Academic Freedom Strikes Again!

Homage to Delacroix

Back in 2009 EducateTruth.com appeared online to fan a little breeze over a peculiarly fragrant petunia – theistic creation/evolution – being furtively nurtured in the Department of Biology hothouse at La Sierra University, an institution that, as a seedling, had been rooted upon Genesis 1.

Inasmuch as one of the principals (Dr. Pitman) was a scientist (medical), a hematopathologist, who had also intensely studied the evolution-creation conflict and concluded that the weight of evidence is for Creationism, I expected attention would center on the validity of creation, and also on whether deviation therefrom should be tolerated at a Bible-based institution. As it turned out the heaviest attention was not on heresy but Academic Freedom. Galileo was cited.

At mention of LSU and the Academic Freedom business, I perked my ears because I had graduated from said LSU (’48, then LSC, a College) with a major in biology, and am an old medical scientist (LLU school of medicine ‘53).

I noted that the posting protesters were not the scientists but science activists, and seemed to accept as a given that good science should operate totally without restrictions of any kind by anybody, ever. To hear them tell it, what EduTru was advocating was that the LSU scientists – most popular (if secretive), highly awarded, role models, – be shackled, chained, enslaved, gagged…by ecclesiastical authority yet. Evil had irrupted all right. It was not what the professors had taught, but that they were to be gagged. The heroes of freedom are not, say, Moses who had the courage to stand against Pharaoh, and the Reformation guardians of Mosaic scripture who once stood against the same ecclesiastical authority that Galileo faced, but the new revolutionaries who have the courage to reject it. The gagged Galileo is the patron saint of academic scientists, the gag being the magic carpet upon which he ascended to sainthood, like the chariot that wafted Elijah. The gag is to scientists as the Shroud of Turin is to relic-reverencing religionists – the symbol of their passion.

Scientists themselves know better. Galileo was a loner, but nowadays no scientist is a lab unto himself. All are ensconced in some science department in some institute or university, there to function under the university’s constraining worldview and funding, plus science’s Scientific Method, a bundle of rules self-imposed in the 18th century when science matured, whereby good science is recognized and fake unregulated science disgraced. The mother institution is itself funded by and thus beholden to multiple donors, foundations intrinsic and extrinsic, and loans governmental and local, besides the increasing number of regulatory government agencies that somehow have acquired
jurisdiction over everything from the earthworms in the campus lawn to the sexual orientation of janitors and scientists. Oh yes, individual research projects may be funded by grant money, assuming their experimental protocols (more rules) were approved, as I witnessed as a research fellow for a couple of years at Washington University. Behold this serried host, layer upon layer of increasingly heavy thumbs all bearing down on our essentially enslaved scientists, and that’s the norm.

Now then, behold LSU, tithe-funded and founded on the premise (a component of the Scientific Method) of God and Scripture, specifically Genesis 1 and teaching science accordingly, its Constitutionally guaranteed right, yet now somehow a violation of Academic Freedom. Just down the road the University of California Riverside, tax funded,
operating under evolved science, and accordingly teaching Darwinism – Darwinism, once a theory and now the law, which has evolved into the most implacable slave master of Academic Freedom on the planet, declaring itself tenured and immune to all censure.

Anyway, the storm abated. EduTru moved on to other matters, notably its overriding focus on the mounting scientific evidence for Creationism.

But now, 8 years after La Sierra University (LSU), the Academic Freedom storm has struck Adventist academia again. This is where we came in. But ground zero this time was not the science department but the School of Theology, the Seminary, the very heart of Adventist theology, at Andrews University. And this time coverage has been assumed by spectrummagazine.org, known for its disposition towards Philosophy emergent and ancient, analogous to the loyalty LSU feels Darwinian science warrants.

Apparently evoked by EduTru’s disclosure, the GC’s response to the science rumble had been measured and way short of shackles. But its response to the seminary revolt was vigorous, and the heavy equipment was rolled out, sirens blaring, cordially reported and spun by Spectrum. I’ve studied 3 Spectrum articles (Link, Link, Link). If articles in EduTru were no-nonsense scholarly and could have appeared in the American Journal of Pathology, for which EduTru had been spanked, Spectrum, to my ears, sounds like a London tabloid, to a standing ovation.

According to Spectrum, The IBMTE (International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education), A GC entity, as Spectrum took pains to point out, issued a 35-page sacerdotal bull requiring teachers of religion to sign a pledge – termed a “process of endorsement” — to work within guidelines, including “the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists,” the “Code of Ethics for Seventh-day Adventist Educators, Academic and Theological Freedom and Accountability,” and established SDA Methods of Bible Study. Also, teachers would be required to submit copies of all of their publications for review.

This deluge of paper simply added fuel to the inferno. As Spectrum reported, “The Presidents of Adventist Colleges and Universities in North America, in an unprecedented act of solidarity, unanimously voted a statement saying they are “fundamentally unable to support the proposed IBMTE endorsement process.” Stoking the fire, Spectrum adjudged the process “a stunning betrayal of Adventist Identity,” “Utterly Alien to the Soul of Adventism,” “corrupt and corrupting.” Not to mention Adventist Academic Freedom, and for good measure, Adventist culture, global culture, relevant mutant mores, throw in Galileo, multipurpose stuff routinely applied across the spectrum.

Backing off from the heat, the GC apparently ordained the seminary itself to issue its own regulation, the wording of which, as I read it, was rather less incendiary, perhaps a little diffident. Bearing the title, to Spectrum oxymoronic, “Delimitation of Academic Freedom,” it proclaimed that the regulations had been generated within the Seminary
itself, which “values and promotes academic freedom… our freedom,” but expects “firm support of and commitment to the beliefs and lifestyle of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” This the faculty was invited, not required, to sign. Spectrum shuddered, seeing even the seminary’s delicate invitation to reaffirmation as enslavement, morally (and sinfully, only sin isn’t an academic property), not to mention academically, unacceptable. And so forth.

To me these two Revolts for Adventist Academic Freedom seem but vegetarian imitations, provincial and nationally ignored, of the big-time universally reported irruptions from UC Berkeley to the Sorbonne to Oxford, using such modalities of higher learning as childishly worded protest signs, megaphones, bricks, screaming, and fire.

But all such Academic revolts are sequels of the world’s first Freedom Revolt at the Garden of Eden, the first institution of higher knowledge, with the first visiting professor challenging the established paradigm, alas, successfully. Rolling his eyes and uttering the first Socratic questions, he asked, “Did God tell you that? Do you not catch it? He wants freedom for Himself, not you. For you He wants suppression! Suppression of a better knowledge by which you shall be like gods! Seriously, the scientific evidence is all against everything He told you. And I can prove it — on myself!” And he did. The megaphones and Molotov cocktails would come later.

Actually, the revolt for freedom, any crazy kind, began untold eons before that, in heaven itself, with Satan The Father of all Revolts-for-Freedom using the same arguments he would use in the Garden of Eden, U.C. Berkeley, LSU, Andrews U., and Zuccotti Park.

Adventists have had a trademark doctrine, to wit, The Great Controversy, (I see it as the Great Cosmic Academic Revolt), to be terminated only with the termination of the provocateur in the lake of fire. Only then can God-created, God-defined, untweaked and unmutated and unspun freedom – the freedom to listen to God without our conversation being jammed and scrambled – only then can that pure and honest freedom happen again.

That’s the Freedom I yearn for.

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121 thoughts on “Academic Freedom Strikes Again!

  1. I would like to see this article rewritten, without all the cutesy rhetoric but getting to the heart of what is really going on.




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    • As I see it anyway, what’s going on is what’s been going on for a long time now in the Adventist Church. There is a popular belief that “academic freedom” should be embraced by the church and applied, not only to teachers within our own schools, but to our pastors as well. What is argued here, in a nutshell, is that pastors and teachers should be allowed to preach and teach anything that they want – regardless of the official position of the church itself on a given issue. For example, if a preacher happens to believe that the Sabbath is no longer relevant or binding for the Christian, that pastor should be allowed to preach this doctrine from the pulpit without reprimand from his employer – the church itself. Or, if a teacher working for an Adventist school decides that neoDarwinian evolution is the best explanation for the origin of life and its diversity on this planet, that the Biblical account of creation, viewed in the literal sense that the church is trying to promote, is nonsense – that teacher should be allowed to teach this without reprimand from either the school itself or the church that owns the school.

      At this point, Galileo is usually brought into the discussion since the Catholic church silenced Galileo when, clearly, Galileo was right and the church was wrong. Certainly, the Adventist Church would not want to make the same mistake! – right? Of course, few mention that the situation here is quite different than it was for Galileo. The Church in Galileo’s day was also the civil authority of the day. In other words, it wasn’t simply a matter of working or not working for a particular employer. One couldn’t just leave the Church back then and go work for someone else. The position of the Church was also a matter of civil law – a law which carried the death penalty if violated.

      This is not at all the situation we are talking about here. Rather, the current situation is more a matter of internal church order and government. The Adventist Church does not take on civil powers or authority for those who wish to leave the church or work for some other employer. However, as with any viable organization, if the Adventist Church is to survive, it must have internal rules and structure to defend and support its own unique identity and message. Otherwise, without any internally enforceable rules as to what it’s own paid representatives can and cannot do, it would soon crumble and dissolve into irrelevance or become indistinguishable from anything else around it – no longer unique.

      Originally, the founders of the SDA Church also had this high-minded notion that everyone within the church should be completely free to do whatever each individual saw fit. This worked for a while when the church was very small and those within it were driven by the same common goals and desires. However, as the church grew and expanded, the need for internal church order and government, for actual enforceable rules and internal discipline on paid representatives, in particular, was soon realized as a necessity for survival. In this line “cards of commendation” were issued to those who were recognized as being in line with the church’s teachings so that only those with such cards would be seen as official representatives of the church.

      Of course, those who did not accurately represent the views of the early Adventist Church did not receive “cards of commendation”. And what was the attitude of such persons? according to John Loughborough?

      Of course those who claimed “liberty to do as they pleased,” to “preach what they pleased,” and to “go when and where they pleased,” without “consultation with any one,” failed to get cards of commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a warfare against those whom they claimed were “depriving them of their liberty.” Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a people to act, to establish “order,” these opponents soon turned their warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that “when they got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its `loud cry.’ ”

      One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc… Upon this point, when church order was contested, we read: “Satan well knows that success only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. . . . He deceives even the professed people of God, and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course. . . . All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.”

      When those who back in the “sixties” [1860s] witnessed the battle of establishing church order now hear persons, as conscientious no doubt as those back there, utter almost the identical words that were then used by those opposing order, it need not be wondered that they fear the result of such statements as the following: “Perfect unity means absolute independence, – each one knowing for himself. Why, we could not have outward disorganization if we all believed in the Lord. . . . This question of organization is a simple thing. All there is to it is for each individual to give himself to the Lord, and then the Lord will do with him just what he wants to, and that all the time. . . . Our only safety, under God, is to go back to the place where God is able to take a multitude of people and make them one, without parliamentary rules, without committee work, without legislation of any kind.” – General Conference Bulletin of 1899.

      Superficially considered, this might seem to be a blessed state, a heaven indeed; but, as already noted on a preceding page, we read of heaven itself and its leadings that “the god of heaven is a god of order, and he requires all his followers to have rules and regulations to preserve order.”

      It seems to me as though this same situation is repeating itself – along with the very same arguments against any kind of internal church order and discipline. Yet, without order and discipline, you can’t have a viable organization.

      Dr. Scriven, and many others of like mind, to include those usually writing for Spectrum or Adventist Today, make the mistake of thinking that any internally-enforced governmental structure is equivalent to the church taking on what Mrs. White refers to, in a negative sense, as “Kingly Power“. This is not the case. All viable organizations require the internal order and discipline of governmental structure, a certain degree of uniformity, where only those who would effectively represent the primary goals and ideals of the organization are actually hired to do so.

      Where the early Christian Church stepped out of bounds is in thinking to take on civil powers of authority over all people regardless of their wish to be or not to be part of the church. It is always wrong for any church organization to think to enforce its views on those outside of the church with the use of civil power – with true “Kingly Power”. It is for this reason that the Adventist Church has always been a very strong supporter of our constitutional separation of Church and State. All should be free to join or leave the Adventist Church, or any other church, free from any fear of any civil reprisals of any kind. However, this is not to say, therefore, that no internal governmental structure is required. Such internal order and discipline is required for any large organization to avoid internal fragmentation, splintering, and eventual collapse into chaos and anarchy. Such is not the will of God for His church.

      If there are those who cannot support the Adventist perspective on origins, on the reality of a literal 6-day creation week, such are and should be perfectly free to express their opinions on this matter – but not as paid representatives of the Adventist Church. If, on the other hand, the Adventist Church decides, as an organization, that the concept of a literal 6-day creation week really isn’t all that “fundamental” to the primary mission of the church, then it should make this new position crystal clear to all of its constituents. The current state of deliberate ambiguity simply isn’t honest when it comes to people who think that the Adventist Church decidedly stands for one thing when it really doesn’t. It isn’t fair to students and parents who often sacrifice a great deal to attend Adventist schools to obtain a distinctly Adventist education, who expect active support of the literal 6-day creation week from the curriculum, to be given something fundamentally different instead; such as the promotion of neo-Darwinism once they show up.

      Given such a scenario, as has been going on in some of our schools, like La Sierra University in particular, for several decades now (and even some of our churches as well), one might rightly accuse the Adventist Church of false advertising. Our membership deserves more than this. We all deserve to have such a historically-important Adventist doctrine (such as the literal nature of the creation week) either clearly and actively supported by the Adventist Church or clearly and decidedly removed from our statement of Fundamental Beliefs – one or the other. It can no longer be left in limbo – in the ambiguity that has existed since the unfortunate choice of language used by the Adventist Church since the 1980s.

      Let’s decide to be brave and take a clear and unambiguous stand for or against Biblical creationism, and other hot-topic issues that face the church, once and for all. Let’s either be hot or cold here. Let’s not stay lukewarm where no one knows what we really believe and stand for as a church – what we actually do consider to be “fundamental” to the church’s reason for existence (Revelation 3:16).




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  2. Wasn’t Eve (a woman) the first recorded human “scientist” to conduct an experiment? She was told a new idea and she thought it worthy to test out. Upon observing the results she went to Adam and even though he didn’t think it was a good idea he went along with a replication of the experiment. 😀

    Anyway, not all experiments and tests of paradigms (meaning you are “progressive” and open to playing with and testing anything and everything) are apparently worthy of interaction with. . . .




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  3. A well written article and to the point. No rewriting required as the style is appealing. We need more articles that are as well written and promoting TRUTH!




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  4. Well, any conservative and viable understanding of the situation will agree and at this point, it seems we have “moved on” as to what to do about it. The principle has been well established for at least a decade, but thus far, no viable discipline administered to affirm the validity of the principle. So, who’s to blame for that? Not the rebel groups who think the church has no right to define itself, but the leaders who refuse to act according to the principle stated.

    Some who have considered the reasons for this lack of discipline are convinced that the reason is politics, power, and money. We are talking about billions of dollars here. So even leaders who agree in principle are reticent to “do their duty” for several obvious reasons. It will split the church, no doubt. And while none of us hopefully desire for a church split, some at least recognize that a split is preferable to what has developed and will only continue to fester while deceiving more and more members who are not personally involved, and assume leadership is doing its duty and dealing with any and all situations that would be destructive to the integrity of church doctrine and teaching.

    At this point, it doesn’t seem likely they ever will and God will yet take a hand in dealing with this deplorable (can I use that word) situation. What we could hope for, in this case, is that every church member become aware of their individual responsibility and obligation to “get involved” and simply wait to see the final outcome. And even worse than any other factor is the many who have been deceived and the many more who will yet be deceived because they simply “trusted the church” with some vain assurance that all will come out as it should be in the end.

    And now we see the issue that was originally dealt with about evolution and its implications in our schools and church community, is only one issue and since no viable discipline was administered for this offense, all other offenses are now free from discipline and the church is “self destruction” by a false spirituality accepted and gendered as the major spirituality of the church today. We are loosing our definition and at least some of us know that in the end, the Sabbath is on the line. It has already surfaced here and there but will eventually become a major issue like all the others. We could wonder if this is the only way to expose the false spirituality that has moved in to a major degree and is destroying the SDA movement? If so, small wonder EGW has stated that many, if not the majority will give up the bible faith she and others built the church movement on. The devil has undermined the spirituality of the Sabbath, how then do we think people will “keep” it when they embrace a spirituality contrary to it? They won’t.

    So, we have clearly defined the problem and the spirituality that has created the problem. Maybe we would do well to consider the solution and discuss the solution as an ongoing repeat of the problem will not solve it.




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  5. Personally, I loved Wesley Kime’s article and also Sean Pittman’s. Both are well worth reading and highlight what seems to be the bedrock issue for me: do we believe and base our faith on the Bible or not? And are we willing to let liberal, pseudo-scientific theories continue to be taught in our universities with no real protest against them?

    Eventually, Sabbath holiness will become an issue. We are in the shaking time.

    Kudos to Wesley and Sean for making truth abundantly clear.




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  6. Thank you Wesley and Sean for time and effort at clear thinking and sounding an alarm. “What can the people do when the foundations crumble?” God’s prophet to His last church like Jeremiah gave some distressing Predictions!

    She predicted “Soon all our schools will be closed up.” In two places, RY91:3; 5T156.2. The context seems to be $$$ as to why. This may be the year we see these predictions start to happen.

    The truth of Jesus as Creator and re-creator has been the theme of my ministry. I Cheer the World Church Affirmation Sabbath Scheduled For May 20 In U.C.C. Could we join them and make it a NAD wide event?? Pray over this. We need a loud cry of support for our world Church for this VERY year. Isa.58:1 “Cry aloud” On our knees for His Wisdom.

    Sincerely retired Pastor Terry McComb




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  7. I am not sure why Spectrum keeps showing up as if they are some sort of authority that all SDAs must reverence. What difference does it make what Spectrum says unless it has been somehow certified as uber-Adventist such that all SDAs should defer to its views. I find this part confusing. What is ad populum among liberals is not of itself qualification as an authority or standard to be conformed to – by the rest of us. Why would the GC legitimize and affirm it – by accomodating its much-to-be-expected objections to Adventism??

    The SDA seminary at Andrews is above all a product of the Seventh-day Adventist church and has no right to go off-roading as if to fulfill its mission is a “shackle to be discarded”. A small number of our universities in the past went off road on the subject of blind faith evolutionism, but they did not do it without first having the endorsement of a key element in their religion departments. That seems to be the “pattern”.




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    • “I am not sure why Spectrum keeps showing up as if they are some sort of authority that all SDAs must reverence.”

      Well, Bob, the truth is “Spectrum” actually does represent a major spirituality in the SDA church of today. We may not like it, but that won’t change the facts of the matter. True bible spirituality is the minority by far in the church and any objective evaluation can and will confirm and affirm this clear truth by attending any church in the denomination and observe the format and message presented.

      So we keep an eye on Spectrum and Atoday as the two major influences that control the SDA church. Even if most church members are not aware of this fact, it is true none the less. And all you have to do is read the Review and Adventist World to affirm this truth as well. Little or no conservative doctrine and teaching is presented although Goldstein presents some creation material now and then. It is all the liberal format of “love” and “acceptance” with no reference to standards and discipline. Just as Spectrum and Atoday advocate.




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      • @Bill Sorensen: Bill you make a good point about the Review — (moved to Pacific Press and possibly stronger Pacific Union influence.) and Adventist World. If the focus is on what is being promoted in AR and AW – well that is understandable. If the idea is to point out an unhealthy connection to the Review or AW by Spectrum then by all means “turn the lights on”.

        But it is not at all surprising that already leftist Spectrum and AToday would have extreme positions. I doubt that the majority of SDA congregations present any material at all from AToday or Spectrum from the pulpit. But AR and AW have much better pulpit-access and since they are owned and operated by the SDA denomination we can do something about what we read there if it is a problem.




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  8. Sean Pitman: One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc

    This is a great quote that exposes one of the key arguments at the heart of the issue. They claim “God approves it so that should satisfy all”. But “does the Lord approve it”?? They claim He does – yet anyone can claim that their speculation, their preference “is approved of by the Lord”. There is no end to the false teachings that could come into the Christian church by those making that same claim — as history proves. And there is “no end” to that sort of thing that “could be had” from independent groups like Spectrum or Atoday. It is a fountain with seemingly unlimited capacity.

