinal positions of the church in order to be considered a good member or even an official representative of the church.  Evidently, one does not even need to be all to sure as to the evidence supporting God’s very existence to be a good “Adventist”.

Yet, when pressed, Dr. Taylor says, perhaps for political reasons in certain settings, that he does actually believe in God and in Jesus as the Son of God, born into this world from a virgin woman and raised from the dead after three days to ascend to heaven to intercede for us with the Father.  It seems strange to me, therefore, that Dr. Taylor and those like him seem so eager to accept the fantastic metaphysical claims of the Bible when it comes to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but reject much of the rest of what the Bible claims regarding historical realities which seem to disagree with their own understanding of mainstream science.  How is the Bible remotely credible on the one hand while being so far off base on the other?

Dr. Taylor suggests that those who actually believe all of what the Bible claims about historical realities are living in Alice’s Wonderland.

If a belief in the what the Bible says about about the origin of life on this planet is like living in Alice’s Wonderland, then so is a belief in the far more fantastic metaphysical claims of the Bible regarding the origin of Jesus, born of God the Father to a virgin woman, raised from the dead after three days, and taken to Heaven to commence with the rest of the Plan of Salvation for those who claim to believe in such fairytale nonsense! – like Dr. Taylor!

Why do those like Dr. Taylor claim to live within one Wonderland, full of irrational baseless nonsense, but laugh at those who accept all of what the Wonderland Book has to say about the place?

I suggest that such individuals, as brilliant as they think they are, aren’t being consistent with themselves. They’re trying to fit within two “incommensurate worlds”. It simply doesn’t work… Mr. Hatter.


First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come… But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

2 Peter 3:3-6; Isaiah 5:21; Proverbs 26:5; 1 Cor. 1:18

 

 

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701 thoughts on “A “Christian Agnostic”?

  1. Sean summarizes Ken’s day 1 through “day now” position.

    Sean: You have what seem to be very clearly defined ideas regarding the detectable existence of a God or God-like being. You simply don’t believe in such a being at this point in time. Yet, if you one day see evidence for such a being, that you are actually able to understand and appreciate, you seem to be open to changing your mind. That’s good!”

    Indeed. That is the frozen state to which Ken has steadfastly clung – all through these years on this board – and all through the 100’s if not 1000’s of exchanges he has had on this board with you and others.

    Ken:

    That is totally correct my friend. That is where I am currently at but open to change if indeed I become convinced or decide to take a leap of faith towards Intelligent Design. As you know I’m intrigued by that idea and prepared to support further inquiries in that regard.

    And to his credit – Ken freely admits that this is right where he has dug in his heels during the years on this board.

    A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

    Hence Ken does not pick up Sean’s suggestion about finding evidence of intelligence on Mars.

    He knows it would lead to an obvious conclusion. So… dance around it, albeit politely as “our agnostic friend”.

    Its ok – I believe in free will too.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  2. Re Sean’s Quote

    “It is impossible to detect the need to invoke deliberate design vs. the non-deliberate products of an apparently mindless nature without having prior experience with the material in question as it relates to various mindless forces of nature. That’s why the detecting of design is a science that requires some investigative work. The more investigation that is done, the more confident one can be in one’s design hypothesis.”

    Hi Sean

    More reflections of the insomniac agnostic.

    I agree with much but not all of this. Why not start from a neutral point and ask whether any object found in nature can be created randomly by nature or requires intelligent design. Obviously first appearences can be deceiving. I’m pretty sure that if I was ancient [feels like that some days 🙂 ] , without the benefit of modern astrophysics and biology, I’d conclude the universe and life were designed. But science seems to be progressively dispelling notions of design in nature as cause and effect mechanisms are uncovered. Crystals and snowflakes have pretty intricate designs, but were they designed or formed by the laws of physics and chemistry? A watch? A Martian granite cube as you described? What natural physical processess could have randomly created same?

    Let’s continue with life forms on earth. We all seem to agree on micro evolution, right? Hence life forms we see today have changed from their original state. Hence current forms of life could not be the original design [don’t see any Ryanesqe telomerasian 900 year olds walking around today 🙂 ]. Hence if the design is always changing -unlike a static object like a found watch or Martian cube obvious to the non biased objective reader 🙂 – what was the inaugural design? Does irreducible complexity stop at the Krebs Cycle or earlier enzymatic cascades, or earlier…? If science, and I admit it is a huge task with gap work to be done, continually traces life back to earlier forms, what empirically was the original design? Life created 6000 years ago? – Michael Behe doesn’t think so- or anthropic stardust soup? And how did the natural ingredients in the turbulent kitchen without a Master Chef’s Hand cause the soup to change?

    The same logic can be applied to the universe. If things are changing the existing state is not the current design. What then, according to science was the original design? Was the big bang a spark from the snap of the Divine fingers, caused by collidng membranes or a spontaneous quantum fluctuation? Theories abound and science will continue to inexorably peck away at the fabric of myth with its empirical beak.

    Designed or not, I see the sun rising and so shall on this wonderful world.

    Enjoy life and its myriad, diverse contemplations.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  3. @ken: Establish a Chair of Intelligent Design? A crackerjack idea! Award-winning! Best thing since 9-9-9. There’s a crying need for it. Must happen – at Harvard. UC Berkeley?

    But at LSU? Friend, that’s like establishing the Debt-Tax-Abatement-Enhancement SuperCommittee at… — but wait! That’s too zingy, artful, insensitive, unfriendly, arguably sarcastic, in a word Kimesque. Apologies. Again. May I try again?

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  4. Ken: I agree with much but not all of this. Why not start from a neutral point and ask whether any object found in nature can be created randomly by nature or requires intelligent design…. A watch? A Martian granite cube as you described? What natural physical processess could have randomly created same?

    In this case we are talking about complex houses not just a cube – complete with embedded nano-tech capable of self-repair – self-healing, auto-paint-updating etc.

    Something like this…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVqJdAqTD4Q&feature=related

    When your fellow atheists and agnostics view that in a moment of objectivity – they respond something like ABC News did when it reported on it…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVqJdAqTD4Q&feature=related

    And in this case – those houses would be found all over Mars. And the observing agnostic friend might be tempted to claim “well then complex houses of that sort must occur naturally in the rocks and sand of Mars — err… umm… somehow, because there are sooo many of them”.

    For the rest of us – it would be a sign of Martians – very smart ones.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  5. I just noticed that Ken mentioned that he might be coming to sunny southern California in the near future. May I respond by saying that I’m sure that we would have many interesting things to talk about.I hope that Wes would be interested in getting together as well. Wes and I both have a good friend in common who lives in Glendale (CA). If either Ken or Wes would like to contact me directly, please feel free at erv.taylor@atoday.org

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  6. @Pauluc:

    It is, in short, one thing to wonder whether evolution happens; it’s quite another thing to wonder whether adaptation is the mechanism by which evolution happens. Well, evolution happens; the evidence that it does is overwhelming. I blush to have to say that so late in the day; but these are bitter times.”

    Now, was that so hard? Really? Thank you for finally admitting what I’ve been saying all along…

    Why is it always so difficult to get most evolutionists to admit, right upfront, that they have absolutely no idea how or by what mechanism evolution happens beyond low levels of functional complexity? As you’ve just highlighted, evolutionists are always very adamant that, because of shared similarities between all living things in a hierarchical pattern (aka: the Tree of Life) and their interpretations of the fossil record, common descent happened; that all life originated from a very simple common ancestor to produce all the diversity and complexity of life that we see today – all without the need for any intelligent input along the way. But, when it comes to actually demonstrating a viable mindless mechanism with such creative powers, powers to produce the high level functional differences found within living things (or even computer software programs), they’re completely at a loss. They have absolutely no idea (beyond fanciful just-so story telling that is).

    How can this be? If the reality of evolution is so clearly understood as a real “science”, then how can it be that there is no known mindless mechanism that has the power to explain the existence of very high levels of functional complexity?

    You guys simply assume that it happened. You tell your just-so stories about this morphing into that over vast periods of time by mindless mechanisms when you have no viable mechanism. No mechanism! How does this fact not cause you guys to take a step back? How are you so sure that the amazing functional complexities of living things must have been the result of a mindless process? – completely undirected by any form of outside intelligence? You simply don’t know beyond a great deal of bluster, smoke, and mirrors as far as I can tell. You’re just making it up as you go along telling just-so stories about how the mechanism must have been mindless. How can you tell these stories knowing, as you evidently do, that you have nothing, absolutely nothing, to back up your stories beyond statistically untenable extrapolations from very low levels of functional complexity?

    I’m sorry, but this isn’t what science is all about. Science produces testable hypotheses and theories that give rise to useful statistically-based degrees of predictive value. Where is the measurable predictive value to your assertion that a mindless mechanism did the job? Where is your science my friend?

    Unfortunately that is no explanatory model that could compete with a naturalistic models based on mutation, contingency/selection and stochastic processes [regarding the “organization of beta defensins”].

    You’re talking about the origin of patterns here without any consideration of the functionality of the systems themselves. When you start considering the origin of the actual functionality of systems within living things, at higher and higher-levels of functional complexity, your models based on “mutation, contingency/selection, and stochastic processes” are helpless beyond bluster and just-so story telling devoid of testable predictions. Where is your predictive value? Where is the demonstration of such evolution in action or even relevant statistical analysis for any of your suggested mindless mechanisms? Where is the science?

    What you’re trying to do is suggest that certain types of patterns are more consistent with a mindless naturalistic origin than with any kind of deliberate design. And, I would agree that various mindless mechanisms are indeed able to produce certain patterns that are evident in living things – to include the nested hierarchical patterns that are generally found throughout the “Tree of Life”. However, such patterns are not outside of the creative realm of deliberate design (as evidenced by various NHPs within computer systems such as object oriented programming and the like). How then does one tell the difference regarding the origin if these features in living things? If you actually had a viable mechanism that could explain not only the pattern of similarities evident in living things, but the existence of high-level functional differences, there would be no useful way to tell the difference and the most rational default would be in favor of mindless mechanisms producing the whole thing. However, the catch is that there is no known mindless mechanism that remotely comes close to producing higher-level functional systems. The only known creative force that is predictably able to produce such high-level functional systems in a reasonable amount of time is driven by deliberate intelligence – period. End of story.

    So, the evidence that is actually available strongly suggests that high levels of functional complexity only arise with the outside aid of deliberate intelligent design. Therefore, where is the science for your bald assertions to the contrary? Do you and other evolutionists simply have a need to remove life and its high levels of functional complexity from all possibility of having an intelligent origin? Upon what basis is this effort motivated? Certainly it isn’t a scientific basis. Rather, it seems to me to be much more philosophically or religiously motivated. You seem to have a need, for some strange reason, to exclude God, or any kind of deliberate intelligent input, a priori from any possible involvement with the origin of life or its amazing functional complexity and diversity. That’s not science. That’s philosophy…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  7. Re Wes’s Quote

    “@ken: Establish a Chair of Intelligent Design? A crackerjack idea! Award-winning! Best thing since 9-9-9. There’s a crying need for it. Must happen – at Harvard. UC Berkeley?

    But at LSU? Friend, that’s like establishing the Debt-Tax-Abatement-Enhancement SuperCommittee at… — but wait! That’s too zingy, artful, insensitive, unfriendly, arguably sarcastic, in a word Kimesque. Apologies. Again. May I try again?”

    Hi Wes

    That’s all right, You couldn’t resist could you. 🙂

    No slight taken, you can try again anytime. I am happy that Erv did extend an invitation for you and me to meet with him. Who knows what can happen when people of good will get together?

    Non skeptical cheers!
    Ken

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  8. Re Wes’s Quote

    “@ken: Establish a Chair of Intelligent Design? A crackerjack idea! Award-winning! Best thing since 9-9-9. There’s a crying need for it. Must happen – at Harvard. UC Berkeley?

    But at LSU? Friend, that’s like establishing the Debt-Tax-Abatement-Enhancement SuperCommittee at… — but wait! That’s too zingy, artful, insensitive, unfriendly, arguably sarcastic, in a word Kimesque. Apologies. Again. May I try again?”

    Hi Wes

    That’s all right, You couldn’t resist could you. 🙂

    No slight taken, you can try again anytime. I am happy that Erv did extend an invitation for you and me to meet with him. Who knows what can happen when people of good will get together?

    Non skeptical cheers!
    Ken

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  9. Here is “another poster” on this board that Erv Taylor and Ken have found to fit their views of the Bible and of creation.

