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. @Henry:

    Happy holidays to all, regardless of whether you’re a “true” Seventh-day Adventist or among those being urged to leave the church.

    And to those who still expect to get paid and remain employed by the Adventist Church while going around attacking the most basic goals and ideals of the church while on the church’s dime. Enjoy your holidays! and try not to look too hard in the mirror…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  2. May I suggest that Henry makes sense. The only exception is Sean who I have thought is a very interesting case study that would at least merit a footnote in a psychology or social psychology of religion book chapter on the personality types attracted to sect-type religious groups.

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  3. @Ervin Taylor:

    May I suggest that Henry makes sense. The only exception is Sean who I have thought is a very interesting case study that would at least merit a footnote in a psychology or social psychology of religion book chapter on the personality types attracted to sect-type religious groups.

    Basic Christianity, an idea based on the incredible notion that Jesus is a living eternally-existent God who was born as a man on this Earth over 2000 years ago, who lived a holy life and then died to allow us salvation from our sins, and who was then raised from the dead to live forevermore as our representative in Heaven, who will one day return to take all the righteous, the living and dead whom he will raise to life, home with him to live forever, was also thought of as a ridiculous “sect-type religion” for quite some time before it eventually became popular in Western culture.

    Forget about Adventism for a minute, what is it that attracts you to the most basic, yet extraordinarily fantastic, claims of Christianity in general? What is it that causes you to even want to take on the label of “Christian” much less that of “Seventh-day Adventist Christian”? Why take on the label of an organization that you derisively label a “sect” in its official statements of belief? Do you really have an actual belief or faith in the reality of the empirical claims of Jesus to be the God-man that he claims to be? to have lived and died and been resurrected for our salvation? or, is yours simply an attraction to Christian culture and moral ideals in general without a real belief in the empirical realities claimed by Jesus and his followers? Why not respond, in a meaningful manner, to these simple questions?

    Perhaps a chapter needs to be written in your psychology of religion book on why some people feel the need to live with only one foot, or perhaps only one toe, in Wonderland? – 2 Timothy 3:5

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  4. Ervin Taylor: May I suggest that Henry makes sense. The only exception is Sean who I have thought is a very interesting case study that would at least merit a footnote in a psychology or social psychology of religion book chapter on the personality types attracted to sect-type religious groups.

    Is it possible that Erv is trying to tell us something about himself?

    Erv – care to share?

    (Of course some may not want Erv to share the reasons he views Adventism so negatively – but for those who would like to hear him out on this one…)

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  5. Henry: 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.

    Henry’s post illustrates the narrow view of our evolution-ist (or is it –ish?) contributors. Their little world revolves around who might want to disprove and refute their views. In that tiny model – they “think to themselves” that if they put their hands over their ears and shut their eyes opposing ideas to evolutionism do not exist.

    How sad that they entirely miss the whole point of the thread. The point of the web site is the appeal to the unbiased objective readers that are not posting in sacrifice-all for evolutionism fashion, if they are posting at all

    Devotees to blind faith evolutionism tend to imagine to themselves that they have secret knowledge – in fact an all-knowing comprehensive scan of IP access to this website. Thus they assure themselves that no one reads any post but theirs and if they just ‘talk to themselves” no one will notice that they merely circle the wagons when hard questions come up.

    Oh well – whether the evolutionists choose to accept the real world or not – the objective readers are there all the same.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  6. Richard Young: 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?

    Interesting wrench-and-bend of the points posted.

    What has been said is that the points not verifiable in science “The incarnation of Christ” – are still tested by the things that ARE verifiable “the historicity of the Christ and the NT accounts” as well as the fact that the Bible claims to “miracles” in the case of the incarnation – are without any opposition in science claiming that such things are common to nature and not miracles.

    You seek a point – and failing to find one in the positions posted – you merely invent a straw man and then applaud your own efforts.

    How was that supposed to be viewed as a compelling response on your part – to anyone that does not already take your view to start with?

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  7. Re Sean’s Quote

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

    Hi Sean

    I’m sorry that you don’t as well.

    You seem to be able to quite clearly see the the difference between a conservative and progressive adventist but not between an agnostic and atheist. If an agnostic is the same as an atheist, why even have separate definitions?

    Is there anything in the definition of a garden fairy that has anything to do with the beginning of the universe or has the attributes of an omnipotent creator of everything?

    If current science does not prove or disprove God, as I think is the case, this does this not logically eliminate the possibility of God. The issue is epistemological not normative and that is what you and Dawkins do not get. If God exists outside the realm of science, outside detection, God – as infinite first cause can exist, even if people do not think that has any value. Kind of like the integer 0. Even though it does not have any value it still exists doesn’t it?

    What I think science has been showing us is that the primitive notions of the nature of God(s) are mythological and sociological. That is why I do not have any problem with people who have faith believing in a God they cannot understand or science does not explain. I do not share that faith because I am an agnostic.

    To me what is not the nature of God is a stepping stone to what is the possible nature of God.

    Ummm, I’m getting hungry, time to summon up the ole flying spaghetti monster for some chow 🙂

    Sean, it does not matter that we differ, what matters is the rational method and humane manner by which we discourse. I’m learning lots and I hope you are gaining a better appreciation for agnosticism. notwithstanding the closed box of atheism.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  8. Whether waggish or grumpy, ET’s visits here are always memorable, especially today’s.

    Normally frolicsome, he’s usually merely entertained by the idea Genesis 1 can be science and by the Heroic Crusade in defense of such, as he himself proclaimed it, waggish proclamations being his wont.

    But today in a resolutely magisterial tone he’s over here proclaiming Genesis 1 Adventism, as personified by Dr. Pitman, sect-ist.

    But I’m so old I remember when Walter Martin (remember him?), more theologically than anthropologically oriented, regally adjudged and adjudicated Adventism NOT a sect. WHAT a relief that was! Amen.

    But seriously, of immediate concern is ET’s fretting over being so thumbed down over here. Amen.

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  9. Hi Wes

    By some strange, ontological twist of fate the initials ET are equally applicable to your old friend and this site.

    Just coincidence, or perhaps God ‘truly’ moves in a mysterious way….hmmmm.

    Your agnostic, not atheistic!, friend
    Ken

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  10. “ET call home.”

    “Hello . . . Hello . . . Is anyone there?”

    “I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to deposit more coins in the Faith Phone, this is a very long distance call”

    Your metaphysical operator

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  11. Re Sean’s Question

    “Forget about Adventism for a minute, what is it that attracts you to the most basic, yet extraordinarily fantastic, claims of Christianity in general? What is it that causes you to even want to take on the label of “Christian” much less that of “Seventh-day Adventist Christian”?”

    Hi Erv

    I think that is a far question.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  12. @Sean Pitman:

    You seem to be moving into some very dangerous territory with your desire to prove the historicity and veracity of the claims of Christ by empirical evidence.

    You make a statement I really cannot believe a pathologist would make.

    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?

    Why argue at all for resurrection rather then recreation. How much viable tissue is present in a body left for three days in the middle east where daytime temperatures are likely 20-30oC. As you well know a body is by no means an inanimate object like a car that is essentially intact while nonfunctioning. The analogy is completely unhelpful A body 3 days old and stinking is dead and gone. You must start again and make a facsimile but there is no neuronal substrate for mind and no metabolic function remaining.

    In your desire to avoid blind faith You are now in the troubling position of asking where is the evidence that such miracle happened and at the the same time perform the feat of objective verification without recourse to hearsay or toi that same blind faith. One solution to the disconnect between pathological reality and the account is to ask “did it really objectively happen this way or was it reported to happen, mostly by those with a vested interest in the account. When you start appealing to the empirical evidence you will likely end up in higher criticism and arrive at the position of theologians like Albert Schweitzer who in his search for the historical Jesus ended up believing only in the sanctity of life. Nothing else of the ethic or life of Christ could be objectively demonstrated.

    You then ask Erv

    “Do you really have an actual belief or faith in the reality of the empirical claims of Jesus to be the God-man that he claims to be? to have lived and died and been resurrected for our salvation? or, is yours simply an attraction to Christian culture and moral ideals in general without a real belief in the empirical realities claimed by Jesus and his followers? Why not respond, in a meaningful manner, to these simple questions?”

    I assume you have answers to these questions which Erv Taylor does not.

    Simpler to say as a neo-orthodox believer would that Jesus is the revelation of God and we accept that by the leap of faith. There is nothing else. At core that is what a Christian is; a believer in Christ as God and as a man who lived among us. That is enough for me.

    We can argue at the periphery of whether Christ existed as the historical figure that the new testament almost alone describes or if the account of Christ as we know it is largely a product of the community of faith. That distinction is largely irrelevant as the Pauline doctrine of the church as the body of Christ allows for the continual revelation of God.

    For me I cannot read the gospel account and the ethic He described and to which He called His disciples to see that in that grace beauty and transcendence is all I need to be a disciple. I accept that the characteristics of the community of Faith is love and that the just shall indeed live by faith.

    To believe a life of faith can be based on a requirement for empirical evidence I consider a a blasphemous confusion of empirical reality with a transcendent reality of faith.

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  13. Erv Taylor::

    May I suggest that Henry makes sense. The only exception is Sean who I have thought is a very interesting case study that would at least merit a footnote in a psychology or social psychology of religion book chapter on the personality types attracted to sect-type religious groups.

    BobRyan:
    Is it possible that Erv is trying to tell us something about himself?

    Erv – care to share?

    (Of course some may not want Erv to share the reasons he views Adventism so negatively – but for those who would like to hear him out on this one…)

    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

    It appears that ET has outed himself much more on his true disdain for the voted positions of the SDA denomination than he appears to have at first imagined.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  14. @Sean Pitman:

    Sean PitmanNovember 23, 2011 at 8:57 am

    “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?”

    *********
    Sean,

    Thanks for this impeccable logic. I appreciate the clearness with which you demonstrate the role evidence plays in providing support for our faith.

    Faith without evidence places us at risk of becoming victims of charlatans and those who have been deceived by the Devil.

    Sure, there is evidence for and against a belief in God and Creation, but the weight of evidence favors the biblical teaching that God is the one who created everything that exists.

    We do owe our existence to him alone and he is entitled to our worship. The moment we credit Nature for our existence, we fall prey to the artful deceptions of the one determined to destroy our faith.

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  15. Re Pauluc’s Quote

    “For me I cannot read the gospel account and the ethic He described and to which He called His disciples to see that in that grace beauty and transcendence is all I need to be a disciple. I accept that the characteristics of the community of Faith is love and that the just shall indeed live by faith.”

    Dear Pauluc

    This is eloquent and goes to the very essense of all that is good about Christianity. Grace will always rise above doctrine. This is why I do.not disparage Christian faith.

    I understand and appreciate what Drs Pitman and Kime are trying to do: marry literal faith to science. But they have a very tough row to hoe because the modern educated mind will leave no stone unturned in critically examining such claims. Can the biological diversity we see today, apart from acquatic animals, really have stemmed from the ark? Can this rehashed Epic of Gilamesh really be considered to be empirically superior to the theory of evolution?! This is why I asked both Drs. Kime and Pitman, extremely intelligent men, to consider what is preeminent for them in examining reality: faith or science?

    Moreover how can science hope to empirically test claims such as the Investigative Judgement a doctrine unique to Adventists based upon on a disappointed man’s vision?