    It is helpful to see how this played out historically in the early Adventist church when it surfaced in its various forms.




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  9. Sean Pitman: Let’s decide to be brave and take a clear and unambiguous stand for or against Biblical creationism, and other hot-topic issues that face the church, once and for all. Let’s either be hot or cold here. Let’s not stay lukewarm where no one knows what we really believe and stand for as a church – what we actually do consider to be “fundamental” to the church’s reason for existence (Revelation 3:16).

    Agreed. If our response to debate over acceptance of our doctrines is of the academic form — “I am ok with the topic no matter which way it goes – I just want to see how many details everyone can put on the table” we insult the Spirit that gave us these truths to start with. We demean the entire subject down to the level of an academic exercise. On the other hand we should also demonstrate that our views will hold up to honest inquiry/investigation.




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    • “Agreed. If our response to debate over acceptance of our doctrines is of the academic form — “I am ok with the topic no matter which way it goes – I just want to see how many details everyone can put on the table” we insult the Spirit that gave us these truths to start with. We demean the entire subject down to the level of an academic exercise. On the other hand we should also demonstrate that our views will hold up to honest inquiry/investigation.”

      Bob, this scenario came in because of the Ford challenge and apparently “the church” didn’t know how to define law and gospel with any continuity. To avoid a further fiasco of challenge and division, the leaders opted for “Pluralism.” Once you opt for this spirituality, you have no authority for discipline of any and all opinions. And this is where we are today.

      Contrary to this false spirituality the church opted for, God raised up the SDA church to be an articulate and definitive system of bible truth. Of course, this is not possible now. And the cry of “Academic freedom” is totally bogus in the context of a church fellowship. The church must define objective givens that are not negotiable and no “academic freedom” is acceptable when these givens are challenged.

      It is one thing to discuss the various doctrines and their implications. But a totally different issue when these doctrines are challenged concerning their basic and obvious meaning and application. But this is what those who cry “Academic freedom” contend for and it is a bogus application of the idea.




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      • @Bill Sorensen: Certainly I do agree that if we reduce our entire doctrinal statement down to “academic freedom” – then we get whatever wind is blowing, whatever is the soup of the day, whatever popular trend that happens to float past us. Ephesians 4 tells us that spiritual gifts (including the gift of prophecy) are specifically given so that we are not blown about by every wind of doctrine. If the church’s detractors held as high a value for the Bible and the work of the Holy Spirit in the gift of prophecy – as they hold “academic freedom” we would see more unity, less division, and more advancements in our finite understanding of infinite truths.




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  10. To Pard Wes

    “@george: Well, pard, if youall’s a-tryin to pull the blog outta the ditch, it’s fine. (For interpretation of this Wyatt Earp version of Luke 14:5, see Sheriff Sean’s comment”

    As Mr. Bumble said in Oliver Twist, ” the law is an ass.”

    Common sense and reason have always tempered undue legalism in doctrine. That’s why religions evolve, Pard. They kinda gotta make sense. When they don’t, humans will change them. That’s what’s causin’ the great divide between the conservative and progressive brands in your Adventist corral. Likely you are going to have a few more corrals the way things are goin’!

    Just moseying along out here on the high prairie….




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    • “Common sense and reason have always tempered undue legalism in doctrine. ”

      Excuse me, but “common sense and reason” are the foundation of the problem when it comes to bible spirituality. Man thinks his “common sense and reason” should stand above biblical revelation. So your “solution to the problem” is the problem.




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      • @Bill Sorensen: Excuse me for inserting that I note that Lonesome George used, whether by profound intent or inspired chance, the words “tempered undue…,” not “override without ado.” Wasn’t Paul including this matter when he admonished all men who “strive for mastery” to be “temperate in all things”? (1Cor 9:25 KJV)? But anybody who knows my opinions knows I’m as skeptical of mere chair-born reason as anybody can be. Thanks for the privilege of allowing me to, er, moderate this thread, if the web-site moderator approves.
        My opinion: http://www.parkbench.platonicdialogs.com/index.html




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    • @george: May I, er, temper this a bit (sans the Li’l Abner accent, but with a slew of KJV verses)? Human beings, led by Plato, led by Lucifer, have always been hellbent on changing religion, with or without reason (if there’s reason, fine; if not, so what), so that it makes sense, in the currently prevailing sense, or is otherwise suitable, to them. To me it’s always, always been, always will be, God first, then and next on the list, very high up, evidence (which isn’t, if you really quibble about it) isn’t exactly the same as reason in a glass museum box on a chair, and stuck there. I think of a text, believe by Paul (an exceptional scholar as well as inspired, to some an oxymoronic proposition, to me a transcendent fact): something like: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Just downright foolishness! Foolishness! Meanwhile, “The fear of God, that is the beginning of wisdom,” and, something like: “The mystery of God is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Now that, to Plato, to a Plato progressive, probably to you, my dear pard, is downright foolishness. But there’s evidence for it — in every backlit cloud, every orchid.




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      • Wesley, I think we agree. God does not bypass reason altogether and says, “Come now, let us reason together…..” So the issue is not reason from any and every perspective. The real issue is what comes first, reason or revelation?

        The bible presents the revelation of God by Himself to mankind. He also explains many ideas and concepts concerning Himself and who we are, and the relationship He has ordained for our fellowship. We are free to reason in the context He has stated and as long as we stay within the stated revelation, and not manufacture some agenda of our own, we can experience growth and enjoy a higher level of life that God intends for humanity.

        But sinful man begins to draw conclusions about the revelation and its meaning that God has already stated and then manufacture man’s own agenda far outside the biblical norm. So sinful man uses his “reason” to explain something he knows little or nothing about and since God’s revelation is beyond certain limits of human comprehension the answer God has stated is rejected and sinful man opts for an explanation that better suits his own basis of knowledge.

        Thus creation vs. evolution creates an enigma beyond the human mind, and faith in the word of God stands supreme for the believer. Things that God has revealed that are understandable, creates faith in what He has revealed that is not. And I think this was certainly a part of the issue that created sin in heaven as Satan demanded an explanation of things he could never have understood, even if God had explained it. So he then concluded this released us from any obligation to trust and or serve God since we could not understand all the reasons why.

        My personal conclusion for this enigma is this. While we can not ever understand everything in our relationship with God, we can understand enough to be held accountable for what we know and what we can find out as time continues. This means we will never have absolute knowledge, but will have adequate knowledge to build our faith even though there will always be questions that we can not know the answer as our minds are limited on many levels.

        “Canst thou by searching find out God?” Only on some limited level adequate to build a viable faith and trust Him implicitly about what we can not and do not know. Surely the book of Job demonstrates this principle and Job vindicates God’s challenge and test that Satan created by his false insinuation of Job’s loyalty. In this context, Job wanted to know why. A real legitimate question from his perspective. In this situation, we see that God could not tell Job why, or it would have destroyed the test. The principle remains on all issues. Do we still trust God by what we do know and not lose our faith by what we don’t? Did Job know enough to retain his loyalty to God? The answer is, yes. And this is and will be our final test as well.

        Those who demand absolute knowledge based on clear human reason will never maintain a viable faith and will stumble and fall when the chips are down. Hopefully, we will be as faithful as Job even if we don’t understand all the issues at any given time. But the final point is this, we must always let biblical revelation transcend human reason, for human reason can not “find out God.” But God will see that we have adequate knowledge and understanding if we will “seek and ye shall find.”




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    • @george: So when regs don’t make sense, humans will change them, will they? And for the better? Good grief, pard, behold the citadel of regs, Wash DC, and all the humans changing them, and, more impressively, inventing a slew of new ones where there aren’t any, those of course to be changed for the…better?

      Be seriously, all this human urge to change unreasonable regs has been the story of mankind’s unreasonable reasoning against God’s own law. Humanity is reasonably (read, hellbent on) changing, ever changing, ever picking at God through His law, pecking away in the guise of agnostics or atheists or doctoral scholars chanting hermaneutics, since the beginning, when Satan (in the guise of a reasonable serpent) imposed his reasonablness on God’s stricture. Did God tell you THAT? What BOSH! Get reasonable!

      Have a reasonably good day, pard.




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  11. Wes and Bill

    Thank you for your fulsome explanations and comments on the limits of human reason.

    In your estimation is it sinful to ask is there a God?

    Regards




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    • @george: My first wrong move, in reaction to your fulsome question, was to recheck the dictionary definition of “fulsome.” I thought we done swore off discouraging words, out here on the range where never is heard…. Well, I trust you haven’t rechecked that pertic-a-lar definition lately, or if you have, your heart was in the right place despite it all, and you being a platonic person jess hankered to plug in another o them Socratic questions. Socratic questions always set off such questions, a-echoing around the badlands into the high plains and down into Death Valley, you know. Tha’s why ole Socrates invented it in the first place, isn’t it?

      But seriously, ole pard o mine, as to your question, sigh, here we go again. As you worded it, it’s not sinful to ask. Asking questions is never sinful, and there you go again plugging in tricky words, of which “sin” is prolly the trickiest.

      Sin is more correctly, and I refer to the Biblical rather than the urban Dictionary definition, definied, rather generally, as disobedience of God’s will. Socratically sinful? Does Socrates even recognize “sin”? If you’re asking about sin when you know there’s no such thing, you’re being, say, whimsical, maybe sarcastic (you? never!), I daresay sinful, to be sarcastic right back at you. But having asked about the sinfulness of asking such a question, and asked the question and asked the question and asked the question yet again while it echoes across the high plains and into the Sierras and back again rattling the formations cluttering Mono Lake, until the cows come home, until Socrates is blue in the face, while all the time ignoring the evidence that He does indeed, those backlit clouds and this here high plain itself and the Sierras, and show no sign of ever stopping the asking, just for the egg-nostic ecstasy of asking, now that’s a sin, downright sin. Might even qualify as the “sin against the holy ghost.” So you’ve got, oh, ah reckon maybe like 7000 more times to ask that very same durn question without sin, and then, finally, sigh, sin. Bingo, sin! Next question.




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      • It would seem, to me at least, that everyone knows something of God’s will even if the actual existence of God isn’t yet known. This is because God has planted a “conscience” into each one of us which reveals His will regarding our need to follow the Royal Law of Love. It is for this reason that God has left everyone without any valid excuse regarding His will on at least this fundamental level. And, it is for this reason that only one question will be asked in the Judgment (atheists and agnostics included) – “What did you do for the least of these?” (Matthew 25:40).




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    • In your estimation is it sinful to ask is there a God?”

      Of course not. We don’t know anything when we are born and questions are relevant and necessary to find answers. There are a lot of answer to this question. And a lot more answer as to who He is. But only the bible gives us the true viable information about this subject. As to the validity of the bible, we go to bible prophecy where God affirms Himself by telling the future. And then claims He is the only one who can do this accurately. So the validity of the bible is affirmed and thus, the God who inspired it is affirmed as well.

      So human reason is not negated, but always subject to revelation. Not to mention the importance of the Holy Spirit who alone can make truth dynamic and not just some theory.




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    • @george: “Is it sinful to ask if there’s a God?”

      Somehow, dear pard, I find myself reading and re-reading your skillfully skewed questions, repeatedly, as I daily check (and wince at) the Drudge Report. And I find myself responding, yet again. Here I go again: Today’s: No, not hardly. What even made you think that? But it is sinful, perhaps even the “sin against the Holy Ghost,” to proceed to clamp your eyes shut and decide, while dancing with Kant, Hegel and dear old Plato, and despite the evidence shining from every backlit cloud (there I go again) and flagella, that there ISN’T such a being.

      But your graciousness and bonhomie, pard, covereth a multitude of sins, speaking of sins. I speak for your ole pard. As to God, you and He’ll have to work that out.




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  12. For Wes

    Definition # 2, Pard 🙂

    ful·some
    ˈfo͝olsəm/
    adjective
    adjective: fulsome

    1.
    complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree.
    “they are almost embarrassingly fulsome in their appreciation”
    synonyms: excessive, extravagant, overdone, immoderate, inordinate, over-appreciative, flattering, adulatory, fawning, unctuous, ingratiating, cloying, saccharine; More
    enthusiastic, effusive, rapturous, glowing, gushing, profuse, generous, lavish;
    informalover the top, smarmy
    “he paid fulsome tribute to his secretary”
    2.
    of large size or quantity; generous or abundant.
    “a fulsome harvest”

    Origin




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  13. Gentlemen,

    Thanks for your responses to my query. Different but all interesting.

    Throughout, especially late, in her life Mother Theresa questioned the existence of God ( see link below). Apparently the Holy Spirit or biblical revelation was not revealing God’s presence to her. Yet can anyone, regardless of faith or lack thereof, question her humane works on behalf of those most disadvantaged? By anyone’s standards she was the epitome of human goodness.

    By Sean’s standards she won’t have to worry about a place in heaven, despite her doubts.

    Wes, if she asked 7001 times would she be sinning? How could God not reveal Himself to someone so good? She likely saw those very same back lit clouds but that feature of nature did not cry out the existence of God. Far more than just egg-nostic play here my friend. The Rational Mind wants to understand why it believes what it does and do observations of reality match that belief. Hence Science. Hence Dr. Pitman’s efforts through science to corroborate God as depicted through Adventist theology. Hence the rise of Intelligent Design as neo- deism. Hence our delightful pas de deux on the High Prairie.

    Cheers 🙂

    http://time.com/4126238/mother-teresas-crisis-of-faith/




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    • @george: If in 2009 I was surprised when the comments on this then-new blog veered from the putative subject and into Academic Freedom, now when the most recent topic, duly headlined, actually is Academic Freedom and another straying off has occurred, setting off a nice little stampede, the better vector, I’m not. Neither nonplused nor nettled. The Masked Man Strikes Again, a-rip-roarin’ into town a-firin’ his’n Socratic six-shooter ever which way, fer the egg-nostic helluv-ut!

      As to the emergent evolving topic, St. Teresa expressing agnostic questions, the diocesan tribunal in annunciating her beatification justly gave the greater weight to the divine principle of her doing miraculously so much for the least. To counter a question with a question, was her “journey” to be compared to that of St. John the Baptist who, having declared Jesus the very Messiah, in the darkness of the dungeon needed revivification? To that question I’ll not be surprised at any answer, nor nettled. I expect to be fulsomely (definition #2) delighted.




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  14. Re: Moral equivalency

    The Query:

    “As to the emergent evolving topic, St. Teresa expressing agnostic questions, the diocesan tribunal in annunciating her beatification justly gave the greater weight to the divine principle of her doing miraculously so much for the least. To counter a question with a question, was her “journey” to be compared to that of St. John the Baptist who, having declared Jesus the very Messiah, in the darkness of the dungeon needed revivification? To that question I’ll not be surprised at any answer, nor nettled. I expect to be fulsomely (definition #2) delighted.”

    The answer: ( which seems to reflect the good Dr. Pitman’s position as well)

    Matthew 25:40 – New International Version (NIV)

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    The Utilitarian ethical rationale ( thanks for lobbing me the ethics softball on this one, Pard ; -)

    Lots of people martyr themselves for religious causes of all sorts. The worst examples are those that blow themselves up, or poison their flock with Kool – Aid, or burn their compound Koresh style, etc. for their God. A false equivalency? Perhaps ,but doing good transcends politics, religious belief and narcissism in my estimation. Those that do the most good and for the most others, especially when there is great self sacrifice, should be revered on earth and beyond…..?

    Don’t know if that response will either surprise or delight you but that is more an issue for Aesthetics rather than moral philosophy.

    Later good Pard.




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    • I agree. Morality isn’t based so much on an understanding or appreciation of God’s existence, but upon how much we actually love our neighbors as ourselves – according to the Royal Law that is written on the heart.

      Beyond this, however, it seems to me as though two mirrors have been provided to me to evaluate my own soul along these lines – mirrors that are similar on a fundamental level. One mirror is the conscience that has been implanted in each one of us from birth by Divine power as a gift to us all (Genesis 3:15). The other mirror is in written form as the Ten Commandments found in the Bible. And, both of these mirrors are based on the Royal Law of Love (James 2:8). There is a bit of a difference between these two mirrors, however, which is interesting. The conscience, which is “written on the hearts” of all mankind (Romans 2:14-15), only reveals one’s duty of love toward other human beings. It doesn’t reveal one’s duty toward God or even the existence of God. Ironically, it is much easier to know one’s duty of love toward other humans than it is toward God. It is for this reason that how one treats one’s neighbor is used by God as a proxy as to how one has treated Him (Matthew 25:40 and 1 John 4:20). Yet, for those who have been blessed by the written Words of God, found in the Bible, additional information is given as to how God wishes us to respond to Him and knowledge of His existence and character and sacrifice on our behalf. These wishes, on the part of God, are located in the first four of the Ten Commandments. So, if one accepts that it is contrary to the will of God (i.e. a “sin”) for the Christian to create and worship an idol or take God’s name in vain, then it only follows that God also wishes us to observe the 7th-day of the week as holy – as a token of our love for Him as well as for our own benefit – as a gift originally given during the time of innocence for mankind (Mark 2:27).




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    • @george: Now our thread has gotten tangled up in numbers, thanks to me for proposing you could question the existence of God oh, say, 7000 times without sin. (As to what “sin” is, how many times have we gotten tangled up in that one? One tangle at a time.)

      The idea of assigning a number I got, I think properly, from Christ Himself. St. Peter had asked, “how many times must I forgive somebody? Seven times?” He thought he was being extravagant. Christ replied, “70 times 7!” Matt 18:22 (to cite the text, following the admirable precedent, hopefully continued, of our admirable agnostic George). I infer Christ meant no limit, infinitely, as did, I think masterfully, Sean in his definitive response of May 25, 9:42 am.

      My caveat of May 21, 9:23 AM put a limit on the query process – if, if the process takes on a life of its own. But – and this is the crux, the issue, my message, and I think it scriptural – but, and but again for, oh 7000X, if the question has become a robo loop and is being reiterated on into infinitude, I personally cannot possibly know when the number has become robo and exceeded the absolute limit, shouldn’t even try to venture, not even once. Only God (who does indeed exist) knows. You’ll need to ask Him, not me. I wouldn’t be surprised if He answered 7000 X 7.




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  15. To Sean

    Very well stated. The effect of the Bible and Christian/Judeo ethics upon society has been profound and a giant leap forward for mankind. It is the practice of those ethics – hence sin, however one may define it – that is sorely lacking at times.

    As an amateur moral philosopher I am fascinated by the source of conscience, or lack thereof, in people. Your belief is very similar to Kant’s categorical imperative, his based on pure reason. Kant as well had a religious upbringing as which I suspect influenced his thinking. Your thinking is profound and of the highest moral order in my humble opinion.

    I think there are genetic and cultural factors that also influence a person’s goodness or lack thereof. I have experienced very good people that have come from the worst of families and very bad people that have come from the best of families. Why does that occur? Are some born without a conscience? Are some born with such a conscience that it will overcome any evil obstacle? Are we all faced with the daily choice of freely making moral decisions of our own independent free will, notwithstanding intrinsic dispositions for good or evil? On this latter point I agree with you that we are free moral agents. Sin is our choice, not our ancestral burden.

    Irrespective of religious belief I submit these discussions are important for gauging and improving our collective moral behaviour. I know at times that my friend Wes – and indeed I consider him my very wise, talented and principled friend – thinks I am just tumbling along the agnostic prairie, or acting as a benign agent provocateur, without serious purpose. This is not the case. It is to get closer to the truth, partially through dialectical means. This forum is a marvelous vehicle for that!

    And I hope this will please your Christian hearts. Both of you have helped me considerably to gain a better understanding of faith, from your doctrinal and personal perspectives.

    Thank you.




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    • @george: I note that both Sean and I recently have addressed comments to you which demonstrated our extremes of style and also of seriousness, directness, and thought. With delight I sense, from your response of May 25, 2:50 pm, quite appropriately addressed to Sean, that you grasp that he best represents those unique advantageous features, and are profiting from them. We all are. BTW, being perhaps unfortunately hyperattuned to even remotely amusing aspects, I’ve got to say that I smiled at your equating his cosmic view with Kant’s. Knowing him, I would venture that he aspires to be of the mind of Christ. But seriously, thanks to your responding in kind to Sean, I now know you better.