    A few years ago a poster calling himself “Bravus” came here from the clubadventist area and posted that he was SDA and yet felt free to declare Ellen White wrong when she reported what God told her in 3SG90-91, that the SDA church is wrong in its view of creation, that the doctrinal statements could be bent to serve the usages of evolutionism and that he was not saying this as an evolutionist but as an SDA.

    Over the years he finally did admit that he is speaking as an evolutionist.

    Recently Bravus posted this statement below – stating that he is no longer SDA – and listing the doctrinal areas where his views are in conflict with SDA doctrine.

    http://www.clubadventist.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/491719/Re_Why_I_am_a_former_SDA.html#Post491719

    At last after all these years he finally allows his outward profession of religious affiliation match his outward arguments against the Bible on creation and against the SDA church on a number of doctrinal points.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  10. @Sean Pitman:

    Talk about convergence. Sean is it just me or are your contributions here becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from those from BobRyan?

    The passage you cite was from Jerry Fodor’s essay not from me. The reason I cited it was that you should be aware that questioning mechanism in no way questions the underlying basic premise, a point completely missed by those who would cite Fodor as evidence that scientist are increasingly rejecting evolution and orgin by common descent.

    I do think the evidence for descent from common ancestors is compelling but I have probably looked at some part of that evidence from the perspective of a practicing scientist who does not think science is the Devils work.

    In good faith I accept that the current scientific explanation of origins is likely to be a reasonable approximation of truth but is by no means exhaustive and will be questioned and refined as has happened for the last 200 years. You can call that story telling if you wish but do not be surprised if as a Pharyngula you are considered ignorant, and an “obtuse” creationist or merely a “body mechanic” lacking scientific credentials.

    In a remarkable desplay of projection You go on to say

    “Upon what basis is this effort motivated? Certainly it isn’t a scientific basis. Rather, it seems to me to be much more philosophically or religiously motivated. You seem to have a need, for some strange reason, to exclude God, or any kind of deliberate intelligent input, a priori from any possible involvement with the origin of life or its amazing functional complexity and diversity. That’s not science. That’s philosophy…”

    No the history of science over the last 300 years has been to try to explain the natural world by natural mechanism and natural law. Like Phillip Johnson you appear to want to overturn this tradition and return to a position of selectively filling in any gaps in knowledge with the metaphysical and a religious “God did it I believe it”.

    As a practitioner of science I accept the premise of methodological naturalism but unlike you I do not make any distinction between origins and any other area of science. In contrast you and many Adventists would happily accept methodological naturalism in embracing evidence based medicine but quarantine any understanding of the biology and origins of species from any naturalistic explanation. This at least to me seems capricious. To me you should really reject naturalistic medicine on the basis of the clear word of scripture.

    For you, God must be an all powerful God who can create with his voice but are happy to erode that understanding of an omnipotent God by recourse to natural explanation for disease in direct contradiction to Matt 17.

    For me God does not exist in our ignorance to fill the voids in our understanding but He exists at the centre of our lives as we accept citizenship in his Kingdom with his politic and ethic. Jesus was the very incarnation of God and the Christian ethic Grace and Love he communicated is the locus of Gods activity. I do not need to search for inadequacies in others or their philosophy to bolster my acceptance of God. He was in the revelation of God in Jesus.

    Like many others I have found I can with all intellectual honesty and without cognitive dissonance be both a disciple of Jesus and a scientist who practices methodological naturalism.

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  11. pauluc: In good faith I accept that the current scientific explanation of origins is likely to be a reasonable approximation of truth but is by no means exhaustive and will be questioned and refined as has happened for the last 200 years. You can call that story telling if you wish but do not be surprised if as a Pharyngula you are considered ignorant, and an “obtuse” creationist or merely a “body mechanic” lacking scientific credentials

    Sounds like the standard “SNL tells me who to vote for” logic at work again.

    It is fascinating that you stoop to that level of discourse – arguing that the atheist run Pharyngula (P. Z. Meyers) is the standard for determining what is science fact while ignoring the on-camera interview that Meyers gives where he admits to the Christianity destroying effect of blind faith evolutionism.

    Since when is the howling and cackles of Pharyngula ever considered to be a reference or standard for objectivity when it comes to giving a fair hearing to views not in harmony with blind faith atheist evolutionism??

    You demonstrate a lack of objectivity in that is more transparent than you seem to imagine.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuVSIG265b4&feature=related

    Clearly – the atheist masters of blind faith evolutionism pursue the same course that 3SG90-91 claims is the true agenda of the TE POV.

    When will the evolutionist “friends and family” group be able to master an ounce of objectivity here?

    We are still waiting.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  12. There is an element out there in cyber space sooo convinced that “God did not do what He said He did” that they do not want to hear anything God might have said about their own claims in that regard.

    No wonder we get they let out such a sour response to each reference to what God said in the 4th commandment, or Genesis 2:1-4 or 3SG 90-91 when it comes to the 7 day creation week.

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  13. pauluc: No the history of science over the last 300 years has been to try to explain the natural world by natural mechanism and natural law. Like Phillip Johnson you appear to want to overturn this tradition and return to a position of selectively filling in any gaps in knowledge with the metaphysical and a religious “God did it I believe it”.

    ============ hmm where have we seen THAT one before?? —

    oh wait! I know —

    Collin Patterson – Paleontologist British Museum of Natural history speaking at the American Museum of Natural History in 1981 – said:

    Patterson – quotes Gillespie’s arguing that Christians
    “‘…holding creationist ideas could plead ignorance of the means and affirm only the fact,'”

    Patterson countered, “That seems to summarize the feeling I get in talking to evolutionists today. They plead ignorance of the means of transformation, but affirm only the fact: ‘Yes it has…we know it has taken place.'”

    “…Now I think that many people in this room would acknowledge that during the last few years, if you had thought about it at all, you’ve experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith. I know that’s true of me, and I think it’s true of a good many of you in here…

    “…,Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow to convey anti-knowledge , apparent knowledge which is actually harmful to systematics…”

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  14. pauluc: Like many others I have found I can with all intellectual honesty and without cognitive dissonance be both a disciple of Jesus and a scientist who practices methodological naturalism

    That was the song and dance Bravus offerred up to us a few years ago – before he finally “came to terms with himself” and admitted to the obvious.

    http://www.clubadventist.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/491719/Re_Why_I_am_a_former_SDA.html#Post491719

    good luck with that – however as P.Z Meyers pointed out – time will eventually “out you”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  15. Hello Sean and Pauluc

    The debate between yourselves has been marvellous. Both of you are making strong points and getting at the crux of the matter. We who are observing are getting an excellent education.

    There is far more than just science at play here, there is the philosophy of science and whether faith can play any part in it whatsoever. If science by its very definition excludes an exploration of intelligent design does science become a closed system? If a theory such as evolution does not yet have all the answers [exact mechanisms of molecular chemistry and genetics that connect fill in all the gaps on the tree of life] should it be branded as a fraud, a hoax, an atheistic conspiracy or a just so story? Does the ongoing credibility of Adventism require the empirical blend of faith and science or will such blend be toxic in light of the findings of main stream, peer reviewed science? Is Adventism going through the same process that all religions invariably go through when there is ideological disparities? Is a schism inevitable or even predisposed in light of a remnant philosophy?

    Interesting questions.

    It is oh so human to attempt to marginalize idealogues when there are ideological battles for the hearts, minds and souls of followers. Unfortunately I see a lot of that on the site. Yet I see honesty, humility, respect and yes …. Love as well.

    After careful consideration, even though to date I think evolution proposes the only viable scientific theory for the origins of life, I am prepared to lobby for, support and advance the discipline of intelligent design. I think it deserves a fair hearing and is a worthwhile pursuit.

    Pauluc, I hope you and others that present cogent arguments and science in support of evolution keep posting. Needless to say Dr. Pittman’s contributions to the discipline, if I may call it that, of intelligent design are invaluable for the betrothal of science and faith. As Dr. Kime has alluded, there may be some rich tapestry here that is being woven or perhaps it may all unravel into disparate threads.

    Time, as it always does, will tell.

    Live long and well.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  16. Ken: If a theory such as evolution does not yet have all the answers [exact mechanisms of molecular chemistry and genetics that connect fill in all the gaps on the tree of life] should it be branded as a fraud, a hoax, an atheistic conspiracy or a just so story?

    Classic revisionist history – taking us back to Ken on Educate Truth – day 1, hour 1, minute 1.

    But since that year we have pointed out that the hoax and fraud rich history of evolutionism includes frauds admitted by even atheist evolutionists themselves.

    Not merely Piltdown man – a great 40 year fraud – lasting from 1912 to 1953.

    But we also have the “over 50 year” long fraud of the pathetic horse series still on display at the Smithsonian – declared to be at one time “the BEST evidence of evolution” known to man and then later “a positive embarrassment” that never happened in nature”. Indeed this was a case of Othaniel Marsh simply “arranging fossils” to fit a story INSTEAD of showing us in what order fossils are actually found in the geologic column itself. So while it was presented as findings – it was in fact mere “story telling”.

    When Ernst Heckle was accused of “mere story telling” after his decades long fraud was exposed – his response was that he would feel bad about it except “everyone is doing it”.

    How right he was..

    And yet all this (and much more) is just “so many details to be ignored” in Ken’s dismissal of actual fact to claim that all we have is a case of “Evolutionists not yet having all the answers”.

    How sad that we have to continually circle back to year 1, hour 1, minute 1 as if none of this discussion over the intervening years had ever happened.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  17. @Ken: May I join you, friend, if but for a moment, in your familiar and established role of umpire-observer-judge-critic, this time of the current Pittman-Pauluc exchange? You have become known, and mostly beloved, on these pages as always the cheerful optimist, expecting that just a little more conversation surely must lead to a meeting of two sharp and well-informed minds, to convergence and identity of positions, once crystalline rarefied objectivity is allowed to take over, or imposed. I do not. I trust and hope not. Rather, the current P-P dialog, exceptionally and refreshingly clearly expressed on both sides (huzzah!), puts the finger on the refractoriness and irreducibility of the differences between the two positions, and vive la différence! So now I’m the optimist.

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  18. Sean asks Pauluc

    Sean&#032Pitman: How is it rational to believe in Jesus as God, yet, at the same time, believe that many of His claims to historical knowledge were absolutely false? Does this not make Him out to be a liar?

    Apparently a few former-Christian-but-now-atheist evolutionists discovered that same point.

    In fact even Darwin himself came to understand that point.

    Sadly a few SDA biology profs at LSU and possibly one or two SDAs stopping by this board from time to time – still struggle with that concept.

    And Pauluc apparently is befuddled to the point of holding up the atheist agenda of P.Z Meyers over there at Pharyngula as if that helps his TE argument here. What in the world was he thinking??!!

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  19. Hi Wes

    Vive le well articulated difference indeed ole friend! Whereto to know but to examine both positions with alacrity rather than ad hominem attack. Should that be the Christian fair minded way or do some have an exclusive franchise in that regard?

    Onwards in cheerful fashion, rich human tapestry indeed. 🙂

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  20. @pauluc:

    The reason I cited it was that you should be aware that questioning mechanism in no way questions the underlying basic premise…

    What? Questioning the creative potential of the Darwinian mechanism in no way challenges the core belief that some as yet unknown mindless mechanism really did do the job? You do realize that Darwin would never have become famous if he had not presented a mindless mechanism as the engine of origins that seemed feasible to many scientists of his day and even of our day? If one undermines the Darwinian mechanism, or in any other way successfully challenges all known mindless mechanisms as far as their ability to produce higher levels of functional complexity, one seriously undermines the modern theory of evolution as well. That’s why so many evolutionists are so ardently opposed to Stephen Meyer’s excellent new book, Signature in the Cell.

    Remember now that Meyer, like you, believes in common descent (as do some other IDers like Behe, etc.). Meyer, like Behe and others, just believes that some form of intelligence must have been involved with the process of descent over time when it comes to explaining the origin of functional systems and meaningful information at higher levels of functional complexity. I see that as a clear step in the right direction…

    In any case, most evolutionists realize the problem that a lack of a viable mindless mechanism brings to evolutionism in general (not you of course). It is for this reason most hang onto the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS so ardently despite its many fundamental flaws and very clear statistical limitations beyond very low levels of functional complexity – because they don’t know of any other option and because they are as devoted to the mistaken definitions of “methodological naturalism” that you are evidently using.