    The thing about faith, as evidenced on this site is that everybody’s is at least a little different. If so how can faith ever have an objective empirical basis? That is why science, as opposed to faith or non faith bias, is the the objective, tool of enquiry for examining physical reality, including the origins of life on earth and in the universe.

    And if God, as the infinite first cause exists outside the sphere of scientific inquiry, faith still has its valid place in ontological enquiry, saith your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  16. I appreciate the dedication in the efforts of atheist evolutionists to marry their faith in the doctrine “there is no god” to science in such a way that they need to bend-and-wrench science and extend their imaginations about a “Multiverse” in order to avoid the conclusion in favor of an intelligent designer.

    At least Martin Reese and Stanford’s Leonard Susskind are upfront and honest about that. (Too bad the biologists at LSU refuse to step up to that level).

    But that still leaves the totally self-conflicted positions of TEs who try to embrace the atheist’s doctrine of origins and marry it to the Bible.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  17. Bob, your like a broken record. You say the same things over and over. And what you say is nothing more than mean spirited put down after put down. Do you not notice that even the ET supporters give you thumbs down? I can’t beleive your still allowed to post here.

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  18. When I find the weak point in the evolutionist argument – for which they have no answer – and I find that even atheist evolutionists themselves (Patterson, Darwin, Meyers, Provine, Reese, Susskind) agree with certain points in that regard, I also find that it is “predictable” that the TE evolutionist would want this point not to surface time and time again.

    Notice that not one evolutionist was able to substantively respond to Martin Reese’s observations “in nature” pointing to an intelligent designer NOR to the comments by Leonard Susskind that devoted evolutionists simply refused to accept those observations in nature. So our evolutionist friends simply run away from the point and argue that it is mean spirited to remind them of it.

    Some find that inexplicable – but in my view it is simply predictable.

    Hence – I prefer the points where they have no answer. I am fine with them fleeing the point and whining that it is mean spirited to bring up points where they do not have substantive responses.

    I also I like the mystical notion that those posting against creationism can tell what thumbs up/down is posted by what person or exactly who is reading what as if they had an all-knowing IP address monitor on this web site. (BTW – That is a curious element in discussions on evolutionism that I find a great many places. It is as if they enjoy telling themselves the story that they know who is reading and who is voting what…)

    All in all – very instructive for the objective unbiased reader that chooses to embrace critical thinking.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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

    Sean Pitman: 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

    Michelle: Do you not notice that even the ET supporters give you thumbs down? I can’t beleive your still allowed to post

    I sure do enjoy it when critical thinking is used notice discrepancies and then form conclusions.

    What wonderful illustrations of how life works!

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  20. Thumbs up or down?

    I wonder in which direction the divine thumb is pointed when individuals claim a franchise on absolute truth and blithely attack others as being hoaxes or frauds.

    Those that post as such do not advance the cause of Educate Truth only radicalize it to the point of of becoming a remnant of one.

    Your observing agnostic friend
    Ken

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  21. Ken is to be commended for that suggestion. Just what does God think of direct opposition to error? We need to all think about that one.

    Certainly Romans 1 says “they are without excuse” who pretend to ignore the “invisible attributes of God — clearly seen in the things that have been made”.

    There we get a clue as to where the divine is on such subjects as Intelligent Design – seen by all of mankind – even those with no inclination toward God at all.

    Speaking of divine inspiration and how God views the issue of dragging/defending/indifference-to error in the camp.

    I think both sides of this issue would all agree that it is very likely that SDA Creationists posting here actually read and accept the “Testimonies to the Church” and other books as being inspired writing.

    So then – what are those creationist folks finding when they open those books and read?

    The testimony of the True Witness is not a smooth message. The Lord does not say to them, You are about right; you have borne chastisement and reproof that you never deserved; you have been unnecessarily discouraged by severity; you are not guilty of the wrongs and sins for which you have been reproved.” {3T 257.2}

    “If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime, and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God” (3T 281

    “Those who have been nearly all their lives controlled by a spirit as foreign to the Spirit of God as was Achan’s will be very passive when the time comes for decided action on the part of all. They will not claim to be on either side. The power of Satan has so long held them that they seem blinded and have no inclination to stand in defense of right. If they do not take a determined course on the wrong side, it is not because they have a clear sense of the right , but because they dare not.” {3T 271.2}

    Skepticism and unbelief are not humility. Implicit belief in Christ’s word is true humility, true self-surrender” (DA 535).

    “Elijah was declared to be a troubler of Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple.

    From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy, will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more. And the Bible plainly teaches that a time is approaching when the laws of the State shall so conflict with the law of God that whoever would obey all the divine precepts must brave reproach and punishment as an evil-doer.” {GC88 458.2}

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  22. Michelle: Bob, your like a broken record. You say the same things over and over. And what you say is nothing more than mean spirited put down after put down. Do you not notice that even the ET supporters give you thumbs down? I can’t beleive your still allowed to post here.

    Michelle, How do you know that “ET supporters” are giving Bob “thumbs downs?” And, why would that effect what Bob has to say?

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  23. Michelle: Bob, your like a broken record. You say the same things over and over. And what you say is nothing more than mean spirited put down after put down. Do you not notice that even the ET supporters give you thumbs down? I can’t beleive your still allowed to post here.

    Are you saying Shane and Sean should “ban” Bob as they did Dr. Stone? For what? Speaking his opinion, as Dr. Stone did? Or, are they going to blame negative public opinion on Bob also, instead of on their own comments?

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  24. Back to the actual subject of this section of the board.

    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)

    How “instructive” that one thing seems to lead to another in that case.

    No need to be confused however –

    BobRyan: “ Skepticism and unbelief are not humility. Implicit belief in Christ’s word is true humility, true self-surrender” (DA 535).

    By way of illustrating the point made in that commentary on the life of Christ – Erv Taylor offers this helpful insight into his real attitudes toward the SDA denominations – thus setting aside his marketing facade.

    Ervin Taylor:

    The only exception is Sean who I have thought is a very interesting case study that would at least merit a footnote in a psychology or social psychology of religion book chapter on the personality types attracted to sect-type religious groups.

    Meanwhile we have the explicit “for in SIX days the Lord CREATED the heavens and the earth the seas and all that is in them and rested the Seventh day” – written not in poetry – but legal code. Ex 20:8-11

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  25. Re the Nature of Agnosticism

    My previous quote in response to Sean

    “ken November 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    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 🙂 ”

    Excerpt from a Time interview with Stephen Hawkings:

    “If God doesn’t exist, why did the concept of his existence become almost universal? —Basanta Borah, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
    I don’t claim that God doesn’t exist. God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2029483,00.html#ixzz1f7Ch1uti

    Hello Sean

    I thought would find the above comments by Hawkings interesting apropos our discussion over the nature of my agnosticism. Based on Hawkings comments I consider him an agnostic not an atheist. He does not deny God but rather challenges the nature of God. Interesting stuff.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  26. ken: Excerpt from a Time interview with Stephen Hawkings:

    “If God doesn’t exist, why did the concept of his existence become almost universal? —Basanta Borah, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
    I don’t claim that God doesn’t exist. God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2029483,00.html#ixzz1f7Ch1uti

    Hello Sean

    I thought would find the above comments by Hawkings interesting apropos our discussion over the nature of my agnosticism. Based on Hawkings comments I consider him an agnostic not an atheist. He does not deny God but rather challenges the nature of God. Interesting stuff

    Ken – you are missing the real question here.

    The question is … given the number of Q&A sessions you (as an agnostic) have actually had on this board – what would Hawking’s understanding have been by now having had access to those same answers?

    It gives one pause for thought.

    And as for your idea it is not “pure atheism” to claim that “God is nothing more than the laws of physics and that is the real and only reason we are here” — well that is a good one left as an “exercise for the reader”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  27. “The question is … given the number of Q&A sessions you (as an agnostic) have actually had on this board – what would Hawking’s understanding have been by now having had access to those same answers?”

    That’s a good question my friend, upon which I can only speculate as I can’t read minds. But from the answers I have seen I think Hawking’s view would be that Adventism is a faith construct trying to justify itself with pseudo science. That the Advenitist biblical concept of God cannot accord with the observable laws of empirical science.

    But this is only my guess based on the obvious bias of creation science versus objective scientific inquiry. Many adventists recognize the obvious disparities in this regard and believe in literal creation notwithstanding. Others see that old ideas of Adventism must be adapted to the realities of sound science or it will become anachronistic mythology( like the Greek gods). Others use collateral methods (Intelligent Science, cherry picked attacks on evolution, etc. to direct attention away from the subjectivity of creation science. I presume that Hawkings, being far intelligent than myself, would make these observations quite easily.

    I hope that answers your question.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  28. @pauluc:

    Why argue at all for resurrection rather than recreation?

    A resurrection is indeed a recreation. There is no real difference when it comes to the need for creative power and intelligence. When something is dead, it is so fundamentally broken that the broken elements need to be “re-created” to one degree or another. Such a recreation, of a very broken car for example (or a living thing), requires the input of an intelligent mind to explain in a rational/scientific manner that produces a useful level of predictive value.

    How much viable tissue is present in a body left for three days in the middle east where daytime temperatures are likely 20-30oC. As you well know a body is by no means an inanimate object like a car that is essentially intact while nonfunctioning. The analogy is completely unhelpful A body 3 days old and stinking is dead and gone. You must start again and make a facsimile but there is no neuronal substrate for mind and no metabolic function remaining.

    You’re only arguing degrees here. The basic building blocks for a body “dead and gone” for 1,000 years are still there – i.e., the basic elements or “dust” that is used to make up the body. What else is needed to get these basic building blocks put back together in their proper order?

    The same basic analogy can be used for your car. Let’s say that your car gets completely destroyed down to its basic component parts – i.e., your car is completely rusted down to dust over time. What does science say it would take to put your car back together in working order? some mindless natural process? or some mechanism that has the backing of a very intelligent mind?

    How then is this conclusion fundamentally different when it comes to a broken down biomachine? a dead body? regardless of the degree of decay?

    In your desire to avoid blind faith You are now in the troubling position of asking where is the evidence that such miracle happened and at the the same time perform the feat of objective verification without recourse to hearsay or to that same blind faith.

    Not any more so than the suggestion that intelligence was obviously required to produce your car from the basic building materials used in your car’s construction…

    Face the fact that human-level intelligence is itself miraculous. It has miraculous creative potential, the ultimate origin of which cannot be explained by any kind of science that is based, ultimately, in mindless naturalism – i.e., the creative potential of mindless natural mechanisms…

    Your appeal to the advantages of blind faith is mystifying to me. Upon what basis do you choose to believe blindly, without any empirical evidence, one thing but not another? Such a faith seems to me to be completely irrational – based on nothing more than the personal emotions and the wishful or “mystical” thinking of those who invoke blind faith as a basis for belief in anything…

    One solution to the disconnect between pathological reality and the account is to ask “did it really objectively happen this way or was it reported to happen, mostly by those with a vested interest in the account. When you start appealing to the empirical evidence you will likely end up in higher criticism and arrive at the position of theologians like Albert Schweitzer who in his search for the historical Jesus ended up believing only in the sanctity of life. Nothing else of the ethic or life of Christ could be objectively demonstrated.