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    • Hi George,

      You wrote:

      I think there are genetic and cultural factors that also influence a person’s goodness or lack thereof. I have experienced very good people that have come from the worst of families and very bad people that have come from the best of families. Why does that occur? Are some born without a conscience? Are some born with such a conscience that it will overcome any evil obstacle? Are we all faced with the daily choice of freely making moral decisions of our own independent free will, notwithstanding intrinsic dispositions for good or evil? On this latter point I agree with you that we are free moral agents. Sin is our choice, not our ancestral burden.

      Certainly, genetics and environment play a role in the hands that we are dealt in this world. However, God takes all of this into account. “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48). This means, of course, that those who have not been given a great deal of privileged information about God, or who have limited mental capacity or experiences, will be given a great deal more latitude.

      Again, morality, and therefore salvation, is based on what a person consciously knows and understands – which is different for different people due to both internal as well as external factors. That is why only God can accurately judge the heart of a person since only someone with infinite knowledge and love, from an eternal perspective, could accurately determine such things.

      This is fundamentally different from Kant’s view that “man is his own law.” I can see how someone like Kant would come to this position since from one’s own perspective it might appear as if one’s internal sense of right and wrong is perfectly natural and thus naturally derived. However, in reality, this internal morality or sense of right and wrong, or selfless love for another, is a Divine gift. There is no natural requirement for its existence. Kant’s view wasn’t based so much on selfless love as on a practical notion of personal preservation. Even though Kant argued that it was morally right for the rich to help the poor, he based this argument on the possibility that a rich man might one day become poor and therefore wish to have assistance from others. In other words, the concept of love for one’s neighbor that has no element of self-interest whatsoever is foreign to Kant’s philosophy. This is because such a concept of truly selfless love for another is entirely Divine in origin – created in the human heart by the God who is Love (1 John 4:16).

      This is why, even though Kant would not admit it, that the Royal Law of Love expressed in the “Golden Rule” is, in fact, the simple basis of all true morality (James 2:8 and Matthew 7:12).




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  16. To Wes

    ” Only God (who does indeed exist) knows. You’ll need to ask Him, not me. I wouldn’t be surprised if He answered 7000 X 7.”

    Or in the case of Mother Theresa perhaps God deducted every good deed she did from her frequent inquiries as to His existence. Moral Math.

    (Quote)




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  17. George said, ” On this latter point I agree with you that we are free moral agents. Sin is our choice, not our ancestral burden.”

    This is blatantly false. We have no choice but to sin, unless and until the grace of God is applied by way of the atonement of the cross. Nothing comes before the atonement but sin. Adam sinned and all his children are cursed, lost, guilty and without hope until and unless the Holy Spirit by way of the cross gives the lost soul the option to accept Christ or remain lost. God has ordained the order of salvation and the method He has chosen is clearly revealed in scripture.

    Sinful man continually makes up his own ideas of just how God should lay out the plan of salvation. And Satan is very active in helping sinful man convolute what God has ordained. We are not “born free” but in chains and slavery to sin. “Sold in sin” is Paul’s statement. No one has a conscience to know good and/or evil or to choose one or the other until God by His grace reveals Himself to man by way of the cross. No cross, no choice. But as Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” That is, the truth sets us free to choose whether we will remain lost or accept Christ and be “born again” into the kingdom of grace.

    To try to bypass this point is fatal and destroys the motivation to “opt in” to the kingdom of grace and implies that we are automatically in the kingdom of grace. This is false. There is a universal grace that has extended probation to give sinful fallen man an opportunity to “opt in” as the Holy Spirit reveals the mechanics of salvation as God has ordained it. But we are not born into the kingdom of grace like the Jews envisioned for themselves. And this was the fundamental issue with Jesus and the Jews who assumed they were already in the kingdom of grace. They were not. Nicodemus learned the hard way. But thank God, he learned. Sad to say, many if not most still don’t “get the picture” and assume they are “born free” when they are not.

    We receive no “free will” from Adam. Nor are we above the need of the atonement when we are born. Babies are born lost, and need a Savior from day one. The blood on the door post in Egypt symbolized this reality. If you start from the wrong supposition, you will never end up in the right relationship with God. This is not subject to negotiation nor human speculation. This is the mind and word of God in the bible clearly revealed to “whosoever will may come.” And this is by the drawing of the Holy Spirit who comes to us by way of the cross.

    What you are teaching and saying is “The cross has no value for new born babies, only, and unless they at some time in the future commit some sin.” And as I said, “This is blatantly false”.




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    • Oh please, we’ve been over and over your view of original sin. I’ve endlessly explained to you how this view of yours removes people from being truly free moral agents, removes all actual choice from human beings, and therefore from true moral responsibility for our actions. I thought we were done going around and around on this? Why bring it up here yet again? Enough already. We are all very much aware of your position on this topic. No need to rehash it yet again. It’s unlikely to be any more convincing this time around…




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      • “Oh please, we’ve been over and over your view of original sin. I’ve endlessly explained to you how this view of yours removes people from being truly free moral agents, removes all actual choice from human beings, and therefore from true moral responsibility for our actions. I thought we were done going around and around on this? Why bring it up here yet again? Enough already. We are all very much aware of your position on this topic. No need to rehash it yet again. It’s unlikely to be any more convincing this time around…”

        Your denial that babies need the atonement is the fundamental error in the SDA church, past and present. EGW knew better, but she is ignored. What do you think this means, Sean?

        Satan’s Power May Be Broken—Parents have a more serious charge than they imagine. The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the broken links to God. As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death. But Christ steps in and passes over the ground where Adam fell, enduring every test in man’s behalf…. Christ’s perfect example and the grace of God are given him to enable him to train his sons and daughters to be sons and daughters of God.” Child Guidance 475

        She makes it plain that babies are born lost and guilty of sin. But Jesus had made an atonement so they can be united to Him and be saved. This is basic Christanity, 101.

        No one is born with free will. The will is liberated by the atonement so sinners can “opt in” to the kingdom of grace. You deny the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith and try to bypass the cross and then claim no one is guilty until and unless they individually choose to sin. And only then do they need the atonement.

        We are not Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, but this is how you present the condition of all babies when they are born. NOT. The weakness of the SDA church has been a consistent refusal to admit the doctrine of original sin, and thus diminish the true meaning and true value of the cross. This is not negotiable, Sean. You are wrong. Period.

        Why chide Sunday keepers because they are wrong, or evolution as being wrong when you can’t even define the atonement and how God has ordained the plan of salvation for fallen man?

        The sinner is not free to chose until God sets him free to choose. And this follows the atonement that precedes any and every positive action of God toward the sinful human race. Freedom of choice comes only by the atonement and after it provides an extended probation allowing the sinner to opt in. Babies do not bypass the cross as you imply. And no, I will not cut anyone any slack on this issue that is basic to bible Christanity. So she says we receive and inherit from Adam guilt and the sentence of death. No one could make it any plainer than that. Either you believe her, or you don’t. And then she adds that parent have a responsibility to unite their children to Christ and if not, they remain lost, just like they were born.

        We do not start out with a clean slate. We are born in a state of sin and must be “born again”. You deny the born again experience for what it means and the value of it. Nothing you say or believe will change the facts of this matter. Original sin is clearly biblical and not negotiable.




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        • As I’ve explained in great detail before, very recently in fact in dozens of posts beginning with this one (Link), I think you’re clearly mistaken here – despite presenting your arguments on this topic many many times in great detail. I see no need in repeating myself in response to these very same arguments of yours nor do I see the need in you continuing to bring up a discussion that has been repeated over and over again… and I simply won’t do it any longer in this forum with you. It’s simply not the purpose or focus of this forum.




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  18. “As I’ve explained in great detail before, very recently in fact over dozens of posts beginning with this one (Link), I think you’re clearly mistaken here – despite presenting your arguments on this topic many many times in great detail. I see no need in repeating myself in response to these very same arguments of yours nor do I see the need in you continuing to bring up a discussion that has been repeated over and over again… and I simply won’t do it any longer in this forum with you.”

    It is your forum, so you can pontificate your error over and over and refuse instruction but you won’t be free in the judgment anymore than a Sunday keeper who does the same thing you do. You “wrest the scripture to your own destruction.” Why should someone who advocates evolution have any respect for your explanation when you reject the clear bible doctrine of original sin and its implications?

    I would have not brought this up, but George did in defense of your false doctrine. You can gather around you massive affirmation for what you teach, just like the liberal agenda does. It won’t make you right anymore than they are as they do the same thing and block anyone who challenges their false teaching.

    “The wicked are estranged from the womb, speaking lies as soon as they are born.” Ps 58

    Do you think this doesn’t include you and me? And you are exempt from this scripture, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”? Jer. 17:9
    Do you think you are born holy, but everyone else is born wicked?

    I can’t save everyone, Sean. But like my brother Paul, I will “by all means save some.”
    We are born lost whether you like it or not. And God has provided the means whereby we can “opt in” if we will choose Christ. “Whosoever will may come”. The freedom to choose comes with the invitation and not before. Jesus said, “I will put enmity.” There is no enmity apart from the special grace of God that comes by way of the cross.
    No baby is born saved. All are born lost with the option to be “born again”.

    Well, we both have made our point and your reject clear bible truth. Hopefully, in the future you will see your error.




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    • Again, I’ve already explained to you in detail why I believe you go against what both the Bible and Mrs. White have to say on this topic – as well as being contrary to logical reasoning. Being born with evil tendencies, with the fallen human nature, isn’t the same thing as being born guilty of actual sin or without freedom of choice as a free moral agent. Sin itself requires a deliberate rebellion against known Truth. Jesus was born with the fallen nature of mankind, yet without sin. This completely undermines your claims regarding “original sin”. And, while being “born again” into a new life with God elevates our characters to be in line with that of Christ, it does not elevate our human nature or suddenly give us unfallen natures. Even after we are born again we still struggle with the temptations to sin since we still have our natural fallen tendencies – just as Jesus struggled with temptations when He took on the very nature of fallen humanity.

      There are quite a few statements in the writings of Ellen White, in particular, where she suggests that Jesus took on the nature of mankind after the Fall – in apparent conflict with your position:

      “He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature… He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical… Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with His own sinless nature, because by this act of condescension, He would be enabled to pour out His blood in behalf of the fallen race.” (Ellen White, Manuscript 166, 1898, p. 9, 10 and Manuscript 181.3 and RH February 10, 1885 par. 7)

      He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men. (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176)

      “It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon himself the form and nature of fallen man, that he might be made perfect through suffering, and himself endure the strength of Satan’s fierce temptations, that he might understand how to succor those who should be tempted.” (EGW, RH December 31, 1872)

      “He would take man’s fallen nature and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing he would open the way for the redemption of those who would believe on him from the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall.” (EGW, RH, February 24, 1874)

      “The Son of God in His humanity wrestled with the very same fierce, apparently overwhelming temptations that assail man–temptations to indulgence of appetite, to presumptuous venturing where God has not led them, and to the worship of the god of this world, to sacrifice an eternity of bliss for the fascinating pleasures of this life.” (EGW, Selected Messages , vol. 1, p. 95)

      “Abundant provision has been made that finite, fallen man may so connect with God that, through the same Source by which Christ overcame in His human nature, he may stand firmly against every temptation, as did Christ. …..” (EGW, 6MR 111.3}

      And, from the Bible:

      “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17)

      “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” (Romans 8:3)

      Are we not drawn to sinful things by our own desires? What makes them fierce and overwhelming is our desire for them, and here we are clearly told that Christ had the same temptations.

      “He knows how strong are the inclinations of the natural heart.” ( Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 177) Just how does He know this? “He knows by experience…where lies the strength of our temptations.” ( Ministry of Healing , p. 71)

      Without question, Jesus has personally experienced the strength of the inclinations of the natural human heart.

      He who took humanity upon Himself knows just how to sympathize with the sufferings of humanity. He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men. (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176)

      The difference between Christ and us is not in His being exempt from our inherited natural inclinations to sin. The difference is that He did not cherish these inclinations and incorporate them into His character as we do. The temptations of the natural human heart, mine and yours, were as strong for Christ as they are for us. And, if Christ had no natural inclinations to sin, He could not be tempted like we are tempted – and one of the major links of Christ with the fallen human race would be removed and He would no longer be our true representative or example.

      The apparent difference in the statements of Mrs. White regarding the nature of Christ seems to be due to the unique dual aspect of Christ’s nature.

      Jesus was fully God and fully human. “Christ had two natures, the nature of a man and the nature of God. In Him divinity and humanity were combined.” (EGW, Ms94, July 18, 1899, par. 47). He just didn’t use His own Divinity on His own behalf while He was here. “The divine nature… was not humanized; neither was humanity deified by the blending or union of the two natures; each retained its essential character and properties.” (16MR 182.1).

      “But although Christ’s divine glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man. The human did not take the place of the divine, nor the divine of the human. This is the mystery of godliness. The two expressions human and divine were, in Christ, closely and inseparably one, and yet they had a distinct individuality. Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own.” (Ellen White, Selected Testimonies, May 10, 1899 par. 11)

      Clearly then, while here, He lived only as a human – not using His own Divinity as an aide to overcome sin in any way. Otherwise, He could not be my perfect example. If He used His own divinity to help Him overcome, even once, Satan would have claimed victory citing this as evidence that it is impossible for fallen humanity to be righteous and live a sinless life. It is for this reason that Satan tried so hard to get Jesus to use His own Divinity rather than to depend upon the Father for help and guidance – as the rest of us must do. It is because Jesus set aside His divinity and lived as a real human being, to include all of the natural tendencies common to fallen humanity, that He disproved Satan’s claims. He showed that if a regular human being chooses to reject his or her own natural human desires through the power of the Spirit, then sin can be overcome and defeated. Otherwise, if He succeeded simply because of His own personal Divinity, something beyond what is inherent to humanity, Satan would have won the day…

      Satan, the fallen angel, had declared that no man could keep the law of God after the disobedience of Adam. He claimed the whole race under his control. (EGW, 6MR 334.1)

      Notice the key word “after” in this statement. Thankfully, Jesus falsified this claim of Satan by coming as a real human being. Taking on the fallen nature of humanity, He lived a sinless life through the power of God:

      The world’s Redeemer passed over the ground where Adam fell because of his disobeying the expressed law of Jehovah; and the only begotten Son of God came to our world as a man, to reveal to the world that men could keep the law of God. (EGW, 6MR 334.1)

      “Had he not been fully human, Christ could not have been our substitute. He could not have worked out in humanity that perfection of character which it is the privilege of all to reach. He was the light and the life of the world. He came to this earth to work in behalf of men, that they might no longer be under the control of Satanic agencies. But while bearing human nature, he was dependent upon the Omnipotent for his life. In his humanity, he laid hold of the divinity of God; and this every member of the human family has the privilege of doing. Christ did nothing that human nature may not do if it partakes of the divine nature.” (Ellen White, Signs of the Times, June 17, 1897)

      “Bear in mind that Christ’s overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity. His imputed grace and power He gives to all who receive Him by faith. The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man.” (Ellen White, Selected Messages, Vol. 3, 139.4)

      Of course, your position that Jesus was born with Adam’s nature before the Fall is nothing new. Even in the early days of the Adventist Church there were those presenting this view known as “The Holy Flesh Movement”. Note that SN Haskell wrote to Ellen White concerning the Holy Flesh movement in Indiana as follows:

      “When we stated that we believed that Christ was born in fallen humanity, they would represent us as believing that Christ sinned, notwithstanding the fact that we would state our position so clearly that it would seem as though no one could misunderstand us. Their point of theology in this particular respect seems to be this: They believe that Christ took Adam’s nature before he fell; so He took humanity as it was in the garden of Eden, and thus humanity was holy, and this was the humanity which Christ had; and now, they say, the particular time has come for us to become holy in that sense, and then we will have ‘translation faith,’ and never die.” (Letter, #2, to Ellen G. White, dated at Battle Creek, Michigan, September 25, 1900).

      Haskell said the Holy Flesh supporters erroneously argued that if Jesus took fallen humanity that this means that Jesus sinned – which isn’t true. Mrs. White clearly argued against this theology, explaining that such ideas would lead souls astray: “Instruction has been given me in regard to the late experience of brethren in Indiana and the teaching they have given to the churches. Through this experience and teaching the enemy has been working to lead souls astray.” (Ellen White, GCB, April 23, 1901 par. 1)

      Of course, I’ve presented these things to you before, but you simply dismiss such concepts and statements out of hand. You’re not really interested in an actual discussion. You only want to repeat your chosen position without sincerely considering, reviewing, or even mentioning the existence of the opposing arguments already presented to you. This simply isn’t the purpose of this forum. If you think your position is vital, start up your own blog where you can post your thoughts at will for those who wish to read them…




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      • You get plenty of affirmation from others about your false doctrine. Any rational person can readily see there is no need to be “born again” according to you convoluted view that makes Jesus a sinner just like us, or, makes us sinless just like Him.

        The issue is critical to a correct and clear understanding of sin and atonement. Your view genders a false motivation based on self righteousness.

        Jesus was born inherently sinless or He could not be our atoning sacrifice. Jesus did not need to be “born again” like every child of Adam must be to be saved.

        That Jesus took our physical weakness and physical degeneration is clear from the bible and EGW. But to claim He has a sinful spiritual nature like we are born with is blasphemy. So EGW has well said, “His spiritual nature was free from every taint of sin.” This can never describe how all the children of Adam are born.

        The SDA church will be nothing more than a non-Christian cult if your view is accepted and advocated. We will wait to see what materializes theologically in the future. Likely, nothing, since our leaders are too spiritually gutless to tackle this issue like the refuse to tackle evolution, WO, the Gay agenda and any other issue that would divide the church. Unity is the only religion the SDA church advocates and is now in the mode to self destruct.

        Neither the bible nor EGW endorse your false interpretation of this subject. The doctrine of original sin is so biblical it can not be denied except at the expense of the final destruction of the SDA movement. Sin has corrupted the mind of Adam and all his children and the sinful nature is not the physical being of man, but the corrupt moral concepts and his spiritual perceptions of God and his relationship to God.

        In the future, all who deny this clear bible doctrine will either repent or be lost at last. This doctrine is not negotiable and is the stimulation to repent and remain in a state of repentance that goes beyond outward deeds of the law.

        To claim we are sinless until and unless we commit outward sin is actually childish. It implies we are sinless until we sin and then we are sinless again if we repent and stop sinning. Your view refuses to deal with the motivation of the heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

        You have stated your view, Sean. You are wrong will remain wrong as you wrest the bible totally outside its meaning and application. Sin is what you are long before what you do. And what you do is simply a reflection of what you are. Namely, a born sinner.

        “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” The human heart is “full of sin” and this is all that is required to define anyone as a sinner.

        But, as you have suggested, there is nothing more to be said. People who know the bible will side with me and EGW who knows full well that we are all born sinners.




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        • You wrote:

          You get plenty of affirmation from others about your false doctrine. Any rational person can readily see there is no need to be “born again” according to you convoluted view that makes Jesus a sinner just like us, or, makes us sinless just like Him.

          As previously noted, being “born again” doesn’t produce in us an unfallen natural condition in this life – without any tendencies toward evil. Even after being born again the true Christian will still struggle with fallen tendencies and strong temptations to sin – because of the fact that the fallen nature of mankind has not been removed. We simply are not given “Holy Flesh” in this life. However, we are given what Jesus was given – the Divine Power to overcome sin despite our fallen natures. It is because Jesus “condemned sin in the flesh” from our perspective (Romans 8:3) that we have no excuse. If He did it from the perspective of the fallen human condition, through the power of God, I can too – without having to first reach perfection with regard to my natural human tendencies. I can live a sinless life while still having “sinful flesh” – or evil tendencies. That’s the miracle of the “New Birth” for the Christian – or for anyone who listens to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to their conscience.

          The issue is critical to a correct and clear understanding of sin and atonement. Your view genders a false motivation based on self righteousness.

          How is righteousness that is based on the power of the Holy Spirit “self-righteousness”?

          Jesus was born inherently sinless or He could not be our atoning sacrifice. Jesus did not need to be “born again” like every child of Adam must be to be saved.

          Jesus was born with a fallen human nature – yet remained sinless. Mrs. White is very clear in this regard: “He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men.” (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176)

          That Jesus took our physical weakness and physical degeneration is clear from the bible and EGW. But to claim He has a sinful spiritual nature like we are born with is blasphemy. So EGW has well said, “His spiritual nature was free from every taint of sin.” This can never describe how all the children of Adam are born.