    Let me as you a simple question: How can you be so sure that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube had to have been deliberately designed, that no as yet unknown mindless mechanism is likely to be found that could do the job, while a rotary flagellar motility system in a bacterium was clearly produced by some as yet unknown mindless process over vast periods of time?

    Let’s look a bit at your appeal to your belief in “methodological naturalism” as a basis of science. Let’s assume that you’re correct; that methodological naturalism really is the basis of science. I ask you, where does methodological naturalism exclude the scientist’s ability to detect the need to invoke intelligent design to explain a given phenomenon? like a polished granite cube? or an arrowhead? or a murder victim? or a narrow band radio signal tagged with “the first 50 terms of the Fibonacci series”? You see, we are talking about ‘natural’ levels of intelligence here. After all, humans are both “natural” and “intelligent” and we have no problem detecting certain human activities vs. the mindless process of nature despite the fact that the ID hypothesis is being used. Even higher levels of intelligence beyond that currently attained by humans can theoretically be detected by science you know (just ask the anthropic scientists).

    One of your problems, when it comes to living things in particular, is that you continually confuse arguments for common descent with arguments for a mindless mechanism as the source of all forms of functional complexity. That’s not a valid scientific assumption. Demonstrating evidence for common descent isn’t the same thing as demonstrating that a mindless mechanism did the job. This notion is not an automatic scientific default nor is it testable or potentially falsifiable. If you don’t have a valid mindless mechanism to explain a given feature in nature, a feature that is known to be within the realm of deliberate design, why do you default toward believing that an as yet unknown mindless mechanism probably did the job? Where is the scientific justification for this conclusion?

    I ask, yet again, where is the science here? Where is the predictive value for this a priori assumption of mindless mechanism? – beyond just-so story telling and/or personal religious or philosophical preferences? Where is the evidence for the notion that any mindless mechanism can come remotely close to doing the job in what anyone would call a reasonable amount of time (i.e., something less than a trillion years)?

    One final thought. You cite your belief in Jesus as the Son of God, yet Jesus believed in the literal Genesis account of origins. He believed in a literal creation week, that all mankind descended from Adam and Eve who were created directly by God Himself. Jesus also claimed to have knowledge of His own pre-existence, to include direct personal knowledge of Abraham as well as Lucifer’s fall from Heaven – “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18). Here we have something of a quandary. On the one hand we have Jesus, whom you yourself claim to be God, saying that He has direct knowledge of events that you, being just a human being, claim to have never taken place. How is it rational to believe in Jesus as God, yet, at the same time, believe that many of His claims to historical knowledge were absolutely false? Does this not make Him out to be a liar? Or, was he just overly affected by his human condition and surroundings? – a product of His times? – not truly having access to such privileged information as He seemed to claim?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  21. Sean asks Pauluc

    Sean Pitman: How is it rational to believe in Jesus as God, yet, at the same time, believe that many of His claims to historical knowledge were absolutely false? Does this not make Him out to be a liar?

    Apparently a few former-Christian-but-now-atheist evolutionists discovered that same point.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuVSIG265b4&feature=related

    In fact even Darwin himself came to understand that point.

    Sadly a few SDA biology profs at LSU and possibly one or two SDAs stopping by this board from time to time – still struggle with that concept.

    And Pauluc apparently is befuddled to the point of holding up the atheist agenda of P.Z Meyers over there at Pharyngula as if that helps his TE argument here. What in the world was he thinking??!!

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  22. @Sean Pitman:

    Sean

    You repeately use the term belief in characterizing my position on scientific evidences. I would much prefer the term acceptance. There is a distinction that is important in this argument as the not unreasonable definitions offered by Wikipedia help illustrate.

    Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.
    Acceptance is a person’s agreement to experience a situation, to follow a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.

    I accept the current models of human ancestory with the appropriate caveats that any scientist would impose because of the tentative nature of all scientific knowledge.
    I accept methodological naturalism as the cornerstone of science. If you do not you must then concede validity to any instance in any culture in which there is a claim to a divine explanation for some aspect of reality
    I accept that the universe has a long history written in the structures of the distant universe
    I accept that the earth has a long history written in the ice layers, the varves, the coral reefs, the trees and the isotopes of the earths crust
    I accept that there is a history of life written in the organisms trapped in the layers of the earths crust
    I accept that there is a history of life written in the common forms of extant life on the earth
    I accept that there is a history of life written in the genomic organization of extant life.
    I accept that these relationships are best understood in terms of genetic relatedness through common descent.
    I accept that man is the most self aware of living creatures and has the emergent property of mind
    I accept that man because of his mind is the most self aware of living creatures and can contemplate ultimate meaning and the transcendant.

    In contrast;

    I believe that the physical structure of the universe is not all that there is.
    I believe that the acts and miracles of God were manifest in the person of Jesus Christ who I believe was the transcendant God incarnate.
    I believe he was both man and God; manifesting the Grace and Love of God but human and subject to the same frailty and imperfect knowledge as man.
    I believe that we are called to be disciples that can take the ethic manifest in his life and death to order our lives as His followers.
    I believe that Christian discipleship has teeth and as Yoder and Bonhoeffer have indicated there is both a politic to the Kingdom of Heaven and a cost to that discipleship.
    I believe that the message of Grace is just that a message from God that transcends the secular beliefs and structures of society.
    I believe that the gospel of Grace can be tranformative both personally and societally but it does not depend on the premises of specific society or subculture.

    I suspect that you and I might largely agree on beliefs but you valiantly fight a rearguard action against the things I would simply accept as probably true but ultimately unimportant natural phenomena.

    I have never used the term mindless mechansisms as I really dont know what that means as an explanatory term. As best I can see it means not emanating from the mind. In biology there is no concept of mind outside a highly developed brain. So effectively the term is just another term for natural with added spin related to some preconception of design and manufacture. In keeping with the Adventist tradition I understand mind as a function of the human body and its particular configuration of neurons that gives rise to entities with agency. I am not cartesian in my understanding of mind. What you talk about in terms of design and intelligence is really derivative of human understanding and human pattern recognition. Distinguishing beteen designed and natural is really conditioned by classification schemes of the human mind.

    What is different between your polished cube and a pyrite crystal? Would a person unfamiliar with crystal structure think there was any difference between gypsum, quartz or tesselated pavement and your granite cube and which would they really think was man made?

    Is the perfect inverted cone at the entrance to an ants nest designed with foresight with an understanding of geometry or purpose? Is the positioning of structures within the ant colony intelligent and designed? Do things like the specific positioning of the cemetery and trash heap and the priorities in the efficient use of food sources mindful?

    I am in no way denigrating the sense of awe and wonder and the beauty that I see in the world at every level from the macroscopic to microscopic but I do not think these issues have any evidentiary value in the process of understanding natural processes or in creating models of biological processes or origins.

    Like all the prophets before Him Jesus’ use of popular concepts and citation of the work of others does not constitute an endorsement of or elevation of the cited work to absolute truth in every detail. He cited the tower falling on in Siloam on 18 (Luke 13:4). Does this mean that it definitely occurred rather than a parable? He cited the Samaritan helping a Jew attacked on the way to Jericho (Luke 10:30). Does that mean this man definitely existed?
    Do we accept all of the book(s) of Enoch because Enoch is cited as a prophet in Jude 14?
    Was Matthew or Jesus wrong when He is recorded (Matt 10:23) as saying they would not travel through all the town of Israel of Judea before the coming of the Son of Man? Was Matthew or Jesus incorrect in indicating the destruction of Jerusalem was the same as the end of the world (Matt 24)?

    If you apply the same rigor and scrutiny to the understanding the text of scripture as you seem to apply to scientific literature I suspect you would formulate a more nuance view of revelation than the fundamentalist view of inerrancy that sees only absolutely truth or a God that is a liar.

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  23. @Ken:

    ken

    You say

    “Does the ongoing credibility of Adventism require the empirical blend of faith and science or will such blend be toxic in light of the findings of main stream, peer reviewed science? Is Adventism going through the same process that all religions invariably go through when there is ideological disparities? Is a schism inevitable or even predisposed in light of a remnant philosophy?”

    It is fascinating to see the strands in Adventist belief that are discordant with the current ascendancy of fundamentalism.

    Adventist in terms of their doctrine of life after death very much reject a cartesian dualism. Adventist doctrine sees the breath of life resident within the body as producing a living soul. The loss of the breath or spark of life from the body results not in a disembodied soul seperate from the body going off to live forever but in nothingness. Perhaps one can conceive of the individual existing within the mind of God since adventists do conceive of a resurrection but there is certainly no dualism with a body and a independent and persisting soul seen in most of Christianity. In Adventism the soul or the mind is supervenient or an emergent property of the body.

    Flowing from this belief in the soul as a function of a physical body is an understanding of the “body temple” and the Adventist health messages and the critical role of life style in the life of the believer.

    Improvement of the body/mind of the believer is the substrate by which God communicates with man. This physicalist understanding of the soul has resulted in two predominant themes in Adventist. The critical role of education and of the medical ministry of the Church.

    This however is where the fault line and conflict in the church today can be seen. On one hand both education and orthopathic medicine have been embraced by the church such that we now have naturalistic evidence based medicine at almost all adventist health care institutions and a cadre of well educated staff. Educational institutions have adopted similar scientific perspectives pari passu with the medical institutions.

    Evidence based medicine and education in the sciences based as they are on methodological naturalism however cannot help but erode the fundamentalist perspective that priveliges a plain reading of scripture as supreme and sees knowledge as immutable and fixed.

    What we witness on this site is a microcosm of this conflict between those who would seek to make Christianity relevant in a secular world where natural cause rather than divine intervention is seen as predominant and those who cling to a God of the gaps who prospers and is best justified on a substrate of ignorance. Conditions not favoured by emphasis on education and evidence based medicine.

    As you say time will tell.

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  24. Hello Pauluc

    Thank you for very much for your insightful comments.

    Some on this site think I disparage faith. i do not. I find much to be admired in Adventism especially the advocation of a healthy lifestyle. In a world of obesity and addiction. Also I am a great admirer of the Christian faith regarding the espousal of unselfish love for one’s fellow man. In a predator/ prey world that principle militates against our biological nature and, when practiced, gives us grace.

    The ‘problem’ with any philosophy, system of thought, is that it is going to be challenged. I happen to think that is healthy and leads to positive change.

    Religion is especially interesting because change often comes through charismatics – messengers or prophets. Each religion jealously guards its own. Religion and free will clash becuase the indoctrination, vs the
    objective inquiry of same, happens at a young age. I remember, and do not resent, my Sunday school days very well! The cultural pressures on a child to accept the religious beliefs of their parents at a young age are enormous. I remember how my Catholic buddies all went to seperate schools ( in Canada) while the rest of us of myriad faiths or non faith were lumped into the public school system.

    That is why when it comes to Adventism,or any system of belief, I am so interested in a person’s background, especially their childhood, because it sets the stage for everything a person believes thereafter. That is why, at Dr. Kime’s prompting, I shared my own childhood and religious experiences so you can analyse likewise. No doubt being raised in a liberal household where I was encouragred to challenge belief and read voraciously set the tone for my burgeoning agnosticism. That is why I was fascinated to read about Dr. Kime’s childhood and big tent moment at a young age. Once a belief is in place, just like my agnosticism!, it is very, very difficult to change. With respect, I suspect that if Dr. Pitman was raised by a pastor that experience is likelynthe chief formative one in his life. Pauluc, I don’t know if you were raised as an Adventist or not and if so whether you were raised with fundamenatal or progressive theology. I’m interested though if you cafe to share.

    So when it comes to then investigation of empirical reality where does that leave all us childhood relativists as free thinkers? With the objective scapel of Science which cuts away relatavism and pre existing beliefs.

    This is why I asked Dr. Kime the question, and i put it respestfully to yourself as well: when you examine reality which has leads the way: Faith or Science? And in fairness to our friends on Educate Truth, is Adventism that allows for theistic evolution a new faith impossible tomreconcile with exisitng doctrine?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

    So where does that leave all us ‘relative’ folks

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  25. Hello Pauluc

    Regarding another topic raised by your comments I found the Adventist concept of ‘soul’ quite fascinating. Does this mean at rapture one keeps the body one has at that point in time?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  26. @pauluc:

    What is different between your polished cube and a pyrite crystal? Would a person unfamiliar with crystal structure think there was any difference between gypsum, quartz or tesselated pavement and your granite cube and which would they really think was man made?