    If that where in fact true, that there really is no good empirical evidence of any kind for the historical existence of Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection, why do you choose to believe in the personal existence of Jesus and who he was reported to be? – the Son of God? vs. some other self-proclaimed god-man who also talks about good ethical principles?

    By the way, as far as I can tell, there is more empirical evidence for the life and actions of Jesus than there is for the life and actions of someone like Alexander the Great.

    I assume you have answers to these questions which Erv Taylor does not.

    I think so…

    Simpler to say as a neo-orthodox believer would that Jesus is the revelation of God and we accept that by the leap of faith. There is nothing else. At core that is what a Christian is; a believer in Christ as God and as a man who lived among us. That is enough for me.

    There is no argument that at least some leap of faith is required to believe in the claims of the New Testament regarding Jesus. After all, a belief in the validity of any scientific theory requires a leap of faith to one degree or another. However, if these claims were completely without any supporting empirical evidence, potentially falsifiable evidence, why should they be believed over any other similarly fantastic claim or “cunningly devised fable”?

    In short, why do you take this particular leap of faith in Jesus, but not in others who have made the same claim?

    For me I cannot read the gospel account and the ethic He described and to which He called His disciples to see that in that grace beauty and transcendence is all I need to be a disciple. I accept that the characteristics of the community of Faith is love and that the just shall indeed live by faith.

    We agree on this point. The ethical position of the New Testament is indeed beautiful and good in its own right. However, there have been others who have proposed very similar ethical teachings as those proposed Jesus. Why then do you believe that Jesus was God? but do not believe the claims of others who have made similar claims? Why do you believe the claims to real historical empirical miraculous signs ascribed to the creative power of Jesus? – but do not believe similar claims for other miracle workers throughout history?

    To believe a life of faith can be based on a requirement for empirical evidence I consider a a blasphemous confusion of empirical reality with a transcendent reality of faith.

    This very same claim is made by my LDS friends for the superiority of the Book of Mormon over the claims of the Bible as a non-corrupted truer revelation of God, to include the true nature of Jesus as a created being, the brother of Lucifer in fact.

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/ldsteachingonlucifer.htm

    Why do you not subscribe, by empirically-blind faith, to the LDS teachings? At least my LDS friends appeal to the empirical evidence of a “burning in their bosom” as to why they believe the way they do. Why do you not subscribe, by faith, to all of the teachings of Jesus himself with regard to the true empirical nature and origin of the world in which you live?

    You see, you seem to arbitrarily pick and choose, without apparent logical reasons for those not privy to your own “mystical experience”, what you will and will not believe “by faith”. In other words, your faith seems to be based more on your own personal wants and desires than on anything that would have a general rational appeal to others who are considering the various claims to Divine authority coming from multiple sources. Why Jesus in particular?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  29. @ken:

    I thought would find the above comments by Hawkings interesting apropos our discussion over the nature of my agnosticism. Based on Hawkings comments I consider him an agnostic not an atheist. He does not deny God but rather challenges the nature of God. Interesting stuff.

    Hawking appears to be what is known as an “agnostic atheist” – the same as Richard Dawkins. Along with you, both accept that an intelligent God or God-like entity may exist, but argue that this possibility is distinctly unlikely given that there is no positive evidence for God’s existence beyond that which can be explained by the mindless laws of nature. In other words, God’s existence is felt by both Hawking and Dawkins to be no more likely than the existence of any other fairytale of the imagination…

    Note, specifically, that Hawking argues for the mindless laws of Nature being the Creator or “God” of this universe. Let’s be clear that Hawking does not, in any sense of the word, believe in an intelligent or personal God as the creator of anything in this universe or of the universe itself.

    God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2029483,00.html#ixzz1fEatWS2n

    In other words, you’re all in the very same camp for all practical purposes… at least as far as I can tell. The only caveat I might add is in regard to your own claim that the existence of some kind of intelligent God is actually “likely” – despite your seemingly contradictory claim that there is no empirical evidence to determine how likely or unlikely the existence of such a God may actually be.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  30. Ken: That’s a good question my friend, upon which I can only speculate as I can’t read minds. But from the answers I have seen I think Hawking’s view would be that Adventism is a faith construct trying to justify itself with pseudo science. That the Advenitist biblical concept of God cannot accord with the observable laws of empirical science.

    But this is only my guess based on the obvious bias of creation science versus objective scientific inquiry.

    Clearly that is your view – and as you point out – other atheists may agree with you on that point – some of them may even do it after having the benefit of some of the information you have reviewed during your Q&A sessions here.

    But in Romans 1 God says this is not what they are actually experiencing. He says that in fact “they are without excuse” because the real truth is that the “invisible attributes of God are clearly seen in the things that have been made”.

    Everything else is simply facade to one level or another.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  31. Re Sean’s Quote

    “In other words, you’re all in the very same camp for all practical purposes… at least as far as I can tell. The only caveat I might add is in regard to your own claim that the existence of some kind of intelligent God is actually “likely” – despite your seemingly contradictory claim that there is no empirical evidence to determine how likely or unlikely the existence of such a God may actually be.”

    Hello Sean

    That’s pretty accurate. However one needs to ask where or how the laws of physics came about that created this universe doesn’t one? What caused the first quantum fluctuation from which matter and energy exploded in the first universe, no matter what its configuration?

    Philosophically, I think there likely is an ultimate intelligence/ design/ God behind everything, I just can’t prove it. I don’t think this is any fairy tale or Cosmic pizza delivery because we consciously exist. What a marvelous scenario, even if in the big scheme of things we are an anthropic accident. That means something to humans. even if we have not or cannot understand the grand design beyond our universe. The interesting question is at what level does the ultimate design occur? How many gadzillions of quantum fluctuations has there been and will there be? Is God a random dice player, creating a new universe with different properties with each roll, of an infinite number of rolls of the cosmic dice? Possibly, but I think we would have to empirically understand the nature of some of these universes to evaluate that hypothesis.

    Interesting how the very concept of god(s) has evolved over the course of human history. It seems that the more we understand about nature the more refined our ideas about the nature of God become. I think that trend will continue and is a positive one for mankind as science rules out anachronistic confections of a creator.

    Faeries, Santa Claus, and the Spaghetti Monster don’t claim to be the first cause do they? What was the first cause? Will there be a last cause or an infinity of causes and effects forever? When science or atheists can answer these questions then perhaps I’ll become an atheist. But until then, I remain,

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  32. “But in Romans 1 God says this is not what they are actually experiencing. He says that in fact “they are without excuse” because the real truth is that the “invisible attributes of God are clearly seen in the things that have been made”.”

    I respect that as a statement of your profound faith my friend.

    It all comes down to one’s definition of God, as Mr Hawking aptly pointed out.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  33. Your response is very consistent with the agnostic and atheist world view my friend.

    But you have to admit – my statement is very consistent with the “trust and believe the Bible” world view by comparison.

    Surely we can both agree that these are not “the same world view”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  34. “Your response is very consistent with the agnostic and atheist world view my friend.

    But you have to admit – my statement is very consistent with the “trust and believe the Bible” world view by comparison.

    Surely we can both agree that these are not “the same world view”.

    in Christ,

    Bob”

    My friend – after years of sparring over such delectable topics such as telermerase and sea shells etc – we have arrived amicably, without rancour, with respect at a juncture that I did not think possible: 100% agreement on a point! 🙂

    A sincere thank you for the manner in which you did so. Perhaps you and I have turned a positive corner.

    Your pleased agnostic friend
    Ken

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  35. Michelle: Bob, your like a broken record. You say the same things over and over. And what you say is nothing more than mean spirited put down after put down. Do you not notice that even the ET supporters give you thumbs down? I can’t beleive your still allowed to post here.

    Well, Michelle, this post is puzzling. I must observe that your quote was one of the most mean-spirited postings I have seen on this site as of late. Yet you were allowed to post it. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Personally, speaking as an Educate Truth-er, I generally agree with Bob’s postings, admire his courage in taking on the opposition, and find that he generally backs up his beliefs with solid proof. That may irritate you, but it is certainly appropriate to this site.

    As to the thumbs up and down–if you read above you will notice that such things are generally meaningless. Believe me, Bob and his beliefs are supported on this site, just as Sean’s and Shane’s are.

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  36. @Ken: – Yours of November 29, 10:39 pm, this thread: “I think Hawking’s view would be that Adventism is a faith construct trying to justify itself with pseudo science. … [sans any] accord with the observable laws of empirical science. … Many Adventists recognize the obvious … Others see that old ideas of Adventism must be… adapted… to the realities of sound science or it will become anachronistic mythology (like the Greek gods). Others … cherry-picked attacks on evolution, etc. to direct attention away from the subjectivity of creation science” (Where’s “disgruntled,” as in Hiram Edson?)

    Forlorn, maybe a tad disgruntled, I’ve been sitting mulling your impersonation of Hawkings analyzing us Adventists. Then, on a roll, you took the microphone to present your 9-9-9 plan for rectifying our kind of cognitive kinkiness.

    I can see, I disconsolately sob, that you, our special dear old agnostic friend, are so much more at home and at ease in Hawkings’s mind and bowels, with his kind of premises and vocabulary, his strokes and tropes, than ours (our less progressively premised minds, etc. etc., anyway). Oh, don’t think I don’t see your smitten look when that man is around — I can just feel the electricity, — and your toying way when we are alone! And, sob, we’ve been living together in the same blog for the last two whole years, sob, and we’ve all had such fun together. But, no, don’t leave, you can’t leave! I’ll make your favorite dish (rehash of Gilgamesh garnished with cherry-picked raspberries). Put on your favorite composer (Hendimyth)? Read you your favorite qualm Psalm? Write you a poem? (“Ode to Query”, “Let Me Count The Question Marks”) Oh, please, more question marks, more, more! ));-}>

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  37. @ken:

    One needs to ask where or how the laws of physics came about that created this universe doesn’t one? What caused the first quantum fluctuation from which matter and energy exploded in the first universe, no matter what its configuration?

    Philosophically, I think there likely is an ultimate intelligence/ design/ God behind everything, I just can’t prove it.

    If you see no evidence one way or the other, why do you say that the existence of an intelligent God behind it all is any more or less likely than some mindless mechanism?

    This isn’t about proof you understand. This is about demonstrable evidence that forms the basis of determining what is or isn’t more or less “likely”. Science is able to demonstrate predictive value or the likelihood that a hypothesis is more or less true. However, ultimate proof regarding the actual nature of the empirical world in which we find ourselves is impossible in science. There is no such thing as absolute proof in science.

    So, anyway, your use of the word “likely” doesn’t make sense to me given your “agnostic” position – even philosophically. Without at least some evidence of some kind beyond wishful thinking, how is the existence of an ultimate intelligence any more or less “likely” than the existence of an ultimate non-intelligence? This is question posted by Dawkins and Hawking and is their reason for their atheism – as well as the fact that they see the evidence as supporting a non-intelligent creative power as being ultimately responsible for us and our universe. In contrast, you claim to see no evidence one way or the other, yet you still use the term “likely”? It seems to me that Dawkins and Hawking are being more consistent in their views…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  38. Re Wes’s Quote

    “Oh, don’t think I don’t see your smitten look when that man is around — I can just feel the electricity, — and your toying way when we are alone!”