          Again, Mrs. White and the Bible are very clear that Jesus took on both our physical as well as our mental condition – yet without sin. “He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature… He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical… Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with His own sinless nature, because by this act of condescension, He would be enabled to pour out His blood in behalf of the fallen race.” (Ellen White, Manuscript 166, 1898, p. 9, 10 and Manuscript 181.3 and RH February 10, 1885 par. 7)

          You simply refuse to deal with such statements…

          Neither the bible nor EGW endorse your false interpretation of this subject. The doctrine of original sin is so biblical it can not be denied except at the expense of the final destruction of the SDA movement. Sin has corrupted the mind of Adam and all his children and the sinful nature is not the physical being of man, but the corrupt moral concepts and his spiritual perceptions of God and his relationship to God.

          On the contrary, both the Bible and Mrs. White are quite clear regarding the post-Fall human nature of Christ and the bankrupt nature of the “Holy Flesh” notion when it comes to being born again into the Christian walk.

          In the future, all who deny this clear bible doctrine will either repent or be lost at last. This doctrine is not negotiable and is the stimulation to repent and remain in a state of repentance that goes beyond outward deeds of the law.

          Repentance, while certainly necessary, does not change the attraction to do certain evil things for the Christian – so that they are no longer tempted by evil in this life due to the fallen nature of mankind. What repentance does is put one in line with Divine Power to overcome one’s fallen human natural tendencies.

          To claim we are sinless until and unless we commit outward sin is actually childish. It implies we are sinless until we sin and then we are sinless again if we repent and stop sinning. Your view refuses to deal with the motivation of the heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

          Actually, to claim that an individual is not guilty of sin until a deliberate sin is committed only makes rational sense. Sin isn’t the same thing as being tempted to do something evil due to fallen tendencies. That’s simply not the definition of sin found in the Bible. Sin is a deliberate transgression against the Royal Law of Love – not just a temptation to transgress, but an actual deliberate transgression by a free moral agent. Otherwise, there simply is no sin – according to the Bible itself (1 John 3:4).

          Also, it is impossible for someone who is not a free moral agent to sin. This is why robots, even if they do “bad things” cannot be accused of sin or evil since they are not free moral agents had had no choice in their actions. You see, the concept of sin and morality requires that there be free choice already in existence.

          You have stated your view, Sean. You are wrong will remain wrong as you wrest the bible totally outside its meaning and application. Sin is what you are long before what you do. And what you do is simply a reflection of what you are. Namely, a born sinner.

          Nope. Sin is what you actually choose to do against the Royal Law of Love – not what you may be tempted to do contrary to this Law.

          “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” The human heart is “full of sin” and this is all that is required to define anyone as a sinner.

          Again, guilt for sin does not come before an actual act of deliberate rebellion against the Royal Law. Sin is not a pre-existing condition that is inherited before one is even able to make a free-will decision. That’s simply not what sin is. You’re simply misguided in this regard.

          But, as you have suggested, there is nothing more to be said. People who know the bible will side with me and EGW who knows full well that we are all born sinners.

          Great. So, stop repeating the very same arguments over and over again without substantively addressing the counterpoints that I’ve presented to you.




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  19. To Bill

    “No one is born with free will.”

    If this is the case how can anyone freely choose Christ as his/her saviour? Irrespective of faith, don’t we all make choices during our lives to do good or bad? Are you saying that non Christians cannot do good because they have no free will to do so?




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    • “To Bill

      “No one is born with free will.”

      If this is the case how can anyone freely choose Christ as his/her saviour? Irrespective of faith, don’t we all make choices during our lives to do good or bad? Are you saying that non Christians cannot do good because they have no free will to do so?”

      No one can have “free will”, George, until Jesus comes by way of the Holy Spirit and liberates the will by way of the gospel. And the Holy Spirit comes by way of the cross and grace. This whole discussion is on the value and importance of being “born again”. So I ask you and Sean, “What is the point of being ‘born again’ if you are already free to chose to do good or evil?”

      In this world, even an unbeliever has some awareness of right and wrong, but this is only because of the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit before being “born again.” God does nothing by way of a relationship to fallen man except by way of the cross. Adam brought on us all the verdict of condemnation, sin and death. To understand the doctrine of original sin, you must take Christ and the cross out of the equation.

      As Luther said to Erasmus, “Once you add Christ and the cross, you can make the will as free as you like.”
      The will is dead by way of Adam and all his fallen children are afflicted, but once you add Jesus, you have appealed to the atonement. The atonement is because of sin. We are born sinners by way of Adam and we are not free to choose anything good. This shows the full value of the atonement that people like Sean limit to claim no one is a sinner unless and until they sin. Then they need the atonement. This is blatantly bogus.

      So new born babies need the atonement even if they don’t know right from wrong. What you guys do is miss the first basic step in atonement and redemption and assume no one needs the atonement until and unless they know they are committing sin. This is a superficial definition of sin and will not even consider “sins of ignorance” by claiming if you are ignorant, it is not sin.

      Yes, I know why SDA’s stumble in trying to define sin and atonement. We live during the time of trouble without a mediator. But this is only because the saints plead the merits of Christ in their own behalf. We are still sinners and we know it. And we will be sinners until Jesus comes.

      Neither have I suggested you can not have victory over your sinfulness if you are “born again”. The “new man” dominates and controls the “old man”. As Wesley said, “Sin remains, but does not reign.” And Luther said, “We are righteous (in Christ) and sinful (in ourselves) at one and the same time.” This was the gospel truth that liberated him from the false doctrine of Rome that claimed you could be sinless by doing all the things the church mandated.

      The inherent pride of our sinful nature caused him continual affliction and knew he was not sinless no matter how much he did all he was told. Nor could ‘keeping the law” make him sinless. So he said this,

      “Because of pride, we could not be sure but what we are not continually committing mortal sin.”
      Rome chided him for this and denied this statement. So, Luther said this.

      “I said before, that because of pride, we could not be sure but that we are continually committing mortal sin.” He went on to say, “But now I must recant, and now I say, ‘Because of pride, we should never doubt for a second that we are continually committing mortal sin and utterly damned to hell, were it not for the continual covering of the forgiving grace of God every second of of our being.”

      This is the key stone of the bible and Protestant Reformation. Believers are always in a state of forgiving grace because we are always sinners in this life. By the power of God, we do not “commit” sin. But this does not mean we are not still sinful by nature.

      And to appeal to the nature of Christ and claim He is a sinner just like us is blasphemy. He was not born in sin, nor did He have a sinful nature. He was “born of the Holy Spirit” and was sinless from start to finish. We are not “born of the Holy Spirit” and unless we are “born again” by way of the Holy Spirit we are lost, we remain lost as guilty, condemned evil sinners that we are.

      The atonement allows us to “opt in” to the kingdom of grace as the Holy Spirit reveals to us our true condition outside Christ. We are not born “in Christ”. The superficial definition of sin the many, if not most SDA’s advocate parallels the Jews who thought they were sinless simply by keeping the law. NOT. Thus they rejected Christ as not necessary for salvation nor for the eternal ongoing relationship to God the Father and were lost just like anyone else who formulates a bogus theory that parallels that of the Jews.

      When Jesus ceases His intercession for the fallen race, it simply means those who have not “opted in” no longer have a chance to do so. And the final atonement is made only for those who have “opted in” and the rest are out forever. God has ordained the method of salvation revealed in His word and it is our duty to understand it in its biblical context and not wrest it to suit our own convoluted idea of sin and atonement.

      As EGW has well said, “In ourselves we are sinners, but in Christ we are righteous.” She emulates Luther in this context. So, we are not “born in Christ” at birth. But God has provided the means whereby we can “opt in” and follow the biblical format and be saved at last in the end when Jesus comes. Until then, we are “saved by faith” in the promise of God but not “saved in fact” until He comes.




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      • Bill,

        You wrote:

        No one can have “free will”, George, until Jesus comes by way of the Holy Spirit and liberates the will by way of the gospel. And the Holy Spirit comes by way of the cross and grace. This whole discussion is on the value and importance of being “born again”. So I ask you and Sean, “What is the point of being ‘born again’ if you are already free to chose to do good or evil?”

        Freedom of will exists before the Gospel message is ever heard – for everyone with a normally-functioning reasoning mind. Everyone is given the ability to recognize and choose between good from evil as a Divine gift (Genesis 3:15). Everyone is free to choose the good and reject the evil – even those who have never read the Bible or heard the name of Jesus (Romans 2:14-15). So, what value is there in being a born again Christian? – if even the honest and loving non-Christians can and will be saved? Well, because it makes one’s life better and more hopeful and joyful here and now and aides one is following the voice of the Holy Spirit.

        It is a serious mistake to argue that no one is born with a free will. This is like saying that everyone is born as a robot with no ability to choose. If so, no one would be guilty of sin since no amoral robot could be accused of sinning. Sin requires that the ability to make moral choices be in existence for the agent in question. This implies, therefore, that everyone is given this ability – as a gift of God. This freedom to choose right from wrong is not limited to the Christian. And, this reality is highlighted in both the writings of the biblical authors as well as the writings of Ellen White.

        “Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.” – Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 638

        Even you seem to be aware of this reality, to at least some degree, since you write:

        In this world, even an unbeliever has some awareness of right and wrong, but this is only because of the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit before being “born again.” God does nothing by way of a relationship to fallen man except by way of the cross. Adam brought on us all the verdict of condemnation, sin and death. To understand the doctrine of original sin, you must take Christ and the cross out of the equation.

        Of course the cross makes salvation possible for everyone since all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23). This means that all free moral agents have deliberately rebelled against something they knew was right and deliberately did something they knew was wrong. That’s what sin is – a deliberate transgression against the Law. No one is accused for what Adam did, but for what each one of us have deliberately done ourselves – as free moral agents who are well aware of our actions.

        It is therefore only by the cross of Jesus that grace can be offered to those who are actually guilty of personal rebellion against the Law of Love. You cannot claim that you are condemned for Adam’s sin when you yourself have not sinned. That’s mistaken theology. You and I are in a position of condemnation and the need of unmerited grace because we ourselves have done things that we knew were wrong. That’s why we are in need of God’s grace…

        Of course, we are also in need of God’s power to overcome our fallen tendencies. However, it isn’t for these fallen tendencies that we are judged and found wanting. My own natural fallen tendencies might have made sin attractive to me, but it isn’t the tendencies themselves that are sinful – but the actual freewill choice to go along with these fallen tendencies that is sinful.

        We are born sinners by way of Adam and we are not free to choose anything good. This shows the full value of the atonement that people like Sean limit to claim no one is a sinner unless and until they sin. Then they need the atonement. This is blatantly bogus.

        Again, we are not born sinners. We are born with a fallen nature, but that’s not the same thing as sin. Sin requires a conscious deliberate decision on the part of a free moral agent. Otherwise, there simply is no sin – as the Bible and Mrs. White very clearly point out.

        What you guys do is miss the first basic step in atonement and redemption and assume no one needs the atonement until and unless they know they are committing sin. This is a superficial definition of sin and will not even consider “sins of ignorance” by claiming if you are ignorant, it is not sin.

        Jesus Himself explained that being honestly ignorant means that there is no guilt for sin (John 9:41). Sin requires a conscious deliberate rebellion against something that is known to be right and good. Otherwise, there simply is no sin – even if a fallen tendency for sin already exists.

        This is the key stone of the bible and Protestant Reformation. Believers are always in a state of forgiving grace because we are always sinners in this life. By the power of God, we do not “commit” sin. But this does not mean we are not still sinful by nature.

        That’s a mistaken view. We have fallen natures from birth, and even after being “born again”, but this does not mean that we are “sinners” once we leave the life of sin behind and stop sinning – through the power of God. That’s the whole point of Jesus taking on our fallen natures yet not sinning – not even once. If He did that, so can I – through the power of God that gave Him the victory in fallen flesh.

        And to appeal to the nature of Christ and claim He is a sinner just like us is blasphemy. He was not born in sin, nor did He have a sinful nature. He was “born of the Holy Spirit” and was sinless from start to finish. We are not “born of the Holy Spirit” and unless we are “born again” by way of the Holy Spirit we are lost, we remain lost as guilty, condemned evil sinners that we are.

        Oh please. Jesus was not a “sinner” just because He was born with a fallen nature. Again, you have to actually commit a sin to be a sinner. “He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men.” (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176).

        You continually fail to recognize what sin actually is. Sin is a deliberate choice. It’s no accident or automatic thing. It’s based on a deliberate decision by a free moral agent. Otherwise, there simply is no sin. If anyone else had lived as Jesus lived, that person would have every right to claim that he/she does not need Jesus to die in their place. Of course, no one can honestly make this claim since everyone has deliberately done wrong…

        As EGW has well said, “In ourselves we are sinners, but in Christ we are righteous.”

        This is because we have all actually deliberately chosen to sin – not because we were born with Adam’s guilt. Mrs. White asks: “What is sin?” Then, she answers in line with the biblical definition of sin: “The transgression of the law.” (SM, Book 1, p. 341). She never ever says that sin is what we inherit from Adam or the fallen human nature. That’s not sin. That may be what leads us into sin, but that is not sin in and of itself. We are all guilty of sin because we have all established our own individual guilt. Only with the Power of God acting in our lives can we be made righteous without being held guilty of our past decisions to sin. Again, however, this has nothing to do with your concept of original sin.

        Again and again Mrs. White and the Bible very clearly state that Jesus took on both our physical as well as our mental condition – yet without sin. “He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature . . . He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical . . . Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with His own sinless nature, because by this act of condescension, He would be enabled to pour out His blood in behalf of the fallen race.” (Ellen White, Manuscript 166, 1898, p. 9, 10 and Manuscript 181.3 and RH February 10, 1885 par. 7). She goes on to explain:

        “Christ’s overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being. In our conclusions, we make many mistakes because of our erroneous views of the human nature of our Lord. When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1953-1957), 929)

        In other words, Jesus was our example because He came and lived in our fallen condition with our fallen natures – yet without sin. That means that we can also do the same thing that He did through the power of God.

        The Bible also never teaches that anyone is guilty and deserves condemnation or death because of the sins or crimes committed by someone else (Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20; Jeremiah 31:29, 30; Romans 2:5, 6; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Galatians 6:7, 8; Revelation 20:12, 13; 21:8).

        You simply refuse to deal with such clear unequivocal statements . . .

        As Daniel Ferraz put it:

        The teaching of “original sin,” stemmed from Greek paganism, and was further channeled by the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, Augustine (AD 354-430) — himself greatly influenced by Greek philosophy — into the Roman Catholic Church and held by the majority of Protestants since the Augsburg Confession in AD 1530. Today, the dogma relies primarily on bad exegesis of Psalm 51:5 and inconsistent interpretation of Romans 5:12, 18, 19 (with the rest of the book of Romans) and with the complete witness of Scripture. Christians must follow divine revelation over and above the prevailing and pervasive Roman Catholic Church tradition and Greek philosophy.

        it is the false belief in “original sin,” and the presuppositions that derive from it, that logically require that Christ assume the human nature of man before the fall, to ostensibly free Him from the presumed guilt of “original sin.” The next logical step, of course, is accepting the false belief of the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus, so that He could receive a sinless human nature. If we accept this, then we must go further and accept that the Roman Catholics are correct in venerating Mary as the “mother of God,” and even “co-redemptrix.” But these are hardly positions that Bible believing Christians can substantiate. False belief about the nature of sin leads to false belief about the nature of salvation…

        The dogma of “original sin” is anti-Christian, in that it goes against, and seeks to stand in the place of, the true teachings the Bible regarding the human nature of Christ.

        Daniel Ferras, The Humanity of the Son of God Is Everything to Us, Vol. 23, No. 2 – Link




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        • “Again, we are not born sinners. We are born with a fallen nature, but that’s not the same thing as sin. Sin requires a conscious deliberate decision on the part of a free moral agent. Otherwise, there simply is no sin – as the Bible and Mrs. White very clearly point out.”

          Neither the bible or EGW agree with your evaluation. The objective definition of sin just what you stated and quoted, “Sin is transgression of the law” and it does not require that we know we are transgressing to be a transgressor. This is the foundation of all your error. The law is objective and doesn’t care if you know what the law states or not.

          LIke a man who is going 50 in a 30 MPH zone. He may not know it, but he is breaking the law. And just because he doesn’t know it does not make him innocent. He is guilty of breaking the law.

          So a cop stops him and tells him the speed limit is 30 and he is going 50. And so the cop writes him a ticket for speeding. The man says, “I didn’t see the sign, so I am not guilty of speeding because I didn’t see the sign.”

          The cop gives him the ticked and say, “In the future, you will be more care to check to see what the speed limit is. And make no mistake, you are guilty of speeding whether you know it or not.”

          Why does Jesus make atonement for sins of ignorance if there is no guilt to make atonement for? You convolute objective guilt with subjective guilt and then claim there is no objective guilt, period. Any rational person can see that your view is not only non-biblical, but nonsense. But all this to defend a false and bogus view and claim we are not born sinners.

          Gen. 3:15 is an act of grace by way of the atonement because we are born in sin and God says, “I will put enmity between Satan and the sinful children of Adam.”

          Any viable court of law would throw you out of the court room with such a false and bogus argument that a person is not guilty of breaking the law, if they don’t know they are breaking the law. The judge would laugh you out of town if you were the lawyer of the man you were defending.

          You might do well to plead grace and leniency based on the circumstances, just like Jesus does for us in the final judgment for sins we have committed in ignorance. He would never plead innocence. He will plead pardon by His blood for the guilt of the sins of ignorance.

          Give it up, Sean. You are so wrong, no rational thinking person would agree that a person is not guilty of breaking a law just because they don’t know what the law is.

          As for Georges comment below about Mother Teresa. If she kept Sunday in her ignorance she is still breaking the law, but Jesus may plead pardon by way of His atonement if she did not know the truth of the matter. Jesus will never say she is innocent and if so, she would need no atonement nor the blood of Jesus to apply pardon for her guilt in breaking God’s law.

          Original sin is so clearly biblical that you have to “song and dance” around the obvious to deny it. All the fancy footwork in the world will not support any false idea that some one is not breaking the law if they don’t know it.

          You can either abandon your error and see that you are mistaken in your view, or continue to defend the indefensible. Maybe in the future you will see what you refuse to see today. Historically, prejudice has kept the SDA church from maturing to a true Christian community with a comprehensive view of sin and atonement. For now, you trumpet the same false doctrine the Last Generation Theology ministry endorses.

          In the end, it is a blatant attack on the gospel of forgiveness of sin. And the way you butcher up the nature of Christ is tragic and despicable. We are born sinners. Get over it and follow the format God has ordained for the salvation of humanity.

          Well, you are still better than other forums who are bigots who refuse to even dialogue on this issue and think they will “save the church” from all apostates when they are apostates themselves. What a mess the church is in with no evidence of any real desire to know the truth that Jesus said, “Will set you free.”

          Your defense of creation is reasonably commendable. But in this subject of sin and atonement, your view is far from biblical teaching.




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        • Bill,

          You wrote:

          Neither the bible or EGW agree with your evaluation. The objective definition of sin just what you stated and quoted, “Sin is transgression of the law” and it does not require that we know we are transgressing to be a transgressor. This is the foundation of all your error. The law is objective and doesn’t care if you know what the law states or not.

          The moral law, the Royal Law of Love in particular, is not like state laws since it is written on the hearts of everyone – even those who have never read the Bible (Romans 2:15).

          Beyond this, you claim that sin exists before the Law is even transgressed! You claim that sin exists simply when someone with a fallen nature exists – before a single transgression is committed! This is like your police officer giving a ticket to someone for speeding just for being tempted to speed – even before the law is actually broken.