    As already explained, the scientific detection of design requires one to spend some time investigating the material in question as it relates to known mindless (without apparent deliberate thought or intelligence) processes of nature. One cannot simply look at something and determine that it was or was not most likely designed without such prior investigative experience. That is, after all, a fundamental aspect of real science – doing some actual investigative work.

    Granite Cubes

    Why else do you think I use the material of granite, in particular, in the shape of a highly symmetrical polished cube to illustrate my point of design? Obviously, it is because those with even a little experience with the material of granite know that it is not formed into such a shape outside of the input of deliberate design.

    Is the perfect inverted cone at the entrance to an ants nest designed with foresight with an understanding of geometry or purpose? Is the positioning of structures within the ant colony intelligent and designed? Do things like the specific positioning of the cemetery and trash heap and the priorities in the efficient use of food sources mindful?

    Is a new car that was produced on an automated assembly line entirely by mindless computers and robots really the product of “nature” outside of any intelligent input or foresight? To whom or to what do you give the credit for the existence of the car you drive? – the mindless robots that directly made your car, or the very intelligent designer(s) who made the robots?

    You see, just because an ant may not itself have an intelligent mind (like my laptop computer) this does not mean that the abilities of the ant are therefore not themselves detectable as being the evident result of an intelligent mind. This is part of the problem with your understanding of “methodological naturalism”. Real scientific methodologies in no way prevent one, a priori, from detecting the need to invoke theories of intelligent design to explain various features of nature – to include certain features of living things.

    I am in no way denigrating the sense of awe and wonder and the beauty that I see in the world at every level from the macroscopic to microscopic but I do not think these issues have any evidentiary value in the process of understanding natural processes or in creating models of biological processes or origins.

    Tell me then, how are you able to tell that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube was clearly designed with deliberate foresight and intelligence? – even if happened to be found on an alien planet like Mars by one of our rovers?

    You simply aren’t being consistent here. The detection of intelligence behind certain features of the natural world is indeed within the realm of science. The scientific methods used to detect intelligence can be universally applied to all things within the natural world – to include living things. If certain features of living things meet the scientific basis of determining the intelligent origin of artifacts, then upon what basis are living things excluded from such a determination? – outside of non-scientific motivations of personal philosophy and/or religion?

    Like all the prophets before Him Jesus’ use of popular concepts and citation of the work of others does not constitute an endorsement of or elevation of the cited work to absolute truth in every detail. He cited the tower falling on in Siloam on 18 (Luke 13:4). Does this mean that it definitely occurred rather than a parable? He cited the Samaritan helping a Jew attacked on the way to Jericho (Luke 10:30). Does that mean this man definitely existed?

    As already noted for you, Jesus spoke in the language of personal experience – not just in quoting the works or words of others. He claimed to have pre-existence – to have personally witnessed far distant historical events. That, I would think, is a problem for your position.

    As an aside, yes, the historical events of the “Good Samaritan” or the accident in Siloam are believed to be real historical events well known to those to whom Jesus spoke. They were not parables nor where they intended to be taken as such.

    Was Matthew or Jesus wrong when He is recorded (Matt 10:23) as saying they would not travel through all the town of Israel of Judea before the coming of the Son of Man? Was Matthew or Jesus incorrect in indicating the destruction of Jerusalem was the same as the end of the world (Matt 24)?

    You are quoting prophetic statements here, not statements regarding historical facts. For many biblical prophecies there is a conditional element involved (beyond the potential error of interpreting prophecies to begin with – to include the fact that for the Jewish mind of that day the destruction of Jerusalem was equivalent to the end of the world. So, Jesus mercifully merged the two events into one account).

    “It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed… But those to whom it was first preached, went not in ‘because of unbelief’ (Heb. 3:19). Their hearts were filled with murmuring, rebellion, and hatred, and He could not fulfill His covenant with them… [Otherwise] Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward.” – White, SM, B1, p. 67-69.

    If you apply the same rigor and scrutiny to the understanding the text of scripture as you seem to apply to scientific literature I suspect you would formulate a more nuance view of revelation than the fundamentalist view of inerrancy that sees only absolutely truth or a God that is a liar.

    If someone directly claims to have pre-existence, to have seen various historical events, and those events are shown to be quite different from what was described, what does that naturally do to the credibility of the witness?

    I’m sorry, but it seems to me that your attitude here is very much in line with “fundamentalist” concepts of faith regardless of empirical evidence. Upon what basis do you believe that Jesus was in fact God incarnate? or that He will come again to take you to Heaven? – if much of what He said, claimed for himself, and evidently believed, was so clearly contrary to what you believe or “accept” that “science” is telling you? How can your God have been so far out of touch with reality and yet be trusted, in any sort of rational way, with regard to any of the other fantastic metaphysical claims that He made about your own future after this life?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  27. @pauluc:

    The Adventist View of the Soul and Death

    The loss of the breath or spark of life from the body results not in a disembodied soul seperate from the body going off to live forever but in nothingness. Perhaps one can conceive of the individual existing within the mind of God since adventists do conceive of a resurrection but there is certainly no dualism with a body and a independent and persisting soul seen in most of Christianity. In Adventism the soul or the mind is supervenient or an emergent property of the body.

    Note (11/14/11 at 1:18 pm): The following comments were based on my misunderstanding of Pauluc’s statement and true position, which is, I must say upon re-review, a correct description of the Adventist position on the state of the dead. My apologies to Pauluc for misreading him in this case. – sp

    You must not have much of a background in Adventism because your statements do not remotely reflect the position of the Adventist Church regarding the nature of the soul or the state of the dead. Also, most Christians within other denominations do indeed believe in some sort of conscious existence of the soul after the death of the body.

    In contrast, Aventists do not believe in a “independent and persisting soul” after death. Adventists believe that the soul only exists in combination with the body and the “breath” of God which gives life to the body. Only in combination of the body and the breath does the “soul” or “life” or “personhood” of the individual exist.

    To repeat, Adventists do not believe in consciousness after death or in an independent living eternal soul. When a person’s body dies, so dies the soul and any mental capacity that the person ever had in life. The person “sleeps” in an unconscious state in death until the resurrection day when God will re-create the body and put the breath of life back into it and the “soul” will then live again within the body – but not before. The thoughts of the person will start up, at the resurrection, where they ended just before death. In other words, death will be like time travel where there is no conscious appreciation of the passage of time between the time of death and the day of resurrection.

    The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later. (Rom. 6:23; 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 11:11-14; Col. 3:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:1-10.)

    http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/

    With respect to Ken’s question:

    Regarding another topic raised by your comments I found the Adventist concept of ‘soul’ quite fascinating. Does this mean at rapture one keeps the body one has at that point in time?

    Adventists do not believe in a “rapture” as other denominations present this concept. Rather Adventists believe that the righteous dead will remain dead until the second coming of Jesus, at which point they will be raised to life and taken together with the living righteous with God to Heaven. All the righteous will be given new “glorified” bodies.

    Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

    The living wicked will all be killed by the brightness of the coming of Jesus and will remain dead until the third coming of Jesus where judgement will be passed on the wicked and they will receive their reward – i.e., eternal death (not eternal torment as many denominations believe).

    After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. – 1 Thessalonians 4:17

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  28. @Sean Pitman:

    Sean

    After castigating me for not “remotely reflecting the Adventist position” in the 3 short sentences of my precis and having “not much background in Adventism” you go on in 5 paragraphs to expound a view that I cannot see is any different to mine. Where precisely do I have the Adventist position in error?

    Perhaps my suggestion that a memory of our “soul” remains in the mind of God was a little too cryptic and went beyond the basics of the belief? But how else do you envisage the recreation of a person after cremation and scattering of the body in ashes on the sea?

    I know you do have a monolithic view of truth and that anyone that disagrees must therefore be wrong in all points but I do think it is OK at some point to agree.

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  29. Ken:
    Hello Pauluc

    Regarding another topic raised by your comments I found the Adventist concept of‘soul’ quite fascinating. Does this mean at rapture one keeps the body one has at that point in time?

    No. In 1Cor 15 (last half of chapter), and in 2Cor 5:1-8 we are told that the saints (even the living ones) are “changed” and that his corruptible must put on incorruption. This mortal must put in immortality.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  30. pauluc: Like all the prophets before Him Jesus’ use of popular concepts and citation of the work of others does not constitute an endorsement of or elevation of the cited work to absolute truth in every detail. He cited the tower falling on in Siloam on 18 (Luke 13:4). Does this mean that it definitely occurred rather than a parable? He cited the Samaritan helping a Jew attacked on the way to Jericho (Luke 10:30). Does that mean this man definitely existed?

    Is this the part where we get to just “make stuff up”?

    Does the falling tower incident even make sense to the objective reader if not real?

    Why invent incongruent scenarios as if this was helping your “belief”?

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  31. @BobRyan:

    BobRyan November 11 2011 at 6:11 pm

    In this case we are talking about complex houses not just a cube – complete with embedded nano-tech capable of self-repair – self-healing, auto-paint-updating etc.

    Something like this…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?
    v=GVqJdAqTD4Q&feature=related

    When your fellow atheists and agnostics view that in a moment of objectivity – they respond something like ABC News did when it reported on it…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVqJdAqTD4Q&feature=related

    And in this case – those houses would be found all over Mars. And the observing agnostic friend might be tempted to claim “well then complex houses of that sort must occur naturally in the rocks and sand of Mars — err… umm… somehow, because there are sooo many of them”.

    For the rest of us – it would be a sign of Martians – very smart ones.

    *********
    I think that Bob’s answer was superb, yet ten bloggers voted his comments down. Is the voting system rigged somehow?

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  32. @Ken:

    ID is most interesting not because of its lack of conformation to the normal rules of science but because of the issues about the attraction it has for its adherents.
    Apropos of your suggestion that childhood experience is an important determinant of ones later beliefs there have been a few papers over recent years (mostly cited in the paper below) in the area of psychology that have addressed aspects of ID.
    One of the most interesting has just been published in “Plos One” a Public library of science free online journal.

    Tracy JL, Hart J, Martens JP. Death and science: the existential underpinnings of belief in intelligent design and discomfort with evolution. PLoS ONE 2011;6(3):e17349.

    In this paper Tracy et al look at the relationship between changes in mortality salience and response to Evolutionary Theory ET or Intelligent Design Theory IDT. What they find is that increasing mortality salience is a driver to embracing theories that give life meaning and that IDT is attractive beyond the confines of religious belief because it it religion “neutral” and “scientific”. In the academe however where the creationist origins of IDT are recognized ET remains more attractive. . In contrast among students ET is more firmly embraced for its meaning in the face of increase in mortality salience. This nicely encapsulates the evangelical zeal I have increasingly seen acolytes of Richard Dawkins and the new atheists who embrace ET as a antidote to the nihlism that characterized the “old” atheists and gives meaning in the present of mortality salience. The most recent was a taxi drive who started an unprovoked discourse on the parlous state of the world, attributed it to christianity the source of all wars and preached the virtue of ralionality and atheism.

    This paper I think nicely encapsulates the tangential arguments on this site on death, the soul and Adventist belief. Clearly Adventist belief has from the beginning manifest a high degree of mortality salience which has been reinforced by its forms of evangelism and eschatology.

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  33. @Nic Samojluk:

    I think that Bob’s answer was superb, yet ten bloggers voted his comments down. Is the voting system rigged somehow?

    The voting is not rigged. It is just that people tend to vote from the hip for or against a comment, before actually reading it, based only on who wrote it – not what was actually said in the particular comment at hand.

    This also happens on Talk.Origins – and pretty much all discussion forums. I did an experiment once where I re-posted a comment from a well-known evolutionist under my own name (on Talk.Origins). There was no end to the ridicule against the comment based simply on the assumption that I had actually written it. When I pointed out that I had not actually written the comment, that it was written by one of their own, the attempts at back-peddling were quite hilarious 😉

    I’m sure the same thing would happen here as well. That is why the allowance of “voting” for comments is really only a curiosity feature “just for fun” and really has little meaning aside, perhaps, from keeping track of how many people from opposing camps are actually following a particular thread.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  34. @pauluc:

    This nicely encapsulates the evangelical zeal I have increasingly seen acolytes of Richard Dawkins and the new atheists who embrace ET as a antidote to the nihlism that characterized the “old” atheists and gives meaning in the present of mortality salience.