    Hi Wes

    Don’t be disconsolate my friend, whatever you divine of my motives. Actually I’m very easy to read because I say exactly what I mean. Perhaps your disappointment comes from not fully appreciating the full extent of my agnosticism. I’d venture it is as deep and comprehensive as your faith, but as Sean has pointed out I can hardly be objective in that regard can I?

    By the way I far better appreciate your wit and humour than Hawkings. His is a bit dry for my liking. I also think he has a bit of a God complex when it comes to making a shrine out of the laws of physics. He may not see that though. Been through a couple of wives as well. Smitten? – perhaps a lot less than thou over your sacrosanct Krebs cycle my friend. 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist but I know you can take it in good spirit just as I can take my spoonful of Kimean medicine.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  39. Hi Sean

    I’m afraid you are getting stuck in defintions of your own making if you cannot dististiguish agnostics into atheists, my friend.

    As has been pointed out to you you are stuck in an empirical paradigm when it comes to understanding God soley by evidence. Logically God can exist without any ability of humans to detect God whatsoever. That may be the case if the creative force for our universe exists outside our universe and the physical laws of nature have governed everything from the big bang.

    Yes I think that a God, a grand design, a first cause, the meaning for everything is logically and philosophically likely because of the lack of any explantion or understanding of how it all came about. Not enough to say oh well we don’t know how it all started so it just must have spontaneously occured. Can I explain how this force first appeared outside of our universe. Sorry Sean I’m not a prophet, God or son of a god, just:

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  40. Hi Sean

    I’m afraid you are getting stuck in defintions of your own making if you cannot dististiguish agnostics into atheists, my friend.

    As has been pointed out to you you are stuck in an empirical paradigm when it comes to understanding God soley by evidence. Logically God can exist without any ability of humans to detect God whatsoever. That may be the case if the creative force for our universe exists outside our universe and the physical laws of nature have governed everything from the big bang.

    Yes I think that a God, a grand design, a first cause, the meaning for everything is logically and philosophically likely because of the lack of any explantion or understanding of how it all came about. Not enough to say oh well we don’t know how it all started so it just must have spontaneously occured. Can I explain how this force first appeared outside of our universe. Sorry Sean I’m not a prophet, God or son of a god, just:

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  41. Dear Wes

    My comments from Oct 24/11

    Dear all
    All attacks on agnosticism are most welcome. We, or maybe only I, are the smallest remnant at Educate Truth, but an enthusiastic participant all the same.
    Frankly I’d be worried if agnosticism ever got put up upon an unassaible pedastel. Its own ability to doubt Itself will likely prevent it from reaching the status of Faith.
    By all means mock it, ridicule it and treat it with contempt. I likely won’t take my drink of cyber hemlock for a while though.
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

    You see Even though I am not a prophet I knew it would be coming. That’s OK though, I’be an infinite amount of cheeks to turn my friend. And as much as the temptation is there I’m not going to descend into personal attack. I am human though so you’ll see a bit of humor and the humble display of dialectical tools from time to time. After all you didn’t want it to be just acKrebs cycle cakewalk diff you? As my old aging Dad always tells me: one learns far more from those that disagree than those that agree. Boy am I learning a lot here!

    ? •|• ?

    ~~

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  42. Sean’s Quote from Oct 24/11

    ” I personally think that it is possible to be, at least for a while, a sincere agnostic who is earnestly seeking for the truth about God. ”

    Ken’s Quote from nov 24/11

    “How does an atheist explain first cause, infinity or infinite regress on a rational basis?”

    Hi Sean

    I’m still waitng for your resonse to my query of Nov 24/11.

    Your suncere agnostic friend
    Ken

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  43. Re Intelligent Design

    Hi Sean

    Notwithstanding the body blows of our good Dr. Kime regarding my apparent worship of Saint Hawkings 🙂 , this is what I have been contemplating lately.

    What if Intelligent Design is on a much higher order than what we can presently proof with empirical science but may be possible in the future? If one looks at the exponential advance of science what will we understand about our universe and beyond in 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years? After all think how far mankind has come in understanding physical reality since Newton’s time.

    I don’t that is mere irony that caused Hawkings and his author to label their recent tome ‘ The Grand Design’ I think Hawkings truly thinks there is one. If ever we find it might we not be glimpsing the mind of the Grand Designer? Are particular iterations of faith really temporal resting spots along the way down the long road of rational enquiry? I think so based on what I have observed and thought about in my lifetime. Then again it is possible that revealed biblical creation by ancient Hebrew minds is the full meal deal as creationists posit. But is it probable?

    That is why I am not just blowing bubbles when I talk about the establishment of a multi disciplinary chair of Intelligent Design. Hawkings says that philosophy is dead. I couldn’t disagree with him
    more notwithstanding my suppossed adoration 🙂 Even if God is ultimately unknowable science can explain what God is not. Is there a design to life, this universe, the collective metaverse, or is it all a random crapshoot we will never understand? Don’t know, but It seems plausible to me, as I duck the flying spaghetti and look into the causal soup, that there is an ultimate answer that would make sense of it all. And logically, even though humans cannot yet empirically prove it, it may be beyond the currently known laws of physics.

    Darn, I just saw that elusive fairy in garden puck her head and give me a subjective wink as she was eating a plate of spaghetti. 🙂

    All right off to do battle in the empirical world and make some meatball
    $.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  44. @Ken:

    I’m afraid you are getting stuck in defintions of your own making if you cannot dististiguish agnostics into atheists, my friend.

    I don’t think you’re a real agnostic my friend. Real agnostics don’t go around saying that God’s existence is “likely”. They go around saying that they don’t know if God’s existence is or is not likely…

    As has been pointed out to you you are stuck in an empirical paradigm when it comes to understanding God soley by evidence. Logically God can exist without any ability of humans to detect God whatsoever.

    Exactly… just like garden fairies.

    That may be the case if the creative force for our universe exists outside our universe and the physical laws of nature have governed everything from the big bang.

    Indeed… and the same could be said of some non-intelligent creative force. Why then do you propose that an intelligent God “likely” exists over the possibility of a non-intelligent creative force as the ultimate origin of everything?

    Yes I think that a God, a grand design, a first cause, the meaning for everything is logically and philosophically likely because of the lack of any explantion or understanding of how it all came about.

    How does a lack of an explanation, by itself, make the existence of an intelligent God more likely than a non-intelligent creative force?

    Not enough to say oh well we don’t know how it all started so it just must have spontaneously occurred.

    I agree, but how it this enough to conclude that an intelligent God is therefore more likely to have been responsible?

    Is there a design to life, this universe, the collective metaverse, or is it all a random crapshoot we will never understand? Don’t know, but It seems plausible to me, as I duck the flying spaghetti and look into the causal soup, that there is an ultimate answer that would make sense of it all.

    Again, saying that something is possible or “plausible” isn’t the same thing as saying that something is “likely”. One could also argue that it is just as plausible that a mindless mechanism was ultimately responsible for everything… which is the argument of Dawkins and Hawking. Upon what basis do you suggest that the existence of an intelligent creative power or “God” is more likely to have been ultimately responsible? – not just a potential existence, but a likely existence?

    “How does an atheist explain first cause, infinity or infinite regress on a rational basis?”

    Based on what I like to call the “Turtles all the way down” argument (from on a story in Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time and the title of my own little book on intelligent design and ultimate origins). In short, the argument is that if something that is known to exist can be explained by some mindless mechanism, and that mechanism can itself be explained by some underlying mindless mechanism, and so on as far as one has so far been able to search, then, most likely, as far as one is able to tell given the information that is currently in hand, the same sort of result will continue “all the way down” even if one has yet to reach the “bottom turtle” – so to speak.

    Of course, the same argument can be turned around to suggest that if certain features cannot be explained without the input of an outside source of higher level information, and that source cannot itself be explained without an even higher level source of outside information, and so on as far as one is able to investigate, then, logically, it stands to reason that ultimately it is “Turtles all the way up”. In other words, the ultimate source of everything, the “top turtle” so to speak, likely has access to infinitely great informational complexity, intelligence, and creative power.

    In short, if you can’t tell which way the turtles are going at all, there is no rational way to say what kind of turtle is at the end of the line (an intelligent one or a mindless one).

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  45. Hello Sean

    Who or what created the matter for the first turtle? Ever seen a turtle appear out of nothing, ex nihilo?

    I told you I was intrigued by Intelligent Design and Deism didn’t I? And I still say that creation of the original matter for the original universe out of nothing is not a rational proposition. Why? Because science and mathematics can not explain infinity, first cause or infinite regress. And philosophy doesn’t seem to do much better ( Munchhausen Trilemma).

    Can turlles read? For their sake I’ ll state it again: when the atheists, sceintists or philosphers rationally explain to me how ‘original’
    matter and energy, that ultimately led to intelligent life, arose out of the mindless void, then I’ll become an atheist. If a faith construct ever satistifactority answers my questions then I’ll join that religion. (All come up relativistically short so far).

    Part of the problem is what we mean by mindless. Can a human mind know the mind of God? What may appear as mindless nature may not be mindless at all if we figure out the Grand Design. I think both Einstein and Hawkings understood and understand this dilemma. In fairness and with great respect I think in what you and Dr. Kime in your own way are trying to do as well: marry faith to science for a more fuller and optimistic view of reality. Please note, especially my friend Wes, that I have stated that this is laudable. Not toying around here, I mean what I say.

    There is a strange, wonderful, poetic, yearning in the hunt for God, which I, your most fallible friend, am not immune. Might that be skewing my agnostic judgement towards the shells above? Might I be anthropormorphizing God like design and intelligence to that of humans? Might I be stretching the boundaries of agnosticim in saying that even though I cannot prove it – because ultimate creation ex nihilo and infinite regress makes nonsense to me – the case for an ultimate grand designer/ force makes more rational, ‘likely’ sense? All those remain good possibilities 🙂

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  46. Is Stephen Hawkings an atheist if he is hunting for a Grand design?

    Quotes from Brief History of Time and interview

    In ‘A Brief History of Time’, Stephen Hawking states “… if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.”

    When asked during a group interview with Arthur C Clark and Carl Sagan if he believed that the God he mentioned was limited to the physical laws of the Universe, Mr. Hawking replied, “The question of whether God is bound by the laws of science is a bit like the question ‘can God make a stone that is so heavy he cannot lift it’.
    I don’t think it is very useful to speculate on what God might, or might not, be able to do.
    Rather, we should examine what He does in the Universe in which we actually live in.
    All our observations suggest that it operates according to well defined laws.
    These laws may have been ordained by God, but it seems that He does not intervene in the Universe to break these laws, at least, not once He had set the Universe going.”

    Sean, this looks a lot like agnostic deism to me. Now I think Hawkings thinking about our universe has evolved since he wrote Brief History of Time, because he is looking at turtles ( metaverses) a level or two upwards. However Grand Design implies grand designer doesn’t it. Can design ever be mindless?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  47. @Ken:

    Now I think Hawkings thinking about our universe has evolved since he wrote Brief History of Time, because he is looking at turtles ( metaverses) a level or two upwards. However Grand Design implies grand designer doesn’t it. Can design ever be mindless?

    Yes, Hawking has apparently evolved, or devolved if you prefer, from the position of agnosticism to atheism since he wrote A Brief History of Time.