          That’s your position and it is this position of yours that makes no sense whatsoever, paints God as arbitrary and capricious, makes it look like Jesus didn’t really live as I have to live and is not a valid representative, and goes against what both the Bible and Ellen White have to say about this issue:

          “He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature… He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical… Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with His own sinless nature, because by this act of condescension, He would be enabled to pour out His blood in behalf of the fallen race.” (Ellen White, Manuscript 166, 1898, p. 9, 10 and Manuscript 181.3 and RH February 10, 1885 par. 7)

          He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men. (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176)

          “It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon himself the form and nature of fallen man, that he might be made perfect through suffering, and himself endure the strength of Satan’s fierce temptations, that he might understand how to succor those who should be tempted.” (EGW, RH December 31, 1872)

          “He would take man’s fallen nature and engage to cope with the strong foe who triumphed over Adam. He would overcome Satan, and in thus doing he would open the way for the redemption of those who would believe on him from the disgrace of Adam’s failure and fall.” (EGW, RH, February 24, 1874)

          Why does Jesus make atonement for sins of ignorance if there is no guilt to make atonement for? You convolute objective guilt with subjective guilt and then claim there is no objective guilt, period. Any rational person can see that your view is not only non-biblical, but nonsense. But all this to defend a false and bogus view and claim we are not born sinners.

          That’s just it. Jesus did not die for sins of ignorance. Jesus died because of a deliberate rebellion against the Royal Law. Did Adam and Eve sin because of ignorance? No. They knew that what they were doing was against the will of God. If they had not known this, then they would not have been guilty of sin (John 9:41). It’s as simple as that. God does not accuse anyone of sin because of honest ignorance. It was the deliberate rebellion against God that required the death of Jesus as atonement.

          Gen. 3:15 is an act of grace by way of the atonement because we are born in sin and God says, “I will put enmity between Satan and the sinful children of Adam.”

          Of course! It was the promised sacrifice of Jesus that allowed God to put enmity for sin within the hearts of mankind – all of mankind. And, it is for this reason that everyone with a rational mind has also been given freedom of will. One does not need to have ever read the Bible or hear the story of Jesus in order to have freedom of will – in order to be able to choose right from wrong. One need not be a “born again” Christian to have freedom of will either – contrary to your claims. The heathen individual who chooses to listen to his/her conscience and act in line with the Law of Love will be saved.

          You might do well to plead grace and leniency based on the circumstances, just like Jesus does for us in the final judgment for sins we have committed in ignorance. He would never plead innocence. He will plead pardon by His blood for the guilt of the sins of ignorance.

          You just don’t get it. If the Law is written on your heart, there is no such thing as a “sin of ignorance”. You might make “mistakes of ignorance”, but these mistakes are not the same thing as “sins” if they do not break the Royal Law that was written on the heart. Your mistake is to believe that all mistakes are “sins” that require the blood of Christ. That’s simply not true. As previously discussed, even the angels in heaven make “mistakes of ignorance”, yet are not guilty of sin.

          Give it up, Sean. You are so wrong, no rational thinking person would agree that a person is not guilty of breaking a law just because they don’t know what the law is.

          Come on Bill, carefully consider that not all mistakes are in the same category and not all laws are “written on the heart.” The Royal Law is written on the heart and this is the basis of morality and the very definition of “sin”. It would simply and very clearly be unfair and arbitrary for God to define the sin of rebellion against the Law of Love as someone making an honest mistake. That’s just nonsense Bill. It makes God look petty and evil. And, this concept of yours is specifically spoken against by the Bible. Nowhere does God accuse anyone of sin when one honestly didn’t know any better. Such mistakes of ignorance are overlooked by God as being a simple matter of additional education – not requiring the blood of Jesus since the Law of Love was not broken.

          As for Georges comment below about Mother Teresa. If she kept Sunday in her ignorance she is still breaking the law, but Jesus may plead pardon by way of His atonement if she did not know the truth of the matter. Jesus will never say she is innocent and if so, she would need no atonement nor the blood of Jesus to apply pardon for her guilt in breaking God’s law.

          This is like arguing that if Jesus has been born in a culture that didn’t know about Sabbath observance that Jesus Himself would have been sinning if He was brought up as a Sunday-keeper. That’s a mistaken view of the Law. Mistakes of ignorance simply are not the same thing as deliberate rebellion, or sin, against the Royal Law of Love.

          Original sin is so clearly biblical that you have to “song and dance” around the obvious to deny it. All the fancy footwork in the world will not support any false idea that some one is not breaking the law if they don’t know it.

          Again, Jesus specifically and repeatedly said that not knowing means not being guilty of sin. You simply re-word what Jesus actually said so that it fits better with your theology. However, the words that Jesus actually said are quite clear.

          In the end, it is a blatant attack on the gospel of forgiveness of sin. And the way you butcher up the nature of Christ is tragic and despicable. We are born sinners. Get over it and follow the format God has ordained for the salvation of humanity.

          Again, you fail to address the numerous statements in the Bible and Ellen White where it says that Jesus Himself was born with “sinful flesh” – yet without sin. As Mrs. White very clearly explains, “He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men.” (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176)

          How do you get around such clear statements that undermine your own claims? You simply don’t address such statements . . .

          Again, we are born with a fallen nature, but that’s not the same thing as sinning – as actually breaking the Law. Such requires an actual action, an actual choice of the free moral agent, before actual sin can spring into existence.

          Well, you are still better than other forums who are bigots who refuse to even dialogue on this issue and think they will “save the church” from all apostates when they are apostates themselves. What a mess the church is in with no evidence of any real desire to know the truth that Jesus said, “Will set you free.”

          Your defense of creation is reasonably commendable. But in this subject of sin and atonement, your view is far from biblical teaching.

          You have a long way to go in your understanding of the nature of God and the nature of true sin and rebellion – the reason why we are here and why Jesus had to die to save us. May God continue to lead you toward the greater light on such things as I do believe that they are important to understand – though not vital to salvation.

          Beyond this, however, this really isn’t the topic of this forum and I don’t think I will allow future comments along these lines under future articles. Lots of people try to post comments that are completely off-topic and generally I do not allow it. I’ve been lenient with you because of your past history of generally being on topic in this forum. However, I think you’ve pretty much presented what you have to say a great many times without presenting anything new or substantively addressing the main counterarguments against your position. So, I really see no need to continue to address the very same claims over and over again.




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  20. To Bill

    “It is your forum, so you can pontificate your error over and over and refuse instruction but you won’t be free in the judgment anymore than a Sunday keeper who does the same thing you do. ”

    Bill, does this mean you think Mother Theresa will not be saved, because she treated Sunday as her day of worship? Seems a bit unjust seeing all the good she did in the world.




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  21. To Wes

    “Like I said, only God knows — did you ask Him about your proposed Moral Math? ”

    You betcha Pard and many other questions throughout my life as well. I’ve also spoke to many other people as to whether God speaks to them. Even my very religious friends have never told me God has ever spoken to them. I suspect that is the case for the vast majority of people. Kind of leaves us on our own to use our own faculties doesn’t it?

    (Quote)




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    • @george: Dear ole pard George: I am in receipt of your latest set of Georgian questions: First: Embedded in the answer (no religious person has ever answered yes) is “Has God ever actually spoken to you?” Second: Ergo, “Kind of leaves us on our own to use our own faculties doesn’t it?”

      Of course and with relish I’ll take the bait, as has been my pleasure and privilege for, as you say, like 8 years or more. However this time in more, though not wholly, the style of dialectic than dialect a la Rick O-Shay or Will Rogers. BTW Rogers elevated his dialect beyond dialectic, even, and so do we, don’t we?

      So you’ve been asking (as is your egg-nostic wont, may I insert, winking) religious people for years and years and never yet heard anybody answer that God has actually talked to them? Not surprised. You wouldn’t in the legalist and Laodicean circles you’ve been socializing in (or, ahem, in them badlands circles ya’ll been goin’ roun’ ‘n roun’ in – couldn’t resist that hoop trope, you know me), which excludes serial killers, who hear some god without letup bugging them to do ungodly things, as they zealously witness in court. Hmmm… I hear an ear-splitting egg-nosticogeorgian question popping out of that one!

      But He does, really. At the beginning He did routinely, in pleasant evening walks in the woods with the two new humans He’d just created. But, having been created with free will as well as ears, they decided they’d rather hear Satan and his serially ungodly shtick. You cannot serve – certainly not talk to – God and Satan. A sound-proof curtain fell between man and God, a total barrier, a wall, a great wall (Trump’s wall should be so lucky) between man and God, a communication barrier plus radio interference plus electromagnetic wave cosmic hacking. No more casual, pleasant God-to-man chats while strolling in the woods. A situation requiring salvation and the intervention of God in the form of Man, who did speak and talk directly to man. And His coming, and talking, made it possible for eventual restoration of those face-to-face evening chats in the woods of whispering pines of which we are not speaking loudly or urgently enough. For God did not simply shrug us off and retreat to some alternate more appreciative universe, to start to answer your second question. Can’t wait to work it further.

      He Himself has actually talked directly to people, I’ll say it again. And if you had asked your question to Matthew or Peter or John you would have heard a resounding, shouting, ringing YES! And over history He has singled a certain few to talk to if less directly, like my best friends Isaiah and Paul (whom I enjoy hearing at least as much as you, for different reasons, dear pard), on condition they relay the message to the rest of us, which is why we have the Bible, to which EG White constantly directs us, thanks to His talking to her too.

      But you know all that, you’ve heard tell as long as you’ve been hanging around this here corral, even while you’ve been asking us whether God has ever talked to us. Your ears have heard only “no’s” and not our “Yes we have, through the Bible, through creation, through the Royal Law of Love, and certainly through backlit clouds and babbling brooks and whispering pines.” Having heard only “no’s,” you ergo yourself right on to: “kind of leaves us on our own faculties, doesn’t it?” He that hath ears, let him hear, like the Man said, loud and clear.

      Well, OK, if you must. Yup, we do of course have faculties, God-given you are reminded, and of course He expects, requires, us to use them – He that hath ears let him hear, like the Man says. And we’d be left only with those frail resources if indeed, as not a few Christians would zealously tell you (the ones who honestly answer no to your “have you actually…” question), that God, assuming He exists, set the Evo wheel to spinning and then yawned and stretched (not rested) and moseyed away. But would our God really abandon us like that? He would not, has not. He has promised, promised sworn and covenanted, to be with us always, and to talk with us through the bible and whispering pines and in other mysterious ways, adding, “without Me ye can do nothing.” So much for faculties. Glad you asked!




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  22. I can’t find the specific comment from Bill, who mentioned that the person going 50 in a 30 mph speed zone… But yes, the driver is guilty for breaking the speed limit, even if he doesn’t know what it is. But… If the sign was somehow obscured, or broken down or missing, and the driver could not see it, he is still guilty, but not held accountable. That is one area where God’s Grace comes in. But, No one is born breaking the speed limit, nor are they guilty because someone before them broke it (Eze. 18), but without God’s power, we all WILL break it. All have fallen and come short of the Glory of God. But once we make a choice “which we all have because of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” God then gives us the power to overcome, or to NOT break that speed limit. But only through God’s power can our foot not press too hard on that peddle. And our own choice to ask for and to avail ourselves of that power….




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    • But yes, the driver is guilty for breaking the speed limit, even if he doesn’t know what it is. But… If the sign was somehow obscured, or broken down or missing, and the driver could not see it, he is still guilty, but not held accountable.

      Moral guilt isn’t the same thing as breaking the speed limit. For one to be morally guilty one must deliberately break a moral law. Otherwise, there simply is no moral guilt before God. If one is “not held accountable”, then one simply isn’t guilty at all. It’s the same as if an angel made a mistake because of honest ignorance. That angel is not guilty of “sin” or a moral rebellion against God.




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      • Sean Pitman:

        Moral guilt isn’t the same thing as breaking the speed limit.For one to be morally guilty one must deliberately break a moral law.Otherwise, there simply is no moral guilt before God.If one is “not held accountable”, then one simply isn’t guilty at all.It’s the same as if an angel made a mistake because of honest ignorance.That angel is not guilty of “sin” or a moral rebellion against God.

        All analogies break down at some point. I think Martin Luther was guilty of breaking the 4th commandment, but he isn’t “guilty” as it were, because he wasn’t in rebellion against it, he simply didn’t have the light on it. As the Bible says, God “Winks” at our ignorance, so as you say, we, or he, are not/was not “guilty” but the fact remains that he broke the law. Anyway, I’m not interested in quibbling over the minute details… The point is, “death spread to all men, because all sinned”. We are not guilty of Adam’s sin except as we participate in it, or choose to do so. So I think we are probably saying the same thing. We are not guilty of “original” sin, just the sins of our own choice.




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        • I agree with that…

          It is just that I would word it a bit differently since I’ve been involved with such discussions for over 30 years now. I would simply say that Martin Luther made an honest mistake when it came to the Sabbath – as even angels in heaven must make on occasion. Such honest mistakes are not classified as a rebellion against the Royal Law of Love and therefore are not “sinful”. They can be forgiven without the need of the Blood of Christ.




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  23. The subject is “academic freedom” so you are already off the subject of creation. When people are wrong, they tend to hide behind a self imposed barrier for protection.

    You are wrong, period. Babies are not born “in Christ” and that alone makes them sinners.

    As for you comment about Jesus being “born in sinful flesh” this is also bogus. Jesus was born in the likeness of sinful flesh” and this is light years from your false idea.

    But the fact that you are wrong is incidental to the fact the majority of the church is wrong as many embrace your false doctrine and try to defend it. The sinful nature means you have a spiritual nature “full of sin”. And this makes you and everyone else a sinner even if they never participate in a single sin outwardly. People commit sin because they are sinners. They don’t become sinners by committing sin.

    You can close your mind and harden your heart. You can “wrest the scriptures to your own destruction”. But as Gerald Wolfe has well said, “Just because you won’t accept it, won’t change it.”

    You don’t have to know that you are breaking any law, to be breaking the law, and this applies to the moral law as well as any other law. And just because you “run and hide” won’t clear you or anyone else in the final judgment.

    In the end, I wish you well. But I will never patronize blatant ignorance and neither will God.




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    • You wrote:

      You are wrong, period.

      Saying it over and over again doesn’t make it true. Your arguments aren’t convincing because they appear to me to be self-defeating, inconsistent, and do not address the very clear biblical statements and comments from Ellen White that directly counter your claims.

      Babies are not born “in Christ” and that alone makes them sinners.

      No, it doesn’t. There is no sin without the pre-existence of a free moral agent. And, there is no sin until this free moral agent actually deliberately chooses to do something that he/she knows is wrong. That’s the definition of sin – a deliberate action against the Royal Law of Love. There is absolutely nothing in the writings of the Bible or Ellen White that defines sin as anything other than a transgression of the Law of Love – nothing.

      As for you comment about Jesus being “born in sinful flesh” this is also bogus. Jesus was born in the likeness of sinful flesh” and this is light years from your false idea.

      No it isn’t. What Paul is saying here is that Jesus was made exactly like me and you. According to Greek scholars like Vincent Branick, the Greek term that is usually translated as “likeness” in this passage would be best translated as a “perceptible expression of a reality”. He was not made just to look “like” fallen humanity. Instead, He amazingly took on actual fallen humanity, with all of its natural tendencies, and merged it with His own Divinity.

      As Mrs. White explains, “Christ did not make believe take human nature; He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature. ‘As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.’ He was the Son of Mary; He was of the seed of David according to human descent.” (EGW, The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906.)

      “He condescended to connect our fallen human nature with his divinity. By thus taking humanity, He honored humanity. Having taken our fallen nature, He showed what it might become by accepting the ample provision He has made for it, and by becoming [a] partaker of the divine nature.” (EGW, Letter 81, 1896)

      He was therefore made with the very same “fallen” flesh, mental and physical, exactly like His “brothers” had – yet He never sinned. He was made fully like fallen humanity in every possible way – yet without sin (Hebrews 2:17).

      Again and again Ellen White very clearly backs up this point – though you continually fail to even consider her commentary along these lines:

      “He had the same nature as the sinner although He knew no sin, in order that He might be able to condemn sin in the flesh and might be able to sympathize with those who were in the difficulties, dangers, and temptations that beset His own path while He walked with men.” (EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 176)

      “It was in the order of God that Christ should take upon himself the form and nature of fallen man, that he might be made perfect through suffering, and himself endure the strength of Satan’s fierce temptations, that he might understand how to succor those who should be tempted.” (EGW, RH December 31, 1872)

      “He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature… He was made like unto his brethren, with the same susceptibilities, mental and physical… Christ did in reality unite the offending nature of man with His own sinless nature, because by this act of condescension, He would be enabled to pour out His blood in behalf of the fallen race.” (Ellen White, Manuscript 166, 1898, p. 9, 10 and Manuscript 181.3 and RH February 10, 1885 par. 7)

      But the fact that you are wrong is incidental to the fact the majority of the church is wrong as many embrace your false doctrine and try to defend it. The sinful nature means you have a spiritual nature “full of sin”. And this makes you and everyone else a sinner even if they never participate in a single sin outwardly. People commit sin because they are sinners. They don’t become sinners by committing sin.

      No. A fallen or sinful nature isn’t the same thing as being a “sinner”. That’s your fundamental mistake – to think that one’s nature is the same thing as one’s decisions and actions. Adam originally had a perfect sinless nature without any naturally cultivated evil tendencies, yet he sinned anyway because he still deliberately and consciously chose to rebel against a command of God. In contrast, Jesus took on a fallen sinful nature, the same as His brothers, yet He never sinned. It is for this reason that we can overcome sin while still having “sinful flesh”. We need not first get rid of our fallen natures before we can stop sinning – through the power of God. Being “born again” does not remove from us our fallen natures – yet we can still stop sinning. If Jesus did not overcome from the position of fallen human nature, then there is absolutely no reason to think that I can overcome either.

      I know this might seem like a paradox, but it really isn’t if you think about it just a bit.

      You can close your mind and harden your heart. You can “wrest the scriptures to your own destruction”. But as Gerald Wolfe has well said, “Just because you won’t accept it, won’t change it.”

      You should at least consider that these words might apply to you and your position.

      You don’t have to know that you are breaking any law, to be breaking the law, and this applies to the moral law as well as any other law. And just because you “run and hide” won’t clear you or anyone else in the final judgment.

      It is impossible to break the Royal Law of Love without knowing it because it is written on the heart. It is for this reason that no one has a valid excuse for sinning. Yet, everyone has actually knowingly broken the Royal Law of Love. That is why everyone stands guilty before God. It isn’t what Adam did that makes us guilty. It is what we have done ourselves, deliberately, that makes us guilty before God.

      The subject is “academic freedom” so you are already off the subject of creation. When people are wrong, they tend to hide behind a self imposed barrier for protection.

      You have a tendency to direct every topic of every article back toward your favorite topic of original sin. I simply won’t keep on allowing this to happen – especially after so many extensive discussions in this forum where nothing has been resolved.

      In the end, I wish you well. But I will never patronize blatant ignorance and neither will God.

      God overlooks honest ignorance all of the time (John 9:41, John 15:22, John 15:24, James 4:17, Luke 23:34). And, I dare say that in heaven mistakes of honest ignorance among the angels are also overlooked with a smile and shrug…




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      • @Sean Pitman: “God overlooks honest ignorance all of the time (John 9:41, John 15:22, John 15:24, James 4:17, Luke 23:34). And, I dare say that in heaven mistakes of honest ignorance among the angels are also overlooked with a smile and shrug…”
        Among the angels? Even among such as St. Paul, who , as I hear him, agrees: “I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.” 1 Tim 1:13. And I’m willing to leave it right there. Right there. To parse “honest ignorance” and “overlook” (vs. forgive, justify, make right, atone, shrug with either a smile or wrath) is more than most of us should want to sink our teeth into at this point, for rather than sinking our teeth our whole selves would be sinking into the stormy sea, as did St. Peter when he himself undertook to walk on water, and cried out in desperation, “Lord, save me!” As a matter of fact, that would be a fitting benediction to this discussion. Would it not?




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  24. David Morris: According to Spectrum, The IBMTE (International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education), A GC entity, as Spectrum took pains to point out, issued a 35-page sacerdotal bull requiring teachers of religion to sign a pledge – termed a “process of endorsement” — to work within guidelines, including “the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists,” the “Code of Ethics for Seventh-day Adventist Educators, Academic and Theological Freedom and Accountability,” and established SDA Methods of Bible Study. Also, teachers would be required to submit copies of all of their publications for review.
    This deluge of paper simply added fuel to the inferno. As Spectrum reported, “The Presidents of Adventist Colleges and Universities in North America, in an unprecedented act of solidarity, unanimously voted a statement saying they are “fundamentally unable to support the proposed IBMTE endorsement process.” Stoking the fire, Spectrum adjudged the process “a stunning betrayal of Adventist Identity,” “Utterly Alien to the Soul of Adventism,” “corrupt and corrupting.” Not to mention Adventist Academic Freedom, and for good measure, Adventist culture, global culture, relevant mutant mores, throw in Galileo, multipurpose stuff routinely applied across the spectrum.