    Since when does Richard Dawkins find ultimate meaning in life? – beyond what can be self-generated or enjoyed for the here and the now? or for however long one’s offspring may live in the terminal universe? – a universe with a limited life span? As far as I’m aware he is right in line with the likes of William Provine who wrote:

    One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism. – No Free Will (1999) p.123

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.

    Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.

    “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address

    And, speaking from the perspective of Darwinism, I think that the modern atheists, like Dawkins and Provine, are right on the money here. Also of interest, and worthy of consideration in this particular discussion, Provine went on to write:

    I obviously agree with Gould about intelligent design in organisms, but I think also that a real disagreement exists… Gould said it’s fine to believe that God created all creatures through the laws of science but this is basically deism, considered atheism in Isaac Newton’s day.

    Gould described his own personal view as “agnostic,” appropriately conciliatory in pursuit of NOMA. Did he treat his own scientific theories in a similarly agnostic way? Did he say he is an agnostic about the concept of punctuated equilibria, one of his favorite theories? … Gould, Thomas Henry Huxley (inventor of the term), and Charles Darwin all billed themselves as agnostics, although they somehow avoid being agnostic about natural selection. Gould appeared to be saying that religion is fine as long as it can’t be distinguished from atheism in the natural world.

    Darwinism, Design and Public Education (2003) p.507-8

    To summarize, it was Richard Dawkins who said:

    I have a certain niggling sympathy for the creationists, because I think, in a way, the writing is on the wall for the religious view that says it’s fully compatible with evolution. I think there’s a kind of incompatibility, which the creationists see clearly.

    – Adventures in Democracy March 8 2010 2.20

    Without the hope of God or an eternal life in a better place after we die in this life, upon what basis is there any real ultimate meaning or purpose to life?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  35. @Sean Pitman:

    Sean PitmanNovember 15, 2011 at 7:01 am

    “@Nic Samojluk:

    I think that Bob’s answer was superb, yet ten bloggers voted his comments down. Is the voting system rigged somehow?

    The voting is not rigged. It is just that people tend to vote from the hip for or against a comment, before actually reading it, based only on who wrote it – not what was actually said in the particular comment at hand.

    This also happens on Talk.Origins – and pretty much all discussion forums. I did an experiment once where I re-posted a comment from a well-known evolutionist under my own name (on Talk.Origins). There was no end to the ridicule against the comment based simply on the assumption that I had actually written it. When I pointed out that I had not actually written the comment, that it was written by one of their own, the attempts at back-peddling were quite hilarious

    I’m sure the same thing would happen here as well. That is why the allowance of “voting” for comments is really only a curiosity feature “just for fun” and really has little meaning aside, perhaps, from keeping track of how many people from opposing camps are actually following a particular thread.”

    *********
    Thanks, Sean. You are so right! Perhaps I should pay less attention to the number of votes posted next to bloggers’ comments!

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  36. Re Pauluc’s Quote

    “Apropos of your suggestion that childhood experience is an important determinant of ones later beliefs there have been a few papers over recent years (mostly cited in the paper below) in the area of psychology that have addressed aspects of ID.
    One of the most interesting has just been published in “Plos One” a Public library of science free online journal.

    Tracy JL, Hart J, Martens JP. Death and science: the existential underpinnings of belief in intelligent design and discomfort with evolution. PLoS ONE 2011;6(3):e17349.”

    Thanks very much Pauluc, I’ll be sure to read it and comment.

    Re Sean’s Quotes

    “The biggest problem is that NOMA allows only certain kinds of religion. Nearly all of the religions around the world would have to give up crucial parts of their belief systems. Gould said it’s fine to believe that God created all creatures through the laws of science but this is basically deism, considered atheism in Isaac Newton’s day.” – (*Provine commenting on Gould, *my emphasis)

    This is the precisely the agnostic point I have tried to make may times. Evolution or the Big Bang does not rule out the concept of God. We get in trouble when we claim a self limiting franchise on defining God or lack thereof. An evangelistic atheist is still evangelist, right? However Science’s great value over time is that it can disabuse us of antiquated notions of a Creator. i.e. Does anyone still worship the Sun anymore as a God? Is polytheism relevant in Greece anymore or has it been commonly acknowledged as fascinating, entertaining mythology?

    The problem is polemics not concepts. Why paint evolution as atheistic or intelligent design as creationist? Why not examine both concepts objectively. As an agnostic I think that can be done objectively.

    What is important is not what people believe but why they believe it. Do we think Newton’s mathematical equations on gravity are biased by his religious beliefs or have they stood the test of empirical time? Why do some label Darwin an atheist because of his observations, are incongruent with a literal understanding of creation? Because whether they are creationists or atheists it suits their political agenda. Why not just look at these ideas, including intelligent design, neutrally without a faith or non faith bias? I think Science, and objective practitioners of same can do so.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  37. While I’m at it, an idle comment: Is it just me, or does there seem to be more and more “negative” checks on the comments posted by the hyperorthodox of late on this site? Interesting.

    What is more interesting to me is that you “predicted” well over a year ago that ET would be DOA by now. Would you like to “recalculate” from your prophetic calendar?

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  38. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Without the hope of God or an eternal life in a better place after we die in this life, upon what basis is there any real ultimate meaning or purpose to life?

    Sean Pitman”

    Hi Sean

    Sublimely stated. For each individual the existential answer will vary.

    I can say for myself I don’t feel the need to invoke life hereafter to give meaning to life. Procreation gives life meaning. When I go, part of me lives on in my children. Look how every species strives to propagate. Is there not great meaning in that beyond our own fear of personal mortality?

    But when it comes to Mankind’s empirical examination of reality I think we need to rule out the desire for immortality – who do we think we are Gods 🙂 – to not colour our objectivity with prisms of fear or desire.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  39. @ken:

    I can say for myself I don’t feel the need to invoke life hereafter to give meaning to life. Procreation gives life meaning. When I go, part of me lives on in my children. Look how every species strives to propagate. Is there not great meaning in that beyond our own fear of personal mortality?

    Your offspring may live on for a while, in a very painful and even evil world. But, ultimately, without a hope of God or of a better life beyond this one for those who would love God, both you and your offspring will all die off – as will this universe in which we live. What’s the point if all life will ultimately end in oblivion without the hope of something eternal and good? – without God?

    Where is the ultimate meaning in that? – beyond living for today and what little joy you can take from the here and now? Where is the ultimate purpose when there is no eternity for you or for anything you care about?

    But when it comes to Mankind’s empirical examination of reality I think we need to rule out the desire for immortality – who do we think we are Gods 🙂 – to not colour our objectivity with prisms of fear or desire.

    If you have no desires of any kind, what’s the point? You’re not human if you have no desires… are you? I know that eastern religions paint human desires, even human thoughts and emotions, as something from which to be free (which, ironically, is itself a desire – a desire to do away with pain and suffering in one’s own personal experience). But, by this method, you also do away with essential elements of human existence.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  40. @ken:

    This is the precisely the agnostic point I have tried to make may times. Evolution or the Big Bang does not rule out the concept of God.

    You missed the part about agnosticism for the naturalist being a form of effective-atheism.

    The idea that the origin of everything that exists in this universe can ultimately be explained without the need to invoke intelligence of any kind, much less a level of intelligence and creative power that would be considered God-like, rules out the possibility of detecting the rational need for God’s existence to explain anything. So, while a God might exist, his existence is undetectable from this perspective.

    What good is an undetectable God? – a God who doesn’t do anything that anyone could recognize as ultimately requiring anything more than the usual products of mindless natural interactions?

    You see, if the existence of God is no more detectable than the existence of little green men in the middle of the moon, then one might as well be an atheist rather than be agnostic with regard to the existence of God and little green men in middle of the moon…

    This is, in short, the point that Provine and Dawkins were trying to make. Deism and the agnosticism of scientists like Gould, is, for all practical purposes, effective atheism… something that Darwin himself understood perfectly well.

    You keep trying to maintain your claim that your agnosticism is actually a form of anti-bias – that it makes you neutral on the topic of faith and science. In reality, of course, it does no such thing since your form of agnosticism is also effective atheism. After all, for you the concept of God is no more real or useful than is the potential existence of garden fairies or little green men in the middle of the moon. Such a view has its own biases and faith-based assumptions or leaps of logic. There simply is no escaping the use of faith when one forms any opinion about anything regarding the world in which we live. Science itself requires leaps of faith to be taken beyond that which can be absolutely known or proven.

    Pauluc calls this a difference between “beliefs” and ideas that are just “accepted.” In reality, both his “beliefs” and his “acceptance” of certain theories as most likely true are both faith-based to one degree or another. The only real difference, of course, is the distance one feels one is jumping when coming to a particular conclusion regarding potential empirical reality in this or that field of thought.

    Now, I do agree with you that science may indeed be able to refine one’s view of God’s existence or non-existence over time. However, as with the highly symmetrical polished granite cube discussed above, additional scientific evidence may only serve to more firmly establish the need for an intelligent agent to adequately explain various features of the universe within which we live. Science may even have the power to further characterize certain features of this intelligent agent, such as a potential motives, character, habits, likes, dislikes, etc…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  41. @ken:

    Ken
    some points
    1 If there was any lingering doubt about the religious nature of IDT after Behes testamony in the Dover court case I think the post here dispel it. IDT has to me only ever been a sophisticated God of the gaps an historically verifiable losing proposition
    2 What surprises me is the willingness to privege the new athiests with expertise on religion and the deference given to dawkins
    3 I am not sure Sean appreciates the difference between hope and meaning. Many in the presence of mortality salience find that some meaning is enough. Why and why me are questions asked in a medical and existential context snd in the former a naturalistic explanation is enough to give comfort. “At least we know”
    4 For myself I find meaning in the community of faith the body of Christ of which the Adventist community is part. The two books that have been most helpful in my appreciation of christian community are Bonhoeffers life together and yoders the politics of Jesus.
    They give me a perspective that allows me to see that it not about the way I am accepted by Faith Bob Ryan David Read Sean Kevin Peterson or Your Friend but how I treat them. How do I manifest the Grace of God.
    Family and progeny are of course important but the moments of transcendence to me comes through contemplatation of the Christ of Phillipans 2 and translating those moments of transcendence into some sort of reality
    I make no apology for the essentialky mystical nature of my religuous experience. Mystical I understand but as scientist I must can only accept the supernatural by faith.

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  42. pauluc: 1 If there was any lingering doubt about the religious nature of IDT after Behes testamony in the Dover court case I think the post here dispel it. IDT has to me only ever been a sophisticated God of the gaps an historically verifiable losing proposition

    If there is any lingering doubt about the atheist nature of blind-faith-evolutionism after Dawkins, Provine and Meyers on camera statements to the world in Ben Stein’s interview with them – then it is only in the minds of those who refuse to look at the interview they provide to the entire world.

    In those cases their diehard refusal to believe those on camera statements is simply a case of “a man convinced against his will – of the same opinion still”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  43. Sean Pitman: What good is an undetectable God? – a God who doesn’t do anything that anyone could recognize as ultimately requiring anything more than the usual products of mindless natural interactions?

    Some atheists may agree with you here – while others may differ.

    But Christians who actually read the Bible will agree with your statement – because of what they find in Romans 1.

    Where Paul states that the “invisible attributes of God are CLEARLY SEEN in the THINGS that have been made”. – and he says that this is the case with “barbarians” in Romans 1 – meaning those with no access to the Christian Bible at all.

    How sad that the LSU biology department would pretend to be more clueless about what is “clearly seen in the things that have been made” (even for those with no Bible at all) – than God says the atheists are.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  44. pauluc: ID is most interesting not because of its lack of conformation to the normal rules of science but because of the issues about the attraction it has for its adherents.

    I think ID is interesting because it is a science fully embraced by all true branches of “hard science” where observations in nature actually count for something – and is only excluded by blind-faith evolutionists.

    ID works for things like scanning radio bands for signs of a signal that would likely be a radio station vs a very strong static signal coming from a power line overhead.

    ID works for the example Sean gave – and modified/magnified by stating it as “houses found on Mars”.

    ID works for things like art, books, science experiments, writing software etc.

    The only place ID does not work – is in the religious halls of those who cling to the faith “there is no god – so no designer” as the atheist and world famous cosmologist Martin Reese pointed out for us and as the world renown physicist Leonard Susskind also pointed out. In their example they show how observations in nature that drive the truly determined atheist toward the conclusion for ID – are to be rejected out of hand.