    As far as your question as to if a “design” can be “mindless”, the answer to that question is yes – depending upon what you mean by the term “design”. As far as we can tell, anyway, what appears to be “mindless nature” does in fact have certain creative powers (discussed further below).

    Who or what created the matter for the first turtle? Ever seen a turtle appear out of nothing, ex nihilo?

    This is exactly the reason why many scientists and philosophers have come to the conclusion that the “first cause”, whatever it may be, had to itself have been eternal. Of course there are those, like Hawking for instance, who argue that something can indeed come from nothing… but that belief certainly isn’t scientific in that it is not testable in a falsifiable manner and has no useful predictive power.

    I told you I was intrigued by Intelligent Design and Deism didn’t I? And I still say that creation of the original matter for the original universe out of nothing is not a rational proposition. Why? Because science and mathematics can not explain infinity, first cause or infinite regress. And philosophy doesn’t seem to do much better (Munchhausen Trilemma).

    Now you’re sounding like a creationist 😉

    Can turlles read? For their sake I’ ll state it again: when the atheists, sceintists or philosphers rationally explain to me how ‘original’ matter and energy, that ultimately led to intelligent life, arose out of the mindless void, then I’ll become an atheist.

    Me too! The only difference between you and I is that you are impressed with the unlikely appearance of original matter/energy out of nothing without a pre-existent eternal intelligence, while I am also impressed by the origin of the informational complexity needed to get otherwise random non-directed energy/matter to produce useful stuff. Consider that the origin of useful information is just as problematic for the atheistic mindset as is the origin of basic energy/matter itself (By the way, atoms and basic atomic particles are informationally rich, as are the fined-tuned fundamental constants of the universe).

    If a faith construct ever satistifactority answers my questions then I’ll join that religion. (All come up relativistically short so far).

    Science itself is a faith construct. You cannot make any conclusions as to the likely nature of empirical reality without taking a leap of faith, to one degree or another, beyond that which can be absolutely known.

    This was Wesley Kime’s point in arguing that faith and science are forced to walk hand-in-hand. This is also the point of well-known philosophers of science like Thomas Kuhn. You simply cannot avoid taking on a “faith construct” of some kind – no one can. The only choice any of us really has is which faith construct to take on…

    Part of the problem is what we mean by mindless. Can a human mind know the mind of God?

    Not in totality of course since we are finite and God, by definition, is infinite. However, we can known what God has given us to know about himself. In other words, we are capable of comprehending certain limited aspects of God.

    What may appear as mindless nature may not be mindless at all if we figure out the Grand Design. I think both Einstein and Hawkings understood and understand this dilemma. In fairness and with great respect I think in what you and Dr. Kime in your own way are trying to do as well: marry faith to science for a more fuller and optimistic view of reality. Please note, especially my friend Wes, that I have stated that this is laudable. Not toying around here, I mean what I say.

    Faith and science are already married since one cannot exist without the other. It is just that some fail to recognize when they are in fact taking leaps of faith.

    Beyond this, you seem to be making the same point that the founders of modern chaos theory made. In short, randomness cannot be proven. What appears to be a random sequence from one perspective may actually be determined by a simple formula from another perspective. The same thing is true about what appears to be the result of a mindless mechanism. Ultimately, from a different perspective, the same phenomenon may have been known or produced by some deliberate purpose.

    The problem, of course, is that our perspective is limited. We can only deal with the limited information that we currently understand. So, the best we can say is that certain phenomenon appear to be the result of apparently mindless mechanisms while other phenomena (like highly symmetrical polished granite cubes, or your automobile) much more clearly require the input of deliberate intelligence.

    Might I be stretching the boundaries of agnosticim in saying that even though I cannot prove it – because ultimate creation ex nihilo and infinite regress makes no sense to me – the case for an ultimate grand designer/ force makes more rational, ‘likely’ sense?

    You are definitely stretching the boundaries of agnosticism to argue for God’s “likely” existence. This is why I have been saying for some time now that you are not a true agnostic. You are a closet creationist to at least some degree. You present some of the very same arguments used by intelligent design advocates and even creationists in favor of the very likely existence of a God or God-like intelligence behind it all.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  48. @Ken:

    You have transported me from an atheist to a closet creationist in the width of a thread my friend. 🙂 I wonder what you will create me as next?

    What have I done? – besides point out that someone who claims that God’s existence is “likely”, based on arguments for ultimate causation requiring a God-like intelligence and creative power, isn’t what most people would call an “agnostic”?

    In short, your “agnostic” arguments are the very same ones used by atheists like Dawkins and Hawking and your “God likely exists” arguments are essentially the same ones used by IDists and creationists. How then can I be faulted for suggesting that you’re not really an agnostic or an atheist? While you’re not a classic creationist or IDist by any means, you seem to me to be, at least for now, far closer to such than to pure agnosticism… which is a very hard position to hold, in its pure form, for very long I would think. Certainly Hawking couldn’t do it for long. Eventually one decides, like you, to try to figure out which way the turtles seem to be going…

    Of course, you could end up falsifying my hypothesis… 😉

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  49. Hi Sean

    Effective atheist, closet creationist, close to classic IDist or creationist?

    Are you sure it is my agnosticism that is changing rather than your opinion of what I am?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  50. @ken:

    Effective atheist, closet creationist, close to classic IDist or creationist?

    Are you sure it is my agnosticism that is changing rather than your opinion of what I am?

    I didn’t say that you were effectively an atheist. What I said was that your arguments for agnosticism were effectively atheistic. There’s a difference. Your arguments for God’s likely existence are obviously the opposite of atheistic – certainly not agnostic either.

    After all, someone who claims to believe that the existence of God is “likely”, because of ultimate origin arguments, doesn’t match most people’s concept of an “agnostic”.

    So, please do forgive me if I am still way off base regarding your true position…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  51. Dear Sean

    There is nothing to forgive as you have been a gentleman and were not personally attacking me. I took no offense whatsoever my friend.

    In fact I think our dialogue was good because I caused me to really think deeply about what I believe.

    The problem with any ontological classification is that it usually covers a range of belief. For example look at the YEC/YLC camps within Adventism. Which is pure Adventism and is there room for both camps under the classification? I think that principle likely applies to agnosticism as well.

    Anyways enough about me I want to turn back to Hawkings for a bit if that is all right. I’m not so sure he has changed from an agnostic to an atheist notwithstanding his position on our universe. He may have only moved up a few turtles looking for the Grand Design of metaverses vs the creation of our universe. What if there is indeed a set of principles or basic laws that govern everthing? Where did they originally come from if not from some infinite creative God/force? Something had to make not only the first roll of the dice but the dice (laws of metaverses) themselves right?

    Although I think it is likely such a force exists, because the alternative of ultimate metaverse creation ex nihilo seems absurd, it still begs the question as to the nature of that force. Do I have faith in it? No because I don’t know whether it exists and atheists could be right. Does it have human like intelligence of something far beyond what we can comprehend? Don’t know that thus can’t make a leap of faith in that regard. Saying that something is likely does not mean I have faith in, it just means that it is more probable than not. This is conjecture, not faith, otherwise I’d be a deist.

    Take care
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  52. Re Lydian’s Quote

    Here lies exceptional Christian grace for the worst apostate. This grace surpassess all doctrinal argurments in its appeal to the heart.

    Lydian my dear, you have nothing to fear, for your God is very near.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  53. Pingback: Walla Wall University: Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation | Educate Truth

  54. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Good luck getting the brethren at LSU to accept anyone who supports a literal 6-day creation week or who questions the macroevolutionary potential of mindless evolutionary mechanisms. – Sean Pitman”

    Hi Wes

    I’m trying my friend, really trying to get the entrenched untrenched. Difficult task.

    Dr Taylor, can you please provide some positive suggestions here? Is there not room to explore ID from a multi – disciplinary perspective without undermining the teaching of evolution at LSU?

    Hope springs eternal in the heart of the optimistic agnostic.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  55. Re Sean’s Quotes

    “You see, while science should indeed progress and continue to search for additional evidence and explanations, this doesn’t mean that science never helps one come to conclusions that make the most sense given the evidence that is currently in hand.

    That’s what science is all about – making conclusions as to what is most likely true based on the limited information that is currently available.”

    I agree with you on this point 100%.

    My agnosticism relates to the existence and nature of God, not to the findings of science.

    The vast majority of biologists, even Adventists!, think that evolution, to date, presents the most plausible theory for the origins of life on earth. I agree with them and not just because they say so but for other reasons such as: an undergraduate degree in biology, study of the literature, debate on this site, evaluation of intelligent design, evaluation of faith based creationism, the implausibility of that biological diversity of life stemming from the Ark, the science on the age of the earth, cosmological science regarding how the building blocks of organic life were created….etc.

    It is looking at all these factors that has led me to think evolution is the best explanation ‘to date'(emphasis added) for the origins of life on earth.

    However that does not mean the theory is correct or only partially correct i.e the mechanisms that drive it. It does not mean that you and others may someday prove a golden thread of design joins all of creation together and points to the hidden divine hand. Nothing is science is sacrosanct, even Einstein’s theory that nothing can exceed the speed of light is now being questioned. That’s the great value of science as a progressive, objective tool of human progress- it keeps looking and has no problem updating or throwing out that which does not make empirical sense.

    However to say there is no God thus no designer, or that any creative force deemed to be God be circumscribed by a particular interpretation of a particular holy text is not science. It is bias plain and simple.

    When it comes to alleged bias on my part, please look at what I have offered to do notwithstanding my opinion, ‘to date’ on evolution: help fund a chair in Intelligent Design. Does that offer a clue as to my objectivity?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  56. Y@Sean Pitman:

    Sean

    You are absolutely right and I am not denying that my comments were anything but uncomplementary and that you have the right to delete. Sometimes the frustrations does leak through and for that I do apologize. I try not to mimic anything like the rawness of the comments about you on Pharyngula though the level of frustration is not dissimilar. As to the mode of operation of this site and to the understanding of your supporters I make no apology.

    Who said this?

    “There are many today who passionately want to believe and show that life and the universe are self-created, because do not want the burden of moral accountability, of knowing that there is a creator God by whom they will be judged.”

    None other than David Read unquestioningly your most popular commentator but in a more moderate moment on Spectrum.

    I think if you read back through comments on this site by BobRyan, Holly, Faith, Kevin Peterson and Bill Sorenson you will also find that they view scientists that may disagree with their prejudices and literalism as morally defective.

    Unfortunately the ability to search for comments on here seems to have been removed and google does not seem to index the site so I cannot give you the time and thread.

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  57. Sean you claim

    “If you don’t see the difference between just-so story telling and science, if you don’t see the need for real scientific hypotheses to be based on measurable predictive value (i.e., some form of statistical odds analysis), then you simply don’t understand how science really works – and neither does Erv Taylor”

    These are indeed serious claims so I proposed an hypothesis and looked at some statistics.

    My hypothesis was that in terms of the practice of science you probably do not know as much as you think you do. I proposed to test this by looking at the most ruthless of scientific measures bibliometrics. I proposed that you have a significantly stronger record of publication of experimental research than those you accuse of having no idea.