    “Academic Freedom” (as viewed outside the SDA church) – “the freedom to promote any agenda, world view, position” — and as it relates to SDA ” without respect to the values and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church.”

    That is in fact ok by SDA standards for non-SDA institutions to take that path. It is “expected” that they would. But we need not fund our own “version” of that same public education system as if the public universities just aren’t “science-informed enough” to teach chemistry, or physics or computer science, or molecular biology, or medicine, or economics. It was never our mission to “fix” or “correct” the public school teaching on chemistry.




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  25. Gentlemen,

    What just God would allow an innocent child to be born guilty for the sins of a distant ancestor? Should not every human being, irrespective of faith, be judged on their actions towards their fellow humans? Is this not what the parable of the Good Samaritan was all about and why it is so appealing to those of faith and non faith alike?

    When we set ourselves as being the interpretive authority as to what God wants we risk hubris of the highest order. Better to allow for rational debate on the topic and respect the opinion of others.

    What if there was only One Commandment? Do Good. ‘Kant’ see a problem with that. 🙂




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    • The problem is that sin makes us so insane that we don’t really know what is “good”. That’s is why God has to specifically remind us not to “kill, steal, murder… etc.” He wouldn’t have to do this if we were actually sane on this planet. But, we’re not…




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  26. To Sean

    “The problem is that sin makes us so insane that we don’t really know what is “good”. That’s is why God has to specifically remind us not to “kill, steal, murder… etc.” He wouldn’t have to do this if we were actually sane on this planet. But, we’re not…”

    Interesting point. This is also why law and the rule of law has developed in societies. One way or another Man must be governed or else tyranny reigns. The good thing is that Judeo/Christian ethics have been instrumental in the development of western law and the rule of law – especially true regarding human rights. And law and the rule of law in democracies apply to all citizens irrespective of religious belief of non – belief.

    Yes, ‘Good’ is not easy to understand without reference points. However I humbly submit one has to look into one’s metaphorical heart (conscience) irrespective of belief to deeply understand good. All the laws and religion in the world cannot help the selfish heart feel for one’s fellow human beings. I know this because of how selfish I understand I am and what a daily struggle it is to try to do a little good. We all have to make that choice every day and rely on or conscience to do so.




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  27. To my pard home on the range

    “But you know all that, you’ve heard tell as long as you’ve been hanging around this here corral, even while you’ve been asking us whether God has ever talked to us. Your ears have heard only “no’s” and not our “Yes we have, through the Bible, through creation, through the Royal Law of Love, and certainly through backlit clouds and babbling brooks and whispering pines.” Having heard only “no’s,” you ergo yourself right on to: “kind of leaves us on our own faculties, doesn’t it?” He that hath ears, let him hear, like the Man said, loud and clear.

    Indeed I do Pard.

    As you have adroitly pointed out there have many instances where those that have heard God’s voice have committed atrocities in His name, or done great things in His name. The difficulty for the rest of us not in direct contact is we have to deduce God’s existence from the evidence. Is this not what Dr. Pitman ,and indeed the Intelligent Design movement, are trying to do? Why do so if faith or scripture alone are sufficient? You and Sean know this answer. It is why this site exists. It is why the teaching of evolution in Adventist institutions is being challenged.

    And really the issue isn’t about ole cowpokes like us mostly set in our ways. Its about youth, how they are going to be educated in modern science and how they are going to rationalize scientific thought with religious belief.

    Perhaps the issue is not so much whispering pines, prophets or priests. Black holes are as much of the awe equation as the human mind that can discern same. Are they all not of the same creation? While we can alliterate, cosmic Nature can obliterate – indifferent to the religious rungs humans have built over time. to climb up the stairway to heaven. All part of the biblical divine or a yet unknown grander design?

    Indeed Pard we should wonder, and ponder while we saunter, along the ole’ ontological trail.
    For no matter how God we define, the pleasure is mine, to commune amidst the bloggy pines.




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    • @george: Greetings, pard,
      To lapse back into our beloved cowpoke talk which tends to impart a more uppity tone than normal American does, Better duck, ole pard! Ah’m takin’ aim at jess one quote of yers.

      Now for more civil-sounding normal American (may I lapse into it and back to cow-talk without ado?): Said post of yours was posted July 9, 2017, 3:58 Pm and recapitulated what I had said in reply to your earlier post. You said, “As you have adroitly pointed out there have many instances where those that have heard God’s voice have committed atrocities in His name, or done great things in His name.” Ah reckon you got my quote ass-backwards, no offense, pard. Ah was a-hopin’ you’d catch my drift better’n thet!

      Now, re-lapsing into normal professorial speech, may I quote myself directly? In my post of June 5, 5:06 pm, I gave a long response to your earlier posting in which you said that nobody you knew had ever actually heard God talk to them. My response, a long one, 4-5, er, adroit (thanks for using that adjective!), paragraphs, included, “Yes we have [heard Him talk], through the Bible, through creation, through the Royal Law of Love, and certainly through backlit clouds and babbling brooks and whispering pines.” In your July 9 recapitulation, you had me first unloading about God apparently talking to evil people and prompting them to do evil.

      That said evil people do indeed assert that God has spoken to them or otherwise commissioned the atrocities, neither I, nor anybody on this blog, nor Christ Himself, ever doubted or contested. How could we? Christ Himself, in talking directly to His disciples, warned that, “The time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” John 16:2 NIV.

      But disregarding the order of recipients, evil or righteous, who actually did or actually did not hear God speaking to them, there lies the old, familiar question, one of the several I have previously said, in too forthright cowpoke talk, is one we’ve circled around repeatedly without progress towards a resolution, to wit: how does one know whether God is or isn’t speaking to one. I’ll answer again as I have before: Well, first, cock your ear towards my beloved backlit cloud, where He is speaking as loudly as a backlit cloud can shout – but never to go kill anybody. Next, check the bible and see if what you think you hear jives with what has actually been recorded. (I know, I know; opinions will vary, but within limits, please!) Finally, and if that doesn’t work, sorry, there are no more ways. Again, scripture, again Christ talking directly to people about God the Father (in Elizabethan English rather than Western cow-talk): “The world cannot receive Him for it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him. But ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14: 17. No, don’t suppose you can work with that. So take over, Paul, in the KJV dialect: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are [only] spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14. Ah’m already saddled up, agin, fer whut I reckon you’ll come back at me with, pard.




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  28. To Wes

    “So you’ve been asking (as is your egg-nostic wont, may I insert, winking) religious people for years and years and never yet heard anybody answer that God has actually talked to them? Not surprised. You wouldn’t in the legalist and Laodicean circles you’ve been socializing in (or, ahem, in them badlands circles ya’ll been goin’ roun’ ‘n roun’ in – couldn’t resist that hoop trope, you know me), which excludes serial killers, who hear some god without letup bugging them to do ungodly things, as they zealously witness in court. Hmmm… I hear an ear-splitting egg-nosticogeorgian question popping out of that one! ”

    I apologize if I misunderstood what your were alluding to when you referenced serial killers.These were the atrocities to which I alluded.

    Your confused cowpoke




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    • @george: Dear ole pard, For giving offense I don’t feel compelled to apologize, as the pop culture requires. For imposing confusion, I do, with pleading hands and furrowed sweating brow. I apologize! Meanwhile Sean, for whom we’re so grateful, is all no-nonsense and clear. When in doubt, consult him.
      Carry on, friend!




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    • While serial killers may hear voices and attribute these voices to the voice of God, it is not crazy or schizophrenic or otherwise insane to recognize the voice of God speaking to us. While the voice of the one True God is not usually an audible voice (unlike the voices that often speak quite loudly to the insane, criminal or otherwise), it is still clearly recognizable for those who are in line with the Spirit of God speaking to the heart and mind.

      As King David once pointed out, God’s voice can be recognized in nature (Psalms 19:1-3). God’s voice is also present in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) with the Divine Signature especially noticeable in the prophecies of Scripture (2 Peter 1:19) – since only a God can know the future so perfectly (Isaiah 44:8). There is also the undeniable power of conversion from a life hopelessly sunk in sin and self-destructive behavior that, with a prayer for Divine help, has been lifted from the pit and turned into something beautiful and productive. Such a changed life is, perhaps, the greatest illustration of the voice and power of God working with fallen humanity. Of course, it is also hard to deny those moments of inspiration and insight that seem to come out of nowhere at just the right time (Luke 12:11-12). Let’s also not forget answers to prayer that are, in my own experience, simply unexplainable outside of Divine power – a very real form of Divine communication if you ask me.

      Of course, as our friend Wesley has artfully described, many of these revelations are only detectable by the mind that is already open to hearing the voice of God – already open to the leading of His Spirit. If the mind is not open to Spiritual things, then Spiritual communications will not be perceived – even if someone is literally raised from the dead before one’s very eyes (Luke 16:31).




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  29. To Wes and Sean

    ” Of course, as our friend Wesley has artfully described, many of these revelations are only detectable by the mind that is already open to hearing the voice of God – already open to the leading of His Spirit. If the mind is not open to Spiritual things, then Spiritual communications will not be perceived – even if someone is literally raised from the dead before one’s very eyes (Luke 16:31). ”

    Gentlemen, thank you for your further elucidation on the topic. But is it not also true that even to those whose minds are open to hearing the voice of God, in fact fervently pray to hear it (Mother Teresa in her later years) they may not necessarily ‘hear’ the voice of God. And., I presume in those cases this is where faith and interpretation as to how God speaks to us comes in?

    I also point out that I grew up with religious education and church attendance. I also have opened myself up to prayer and spiritual experience. I am also very conscious of the mystery of life, the universe and especially good and evil in people. And, as an agnostic I acknowledge that God may be communicating “speaking” to me in many different ways. But I cannot say God has ever spoken to me and I don’t hear voices. That is why I am always curious about the phenomena of those that do. Most of my religious friends are of the same bent as yourselves – and I don’t disparage them or you! – they interpret the presence of God through feelings, observations and scripture. But I also have observed perhaps the most important similarity- they WANT to believe in God. Their moral universe and hope for life after biological death fuels that WANT. For me this represents a kind of benign human hubris or confirmation bias that colours objectivity. For me faith and science are different fields of human endeavour and should be separated.

    As always, thanks for your patience and tolerance of your agnostic cyber cowpoke




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    • Again, this isn’t about “hearing voices” in the audible sense of the term. This is about recognizing the voice of God in other ways since God very rarely communicates with humans verbally and even more rarely “face to face”. However, this does not mean that God does not strive to communicate with each one of us. That’s simply not true. Everyone can recognize and “hear” God’s communications given an honest and determined desire to know “the truth”.

      The common notion, which you evidently share, is that faith and science are different fields of human engagement – that science deals with the rational while faith deals with the irrational or, at best, the non-rational. Consider, however, that science is undertaken by those who WANT to find the “truth” of the world and universe in which they live. The methodologies used in this endeavor are not mysterious or beyond the reach of regular every-day mortals. They are simply ways of organizing one’s thoughts in a rational way to make consistent predictions and useful interpretations as to how to live and function more effectively given the rules of the world in which we find ourselves. The desire or “WANT” to discover these truths does not, by itself, undermine objectivity – since objectivity is and should be the desired goal in all useful searches for truth.

      Of course, scientists are just as subject to “confirmation bias” as the rest of us. Real effort must be expended to try to limit such natural biases – even for scientists. Because, after all, if God does exist an honest WANT to find truth will eventually lead one to Him (Jeremiah 29:13) – since God is The Truth (John 14:6). The ability to think rationally and scientifically is, after all, a gift of God. However, to be a true seeker of Truth, a true scientist, one cannot decide ahead of time where one will and will not go in the pursuit of Truth. Such an a priori determination is not part of science, but of a philosophy based on human desire or WANTS to determine Truth for one’s self.

      For myself, it is not my desire for God to exist that makes Him evident to me. I’d much rather know the actual truth of the world in which I live – even if it the real truth is distasteful for me. There was, in fact, a point in my life where I was like you – unsure of God’s existence and unsure as to the actual origin of the universe and living things in this world. Fortunately, however, the more I honestly studied this question for myself the more a rational interpretation of the world and universe in which I find myself clearly demonstrated an abundant, even overwhelming, weight of evidence of the existence of a Divine Supernatural Creative Power behind it all. In fact, I’ve found that those who most ardently oppose such a conclusion on the basis of “science” really aren’t following actual scientific methodologies to make this conclusion at all – but a personal philosophy that is usually based on a strong desire or WANT to avoid acknowledging the existence of a God. That is the most common bias that blinds those who most ardently WANT to keep scientific or otherwise rational methodologies away from conclusions that a God must exist – that faith in such a God need not be blind at all, but based on a very clear weight of empirical evidence. It isn’t that such leaps of faith are outside of science when it comes to many other fantastic conclusions and theories of science. After all, the ability to take rational leaps of faith are an integral part of science. Why then is the God conclusion defined as “impossible” before even considering the evidence at hand?

      Now, I’m not saying that this has happened to you at this point – but is certainly something to be aware of and careful to avoid. No one, not even you, is free of personal biases of various kinds. The very best that we can do, then, is to at least strive to be aware of our own biases and to work as honestly as we can to overcome these biases. Otherwise, we can get to the point where no amount of empirical evidence will overcome our cherished biases – not even someone being raised from the dead before our very eyes (Luke 16:31).

      So, determine to be an honest and determined searcher for Truth regardless of where your path takes you. If you do search for Truth with all of your heart, sincerely desiring to overcome personal biases and the biases that society has built up around you, then you will eventually find the Source of all Truth.




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  30. Dear Sean

    I find the conclusion that there is no God to be philosophically irrational. But I find the God depicted by the Bible to be inconsistent, cruel at times and likely the cultural, hubristic l amalgamation of many ancient cultures. For religions theodicy remains a ‘dicey’ problem that has led to apologetics that strain credulity in my humble estimation. Also I find the concept of prophets to be apocryphal and not based on any sound science or rational inquiry whatsoever. This is why I spent so much time inquiring into the notion of “hearing’ the voice of God. I am quite worried if I have to deduce God’s will from prophets and not my own rational conclusions. Never met a prophet … yet! As this is shared by many sincere, secular, well educated folks I do not consider this just to be a personal bias of mine.

    However, as I have oft pointed out, no one and science cannot explain First Cause and why there is anything at all. Hawkings tries to do so but I think he fails because one still has to speculate why the conditions to create the Big Bang had to exist at all. Who or what set the quantum mechanics table for the unstable dishes that could break and create this universe and possibly many others. What is the primordial source of everything?

    Where I agree with you ardently is that we have an individual and moral duty to seek truth by all available means. Humans being an intensely curious and intelligent species do this quite naturally. But I hope you would agree by observation that honest truth seekers often disagree especially on the topic of the ‘nature’ of God, let alone the existence of God.

    I do think however that your site and these debates are important. I far better understand the religious Mind ( not intending to be disparaging here as I am obviously devoid of faith) as a result of these forays.That is an important part ot the truth that I am seeking to self determine if there is something you, Wes and others are seeing or concluding that I have not taken into account. You and Wes have been of incredible assistance to me in that regard for which I am deeply grateful. On my part I humbly hope your readers have a better understanding of the agnostic mind set and hopefully see that I do not come by it superficially or lightly.

    Best regards




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    • I guess we just have a very different take on the empirical evidence for the validity of biblical prophecies – prophecies which are an aspect of the “voice of God” that are accessible to anyone who wishes to seriously consider and investigate them on an empirical level. Perhaps you don’t yet hear God’s voice in such prophecies because you simply haven’t looked sufficiently into the details of some of these biblical prophecies and the amazing historical evidence that backs them up? I personally recommend a few videos along these lines for you to consider if you haven’t already done so:




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    • @george: Our dear friend George,
      For quite a few years now I have followed your posts on this site. Yours in cowpoke lingo I have read with more than passing amusement, generating from me responses comparable in style, perhaps too much style, and hopefully in conviviality. It’s been fun, perhaps more fun than informative. Cowpoke lingo, the essence of which is simplicity and a curious frankness and a commensurate dearth of empathy, can go where learned polemics cannot, but cannot take us beyond the shoot-out, which leaves us both rather devoid of life. Something else – what? — is necessary to take us both where we so long to go.

      So it is with special interest that I’ve read your most recent exchanges with Sean which have been considerably more revealing and informative of your personality and thinking than yours and mine in ersatz cow-talk, stuck in a rut a-chasin’ that same ole tumble weed on this-ear ontological badlands. And as you have seemed to include me in your conversations with Sean, may I presume to insert some thoughts expressed in the way I speak at home? And at uncharacteristic length. It’s a break from our cow-shtick, which I depart from with some regret and, I hope, only temporarily.

      One sentence directed to both of us (July 21, 2017 at 3:36 pm) especially caught my attention: You see Christians as WANTING to believe God and in Him. Indeed we do. I would like to think we do, and pray to. Perhaps not always sufficiently ardently as we would, yes, want. Frankly, and proudly, our goal – mine certainly – is to wholeheartedly believe in Him. That desire, so far merely another unique human sentiment, is crucial, crucial, but must be only the beginning of the process. Thus invited – His essence is to put our free will first, and so we must very ardently WANT Him and invite Him – He sends a preternatural power, His own power, to take over for us. “Without me ye can do nothing,” Christ said. And with Him “all things are possible.” Now that’s totally opaque to the “natural man,” who see it only as “foolishness,” to use St. Paul’s KJV word. But simple to Christians, those who chose His path, which is not the majority of Christians, alas, better termed hypocrites, and recognized and rightly flaunted as such to grateful disbelievers.

      Next you caught my attention by putting first on your list of Christian proclivities that “they interpret the presence of God through feelings, observations and scripture.” May I, with tongue in cheek and a bit of a pang in my heart, remind you that this whole site, Sean’s focus certainly, has been to promote evidence, not merely (while emphasizing) faith, belief, feelings, scripture? As is my wont a scripture comes to mind, perhaps ironically for just having promoted evidence, but it nicely encapsulates the way I see it: “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also. 1 Corinthians 14:15 NASB.

      It isn’t as though you have not recognized that evidence is important to all of us, in varying degrees, with Sean strongly. What I am hoping is that you personally recognize that to some of us evidence is high, not low, on the list. It is, in fact, crucial. It is the God-assigned moiety, supplementing and when necessary superseding our “feelings,” which we cherish but which do go flat, as God Himself has warned.

      Thus my backlit clouds and Sean’s flagella. They are, I submit, evidence, not simply chair-born emanations of platonic logic, which availeth little. So articulate and loud is this evidence that we have no choice but to believe. That is the vector: evidence leading to faith.

      So articulate and loud evidences are they that God’s own voice can be heard in them – discerned, if you prefer that He use other neural circuits than the one that specifically involves the tympanic membrane, the 8th nerve, and sundry central processors, a complex system which itself is, yes, evidence. That sound-perception circuit is just one among the many receptor circuits for receiving His messages that God his equipped our brains with. A God resourceful enough to create those brains in the first place would be expected to install a generous array of communion systems.

      Accessible, alas, also to Satan and thus serial killers. Which brings us to the crux of it all, all our beliefs, and where the evidence leads: the Great Controversy and the existence not only of God but also of Satan in, for the present, total and deadly conflict, with us as collateral damage. Which set me to dancing with the idea of asking you a facetious-Socratic question, not in cowtalk, does your agnostic questioning of God’s existence also encompass Satan’s existence? I wouldn’t be surprised – this seems almost the universal mode, not just among agnostics but too many Christians – that whereas you do have an honest question about God’s existence, even a nagging suspicion that he does, you descend into belly laughs at the very idea of a Satan, Flip Wilson (“the devil made me do it”) notwithstanding. But with only God, and without Satan, the whole picture just disintegrates into fluttering pixels, food for doubt indeed.