    But then – you had to actually click on the link and look at their statements on their own video program to “get their point”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  45. Nic Samojluk:
    @BobRyan:

    BobRyan November 11 2011 at 6:11 pm

    In this case we are talking about complex houses not just a cube – complete with embedded nano-tech capable of self-repair – self-healing, auto-paint-updating etc.

    Something like this…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?
    v=GVqJdAqTD4Q&feature=related

    When your fellow atheists and agnostics view that in a moment of objectivity – they respond something like ABC News did when it reported on it…



    And in this case – those houses would be found all over Mars. And the observing agnostic friend might be tempted to claim “well then complex houses of that sort must occur naturally in the rocks and sand of Mars — err… umm… somehow, because there are sooo many of them”.

    For the rest of us – it would be a sign of Martians – very smart ones.

    *********
    I think that Bob’s answer was superb, yet ten bloggers voted his comments down. Is the voting system rigged somehow?

    Thank you for your kind remarks.

    I like to think of that phenomena as a barometer that the post “struck a nerve”.

    Though as Sean pointed out it could simply reflect a non compos mentis principle in some readers where name-brand alone determines vote.

    But notice that when I happen to post an obvious effective short pithy post like the one above – it tends to get the stronger “ouch” response?

    Seems like there is more than just name-brand-reaction there.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  46. Re Little Green Men

    Sean’s Question

    “Let me ask you a hypothetical question:

    Let’s say that one of our rovers on Mars happened to come across a highly symmetrical polished granite cube that measures 1 meter on each side. Let’s say that in the middle of each face on the cube there happened to be a geometric carving that measures 10 cm in diameter.”

    Ken’s Answer

    “I would think at first blush that someone had made the cube if such a cube wasn’t normally found in nature. ”

    Commentary on your agnostic friend

    “And the observing agnostic friend might be tempted to claim “well then complex houses of that sort must occur naturally in the rocks and sand of Mars — err… umm… somehow, because there are sooo many of them”.

    For the rest of us – it would be a sign of Martians – very smart ones.”

    Help, help the Martians are not only building granite cubes and houses but also implying the position of your agnostic friend! Man, who designed those little green fellas? God sure has a good sense of humour! 🙂

    I support ‘Green’ Agnosticism
    Ken

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  47. Re Pauluc’s Quote

    “I make no apology for the essentialky mystical nature of my religuous experience. Mystical I understand but as scientist I must can only accept the supernatural by faith.”

    Hello Pauluc

    Stated with humility, honesty and conviction. What fair minded person could find fault with that?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  48. Dear Wes

    Does it matter what fish swim in the Royal Sea of Love if they all end up in the same net in the end?

    Does it matter what bait the Fisherman uses to catch them?

    And if the LSU hook be a bit barbed will it not catch fish all the same?

    You terrible parable friend
    Ken

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  49. Re Sean’s Quote

    “You missed the part about agnosticism for the naturalist being a form of effective-atheism.”

    Hi Sean

    That is a fair point. Still there is a difference between atheism (no God), and agnosticism (may be a God that has not been detected yet). Perhaps you have created a new category on the spectrum of belief/non belief: athnosticism 🙂

    Distinctions are important when it comes to labeling beliefs. What if I posited that ‘progressive’ Adventism was effective ‘conservative’ Adventism -notwithstanding their views on origins – because of the joint belief in Christ as the Redeemer of sinful Man? I suspect you would differ with me on my statement. Doesn’t the same logic apply to the distinction between atheism and agnosticism?

    Your ‘athnostic’ friend
    Ken

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  50. @ken: You’ve got agnosticism marching teasingly, relentlessly, inevitably, but somehow asymptotically into atheism. Good parable (I like parables). If your agnosticism seems so tantalizingly close to and congruent with atheism but never, never is actually going to be congruent, or can be and don’t hold your breath, then progressive Adventism seems to an adroit agnostic so close to, essentially identical to fundamentalist Adventism, but it just simply isn’t, so you can stop trying to nudge or shove us together. Posit-schmosit. Like you say, “distinctions are important.” Now do you see the problem at LSU? Sigh, you … don’t.

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  51. Dear Wes

    Does it matter what fish swim in the Royal Sea of Love if they all end up in the same net in the end?

    Does it matter what bait the Fisherman uses to catch them?

    And if the LSU hook be a bit barbed will it not catch fish all the same?

    You terrible parable friend
    Ken

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  52. @pauluc:

    I am not sure Sean appreciates the difference between hope and meaning. Many in the presence of mortality salience find that some meaning is enough. Why and why me are questions asked in a medical and existential context snd in the former a naturalistic explanation is enough to give comfort. “At least we know”

    So, one can be living a hopeless life and yet find meaning in the hopeless state in which one finds one’s self? – because “at least we know”? – that things are hopeless?

    Come now. If there is no ultimate difference produced by anything I do, what real difference does it make what I do? If everyone and everything will ultimately end up as nothing, with no eternal memory of anything that anyone did or said on this planet, or elsewhere, what is there besides the here and the now? What’s wrong with, “If it feels good, and you can get away with it, why not do it?”

    I’m sure you see my point…

    I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind…

    Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless…

    Ecclesiastes 1:2,14

    Without God, that is…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  53. Several solutions being tried out here…

    1. “Some” will ask a question hoping it cannot be answered – then when it is answered will reply “Well I don’t know that much about science – if I knew more I would know how to refute what you just said”. As long as they keep the issues complex enough when doing that – some people will go for that solution.

    2. Other times a person will respond to an answer to a question that they hoped “had no answer” by saying “well if I could just see so-and-so and you in a debate well then we would have the real story – not just one side of it”. Maybe the two of you should get opposing chairs some place so we could all watch.

    3. A third – and popular answer to a complex issue is of the form “sorry I just don’t see it — to each his own”.

    4. A fourth method for avoiding the need to face a disconfirming fact, is to simply refuse to engage in a serious discussion when options for a solution in your favor seems remote.

    5. A fifth form of response to creationism is to be sure that the points exchanged are sooo deep in the weeds that many of the readers will be tempted to simply pass – and the general impression that is left is “it is 6 of 1 and half dozen of the other on that point – so each person simply settles that point by preference”.

    For those reasons and more – I prefer to give examples of the “other guys” agreeing with creationists on some key point.

    That form of communication – leaves the issues in the realm of “the obvious” and the just-say-nay crowd very little room for cover.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  54. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Come now. If there is no ultimate difference produced by anything I do, what real difference does it make what I do? If everyone and everything will ultimately end up as nothing, with no eternal memory of anything that anyone did or said on this planet, or elsewhere, what is there besides the here and the now?”

    Hi Sean

    Does your desire for immortality affect your interpretation of scientific data? In other words if you can’t find meaning in your personal existence without God, do you strive to find whatever evidence you can to prove God and discount everything that militates against God?

    Frankly I don’t have any problem with that as long as the bias of creation science is admitted. Atheists should do likewise. Agnostics as a matter of definition do not hold either bias. However just because we don’t know does not mean we won’t continue to make objective inquiries.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  55. @ken:

    Does your desire for immortality affect your interpretation of scientific data? In other words if you can’t find meaning in your personal existence without God, do you strive to find whatever evidence you can to prove God and discount everything that militates against God?

    Frankly I don’t have any problem with that as long as the bias of creation science is admitted. Atheists should do likewise. Agnostics as a matter of definition do not hold either bias. However just because we don’t know does not mean we won’t continue to make objective inquiries.

    Bias is like inertia… it is a force that tends to cause one to continue to go in the same direction as one was previously going. In other words, one’s notions of reality or the nature of the empirical world in which one lives produce a bias that resists adopting contrary points of view. In some sense, such biases can be good, as they create a degree of skepticism or pause regarding new ideas. However, biases can be so strong that they will prevent one from ever accepting the possibility of error. It is at this point that personal bias can become a real problem.

    As far as my own biases, I’m sure, as already noted, that my biases affect me. That’s true of everyone – including you. I know you like to trumpet the concept of your own purely objective perspective. However, what you are claiming for yourself is impossible for humans. You’re only fooling yourself in thinking that your position is more objective, rational or “scientific”. You do actually have a very clear bias against the concept of the likely existence of any kind of God that is any more rationally detectable than garden fairies or the Flying Spaghetti Monster… or any other fairytale invention. Does this concept of empirical reality not form a bias for you based on your own past experience and mental capabilities?

    Consider, for example, the arguments of Thomas Kuhn regarding the inherent subjectivity in science and other forms of “rational” thought and understanding:

    According to Thomas Kuhn, “When scientists must choose between competing theories, two men fully committed to the same list of criteria for choice may nevertheless reach different conclusions.” For this reason, the criteria still are not “objective” in the usual sense of the word because individual scientists reach different conclusions with the same criteria due to valuing one criterion over another or even adding additional criteria for selfish or other subjective reasons. Kuhn then goes on to say, “I am suggesting, of course, that the criteria of choice with which I began function not as rules, which determine choice, but as values, which influence it.”

    That being said, having an admitted bias does not mean that said bias cannot be rationally overcome if one is at least open to the possibility of being wrong… open to potentially falsifying evidence.

    This is one of the dangers of “Christian-evolutionists”, like Pauluc and Erv Taylor (and even creationists like Professor Kent, David Reed, and others), who hold to the value of empirically-blind faith in the empirical truth of certain fantastic claims of the Bible… a faith, or bias if you will, that cannot be falsified or challenged by evidence of any kind – not even in theory. They pick and choose what they want to believe from the Bible, based on “faith” devoid of the need for support from empirical evidence, while, at the same time, shaking their heads in pity at the blindness and ignorance of those who believe many of the other claims of the Bible which are no more contrary to the claims of modern science than our their own beliefs regarding the existence and nature of God, the nature of Jesus, or the hope of eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

    At least be consistent in Wonderland. When in Wonderland, what sense does it make to pick and choose what is and isn’t most likely true about what the place says about itself?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  56. @ken:

    That is a fair point. Still there is a difference between atheism (no God), and agnosticism (may be a God that has not been detected yet).

    So, are you agnostic with respect to the origin of highly symmetrical polished granite cubes? – like the one I originally described for you in this thread? Or, do you think you have an idea as to its likely origin? Are you completely agnostic, having absolutely no hint of an idea, with respect to the existence of garden fairies? or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    You see, there are a lot of things that could exist, but for which one may not have come across any positive evidence. For such things we are not just agnostic with regard to their likely existence…

    That is why when someone claims that they see no rational empirical evidence to support the existence of a God or a God-like being, they are, in effect, atheistic at the present time. Now, they may say that they may be wrong, that there is a possibility of error, as with any scientific position… just that they need some actual evidence to change their minds.

    As far as I can tell, this is your current position. You are, in effect, in the same boat as Dawkins and Provine. You just don’t like to admit it. You all claim that there is no known rational empirical evidence for the existence of any kind of God or God-like being. Yet, I suspect that all of you would change your minds if you recognized the weight of positive evidence for the existence of God. Where then is the effective difference between your perspective and that of well-known atheists like Dawkins and Provine? – beyond semantics (i.e., a rose by another name)?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  57. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Where then is the effective difference between your perspective and that of well-known atheists like Dawkins and Provine?”

    Hi Sean

    The difference is I don’t need to see the evidence to concede there may be a God that is not yet detectable. That is different than an atheist that says there is no God unless it is proven. Subtle distinction but definitely different.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  58. Sean Pitman: This is one of the dangers of “Christian-evolutionists”, like Pauluc and Erv Taylor (and even creationists like Professor Kent, David Reed, and others), who hold to the value of empirically-blind faith in the empirical truth of certain fantastic claims of the Bible… a faith, or bias if you will, that cannot be falsified or challenged by evidence of any kind – not even in theory. They pick and choose what they want to believe from the Bible, based on “faith” devoid of the need for support from empirical evidence, while, at the same time, shaking their heads in pity at the blindness and ignorance of those who believe many of the other claims of the Bible which are no more contrary to the claims of modern science than our their own beliefs regarding the existence and nature of God, the nature of Jesus, or the hope of eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

    Once again you are misrepresenting their views. It amazes me how often you insist that they have “empirically-blind faith.” Some have explained repeatedly why their belief in SDA doctrines is not blind. I get it; why don’t you? Is this some sort of high-stakes rhetorical game that you’re playing?

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  59. @Eddie:

    Once again you are misrepresenting their views. It amazes me how often you insist that they have “empirically-blind faith.” Some have explained repeatedly why their belief in SDA doctrines is not blind. I get it; why don’t you? Is this some sort of high-stakes rhetorical game that you’re playing?