    Lets see according to Scopus Sean D Pitman has published 7 papers between 2004 and 2007.
    2007 Granular acute lymphoblastic leukemia: A case report and literature review
    2006 A 70-year-old woman with acute renal failure
    2006 Hodgkin lymphoma-like posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (HL-like PTLD) simulates monomorphic B-cell PTLD both clinically and pathologically
    2006 5q- syndrome in a child with slowly progressive pancytopenia: A case report and review of the literature
    2004 What is anaplastic large cell lymphoma? [1] (multiple letters)
    2004 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma Associated with Epstein-Barr Virus Following Cardiac Transplant
    2003 Pathologic quiz case: A 70-year-old woman with long-standing shoulder pain

    This is commendable as many MD would have no publications but other than arguably the case series on HD none of these are hypothesis driven.

    The Hirsch index is 3 and you have been cited a total of 33 times.

    For Ervin Taylor Scopus lists 57 publications a hirsch index of 9 and citations of 883

    For me Scopus lists 91 publications a Hirsch index of 19 and 3105 citations.

    Statistically and by objective criteria who do you think ” simply don’t understand how science really works” ? I agree I think this would suggest that the hypothesis is false.

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  58. @pauluc:

    Hmmm, I stand corrected. I didn’t remember that you had been so pejorative and derogatory in your false accusations as to our position and attitude toward evolutionists. Given your original comments, it seems like you were just a bit out of line with the comment guidelines of this forum – accusing us of suggesting that evolutionists work for the Devil or are otherwise inherently evil for their belief in evolutionism? – or that they have a “deep desire to deny God”? What?

    I know you want to make this to be an issue of personal morality, but it isn’t. As I’ve said before, I have nothing personal against evolutionists nor do I think that evolutionism, in an of itself, affects one’s standing before God. Some of my best personal friends are evolutionists, agnostics, or outright atheistic. Their advantage is that they do not claim to represent the SDA Church nor do they expect a paycheck from the church for promoting their views – which is a moral issue in my book.

    In any case, I do think that editing comments that falsely try to make this a moral issue is perfectly appropriate. This idea is not something we want promoted on this website. Sometimes such comments may get through, but that is not our intent. It is just that it is difficult to keep up with all comments and screen them appropriately in all cases.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  59. BobRyan: I give you the work of the greatest designer, greatest artist, greatest scientist ever discovered

    I notice that simply looking at the evidence is not pleasant for some of our reviewers.

    I am wondering if a “turn from all disconfirming evidence” is not a pattern for agnostics and atheists.

    I am wondering if there might be even one or two SDAs visiting here – and using that same model when their cherished stories in blind faith evolutionism are not supported by observations in nature.

    Could it be that such observations as the above – would result in negative responses?

    Could it be? – 😉

    None are so blind as those who “will not see” – they exercise their “free will” to turn from every evidence.

    Notice how the “world” in the review of the evidence above on ABC news was NOT so quick to “deny all” and turn a blind eye.

    So how is it that such non Christian sources are more open to objectivity and fact – than some of our diehard agnostics and TE’s here?

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  60. @Sean Pitman:

    You seem to have it back to font when you say;

    So, you tell me, what is your “scientific” evidence, your scientific reasons, for believing in the creative powers of mindless evolutionary mechanisms beyond very low levels of functional complexity. Please, do explain to me the real science behind the mechanism of RM/NS. Show me the measurable predictive power of your mechanism to make predictions of success at various levels of functional complexity in a testable potentially falsifiable manner…

    Science works by proposing an hypothesis and testing it. What I say is irrelevant and should not in any way be the basis of your activities.

    As I have repeatedly said, formulate your hypothesis, test them experimentally and publish your results.

    You have proposed them loosely

    1] The vast genetic potential of the post-deluge animals (from a mere 4000 years ago)
    2) The finding of DNA in dinosaur fossils of age 4000 years
    3] The 1000 fsaar limit
    4] The ability to explain genomic structure and the chaotic structure of gene families by ID

    Its time you put up if you want to attain any scientific credibility. As for me you know who I am perhaps if you want to critique my molecular genetics publications you should start with our papers on chimp and human MHC and the trans species hypothesis and propose some experiments to explain that by an ID paradigm.

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  61. @ken:

    My agnosticism relates to the existence and nature of God, not to the findings of science.

    Yes, but your understanding of science leads you to believe that God, if He does exist, is effectively undetectable in any sort of empirical rationally-understandable manner. In other words, your view of God seems to place God in the same category as Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As Dawkins cleverly explains, if you’re agnostic about God, why not be agnostic about the tooth fairy or the celestial teapot as well?

    “It is often said, mainly by the ‘no-contests’, that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascal’s wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?”

    ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

    So, you see, effectively you aren’t an agnostic about God in the same sense that you are about Santa Claus or garden fairies… are you?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  62. Since Ken asked this question, I will be happy to respond. I suspect that the usual cast of characters on this web site will not believe me, but my understanding is that the concept of “intelligent design” (ID) is discussed at least in some LSU biology classes at the beginning of a quarter as part of discussing the differences between scientific and non-scientific approaches to a given subject matter. However, since main stream biological science and science in general does not view ID as falling within the purview of science and the subject of the course is biological science, my understanding is that it is only commented on as a current topic in popular discourse and then the class moves for the rest of the quarter talking about science.

    Thus, it would seem that the topic is already given an appropriate amount of time in a science class. Perhaps, the School of Religion or the LSU Department of History might wish jointly to consider hiring someone with academic credentials dealing with the history and philosophy of science– perhaps someone trained by Professor Ronald Numbers at the University of Wisconsin. That would be the appropriate place to talk about ID in detail. That’s also the appropriate place to talk about young life and young earth Creationism since these topics are most appropriately discussed in theological classes, not in science classes.

    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.

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  63. Re Erv’s Quote

    “Perhaps, the School of Religion or the LSU Department of History might wish jointly to consider hiring someone with academic credentials dealing with the history and philosophy of science– ”

    Thanks for your comments Erv.

    The above would be a start in any case, rather than abject cynicism.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  64. @Ervin Taylor:

    My understanding is that the concept of “intelligent design” (ID) is discussed at least in some LSU biology classes at the beginning of a quarter as part of discussing the differences between scientific and non-scientific approaches to a given subject matter… Mainstream biological science and science in general does not view ID as falling within the purview of science and the subject of the course is biological science…

    So, I guess that anthropology, forensic science, and SETI aren’t really scientific enterprises? – since they are based on the ability to detect deliberate design in nature? Perhaps these topics should only be discussed in religion or philosophy classes? Am I the only one who sees the inconsistency here?

    You see, this is the main issue in play and the one of the main purposes of this website: It all revolves around the notion that ID can’t be scientific by definition and therefore cannot be presented as an kind of valid scientific hypothesis in science classes within our schools except to thrash ID-proponents and explain how ID is nothing more than “pseudoscience” – that the topic of the origin of all forms of life and biological diversity must only be taught, in our science classes, from the perspective of the creative potential of mindless mechanisms of nature.

    Now, I know that this is the mantra of the majority of mainstream scientists, but upon what basis can anyone simply declare it impossible to detect the deliberate activity of an intelligent agent within the material of DNA, protein building blocks, or other features of living things? – simply because they are living things? That’s it?

    For example, upon what basis can SETI scientists detect the need to invoke the intelligent design hypothesis for various assumed artefactual features of ratio signals, but living things are, by a priori definition, the result of mindless mechanisms? How are such a priori conclusions remotely scientific?

    It seems to me that it is only because of your assumption that the mechanism of RM/NS is actually capable of doing the job that the possibility of ID could reasonably be excluded from the discussion of the origin of life and/or its vast diversity. However, given the fact that all you have are just-so stories, not science, to support the creative potential of such mindless mechanisms beyond very very low levels of functional complexity, upon what rational basis is ID excluded as a potentially valid hypothesis?

    You see, if the mechanism of RM/NS fails, then so does your claim that the ID-only hypothesis cannot be studied as a valid scientific explanation.

    It is for such reason that all of our schools need to hire science professors who actually believe that the intelligent design hypothesis isn’t just a philosophical or religious notion; that it can in fact be proposed in a scientifically rigorous, testable, potentially falsifiable manner that produces far more predictive value than mainstream evolutionists have yet generated for RM/NS (which is nothing when it comes to explaining the origin of higher-level biosystems).

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    P.S.

    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. – Erv

    If you got a few more of your friends to stop by and vote you could really thrash us “hyperorthodox” Bible-thumpers good and proper! 😉

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  65. @Ken: Re. your several recent enquires mainly about and around the Krebs Cycle directed at me and me and Sean, I haven’t been ignoring you. Sean has been doing the heavy lifting and I’ve been sitting back and listening to him, and learning a lot, and admiring, as I trust you have. He has more than met your enquiries, more directly and comprehensively, in greater depth and detail, and with fewer antics, than I can.

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  66. @pauluc:

    Statistically and by objective criteria who do you think ” simply don’t understand how science really works” ? I agree I think this would suggest that the hypothesis is false.

    It is indeed strange that scientists who are quite good at doing real science in various disciplines of science are apparently unaware that they aren’t doing science when it comes to their conclusions on the creative potential of RM/NS. Scientists are simply not immune from the trap of trying to pass off just-so story telling as real science – even within mainstream science journals.

    For example, in his comments on a new mechanism for evolution postulated by Edward Wiley and Daniel Brooks, Roger Lewin says:

    Natural selection, a central feature of neo-Darwinism, is allowed for in Brooks and Wiley’s theory, but only as a minor influence. “It can affect survivorship” says Brooks. “It can weed out some of the complexity and so slow down the information decay that results in speciation. It may have a stabilizing effect, but it does not promote speciation. It is not a creative force as many people have suggested.”

    – Science, 1982, no. 217, pp. 1239-1240

    Consider also the following relevant thoughts:

    “To propose and argue that mutations even in tandem with ‘natural selection’ are the root-causes for 6,000,000 viable, enormously complex species, is to mock logic, deny the weight of evidence, and reject the fundamentals of mathematical probability.”

    Cohen, I.L. (1984) Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities , New York: New Research Publications, Inc., p. 81

    “I have quoted some voices of dissent coming from biologists in eminent academic positions. There have been many others, just as critical of the orthodox doctrine, though not always as outspoken – and their number is steadily growing. Although these criticisms have made numerous breaches in the walls, the citadel still stands – mainly, as said before, because nobody has a satisfactory alternative to offer. The history of science shows that a well-established theory can take a lot of battering and get itself into a tangle of contradictions – the fourth phase of ‘Crisis and Doubt’ in the historic cycle and yet still be upheld by the establishment until a breakthrough occurs, initiating a new departure, and the start of a new cycle. But that event is not yet in sight. In the meantime, the educated public continues to believe that Darwin has provided all the relevant answers by the magic formula of random mutation plus natural selection – quite unaware of the fact that random mutations turned out to be irrelevant and natural selection a tautology.”

    – Koestler A., “Janus: A Summing Up,” Picador: London, 1983, pp.184-185.

    Of course, there are many who argue that RM/NS is not a true tautological argument; that this mechanism can be used to make real testable predictions regarding evolutionary progress and/or limitations. And, to a certain extent, I agree. However, when it comes to stories about higher levels of evolution beyond single-protein enzymes or enzymatic cascades, Mendelian-style variation, and various forms of devolution (the loss of pre-established systems of function), I fail to see any predictive power for the evolutionary mechanism that can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. Beyond this, there are also no statistically-based models for making such predictions in literature.