      Which easily and instantly explains another monumental roadblock to your “journey” – the apparent cruelty and, as some gleefully proclaim, actual evilness of God Himself, as so honestly, but not gleefully, disclosed in the Bible. But the same Bible’s main message is of a God who “so loved the world that He gave His own Son that whosever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That God is loving comes through blazingly clear in the bible, in the life and atoning sacrifice of Jesus, comes through so overwhelmingly that the Satan-inspired misdeeds, we call them sins, are lost in glory. I love this one, love the way it’s put: “Behold, I have caused your iniquities to pass from you.” And this one, “Note then the kindness and the severity of God.” Romans 11:22 ESV. O that kindness, without which we are naught but ephemeral and pointless quarks; O that severity, without which the Great Controversy could never end. But it will.

      But – to go back to the crux – all this works only in the context of a Great Controversy. If the Great Controversy cannot be perceived, what we see around us in the sky and under the microscope, and in Washington and hospitals and morgues, all that evidence, will remain but fodder for doubt, lots of it, unremitting, open to multiple interpretations.

      Look, George, you’re a good man. Somehow, ole pard, I’ve developed a curious affection for you, yew ole rascal! Not as a target for shoot ‘em up evangelism but for a hug. Carry on! Hope to see you at the Grand Roundup!




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  31. Thanks Sean

    Always happy to examine new facts and evidence.

    Just wondering if you ever done any comparative prophecies studies ( Nostradamus?) and id so what in your estimation makes biblical prophecies more reliable.

    Cheers




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    • Yes, I have looked into other prophecies outside of the Bible and found that they don’t even come close to the degree of potentially falsifiable precision or actual accuracy found in the Biblical prophecies.




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  32. Dear Wes

    ” Which set me to dancing with the idea of asking you a facetious-Socratic question, not in cowtalk, does your agnostic questioning of God’s existence also encompass Satan’s existence”

    Thank you for your poignant note. Indeed we can shed the metaphorical chaps for more serious discussion.

    Electron and proton Anti matter and matter. Yin and Yang. The aphorism opposites attract. Good and Evil. God and the Devil.

    Nature, psychology, literature and religion are replete with opposing forces. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was an excellent literary allegory for the struggle for good and evil that lies within every human being. The Garden of Eden of course is a seminal allegory of that internal struggle.

    In answer to your question I do not equate good or evil in humans with the existence or non existence of God or the Devil. If one assumes Man has a free will and the ability to choose between good or evil actions, which existentially I do, there is no need to accept a cosmic Great Controversy. It is the everyday internal controversy to choose between good and bad actions that is more real in my opinion. This is classic existential thinking ( Satre, Camus) with which I agree. It assumes a human can freely choose moral or immoral actions. This is the essence of conscience: to be aware of right and wrong and choose accordingly. And this self awareness and choice is not easy!

    I once read an excellent book on the nature of evil which I have cited below. I think you would find it a most interesting read if you are so inclined.

    Gratefully,

    EVIL: An Investigation
    Lance Morrow, Author . Basic $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-465-04754-3
    Tweet

    In Heart, a memoir centering on his heart attacks, Morrow asked questions about the nature of evil as it relates to illness and death. This foray into evil generally is a thing of snippets rather than sustained case building. Morrow, author of more than 150 Time cover stories, begins by responding to a variety of events, some of them on the scale of the Holocaust and September 11, others more modest, such as several particularly gruesome murders and the shootings at Columbine, trying to grasp where evil inheres. He then wanders through a mass of heartfelt but turgid sentiments, from which it is possible to extract a few conclusions about his opinions: evil exists; people may be evil; deeds may be evil even when people are not; there are degrees of evil, great and small, justifiable and unjustifiable. Franz Fanon’s liberation-through-violence ideology and the cult of the Marquis de Sade are evil, for Morrow, and so are thinkers who praise either. And so on. The book rises above this level occasionally, as in his portrait of several individuals who resist classification, and supports another conclusion: that we have to talk about evil. At other times, Morrow descends to the level of mere name-dropping, as in his portrayal of a Stockholm conference on international violence. One can extract from this book a reasonably favorable opinion of Morrow’s thoughtfulness and personal ethics, but he does not offer much exploration in the direction of possible solutions, nor has he been rigorous in sifting his reflections for lucidity. Anybody who wants to keep up on impassioned screeds in pop ethics will find something to like here, but much religious thought on the matter, to take one example, goes undiscussed. (Sept.)




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    • @george: Dear George,

      For your response I am most grateful and impressed. I’m used to having you fire a well honed question at me or the audience. None. Instead, you holstered your gun and answered the one I fired at you, laying all your splendid cards quietly and forthrightly on the table – aces of spades, Camus and Satre, and I thought I saw the joker Plato, and the trump card, the engraved and autographed agnostic ace king – in a no-quibble royal flush, no tricks up your rolled-up sleeve.

      There it is then, on the table. Evil and good are only platonic emanations. They are not beings. Elsewhere I thought I detected a momentary flash of a hint of a suspicion that at least God exists (“I find the conclusion that there is no God to be philosophically irrational,” to Sean, July 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm). That was then.

      In depriving Satan of his existence, and God too, yet bemoaning evil, you are at least letting my God as personification if not creator of evil, off the hook. That’s refreshing, and in contrast to the several even of our own academic circles who have in previous years posted such frank accusations on this blog.

      As to Lance Morrow, him I do I know. I’m his elder by 10 years. There was a time when I faithfully followed and enjoyed Time Magazine, especially Lance Morrow’s writings. Thanks for the review, I gather from Tweet, of his book Heart, which, I agree, well presents the problem if not the answer. Some of us believe, however, that there IS an answer. Your Royal Flush on the table, it belongs on the floor, is saying there isn’t.




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  33. For Wes

    “Elsewhere I thought I detected a momentary flash of a hint of a suspicion that at least God exists (“I find the conclusion that there is no God to be philosophically irrational,” to Sean, July 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm). That was then.”

    Ole friend, my position as to the definitive presence or non presence of God has not changed one iota, notwithstanding my musings on good and evil. What I am saying is that I don’t think one can definitely prove the absence of God thus I consider atheism irrational. However, by default, this does not mean that God and the Devil are the progenitors of good and evil. That potentiality may lie within the human psyche and be influenced by many factors including genetic predisposition ( psychopaths for example).

    Thank you for your kind compliments on my cards, although I seem to keep playing the same predicable hand. But I do enjoy your and Sean’s company at the table as we play for truth. Hard to draw a perfect hand in that regard 🙂




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  34. To Wes

    “In depriving Satan of his existence, and God too, yet bemoaning evil, you are at least letting my God as personification if not creator of evil, off the hook. That’s refreshing, and in contrast to the several even of our own academic circles who have in previous years posted such frank accusations on this blog.”

    You bet I am. I do not blame God for the maladies of Man or natural disasters. Do we really think a loving God could be such a monster as to allow innocent children to die of cancer! Man is responsible for his own circumstances and must make individual choices in that regard including those of good and evil. If God or the Devil or our biology is dictating those choices then there is no free will hence no morality as we are just robots living according to the dictates of outside agency. I don’t believe that because I painfully understand the choices I have to make every day to not simply act totally in my own self interest. ( and I am painfully aware and often appalled at how often I fail in that regard!).

    As Jiminy Cricket quaintly said, ” Always let your conscience be your guide.”

    I often think of Mother Teresa, late in life doubting the existence of God but still doing the work of a ‘saint.’ That’s goodness pure and simple no matter how one cuts the theistic/secular cake. And whether I recognize that goodness by sentiment, education, moral training, upbringing, culture, reason or some combination of all those factors really doesn’t matter as long as I recognize it … and try to act upon it. Hard to do given my biological nature.

    Good night my friend, I hope this finds you well.




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    • @george: Mother Teresa,who, after a lifetime of behaving saintly, became agnostic, or at least doubted, you have canonized as your patron saint with due ceremony, I gather. You have a little nook with her once-glowing image raising her eyebrows for you every time you kiss her feet? Seriously, though, thanks for your response. And I’m well — or at least par for age, and thanks for thinking of me in those terms. Oh yes, and it was saintly of you to welcome Irv back — I caught that. I trust our friend Irv did, and will return once again, despite being rather trussed up by Dr. Pitman.




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    • While it certainly is saintly to live selflessly out of love for the benefit of others, especially while having agnostic or atheistic doubts, those who are able to see the evidence for the existence of a loving personal God, and Jesus as the Messiah who came and gave His own life in exchange for ours, are even more blessed. This is not because it inherently makes people more righteous or anything like that, but just because the Good News of the Gospel’s message of hope makes this painful life much more bearable… and has the power to lead one closer to God and therefore more in line with the Law of Love.

        Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

      Beyond this, why should we, “Let our conscience be our guide”? – unless there is such a thing as objective goodness from which our own consciences are derived? Otherwise, it does not necessarily follow that following one’s conscience would be a “good” thing…




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      • @Sean Pitman: This being one big intercommunicating family, may I reply to George through Sean, re. conscience. George is currently in the mode of commending, especially to this ancient man, Jiminy and his conscience, Jiminy Cricket and St Mother Teresa, the former being merely a celebrity if not canonized but in some ways even more a role model, possessing as he does a conscience which Jiminy and George admonish us to heed heartily. A Jiminy conscience is our guide. Thus spake Jiminy George.

        But here I go again, being a spoil sport. Being scripturally oriented I automatically think of Titus 1:15: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” WHAT!! a defiled conscience? Well, that puts Jiminy and Teresa back neck and neck as role models. I feel your pain, George. To which,– I can already hear it, — George replies, “ah, but, pard, Jiminy ain’t defiled; his heart is pure. His conscience has the strength of ten.” Good move, you ole card shark.




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  35. To Sean and Wes, and hopefully our morally interested audience

    “Beyond this, why should we, “Let our conscience be our guide”?

    Because conscience by definition connotes individual moral choice. We may be influenced by culture, religion, upbringing, sentiment, education, literature, moral theories and law but there is no objective, uniform test for one’s own conscience. Everyone is unique in that regard and must make their own moral choices. As Sean aptly pointed out, individuals can live selflessly for the benefit of others while not necessarily believing in or having doubts about God. Surely they do so according to their conscience.

    Obviously an ole rascal that uses a cricket and a Catholic nun as moral role models would strain the credulity of an objective standard for a conscience. Notwithstanding, the example of Jesus depicted in the Bible leaves one speechless in awe. Obviously his impact upon believers and non believers alike has had a profound salutary effect upon the world. I would be disingenuous to submit otherwise, notwithstanding that I do not think any human beings are prophetic or divine. ( other than in some sort of pantheistic notion of which we cannot know).

    By the way, Wes. I wouldn’t kiss Mother Teresa’s feet. I’d give her a big hug though as a fine human being. 😉

    Chirp, chirp… 🙂




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    • You wrote:

      Because conscience by definition connotes individual moral choice. We may be influenced by culture, religion, upbringing, sentiment, education, literature, moral theories and law but there is no objective, uniform test for one’s own conscience. Everyone is unique in that regard and must make their own moral choices. As Sean aptly pointed out, individuals can live selflessly for the benefit of others while not necessarily believing in or having doubts about God. Surely they do so according to their conscience.

      Of course people make moral choices that are either in line or out of line with their own consciences. However, if one’s conscience can be randomly originated and influenced by so many factors, how then can it been said to be a reliable moral guide? – from a naturalistic perspective? That’s the real question here. What you are suggesting seems to make one’s conscience appear to be very unreliable indeed as a moral compass… since a serial child rapist and murderer could, according to your definition of morality, be perfectly in line with his or her own conscience.

      So, tell me again why should we, “Let our conscience be our guide”? – unless there is such a thing as objective goodness from which our own consciences are derived? Otherwise, it does not necessarily follow that following one’s conscience would be a “good” thing…

      I propose that there is in fact a uniform test for the “goodness” of one’s actions and one’s conscience – which is the Royal Law of selfless love for one’s neighbor. That’s the true uniform standard of all morality. The miracle is that everyone (who isn’t brain damaged) is born with this knowledge – making it a universal moral truth. If one doesn’t have this knowledge, that individual is, by definition, brain damaged and amoral. Of course, the reason why this moral truth is universally known is because it is derived from an objective standard of all morality, a God who is in His very essence – Love. “God is Love” and everyone who lives in love lives in God – regardless of if they know where the source of their own morality ultimately came from or not (1 John 4:16).




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      • george:
        Gentlemen,

        What just God would allow an innocent child to be born guilty for the sins of a distant ancestor? …What if there was only One Commandment? Do Good. ‘Kant’ see a problem with that.

        An atheist point of view is not often found here – but this is interesting.

        1. God does not punish babies for what someone else did – but I suppose that is a reductionist option that is not so uncommon among atheists. The “details” of the subject you are commenting on – yet according to you “not reading” – is that humans are born with sinful natures. A “bent” toward evil. That is the first gap right out of the gate between atheism and God’s Word..

        2. But still God supernaturally enables “free will” even in that bent scenario, the one that mankind lives in – ever since the free-will choice of the first humans on planet earth – was to cast their lot in with Satan and rebellion..(apparently they wanted to see what a wonderful result that poor choice would create). John 16 “the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment”. And of course “I will draw ALL mankind unto Me” John 12:32. (not “just Christians”). Thus supernatural agency promotes free will in a world that would otherwise be unrestrained in its bent to evil.

        3.God says “The wages of sin is death” — so then your “complaint” is essentially “that you exist”. A just and loving God created planet Earth – no death or disease or suffering – a perfect paradise where mankind could live forever … and only one tiny restriction… yet Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be duped by Satan… tossing it all away. The “Just God” scenario could easily just have let them suffer the death sentence they chose. He did not do that… hence “you exist” – to then “complain about it”.

        4. Of course you might also complain that Satan exists – and Satan might complain that “you exist”. There is no shortage on planet earth of avenues for complaint. But God steps in – offers salvation to mankind at infinite cost to himself – – and the “Few” of Matthew 7 eventually end up accepting that offer of eternal life. The rest seem to prefer the lake of fire option… sort of like Adam and Eve choosing disease and death over eternal life (without fully appreciating the massive fail in that short-sighted choice).

        In any case – this thread is about the logic/reason that should be taken into account when a Christian owned and operated institution chooses to stay faithful to its Christian mission — rather then getting blown about by every wind of doctrine. Why let the alchemy of “wild guessing” be the ‘source of truth’ when we have the Bible?? We really have no excuse for that. As for science – we can be thankful that it has come as far along as it has – but no matter how far back you rewind the clock of our science history – we should always have chosen the Bible over wild guessing.




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    • @george: Our dear cricket advocate: Re. your mentioning Jesus in connection with conscience, I’m not exactly sure I caught your point, but I think I caught the drift. If it was that Christ obeyed the Jiminy rule and proceeded by His preternatural conscience, in the same manner He was an award-worthy teacher, I would have to conclude you haven’t read the gospels as conscientiously as you have Hegel and probably Derrida. What guided Him when coping directly with Satan was, “it is written.” Endlessly He declared that what He did, what His mission was, how He was guided was The Father (God). Jiminy and, I gather, you are guided by your mother-board aka conscience, but Christ insisted and proclaimed a higher, external guidance. Did I read you correctly?

      Chirp, bleep, cheep cheep, chirp.
      Carry on!




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  36. To Sean

    “Of course people make moral choices that are either in line or out of line with their own consciences.”

    Agreed. And everyone’s moral choices are not necessarily the same are they? Societal morals are called law, which is the objective standard for public morality. On an individual level each one must make their own choices right?

    Here is an example. Do you consider Dr. Edward Allred to be a moral person? Would you in good conscience, even if the law allows it practice the same medicine as him? If so why? If not why? What objective standard are you relying on to make your decision other than your own conscience?

    Here is another example: gay marriage. How do you apply your proposed objective standard of conscience to that concept? If my conscience says its OK and your does not what then is the objective standard to apply?

    I always get concerned when people want to dictate personal morality or conscience. It undermines the freedom to make individual choice. Why is your test – which seems quite lovely – preferable to others? For example what if someone proposed that the appropriate objective test for conscience in a free society should be ‘live and let live’? Why is your test objectively better than this proposal? Moreover, apart from public morality enshrined in law, who decides?

    Interested to hear your further thoughts on this topic.

    Cheers




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    • Again, the only real morality that exists is the motivation of selfless love. Without this universal standard, morality simply doesn’t exist – and neither does a useful conscience.

      Now, different people may respond to a particular situation differently, yet with the same underlying motive of love. How can this be? Well, the same motive of love will make different people with different educational or social backgrounds and understandings of reality believe that different actions will produce the best and most beneficial effects for others. This is where honest disagreements can come into play, yet without a necessary difference in the purity of the motive. It is possible to make serious errors and mistakes, yet with a perfectly pure and upright motive of love. And, sometimes, it is necessary to actually break the laws of the land in order to be loving towards one’s neighbor. And, sometimes, it is necessary to restrain certain people against their will who honestly believe that they are being helpful when in reality they are seriously harming their neighbor(s)…

      This is why we are told not to judge the morality of others or their standing before God (Matthew 7:1), because only God can accurately judge the heart, the underlying motivations, of a person. This is not to say that we are to make no judgments of any kind – otherwise good governments would be impossible. We can judge the actions of a person as being “good” or “bad”, but only God can accurately judge the motive of a person.

      Of course, this means that civil laws are still necessary to restrain people according to an agreed-upon standard… even though this standard cannot always determine the motives or even the correct actions of people in all situations. A good civil government will always at least strive to account for motive (i.e., the effort to act or not to act in a loving manner) before passing sentence on a person…

      Now, as far as Jesus being a “good person”, this simply isn’t true if He wasn’t who He claimed to be – i.e., God. C.S. Lewis put it this way:

      “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He did not leave that open to us. He did not intend to.”

        C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1952, pp. 40-41



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  37. To Sean and Wes

    “Again, the only real morality that exists is the motivation of selfless love. Without this universal standard, morality simply doesn’t exist – and neither does a useful conscience. ”

    Sean, I respect your theological opinion but gently point out that all moral philosophers would not necessarily agree with your universal test. However I do not wish to belabour the point and am pleased to grant you last comment on this topic.

    “Re. your mentioning Jesus in connection with conscience, I’m not exactly sure I caught your point, but I think I caught the drift. If it was that Christ obeyed the Jiminy rule and proceeded by His preternatural conscience, in the same manner He was an award-worthy teacher, I would have to conclude you haven’t read the gospels as conscientiously as you have Hegel and probably Derrida.”

    Wes, guilty as charged on the diligent reading of the gospels! In terms of biblical knowledge and hermeneutics, I play a poor, screeching, single – stringed fiddle in the back alley, compared to your and Sean’s majestic Stradivariuses in the front row of the Christian orchestra.

    My comments on Jesus were not meant as a juxtaposition between him and Gryllus Jiminyconsciencatus – rather on his courageous, principled moral teaching and leadership under the most dire of circumstances. By all accounts very likely the most significant person who has ever lived. And although I don’t think he was divine, as depicted by the biblical narrative, he exemplifies the the very moral best in humans. I respectfully disagree with CS Lewis’s – Tolkein’s colleague and friend – comments in this regard. A person should neither be judged good or bad upon beliefs alone but rather on conduct. Perhaps what we often consider madness or eccentricity in certain extraordinary, historic individuals can in retrospect be viewed as genius and greatness in many spheres of human endeavour. Think of all the great artists, scientists, writers, inventors,etc that at certain points of time were considered crazy. Mendel, Einstein, Darwin, Melville and Van Gogh immediately come to mind.

    But I digress and say bye for now




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    • You wrote:

      Sean, I respect your theological opinion but gently point out that all moral philosophers would not necessarily agree with your universal test. However I do not wish to belabour the point and am pleased to grant you last comment on this topic.

      The ideas of moral philosophers who didn’t agree with me here gave rise to evil systems like the “cult of reason” during the French Revolution, or even Nazism later on under Hitler – evils that would have been impossible if everyone had simply stuck with the Golden Rule of selfless love for one’s neighbor (which even Christians fail to do on occasion – with grave consequences).

      Tell me, what other basis is there, promoted by moral philosophers, that you think trumps the “Royal Law” of Love? Certainly there are very strong reasons to reject human reason as the basis for morality, as previously pointed out to you. If the “reason” is opposed to the motive of selfless love, then it’s not a morally good reason. It’s as simple as that – and everyone knows it who isn’t insane or brain damaged. It’s a universal truth – one that even you recognize as “good”. The only real basis for judging the moral character of a person is if that person acted from the position of selfless love or not. That’s it. What other morally upright basis is there?

      You also wrote:

      A person should neither be judged good or bad upon beliefs alone but rather on conduct.