    Phil Brantley has argued that his faith, by necessity, is independent of empirical evidence – as has Prof. Kent. They are fine if the evidence is there, but they are also fine if it isn’t. The same is true for Erv Taylor’s belief in God. He evidently believes in God, and in Jesus as the son of God, even though he wouldn’t be able to, according to his own testimony, give his own granddaughter any reasonable empirical evidence for the existence of God or a God-like being. Pauluc has also seemed to argue for faith in the existence of God and the resurrected Christ as the Son of God, without any need for any basis in empirical evidence.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  60. @Ken:

    The difference is I don’t need to see the evidence to concede there may be a God that is not yet detectable. That is different than an atheist that says there is no God unless it is proven. Subtle distinction but definitely different.

    You’ve yet to answer my key question which I’ve asked quite a number of times now:

    Are you agnostic with respect to garden fairies, the origin of highly symmetrical granite cubes, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    Dawkins and Provine also readily concede that there may be a God, but that his existence is no more evident or apparently likely than the existence of garden fairies and other fairytale figures which may also exist somewhere in this or some other universe, but for which there seems to be no convincing positive evidence at the present time. You seem to me to have made this very same argument in this forum…

    Again, I’d be most interested if in your response my question regarding your potential agnosticism with regard to garden fairies and the like…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  61. Ken: The difference is I don’t need to see the evidence to concede there may be a God that is not yet detectable

    According to Martin Reese and Leonard Susskind – the “designer” is unavoidable so much so that “inventing a multiverse” fiction is the only way to escape that observation.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  62. @ken:

    Are you agnostic with respect to garden fairies, the origin of highly symmetrical granite cubes, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? – Sean Pitman

    This is easy. No. – Ken

    I hope you don’t mind if I ask you – Why not?

    I’m honestly confused here. You are very confident that garden fairies, Santa Claus, leprechauns and the like do not exist (you’re definitively not agnostic with regard to their existence or origin), but you are unsure if a God of some kind exists? Even though you see no more positive evidence for the existence of any kind of God or God-like being than you do for other fairytale characters? some of which many people have claimed to see?

    What’s the difference, for you, between the concept of a God-like being and these fairytale characters?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  63. Sean, what is the basis of your belief in the SDA view of the state of the dead? Many people who have had near-death experiences have accurately described objects they couldn’t have seen in the operating room. Many find the empirical evidence for a living soul departing the body at death very, very compelling. Should they trust the evidence they can see–or what the Bible teaches?

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  64. Eddie, I think you have it right. Satan wants us to trust our senses and he knows how to exploit them. I don’t understand this campaign Sean Pitman has against faith. All of the individuals Pitman has cited have made very clear that their faith is not empirically blind, with the exception perhaps of Erv Taylor. These individuals have made clear that much of what we believe can ONLY be accepted on faith because the only available evidence is clearly contradictory. This includes the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, neither of which Sean will EVER admit that ALL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE SO ABUNDANTLY CONTRADICTS. Again, Satan wants us to trust the evidence rather than the plainly spoken word to us.

    Pitman has obviously worn out many who tried to reason with him, so I don’t expect you’ll get any further.

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  65. Evolutionists have built a house of “just so cards”. Martin Reese and Leonard Susskind show how it all comes crashing down around them when observations in nature make it increasingly more difficult to tell the story of mindless undirected progress from “no space time” to an entire universe and a living planet like Earth.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  66. “Why do those like Dr. Taylor claim to live within one Wonderland, full of irrational baseless nonsense, but laugh at those who accept all of what the Wonderland Book has to say about the place?”

    “I suggest that such individuals, as brilliant as they think they are, aren’t being consistent with themselves. They’re trying to fit within two “incommensurate worlds”. It simply doesn’t work… Mr. Hatter.”

    ===========================================

    I would suggest that such individuals are some of the most brilliant that the world has to offer. The employer they really work for remains hidden as does their true agenda. They know their mission exactly and are executing it with all due dilligence.

    In so doing, they fulfill prophecy.

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  67. However – credit where credit is due – Meyers, Provine, Darwin and Dawkins are all up front about the connection between evolutionism and atheist rejection of Christianity.

    If they know anything at all – they know full well atheism and evolutionism and they have a generally correct view of the overt claims of the Bible when it comes to the 7 days of creation week.

    Here I am merely stating the glaringly obvious – though in some cases “the obvious” is not pleasing to some readers.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  68. Hi Sean

    Sorry about that, I hit the submit button too soon.

    …. because none of those entities have any relevance to the issues of infinity, infinite regress, first cause or cosmic design. I do not accept the abridge treatment of these topics that all relate to the inquiry of Gid. I do not accept your categorization of agnostics being effective atheists anymore than fundamental adnentists being Treated the same as progressive adnentists.

    Does a flying spaghetti minster understand inanity? I’m sure Gid, as an all knowing, forever present, nilpotent force would. And I not only acknowledge the possibility of such a force/entity, I think it likely exists although I do not and perhaps cannot detect or understand Its existence.

    That, my friend is a far cry from imaginary
    Pasta coated inion cheese.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  69. So then you ignored Martin Reese and Leonard Susskind on the cosmological evidence for a designer or you just “made stuff up”??

    Which way is your determined “I just want to claim I don’t see it” position going?

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  70. @ken:

    Does a flying spaghetti minster understand inanity? I’m sure God, as an all knowing, forever present, nilpotent force would. And I not only acknowledge the possibility of such a force/entity, I think it likely exists although I do not and perhaps cannot detect or understand Its existence.

    That, my friend is a far cry from imaginary
    Pasta coated inion cheese.

    I think we’re getting somewhere…

    You believe that a God of some kind is far more “likely to exist” compared to garden fairies and such. Yet, you have no evidence to support this belief. You write that, “I do not and perhaps cannot detect or understand Its existence.”

    Does this not mean that your statement that a God is “likely to exist” a statement of wishful thinking or blind faith? Otherwise, how can you have any rational idea that a God is any more or any less “likely” to exist than are garden fairies and such?

    Where is the cold hard objectivity behind such statements of belief? – as to why your belief in God’s likely existence is more rational than a belief in the likely existence of garden fairies and such? Where is the science or objectivity you often cite to support your claim to being more non-biased and objectively minded? vs. those who actually do believe that there is evidence of a God-like power at play in our universe? or even those who claim to believe in God based on faith alone? independent of any tangible empirical/scientific evidence?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  71. @Eddie:

    Sean, what is the basis of your belief in the SDA view of the state of the dead? Many people who have had near-death experiences have accurately described objects they couldn’t have seen in the operating room. Many find the empirical evidence for a living soul departing the body at death very, very compelling. Should they trust the evidence they can see–or what the Bible teaches?

    Rational belief is based on the weight of available evidence that one is able to comprehend using one’s God-given reasoning abilities. If the weight of empirical evidence, from a given perspective, happened to strongly suggest that the spirit lives on after the body dies how could anyone be faulted for such a belief? – if that is in fact the best evidence that happened to be available? Would God actually fault someone for following what their God-given minds and reasoning capabilities were telling them about the nature of reality? I think not.

    The reason I believe the Bible, rather than certain examples of empirical evidence that may appear in isolation to be in conflict with the claims of the Bible, is because I see the weight of evidence, empirical evidence that is currently available and that I currently understand, as strongly supporting the credibility of the Bible regarding its claim to be the Word of God. Many other people and books also make this claim, but the Bible is the only one, among them all, that effectively backs up this claim with the strong weight of empirical evidence that is calculated to appeal to the rational intelligent candid mind in search of truth – as far as I can tell anyway.

    If the weight of available empirical evidence that I could comprehend happened to disagree with the claims of the Bible, the Bible’s credibility regarding it’s claim to be the Word of God would decline in my mind.

    In short, Biblical credibility, with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested and potentially falsified, is dependent upon the credibility of those claims that can be directly tested and potentially falsified.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  72. @Henry:

    Eddie, I think you have it right. Satan wants us to trust our senses and he knows how to exploit them. I don’t understand this campaign Sean Pitman has against faith. All of the individuals Pitman has cited have made very clear that their faith is not empirically blind, with the exception perhaps of Erv Taylor. These individuals have made clear that much of what we believe can ONLY be accepted on faith because the only available evidence is clearly contradictory. This includes the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, neither of which Sean will EVER admit that ALL PHYSICAL EVIDENCE SO ABUNDANTLY CONTRADICTS. Again, Satan wants us to trust the evidence rather than the plainly spoken word to us.

    It is a mistake to suggest that God wishes us to believe without any rational basis or empirical evidence for belief, or that it is really Satan who wants us to trust the evidence that any rational candid mind would be able to see and understand as pointing in a particular direction. This concept of yours paints God as most arbitrary, unfair in his dealings with intelligent beings, and even evil. Remember that it was God, was it not, who gave us our minds and our ability to reason rationally from cause to effect. And now you’re telling me that God expects us to turn off our brains? – the brains He gave us to use? – and that Satan wants us to turn them on? You live in an upside down world my friend…

    “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.”
    —Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255. 2

    “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.”
    —Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 232, 233.

    Satan doesn’t want us to use our God-given reasoning abilities. Rather, Satan wants us to act contrary to what our reason tells us based on what our selfish desires are telling us. Sin is isn’t based on honest mistakes or sincere deception, but upon doing what we consciously know is wrong or contrary to what we are fully aware is in fact true. That is why sin is a form of insanity. It cannot be rationally explained nor can any excuse be made for it due to ignorance because there is no sin/insanity where there is honest and sincere ignorance of the truth…

    “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.”

    God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. We are thus led to adore the Creator and to have an intelligent trust in His word.

    No finite mind can fully comprehend the existence, the power, the wisdom, or the works of the Infinite One. Says the sacred writer: “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.” Job 11:7-9. The mightiest intellects of earth cannot comprehend God. Men may be ever searching, ever learning, and still there is an infinity beyond.

    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.
    – EGW, PP, p. 115-116.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  73. Sean, I am only able to post occasionally, due to my rigorous schedule in medical school, but I want to affirm the last three postings you have made. This statement was especially meaningful: “In short, Biblical credibility, with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested and potentially falsified, is dependent upon the credibility of those claims that can be directly tested and potentially falsified.” The main reason I still believe in God and the Bible as a SDA Christian is that I have directly tested and verified many of the Bible’s claims. This gives me reason to believe in the claims that cannot yet be verified.

    In addition, you are not undermining faith in the slightest. Such an accusation is the product of mental gymnastics, which assume that faith in God must have no basis in evidence. It becomes a clever guise for saying, “We can teach anything we want in a Christian school, because our faith needs no connection in reality.”

    If we applied this same principle to finance, we should all put our funds in Greek government bonds. Their government is failing, they may leave the euro, and they are not likely to pay back the money they borrow. But who cares? If our faith in God doesn’t need any supporting evidence, who says that our faith in each other needs evidence? What prevents us from having faith in Greece that we will be paid back, despite the evidence to the contrary? What prevents us from wasting our money in a worthless investment?

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  74. Hi Sean

    I’m afraid you are not understanding my epistomological point. Let me try again. How does an atheist explain first cause, infinity or infinite regress on a rational basis? As far as I know those concepts don’t relate to winged linguini or Irush mythology.

    You see I don’t absolutely rule out the supernatural when it comes to First Cause. Was thebig bang the first cause or the latest fo a Swiss of cosmic creation events that stretches back and forward on a time or non time arrow?

    Tuis no dinner at
    Adios or fairy tale my friend no matter how you try to fit me into these Dawkins boxes.

    The agnostic possibilities for God remain open.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  75. A Servant: Sean, I am only able to post occasionally, due to my rigorous schedule in medical school, but I want to affirm the last three postings you have made. This statement was especially meaningful: “In short, Biblical credibility, with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested and potentially falsified, is dependent upon the credibility of those claims that can be directly tested and potentially falsified.” The main reason I still believe in God and the Bible as a SDA Christian is that I have directly tested and verified many of the Bible’s claims. This gives me reason to believe in the claims that cannot yet be verified.