    It is for this reason that I argue that arguments for the creative potential of RM/NS beyond very low levels of functional complexity are tautological just-so stories that are not testable by real life experiments or even by relevant statistical analysis.

    So, you tell me, what is your “scientific” evidence, your scientific reasons, for believing in the creative powers of mindless evolutionary mechanisms beyond very low levels of functional complexity. Please, do explain to me the real science behind the mechanism of RM/NS. Show me the measurable predictive power of your mechanism to make predictions of success at various levels of functional complexity in a testable potentially falsifiable manner…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    P.S.

    “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

    Lewontin, Richard C. [Professor of Zoology and Biology, Harvard University], “Billions and Billions of Demons”, Review of “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” by Carl Sagan, New York Review, January 9, 1997.

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  67. @ken:

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

    That is exactly the basis of detecting design in numerous scientific fields – like anthropology, forensics, and SETI.

    Then again a rainbow looks like a divine work of art until one knows the physics that created it. The same idea could be applied to snowflakes, crystals, the universe – don’t they at first blush appear to be designed instead of occurring vis a vis nature?

    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.

    Can one ever become completely confident in one’s ID hypothesis? No. As in any real science, one can improve the predictive value of the hypothesis, but one cannot absolutely prove the hypothesis to be correct without perfect knowledge.

    For me, agnosticism is the optimal state of inquiry precisely because we can’t know the exact, empirical truth about the divine.

    My point is that you can’t know exact empirical truth about anything in the universe that exists outside of your mind. You can’t know for sure if any of your ideas about how the universe works are really true with absolute certainty. All such conclusions require a leap of faith to one degree or another. That’s the nature of science. Yet, if you saw a the type of granite cube I described above, you wouldn’t describe yourself as “agnostic” with regard to the most likely origin of the cube. You would say, as would most people, “Given the information that is currently available to me, this cube was most likely designed.”

    The same is true for evidence of God’s existence. While we cannot know with absolute certainty, we can say that, “Given the information that is currently available to me, the God hypothesis carries the greatest predictive power.”

    Take evolution for example. I don’t look at it with a faith or non faith bias. In my mind it is irrevelant to the existence or non existence of God. Have the vast majority of evolutionary biologists been duped, fooled or coerced into thinking it is correct? Unlikely but possibly. Could the theory be wrong? Possibly. Can the burgeoning discipline of Intelliegent Design punch holes in it. Maybe, and wouldn’that be nice! That remains to be seen by the majority of scientists, not that the majority is always right!

    There you go, you just said that you believe it unlikely that the majority of biologists have been duped. That means that you’re not truly agnostic in this regard. You actually favor a particular position in this discussion. So, why not just admit that?

    I know you like to think of yourself as non-biased in this discussion, but you’re really just kidding yourself. Everyone is biased to one degree or another. Even you, if you are honest with yourself, do in fact favor certain positions over others.

    As to God, it is not merely the existence but the nature of God that agnostics concern themselves with. History, faith, philosophy and science all factor into the nature equation. The nature of God appears to be a moving target. Just look at religious schisms, or the very nature of this Adventist debate to appreciate that.

    I agree. However, one has to start somewhere. If you don’t believe in the existence of a God or a God-like entity, you’re not going to concern yourself with trying to investigate the nature of God any further. So, determining that a God most likely exists in some form or another is the first step toward a relationship with God.

    Respectfully, rather than a copout, I submit agnosticism is the pinnacle of rationalism when it comes to considering all the evidence as to a temporal understanding of the divine.

    I respectfully disagree. It is fine to admit that one may always be wrong, but the avoidance of all risk of being wrong, of taking on any position because of the the potential for error, isn’t rational at all. It is anti-scientific at its core.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  68. So then – in the round of Sean-Ken dialogue this makes #1247 over 2 years or is it #1248?

    Ken our agnostic friend remains totally convinced that blind faith evolutionism is the only real science and refuses to even address the topic of “finding signs” that intelligent life even exists — even though theoretically he should be willing to admit that humans exist and leave evidence (artifacts) indicating that humans are not rocks.

    When one question is answered – he simply moves on to another.

    When an interesting door is open such as the “finding of some artifact” he simply flees the topic since it is leading to a conclusion he prefers not to accept.

    And in the end – after years of back and forth – he comes up with the same “non-science inter disciplinary Erv Taylor please join in” suggestion as he could have made when his time on this board was only at day 1, hour 1, minute 1 on this board.

    Fascinating reading for all!

    Instructive for all!

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  69. Re Wes’s Quote

    “@Ken: Re. your several recent enquires mainly about and around the Krebs Cycle directed at me and me and Sean, I haven’t been ignoring you. Sean has been doing the heavy lifting and I’ve been sitting back and listening to him, and learning a lot, and admiring, as I trust you have. He has more than met your enquiries, more directly and comprehensively, in greater depth and detail, and with fewer antics, than I can.”

    A more than fair response from a fair friend.

    Thanks
    Ken, still friendly but feisty like the independent Scot in my DNA.

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  70. @Sean Pitman: Good morning, Sean,
    What! You wrote this at 3:46 AM PST? That’s what the time tag says! If possible, that’s more boggling than what you said in the post, which I haven’t quite digested yet, being too early, 11:51 AM, time for my noon nap. But seriously….this thread has turned golden, a tapestry of value may be developing.

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  71. Re Wes’s Quote

    I concur.

    Moreover I see more than a thread of goodwill developing that can move matters forward in a positive manner. I look forward, if desired, to being a part of that.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  72. ken: Excerpt from a Time interview with Stephen Hawkings:

    “If God doesn’t exist, why did the concept of his existence become almost universal? —Basanta Borah, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
    I don’t claim that God doesn’t exist. God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2029483,00.html#ixzz1f7Ch1uti

    Hello Sean

    I thought would find the above comments by Hawkings interesting apropos our discussion over the nature of my agnosticism. Based on Hawkings comments I consider him an agnostic not an atheist. He does not deny God but rather challenges the nature of God. Interesting stuff

    Ken – you are missing the real question here.

    The question is … given the number of Q&A sessions you (as an agnostic) have actually had on this board – what would Hawking’s understanding have been by now having had access to those same answers?

    It gives one pause for thought.

    And as for your idea it is not “pure atheism” to claim that “God is nothing more than the laws of physics and that is the real and only reason we are here” — well that is a good one left as an “exercise for the reader”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  73. “But in Romans 1 God says this is not what they are actually experiencing. He says that in fact “they are without excuse” because the real truth is that the “invisible attributes of God are clearly seen in the things that have been made”.”

    I respect that as a statement of your profound faith my friend.

    It all comes down to one’s definition of God, as Mr Hawking aptly pointed out.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  74. Back to the actual subject of this section of the board.

    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)

    How “instructive” that one thing seems to lead to another in that case.

    No need to be confused however –

    BobRyan: ” Skepticism and unbelief are not humility. Implicit belief in Christ’s word is true humility, true self-surrender” (DA 535).

    By way of illustrating the point made in that commentary on the life of Christ – Erv Taylor offers this helpful insight into his real attitudes toward the SDA denominations – thus setting aside his marketing facade.

    Ervin&#032Taylor:

    The only exception is Sean who I have thought is a very interesting case study that would at least merit a footnote in a psychology or social psychology of religion book chapter on the personality types attracted to sect-type religious groups.

    Meanwhile we have the explicit “for in SIX days the Lord CREATED the heavens and the earth the seas and all that is in them and rested the Seventh day” – written not in poetry – but legal code. Ex 20:8-11

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  75. @ken:

    I thought would find the above comments by Hawkings interesting apropos our discussion over the nature of my agnosticism. Based on Hawkings comments I consider him an agnostic not an atheist. He does not deny God but rather challenges the nature of God. Interesting stuff.

    Hawking appears to be what is known as an “agnostic atheist” – the same as Richard Dawkins. Along with you, both accept that an intelligent God or God-like entity may exist, but argue that this possibility is distinctly unlikely given that there is no positive evidence for God’s existence beyond that which can be explained by the mindless laws of nature. In other words, God’s existence is felt by both Hawking and Dawkins to be no more likely than the existence of any other fairytale of the imagination…

    Note, specifically, that Hawking argues for the mindless laws of Nature being the Creator or “God” of this universe. Let’s be clear that Hawking does not, in any sense of the word, believe in an intelligent or personal God as the creator of anything in this universe or of the universe itself.

    God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2029483,00.html#ixzz1fEatWS2n

    In other words, you’re all in the very same camp for all practical purposes… at least as far as I can tell. The only caveat I might add is in regard to your own claim that the existence of some kind of intelligent God is actually “likely” – despite your seemingly contradictory claim that there is no empirical evidence to determine how likely or unlikely the existence of such a God may actually be.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  76. Ken: That’s a good question my friend, upon which I can only speculate as I can’t read minds. But from the answers I have seen I think Hawking’s view would be that Adventism is a faith construct trying to justify itself with pseudo science. That the Advenitist biblical concept of God cannot accord with the observable laws of empirical science.

    But this is only my guess based on the obvious bias of creation science versus objective scientific inquiry.

    Clearly that is your view – and as you point out – other atheists may agree with you on that point – some of them may even do it after having the benefit of some of the information you have reviewed during your Q&A sessions here.

    But in Romans 1 God says this is not what they are actually experiencing. He says that in fact “they are without excuse” because the real truth is that the “invisible attributes of God are clearly seen in the things that have been made”.

    Everything else is simply facade to one level or another.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  77. Re Sean’s Quote

    “In other words, you’re all in the very same camp for all practical purposes… at least as far as I can tell. The only caveat I might add is in regard to your own claim that the existence of some kind of intelligent God is actually “likely” – despite your seemingly contradictory claim that there is no empirical evidence to determine how likely or unlikely the existence of such a God may actually be.”

    Hello Sean

    That’s pretty accurate. However one needs to ask where or how the laws of physics came about that created this universe doesn’t one? What caused the first quantum fluctuation from which matter and energy exploded in the first universe, no matter what its configuration?

    Philosophically, I think there likely is an ultimate intelligence/ design/ God behind everything, I just can’t prove it. I don’t think this is any fairy tale or Cosmic pizza delivery because we consciously exist. What a marvelous scenario, even if in the big scheme of things we are an anthropic accident. That means something to humans. even if we have not or cannot understand the grand design beyond our universe. The interesting question is at what level does the ultimate design occur? How many gadzillions of quantum fluctuations has there been and will there be? Is God a random dice player, creating a new universe with different properties with each roll, of an infinite number of rolls of the cosmic dice? Possibly, but I think we would have to empirically understand the nature of some of these universes to evaluate that hypothesis.

    Interesting how the very concept of god(s) has evolved over the course of human history. It seems that the more we understand about nature the more refined our ideas about the nature of God become. I think that trend will continue and is a positive one for mankind as science rules out anachronistic confections of a creator.

    Faeries, Santa Claus, and the Spaghetti Monster don’t claim to be the first cause do they? What was the first cause? Will there be a last cause or an infinity of causes and effects forever? When science or atheists can answer these questions then perhaps I’ll become an atheist. But until then, I remain,

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  78. Your response is very consistent with the agnostic and atheist world view my friend.

    But you have to admit – my statement is very consistent with the “trust and believe the Bible” world view by comparison.