    In addition, you are not undermining faith in the slightest

    Well said.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  76. Up to this point, my understanding was that science makes abundantly clear that no human can be born of a virgin, and that no human body can come back to life days after it has deceased. Yet Sean Pitman wants us to believe that:

    1. we must use our God-given brains to assess this evidence
    2. we must not turn off our brains as we consider this evidence
    3. we must reject this evidence, instead accepting what the Bible says
    4. we must accept the Bible’s claims because we use our God-given brains
    5. Satan does not want us to contemplate this evidence with our God-given brains
    6. Satan wants us to act contrary to what our reason tells us
    7. if we accept the virgin birth and resurrection on faith in spite of the overwhelming evidence against them, we are exercsing “blind faith”
    8. if we accept what science informs us on these two issues, we likewise do so only using “blind faith”

    Further, Ellen White reminds us: “Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other.”

    So…the science that bears on the virgin birth and resurrection from the dead can only be consistent with what scripture tells us. There can be NO contradiction, as Ellen White pointed out. Evidently, there must be some science proving that the virgin birth and resurrection are possible. After all, THERE CAN BE NO CONTRADICTION. I’d like to see this evidence for myself, but for now I’ll simply trust that Sean Pitman must be right. He has been right on so many other things, which means we can trust him to be right about this.

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  77. A Servant said this statement from Sean Pitman was especially meaningful: “In short, Biblical credibility, with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested and potentially falsified, is dependent upon the credibility of those claims that can be directly tested and potentially falsified.”

    Are you, or Sean, suggesting that science cannot falsify the claims of a virgin birth and the resurrection of a 3 day old dead body? Surely you are not serious! This is like saying that one cannot falsify natural selection producing a structure more complex than 1000 amino acids (which Sean Pitman claims is absolutely falsifiable). The odds, by the way, of either the virgin birth or resurrrection happening MUST one in many, many billions (maybe more than one in a trillion, as there have likely been more than one trillion births). And the odds of BOTH events happening to the SAME person? Surely one in trillions upon trillions…which Sean Pitman assures us is IMPOSSIBLE according to scientific evidence based on probabilities that we are told we must trust.

    Clearly, we must SUSPEND so-called “reason” and EXERCISE FAITH to believe what the Bible claims regarding Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection? Why is this such an evil and “upside down” thing to concede? What is wrong with you people?

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  78. Bob Ryan has used his God-given reason to observe that “no one has seen macroevolution happen” (which of course can’t happen in the lifetime of one human), and labels believers in macroevolution as “blind-faith evolutionists”. By the same reasoning is Bob himself a “blind faith” believer in human parthenogenesis and reincarnation? Does he know someone who has seen these events happen?

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  79. Mr. Young asks “What is wrong with these people?” This is an excellent question. May I suggest that one thing that is wrong with the true believers on the EducateTruth(sic) site is that they know they are absolutely right all the time and everyone else is absolutely wrong all the time no matter what the topic happens to be.

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  80. Richard Young: Bob Ryan has used his God-given reason to observe that “no one has seen macroevolution happen” (which of course can’t happen in the lifetime of one human), and labels believers in macroevolution as “blind-faith evolutionists”. By the same reasoning is Bob himself a “blind faith” believer in human parthenogenesis and reincarnation? Does he know someone who has seen these events happen?

    While it is true that blind-faith evolutionism is equivalent to belief in reincarnation – it is not true that acceptance of creationism is in the same category as reincarnation.

    As already pointed out “The mechanism” claimed for creationism – is an intelligent designer, a creator (As shocking as that idea is to some Christians posting here).

    That “mechanism” is already “observed” to produce results that rocks, gas and dust alone could never accomplish with every book written, every rocket built, every poem, every computer program etc. It is beyond question – even by blind-faith evolutionists.

    God himself declares that the intelligent designer is observed even by non-Christian non-Bible aware pagans –
    the “invisible attributes of God are CLEARLY SEEN in the THINGS that have been made”. – and he says that this is the case with “barbarians” in Romans 1 – meaning those with no access to the Christian Bible at all.

    By contrast even atheist evolutionist leadership admits to the blind-faith nature of belief in evolutionism.

    http://www.educatetruth.com/letters/silence-of-the-geoscience-research-institute/comment-page-1/#comment-32308

    The impression given by those posting in favor of evolutionist arguments is that our evolutionist friends seem to have totally given up on the idea of critical thinking “as a good thing”.

    Richard Young: A Servant said this statement from Sean Pitman was especially meaningful: “In short, Biblical credibility, with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested and potentially falsified, is dependent upon the credibility of those claims that can be directly tested and potentially falsified.”

    Are you, or Sean, suggesting that science cannot falsify the claims of a virgin birth and the resurrection of a 3 day old dead body? Surely you are not serious! This is like saying that one cannot falsify natural selection producing a structure more complex than 1000 amino acids

    Here again – an ounce of critical thinking would have been helpful to that author just then.

    The wild blind faith claim that amino acids ‘naturally form’ into new and useful proteins all by themselves if you say “beeeellions and beeeeellions” often enough is a claim ‘in observable science’.

    The claim that God “can do something” (as odd as this will seem to some Christian readers on this board) – is not the wild claim they have imagined. We observe everyday that intelligent beings “can do something”.

    The claim that resurrection from the dead and a divine-human offspring are examples of claims about miracles and not natural events that occur every day is also “observably true”.

    Thus there ARE aspects that are “observably true” if one is inclined to at least an ounce of critical thinking.

    Richard Young: Up to this point, my understanding was that science makes abundantly clear that no human can be born of a virgin, and that no human body can come back to life days after it has deceased

    Actually – critical thinking would tell us that science agrees with the Bible on the point that these things are not naturally occurring and would require an all-powerful being such as God to accomplish them.

    IF (by contrast) science were showing us that these things “happen by themselves” – are “naturally occurring in nature” then we would have a problem for Bible claims about miracles being necessary for such things.

    That is – if we were to use critical thinking to evaluate the claims. Something I like to recommend to people as often as possible.

    Richard Young: Further, Ellen White reminds us: “Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other.”

    Ellen White reminds us in 3SG 90-91 that God showed her that the world and all life on it – actually was made in a normal 7 day week and that Theistic Evol is the worst form of infidelity because in her words it is “infidelity in disguise”.

    Is this message to Ellen White from God – something we should admit to if we are people that actually read or value what she wrote?

    Some readers of this board think that such a thing is a bad idea.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  81. Ervin Taylor: Mr. Young asks “What is wrong with these people?” This is an excellent question. May I suggest that one thing that is wrong with the true believers on the EducateTruth(sic) site is that they know they are absolutely right all the time and everyone else is absolutely wrong all the time no matter what the topic happens to be.

    So, Dr. Taylor, please explain to us where ET “true believers” are wrong. Perhaps you could start a new website called “Taylor’s Truth” which would allow you to tell us in detail?

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  82. Ken, you’ve sniffed out the truth about “truth”. I split a side this evening reading the “truth” and love the entertainment. Of course, the editors fully support this blogger’s “truth”, however hilarious the “critical thinking” comes across…so may our critical thinker blog on.

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  83. I just read Bob Ryan’s posts to a handful of friends. The concensus: he’s not serious, he’s just a brilliant comedian. I’m not so sure, but what the guy writes is certainly hilarious in its patronizing spirit, intolerance and certitude.

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  84. @ken:

    Hi Sean

    I’m afraid you are not understanding my epistomological point. Let me try again. How does an atheist explain first cause, infinity or infinite regress on a rational basis? As far as I know those concepts don’t relate to winged linguini or Irush mythology.

    How do you know? You said that you considered God’s existence to be “likely”. Isn’t the word “likely” a statistical/scientific term based on at least some ability to actually demonstrate the odds of a hypothesis being correct?

    This is my problem here. How can you say that something is “likely” when, at the same time, you say that you have no empirical evidence for what you say is “likely to exist”? – no more evidence than you have for mythological fairytales?

    You see, it is your use of the phrase, “likely to exist” that doesn’t make sense to me since it appears, at least to me, that you’re being inconsistent with yourself. If you have no positive evidence for God’s existence, and if everything that you do know appears to you to have a mindless natural cause, how then can you say, one way or the other, that the “first cause” was “likely” an intelligent God-like being vs. some other mindless natural process? Upon what basis do you make this claim?

    You may say that the potential for God remains, even if you don’t know one way or the other. However, this does not defeat Dawkins’ point that the potential for the existence of garden fairies remains as well – especially in infinite regress and multiverse (multiple universe) arguments. How then can you say that the potential of God’s existence is greater than that of garden fairies? Upon what evidence is this assertion of likelihood based?

    You see I don’t absolutely rule out the supernatural when it comes to First Cause. Was the big bang the first cause or the latest fo a Swiss of cosmic creation events that stretches back and forward on a time or non time arrow?

    Again, you can’t absolutely rule out garden fairies either. That’s the point.

    Tuis no dinner at Adios or fairy tale my friend no matter how you try to fit me into these Dawkins boxes. The agnostic possibilities for God remain open.

    More open than they do for garden fairies and such? How do you know? How do you know that the God that you say likely exists did not make garden fairies? How do you know that this possibility is not at all likely? Yet, you are not agnostic with regard to garden fairies? but you are agnostic with regard to God’s existence?

    I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  85. @Richard Young:

    Are you, or Sean, suggesting that science cannot falsify the claims of a virgin birth and the resurrection of a 3 day old dead body? Surely you are not serious!

    Let’s say that the engine in your car “dies”. It is fatally damaged and your car simply won’t run anymore – for the past 3 days now! Is it outside of the realm of science to effectively demonstrate that your car cannot be “resurrected” via any known mindless mechanism? How about with the effort of a very skilled mechanic? That changes the scientific likelihood of car “resurrection” quite substantially – doesn’t it?

    Therefore, what scientific law of nature is broken when someone suggests that the human machine may be able to be fixed by its original designer? with the use of very intelligent creative power?

    If one can effectively demonstrate the need for the existence of God or a God-like being at work within this universe of ours, then why the need for blind-faith arguments for the creative power of God? If there is actual empirical evidence of this power at work within our universe and within all living things which can be accessed and appreciated by intelligent candid minds?

    Clearly, we must SUSPEND so-called “reason” and EXERCISE FAITH to believe what the Bible claims regarding Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection? Why is this such an evil and “upside down” thing to concede? What is wrong with you people?

    Do you expect a reasonable/rational response to your question? If so, why then would you claim any meaning for blind-faith or otherwise “irrational” arguments for the existence of God and his creative power? Why are the stories of the miracles supposedly performed by Jesus any more trustworthy than any other fantastic just-so story or fairytale or “cunningly devised fable”? How do you pick and choose what to believe and not to believe beyond your own wishful thinking? Where is the solid rational reason for any kind of real hope in the empirical truth of these stories? – if you have no empirical evidence of any kind for their truth or the credibility of the story tellers?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  86. @Ervin Taylor:

    Mr. Young asks “What is wrong with these people?” This is an excellent question. May I suggest that one thing that is wrong with the true believers on the EducateTruth(sic) site is that they know they are absolutely right all the time and everyone else is absolutely wrong all the time no matter what the topic happens to be.

    Isn’t this kind of like the pot calling the kettle black? Don’t tell me that you haven’t expressed your own opinions on the topics in play in this forum in the most ardent and decided terms yourself. Obviously, all who have a strong opinion on a given topic think that they’re in the right. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have an opinion they’d be willing to publicly share and defend.

    Now, its fine to have a clear cut opinion and claim that you’re most likely correct in your views. Just don’t be too surprised when other people do the same thing. 😉

    What I also find rather ironic about your statement is that you seem to be agreeing with Mr. Young. You seem to appreciate the value of non-testable, non-falsifiable, empirically-blind faith in the existence of Jesus and miracles performed through him. What is especially strange about this position of yours is that you seem to accept, evidently based on some kind of supreme faith that cannot be wrong regardless of the evidence, the claims of the New Testament authors regarding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but laugh at the ignorance, irrationality, and close mindedness of those who accept the claims of the Old Testament regarding the origin of life on this planet… claims to which Jesus himself subscribed and to have personally witnessed before his incarnation.

    How does this work? Is such a faith-only position not an effort the avoid even the potential of error? of being wrong? How do you make sense of these seemingly contradictory positions to which you subscribe? I’m very curious to read your response to this sincere question of mine…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectignDesign.com

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  87. This thread is totally nauseating and the website a total embarrassment to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

    My suggestion to Ervin Taylor, Richard Young, Ron, and even Ken (a very likeable chap): just ignore this stuff, especially anything that Bully Bob writes. Let the defenders of “truth” argue among themselves. Save your time, energy and sanity for more productive things.

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