    Surely we can both agree that these are not “the same world view”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  79. “Your response is very consistent with the agnostic and atheist world view my friend.

    But you have to admit – my statement is very consistent with the “trust and believe the Bible” world view by comparison.

    Surely we can both agree that these are not “the same world view”.

    in Christ,

    Bob”

    My friend – after years of sparring over such delectable topics such as telermerase and sea shells etc – we have arrived amicably, without rancour, with respect at a juncture that I did not think possible: 100% agreement on a point! 🙂

    A sincere thank you for the manner in which you did so. Perhaps you and I have turned a positive corner.

    Your pleased agnostic friend
    Ken

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  80. @Ken: – Yours of November 29, 10:39 pm, this thread: “I think Hawking’s view would be that Adventism is a faith construct trying to justify itself with pseudo science. … [sans any] accord with the observable laws of empirical science. … Many Adventists recognize the obvious … Others see that old ideas of Adventism must be… adapted… to the realities of sound science or it will become anachronistic mythology (like the Greek gods). Others … cherry-picked attacks on evolution, etc. to direct attention away from the subjectivity of creation science” (Where’s “disgruntled,” as in Hiram Edson?)

    Forlorn, maybe a tad disgruntled, I’ve been sitting mulling your impersonation of Hawkings analyzing us Adventists. Then, on a roll, you took the microphone to present your 9-9-9 plan for rectifying our kind of cognitive kinkiness.

    I can see, I disconsolately sob, that you, our special dear old agnostic friend, are so much more at home and at ease in Hawkings’s mind and bowels, with his kind of premises and vocabulary, his strokes and tropes, than ours (our less progressively premised minds, etc. etc., anyway). Oh, don’t think I don’t see your smitten look when that man is around — I can just feel the electricity, — and your toying way when we are alone! And, sob, we’ve been living together in the same blog for the last two whole years, sob, and we’ve all had such fun together. But, no, don’t leave, you can’t leave! I’ll make your favorite dish (rehash of Gilgamesh garnished with cherry-picked raspberries). Put on your favorite composer (Hendimyth)? Read you your favorite qualm Psalm? Write you a poem? (“Ode to Query”, “Let Me Count The Question Marks”) Oh, please, more question marks, more, more! ));-}>

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  81. Is Stephen Hawkings an atheist if he is hunting for a Grand design?

    Quotes from Brief History of Time and interview

    In ‘A Brief History of Time’, Stephen Hawking states “… if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.”

    When asked during a group interview with Arthur C Clark and Carl Sagan if he believed that the God he mentioned was limited to the physical laws of the Universe, Mr. Hawking replied, “The question of whether God is bound by the laws of science is a bit like the question ‘can God make a stone that is so heavy he cannot lift it’.
    I don’t think it is very useful to speculate on what God might, or might not, be able to do.
    Rather, we should examine what He does in the Universe in which we actually live in.
    All our observations suggest that it operates according to well defined laws.
    These laws may have been ordained by God, but it seems that He does not intervene in the Universe to break these laws, at least, not once He had set the Universe going.”

    Sean, this looks a lot like agnostic deism to me. Now I think Hawkings thinking about our universe has evolved since he wrote Brief History of Time, because he is looking at turtles ( metaverses) a level or two upwards. However Grand Design implies grand designer doesn’t it. Can design ever be mindless?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  82. @pauluc:

    Why argue at all for resurrection rather than recreation?

    A resurrection is indeed a recreation. There is no real difference when it comes to the need for creative power and intelligence. When something is dead, it is so fundamentally broken that the broken elements need to be “re-created” to one degree or another. Such a recreation, of a very broken car for example (or a living thing), requires the input of an intelligent mind to explain in a rational/scientific manner that produces a useful level of predictive value.

    How much viable tissue is present in a body left for three days in the middle east where daytime temperatures are likely 20-30oC. As you well know a body is by no means an inanimate object like a car that is essentially intact while nonfunctioning. The analogy is completely unhelpful A body 3 days old and stinking is dead and gone. You must start again and make a facsimile but there is no neuronal substrate for mind and no metabolic function remaining.

    You’re only arguing degrees here. The basic building blocks for a body “dead and gone” for 1,000 years are still there – i.e., the basic elements or “dust” that is used to make up the body. What else is needed to get these basic building blocks put back together in their proper order?

    The same basic analogy can be used for your car. Let’s say that your car gets completely destroyed down to its basic component parts – i.e., your car is completely rusted down to dust over time. What does science say it would take to put your car back together in working order? some mindless natural process? or some mechanism that has the backing of a very intelligent mind?

    How then is this conclusion fundamentally different when it comes to a broken down biomachine? a dead body? regardless of the degree of decay?

    In your desire to avoid blind faith You are now in the troubling position of asking where is the evidence that such miracle happened and at the the same time perform the feat of objective verification without recourse to hearsay or to that same blind faith.

    Not any more so than the suggestion that intelligence was obviously required to produce your car from the basic building materials used in your car’s construction…

    Face the fact that human-level intelligence is itself miraculous. It has miraculous creative potential, the ultimate origin of which cannot be explained by any kind of science that is based, ultimately, in mindless naturalism – i.e., the creative potential of mindless natural mechanisms…

    Your appeal to the advantages of blind faith is mystifying to me. Upon what basis do you choose to believe blindly, without any empirical evidence, one thing but not another? Such a faith seems to me to be completely irrational – based on nothing more than the personal emotions and the wishful or “mystical” thinking of those who invoke blind faith as a basis for belief in anything…

    One solution to the disconnect between pathological reality and the account is to ask “did it really objectively happen this way or was it reported to happen, mostly by those with a vested interest in the account. When you start appealing to the empirical evidence you will likely end up in higher criticism and arrive at the position of theologians like Albert Schweitzer who in his search for the historical Jesus ended up believing only in the sanctity of life. Nothing else of the ethic or life of Christ could be objectively demonstrated.

    If that where in fact true, that there really is no good empirical evidence of any kind for the historical existence of Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection, why do you choose to believe in the personal existence of Jesus and who he was reported to be? – the Son of God? vs. some other self-proclaimed god-man who also talks about good ethical principles?

    By the way, as far as I can tell, there is more empirical evidence for the life and actions of Jesus than there is for the life and actions of someone like Alexander the Great.

    I assume you have answers to these questions which Erv Taylor does not.

    I think so…

    Simpler to say as a neo-orthodox believer would that Jesus is the revelation of God and we accept that by the leap of faith. There is nothing else. At core that is what a Christian is; a believer in Christ as God and as a man who lived among us. That is enough for me.

    There is no argument that at least some leap of faith is required to believe in the claims of the New Testament regarding Jesus. After all, a belief in the validity of any scientific theory requires a leap of faith to one degree or another. However, if these claims were completely without any supporting empirical evidence, potentially falsifiable evidence, why should they be believed over any other similarly fantastic claim or “cunningly devised fable”?

    In short, why do you take this particular leap of faith in Jesus, but not in others who have made the same claim?

    For me I cannot read the gospel account and the ethic He described and to which He called His disciples to see that in that grace beauty and transcendence is all I need to be a disciple. I accept that the characteristics of the community of Faith is love and that the just shall indeed live by faith.

    We agree on this point. The ethical position of the New Testament is indeed beautiful and good in its own right. However, there have been others who have proposed very similar ethical teachings as those proposed Jesus. Why then do you believe that Jesus was God? but do not believe the claims of others who have made similar claims? Why do you believe the claims to real historical empirical miraculous signs ascribed to the creative power of Jesus? – but do not believe similar claims for other miracle workers throughout history?

    To believe a life of faith can be based on a requirement for empirical evidence I consider a a blasphemous confusion of empirical reality with a transcendent reality of faith.

    This very same claim is made by my LDS friends for the superiority of the Book of Mormon over the claims of the Bible as a non-corrupted truer revelation of God, to include the true nature of Jesus as a created being, the brother of Lucifer in fact.

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/ldsteachingonlucifer.htm

    Why do you not subscribe, by empirically-blind faith, to the LDS teachings? At least my LDS friends appeal to the empirical evidence of a “burning in their bosom” as to why they believe the way they do. Why do you not subscribe, by faith, to all of the teachings of Jesus himself with regard to the true empirical nature and origin of the world in which you live?

    You see, you seem to arbitrarily pick and choose, without apparent logical reasons for those not privy to your own “mystical experience”, what you will and will not believe “by faith”. In other words, your faith seems to be based more on your own personal wants and desires than on anything that would have a general rational appeal to others who are considering the various claims to Divine authority coming from multiple sources. Why Jesus in particular?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  83. Hi Sean

    Effective atheist, closet creationist, close to classic IDist or creationist?

    Are you sure it is my agnosticism that is changing rather than your opinion of what I am?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  84. Hello Sean

    Who or what created the matter for the first turtle? Ever seen a turtle appear out of nothing, ex nihilo?

    I told you I was intrigued by Intelligent Design and Deism didn’t I? And I still say that creation of the original matter for the original universe out of nothing is not a rational proposition. Why? Because science and mathematics can not explain infinity, first cause or infinite regress. And philosophy doesn’t seem to do much better ( Munchhausen Trilemma).

    Can turlles read? For their sake I’ ll state it again: when the atheists, sceintists or philosphers rationally explain to me how ‘original’
    matter and energy, that ultimately led to intelligent life, arose out of the mindless void, then I’ll become an atheist. If a faith construct ever satistifactority answers my questions then I’ll join that religion. (All come up relativistically short so far).

    Part of the problem is what we mean by mindless. Can a human mind know the mind of God? What may appear as mindless nature may not be mindless at all if we figure out the Grand Design. I think both Einstein and Hawkings understood and understand this dilemma. In fairness and with great respect I think in what you and Dr. Kime in your own way are trying to do as well: marry faith to science for a more fuller and optimistic view of reality. Please note, especially my friend Wes, that I have stated that this is laudable. Not toying around here, I mean what I say.

    There is a strange, wonderful, poetic, yearning in the hunt for God, which I, your most fallible friend, am not immune. Might that be skewing my agnostic judgement towards the shells above? Might I be anthropormorphizing God like design and intelligence to that of humans? Might I be stretching the boundaries of agnosticim in saying that even though I cannot prove it – because ultimate creation ex nihilo and infinite regress makes nonsense to me – the case for an ultimate grand designer/ force makes more rational, ‘likely’ sense? All those remain good possibilities 🙂

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

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  85. @Ken:

    You have transported me from an atheist to a closet creationist in the width of a thread my friend. 🙂 I wonder what you will create me as next?

    What have I done? – besides point out that someone who claims that God’s existence is “likely”, based on arguments for ultimate causation requiring a God-like intelligence and creative power, isn’t what most people would call an “agnostic”?

    In short, your “agnostic” arguments are the very same ones used by atheists like Dawkins and Hawking and your “God likely exists” arguments are essentially the same ones used by IDists and creationists. How then can I be faulted for suggesting that you’re not really an agnostic or an atheist? While you’re not a classic creationist or IDist by any means, you seem to me to be, at least for now, far closer to such than to pure agnosticism… which is a very hard position to hold, in its pure form, for very long I would think. Certainly Hawking couldn’t do it for long. Eventually one decides, like you, to try to figure out which way the turtles seem to be going…

    Of course, you could end up falsifying my hypothesis… 😉

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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