      The problem here is that beliefs give rise to conduct. All conduct is the product of underlying desires and beliefs. Also, beliefs are not the same thing as the motive of a person. A robot can have “conduct” and even something equivalent to “beliefs”, but a robot is not judged to be a moral being. What’s the difference between a human being and an amoral robot? – motive which is based on an understanding of the difference between right and wrong, between love and selfishness.

      As far as the claims of Jesus, if He was not actually God, as He claimed to be, then it follows that He was bald-faced liar who condemned His followers to untold suffering and brutal deaths. That’s either deliberately evil or mad. It’s not something that a good person or someone in their right mind would do or say… if it weren’t actually true.




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    • @george: Re. your knee-jerk swipe at C.S. Lewis’s challenge, there you go again, faithful pard, waltzing, or are you, ya varmit, shooting at our feet and gleefully commanding us to “dance!”
      Well, sure, history does not and cannot deny that popes by their office have proclaimed themselves infallible despite personal deep corruption. But does it follow that the world’s “greatest teacher” could be the world’s greatest liar, as Satan, from the beginning, in heaven and in the garden, has insisted, and all too effectively for the majority of people and philosophers especially of the agnostic persuasion? And it was Christ Himself who, especially as recorded in the gospel of John, made His either-or proclamation of His divinity unavoidable, not CS Lewis, who merely was insightful enough to perceive what He was saying, and skillful enough to lay it out flat on the table and pound the table a little. Cannot you appreciate, maybe thrill to, his unadorned forthrightness? Certainly for this issue, Lewis doesn’t do the hokey pokey with you.




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  38. To Sean and Wes

    “As far as the claims of Jesus, if He was not actually God, as He claimed to be, then it follows that He was bald-faced liar who condemned His followers to untold suffering and brutal deaths. That’s either deliberately evil or mad. It’s not something that a good person or someone in their right mind would do or say… if it weren’t actually true.”

    Is it as black and white as that? For example would you say the current Dalai Lama is a liar or mad based on Buddhist beliefs?

    This is the problem with religions. They have no tolerance for other religions and their deities. Each one has to be right to the exclusion of the others. Me, I don’t have to label Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, etc. mad for what they believe about themselves. If there conduct is moral and good they are good, period. Why defame goodness? My god is better than your god…. this is what leads to great evil rather than tolerance and love, in my secular estimation.

    Live and let live and try to do good.




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    • No one in their right mind, not the Dalai Lama or any other sane or honest person, ever made the claims that Jesus made.

      Jesus claimed to be God, the supreme being in the universe who held “all power” in both heaven and Earth in His hands (Matthew 28:18). He claimed to exist outside of time as the “I AM” (John 8:58). He claimed to be actually able to raise Himself from the dead as evidence that He would also raise His followers from the dead (John 10:18).

      Now, such fantastic claims require very strong empirical evidence to be rationally believed. Otherwise, what you have here is a very sinister liar, or a true madman – not the innocent delusions of someone like the Dalai Lama who never claims to have actual empirical evidence to back up any godlike aspirations.

      Of course, if the disciples of Jesus had not been given such evidence, they weren’t about to offer themselves up like sheep for the slaughter. Until the actually resurrection of Jesus, three days after His death on the cross, they had given up all hope of Him as the actual Messiah, much less any belief in Him as “God”, and were hiding themselves from the Romans and Jewish leaders of the day. At that point in time, they themselves believed that they had been tricked, very cruelly, by Jesus – as almost anyone in their right mind would think at that point in time. It was only after they became convinced, all of them, that Jesus had in fact been bodily resurrected from the grave, as He Himself had prophesied on numerous occasions, that they became very bold in their proclamations of Him as the Messiah and as God – confirming their claims with their own blood (all of them died martyr’s deaths except for John – who survived being boiled in oil).

      But, you say:

      Live and let live and try to do good.

      Again, how do you know what is really “good”? – when you don’t accept as a universal truth the only basis of goodness and moral value? – the Royal Law of Love? (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). As previously mentioned, a robot has “actions” and even something like “beliefs”, but a robot cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. A robot cannot love.

      So, tell me, what is the true basis of morality outside of the motive of selfless love? Until then, it seems very clear to me that nothing done without love has any real worth or moral value…




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  39. To Sean and Wes

    Gentlemen,

    Throughout history many people have claimed or others have claimed that they were divine. Many claimed to be the messiah. Were they all divine, some, none?

    Does the amount of followers determine divinity? Does self sacrifice determine same? If so should we give credence to David Koresh? Jim Jones? – whose followers were willing to die for them?

    Can science empirically determine if any human being is divine or does this take a degree of faith?

    Never seen or encountered a God before. In my practice I have encountered individuals who believed they were so. Interestingly, when I gently question my religious friends about their beliefs they mostly say it comes down to faith and feeling. That’s fine. Who am I to challenge their personal, subjective experiences?

    On morality, I have already extensively commented citing Hume, Kant and Sartre. Don’t forget utilitarianism as well. Sean, as strongly as you feel about your test for the basis of morality, I respectfully point out that other moral theories abound. Your test is a fine one but not the only one. I trust you can at least acknowledge that as you seem very adamant in your position in this regard.

    Bye for now.

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=people+who+have+claimed+to+be+divine+throughout+history&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=RFHMWcHlLqri0gL2hKjwCA

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_messiah_claimants




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    • It seems to me as though you’ve missed the point of what C.S. Lewis is saying by arguing that many people have claimed to be divine or God-like. Of course many people throughout history have claimed to be divine or some kind of god. Many people, even in Jesus’s day, claimed to be the Messiah. The point that C.S. Lewis is making is that all of these claimants were either insane or deliberately lying – i.e., not “good” people worthy of trust or praise. So, you can’t reasonably say that Jesus was a “good person” or a “good moral teacher” if you don’t believe Him to be who He claimed to be. He was either insane or a calculating liar… or God. He leaves us no other reasonable conclusion…

      Of course, C.S. Lewis was not the first to come to this fairly obvious conclusion. In the mid-nineteenth century the Scottish Christian preacher “Rabbi” John Duncan (1796-1870) formulated what he called a “trilemma” (in Colloquia Peripatetica p. 109):

      “Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable.”

      As far your argument that many people throughout history have been known to be willing to die for various spiritual leaders, that’s just it! Jesus’ disciples were not willing to die for Him when He was dead in the tomb – not even close. When He was in the tomb, they were hiding out like frightened children – not at all willing to lay down their lives for someone whom they believed had mislead them into thinking that He was the Messiah. They only became willing to die for Jesus once they believed that He had actually risen from the tomb. The point is that these men were not wild-eyed fanatics looking for martyrdom. Some were naturally very skeptical people – not about to put their lives on the line for some just-so story without some extremely good hard evidence. They were basic salt-of-the-earth fishermen who weren’t about to put their lives on the line for a dead Messiah.

        As an aside, the followers of Jim Jones were forced to drink the poisoned cool aid. They didn’t die willingly. And, no one continued to follow him once he was dead. Also, once David Koresh was dead, no one was willing to put their lives on the line for him either. Time and time again, once the “Messiahs” or those claiming to be divine die, their followers are much much less likely to put their lives on the line… especially if they believe that they’ve been tricked into believing a lie (as was the case for the disciples of Jesus when He was crucified and placed in the tomb). Dying just doesn’t seem to be good for a Messiah’s image or claims of Divinity… for obvious reasons 😉

      As far as the basis of morality is concerned, of course many have tried to come up with alternatives to the concept of selfless love as the actual basis for morality. You’ve listed off a number of these – such as human reason or various forms of human behavior – all of which could be exhibited by an amoral robot. My point is that none of these propositions outshine selfless love as a reliable moral compass or counter the claims of Jesus regarding the basis of morality resting entirely upon the Royal Law of selfless love for one’s neighbor. All other proposals have fallen well short of true morality that is based on the simple imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Therefore, your arguments, as I understand them, remain unconvincing to me. It still seems abundantly obviously to me that Jesus was right on the money here – that on just one single commandment to “love one’s neighbor” hang all other “laws and prophets” (Matthew 22:40 and Galatians 5:14). Nothing is worth anything, nothing has any real moral value, if there is no love behind it. Among all of the options one may present to define morality, love is by far “the greatest of these”.

      I mean really, name me something, anything, that anyone can do that is inherently morally “good” without any underlying selfless love… something a robot can’t be programmed to do.

      Even Kant, in his Metaphysics of Morals argued that moral feeling, conscience, and the love of one’s neighbor, “lie at the basis of morality, as subjective conditions of receptiveness to the concept of duty,” which every human being has, and by virtue of which everyone can be put under moral obligation (MM 6:399) (see Guyer 2010). Where Kant failed in his understanding is in his claim for the superiority of human reason when it comes to determining morality. As previously noted, Hume clearly explains why human reason cannot be the ultimate basis of morality (Link). Rather, Hume was one of the first Western philosophers to emphasize compassion, which is similar to love, as the basis of morality. As Arthur Schopenhauer pointed out, “All the virtues flow from justice and loving-kindness; they are therefore the cardinal virtues, and with their derivation, the cornerstone of ethics is laid.” (On the Basis of Morality).

      Now, if you still think otherwise, then please do explain why you believe that human reason supersedes the concept of selfless love for one’s neighbor? – as the basis for morality and the definition of moral goodness? What particular arguments along these lines do you find most convincing? Why do you think that Jesus was actually wrong here? – and Kant was right? Why strive to improve or educate one’s self, to enhance one’s education and reasoning capabilities? I mean, if the underlying motive for this effort is not selfless love for one’s neighbor, then whatever the reason, how can it be a morally good reason?




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  40. To Sean and Wes

    “Now, if you still think otherwise, then please do explain why you believe that human reason supersedes the concept of selfless love for one’s neighbor? – as the basis for morality and the definition of moral goodness?”

    Because, as I have alluded before, I think the concept of selfless love stems from human reason and sentiments, like many other concepts of good or bad. Just like I think the concept of an anthropomorphic, intervening God stems from human reason, not empirically from scientific observations.

    You don’t have to be Christian or of any religion stripe to be a good person. Atheists and agnostics as well as may fine religious folks can be good. Conversely many secular and religious people can be bad ( think of the Spanish Inquisition.) The issue- as I have previously argued – is not so much what influences us but what we choose to do. I can choose to use Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Jiminy Cricket, you, Wes, or conversely Hitler, Stalin, the leaders of USA or North Korea, etc. as my moral role models … or not. If I am narcissistic I can select myself. If I believe in the Koran i can select Mohammed. If I am Buddhist I select the Dalai Lama… etc.

    Who makes that choice for me? God? Jesus? You? Wes? Political or religious leaders? Cult figures? No, I make it based on my own conscience, sentiments and reason. And epistemologically and existentially there is my proof ( I think therefore I am: I choose therefore I am: if I do bad therefore I am: if I do good therefore I am).

    If I am not free to reason and make moral choices based on a variety of influences then i am no better than a robot. But you believe in free will and choice don’t you Sean? Don’t we choose to believe of not in God, Jesus, Ellen White as a prophet? Didn’t you choose to do so based on your empirical investigations or are you blindly following your faith based on your upbringing? Charitably, after observing your laudatory efforts on this site over the years – for which I commend you and hold you in high respect – I think you freely chose to adopt the Royal Law of Love as your moral basis.

    And that respectfully my fine friend, as you have respectfully requested, is my existential argument.

    And to my dear friend Wes I say Yes, emphatically Yes! as to what is the source of morality and conscience: Human choice, black and white, pure and simple.

    And now gentlemen, I choose to bid you well and sign off for the night.

    Fondly




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    • You wrote:

      I think the concept of selfless love stems from human reason and sentiments, like many other concepts of good or bad. Just like I think the concept of an anthropomorphic, intervening God stems from human reason, not empirically from scientific observations.

      How can you reason yourself into feeling selfless love? How are very young children able to express love inherently if it is a product of reason? As Hume clearly explained, human reason isn’t the same thing as moral motivation and reason cannot derive moral motivation. While morals may excite passions and produce or prevent actions, reason itself is “utterly impotent” in this regard. “The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of reason.” (T 3.1.1.6). After all, “It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. It is not contrary to reason for me to choose my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me” (T. 2.3.3.6, 416).

      What Hume is saying here is that reason cannot logically decide which particular preference, among many potential options that one might entertain, should prevail.

      I don’t see where you have reasonably countered such arguments? Your position that reason is the basis of selfless love just doesn’t make any sense. It’s just not a reasonable argument or conclusion as far as I can tell…

      You don’t have to be Christian or of any religion stripe to be a good person.

      Yes, I’ve often pointed that out myself. But what does this fact have to do with what makes a person “good”? It isn’t reason – it’s selfless love. They aren’t the same thing. If your “reason” or your “religion” isn’t based on selfless love, then it simply isn’t a good reason or religion.

      Who makes that choice for me? God? Jesus? You? Wes? Political or religious leaders? Cult figures? No, I make it based on my own conscience, sentiments and reason.

      But you don’t make the moral choices you make based on your reason at all. You make these moral choices of yours based on what your conscience is telling you, which itself is informed by the compass of selfless love. If your conscience happens to be telling you to make choices that are in line with selfless love, then you conscience is “good”. Otherwise, if it tells you to go against the rule of selfless love, then your conscience is warped and no longer telling you what is actually “good”.

      And epistemologically and existentially there is my proof ( I think therefore I am: I choose therefore I am: if I do bad therefore I am: if I do good therefore I am).

      A proof of existence or your ability to choose to do various actions isn’t the same thing at all as a proof that you are good or bad. You are only good or bad depending on if you are in line or out of line with the motive of selfless love… period. If you are out of line with the motive of selfless love, you are bad. If you are in line with this motive, then you are good. There is no other way to be “good” or any other basis for goodness that you can decide for yourself.

      If I am not free to reason and make moral choices based on a variety of influences then i am no better than a robot. But you believe in free will and choice don’t you Sean? Don’t we choose to believe of not in God, Jesus, Ellen White as a prophet? Didn’t you choose to do so based on your empirical investigations or are you blindly following your faith based on your upbringing? Charitably, after observing your laudatory efforts on this site over the years – for which I commend you and hold you in high respect – I think you freely chose to adopt the Royal Law of Love as your moral basis.

      I am free to choose to follow my conscience or to reject it – to be good or bad. However, I am not free to define what is good and what is bad. That definition has already been placed inside of me from birth. I had nothing to do with defining what is good and what is bad – and neither did you. This definition is dictated to you. Now, you are free to follow this Law that has been placed inside of you by another or you can freely reject this Law. That’s what you and I are free to do. However, we are not free to change what is actually morally good or bad.

      And to my dear friend Wes I say Yes, emphatically Yes! as to what is the source of morality and conscience: Human choice, black and white, pure and simple.

      Human choice isn’t always good – as you well know. So, how on Earth can you argue that human choice is what defines moral goodness or badness? If I choose to be a murderer or a child rapist, does my free choice to do such evil things mean that I’m morally upright? You have to see that this is nonsense. I cannot choose to make black white or white black. These realities exist outside of what I might desire…




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  41. To Sean

    “Of course, if the disciples of Jesus had not been given such evidence, they weren’t about to offer themselves up like sheep for the slaughter. Until the actually resurrection of Jesus, three days after His death on the cross, they had given up all hope of Him as the actual Messiah, much less any belief in Him as “God”, and were hiding themselves from the Romans and Jewish leaders of the day.”

    Now that is most interesting. So the disciples who had first hand experience of the miracles that Jesus performed during his life had doubts as to his divinity. So much for empirical observations eh? Why should we who were not there then belief in the redacted stories of the Bible?

    As I have pointed out many martyrs have died for their faith or convictions. Joan of Arc for example who never witnessed Christ’s resurrection, believed she was a messenger from God, recanted her faith under duress, but then chose it again and was burnt at the stake as a result. Is that proof she was a messenger of God or would you distinguish her case from the disciples who did not belief in Christ’s divinity based on the first hand witnessing of miracles? The fact the disciples did so is not proof of Jesus’s resurrection. Perhaps in guilt and remorse they collaborated the resurrection story to launch mythic Christianity? How many times was the story amended or embellished before being recorded in the many different gospels? And who were the actual scribes? The witnesses themselves or others? Who ‘really’ knows?

    The problem with the resurrection miracle is it is not science, not falsifiable thus it comes down to faith. That’s fine as long as one understands that.




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    • You wrote:

      Now that is most interesting. So the disciples who had first hand experience of the miracles that Jesus performed during his life had doubts as to his divinity. So much for empirical observations eh? Why should we who were not there then belief in the redacted stories of the Bible?

      The disciples understood that lots of people, regular human people, performed miracles of supernatural power (through the power of God or through the power of Satan). Therefore, it would not automatically follow that Jesus was Himself God just because He performed miracles. The fact is, if He couldn’t keep Himself alive, by definition He couldn’t be God and was clearly a liar who had tricked them – which is a reasonable conclusion given what they knew at that particular point in time. Therefore, it wasn’t until they saw evidence of His resurrection from the grave that they again believed Him, in no uncertain terms this time, that He was in fact who He said He was…

      As for us today, we also have the empty tomb and the historical accounts of the disciples putting their own lives on the line for what they personally witnessed in this regard. We have the historically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – as well as numerous other fulfilled prophecies that give great credibility to the truth of those claims of the Bible that cannot be directly empirically tested. We also have the science that shows strong evidence for the intelligent design of life and its magnificent diversity on this planet in the recent past as well as abundant evidence for a Noachian-style Flood within fairly recent history. For those who are open to such things, there is plenty of solid evidence for us to reasonable understand and believe the truth of the Bible and take hold of the Gospel message of hope that it offers us.

      As I have pointed out many martyrs have died for their faith or convictions. Joan of Arc for example who never witnessed Christ’s resurrection, believed she was a messenger from God, recanted her faith under duress, but then chose it again and was burnt at the stake as a result. Is that proof she was a messenger of God or would you distinguish her case from the disciples who did not belief in Christ’s divinity based on the first hand witnessing of miracles?

      The fact that the disciples doubted the claims of Jesus once He was killed only gives them additional credibility regarding their claims of His resurrection – a testimony which they then sealed with their own blood (all of them except for John who was the only one to survive and die of old age). This wasn’t just a single lone wild-eyed fanatic or religious nut here. These were a dozen very sane naturally timid and doubting regular guys (not counting the women and many dozens of others who saw Jesus after the resurrection). And, these regular every-day guys saw very extraordinary things that were worth all of them deliberately putting their own lives on the line to tell to others…

      The fact the disciples did so is not proof of Jesus’s resurrection. Perhaps in guilt and remorse they collaborated the resurrection story to launch mythic Christianity? How many times was the story amended or embellished before being recorded in the many different gospels? And who were the actual scribes? The witnesses themselves or others? Who ‘really’ knows?

      There is abundant empirical evidence that the story that the disciples told of the empty tomb is the true story – otherwise, it would have been squashed in their own day by their numerous enemies who would simply have to produce the body of Jesus to put a quick end to the new Christian religion that they were promoting. The evidence is abundant even in extra-biblical historical sources from the 1st century. In fact, there is far far more historical evidence to back up the claims of the disciples of Jesus than there is for pretty much any other historical figure of the day. For example, we believe in the historical accounts and actions of Caesar or Alexander the Great based on far less documentation and empirical evidence than we have for the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

      The problem with the resurrection miracle is it is not science, not falsifiable thus it comes down to faith. That’s fine as long as one understands that.

      Science is able to detect “miracles” when they happen. Science is all about following the weight of evidence wherever it leads – even if you end up at a “miracle”. In fact, science is all about taking leaps of faith based on the weight of currently available evidence. Science isn’t about “proof” since absolute proof is impossible for the scientist. If you’re waiting for absolute proof before you believe or act, you’ll be waiting forever as an eternal skeptic – not a scientist or otherwise rational in your thinking.

      Let me ask you, if you personally saw someone whom you knew for a fact was dead come back to life, would that do it for you? – as it did for Thomas? Or, would you still say that such evidence doesn’t qualify as “science” and therefore the only basis for belief would still be blind faith? Is that what you would say in such a situation? I just don’t believe you. Of course, you’re clinging to the fact that you don’t have this first-hand evidence of the resurrection, but that doesn’t mean that blind faith is the only thing left. Where is the weight of evidence? This is the question you should be asking yourself since a demand for absolute proof simply isn’t what a reasonable person or true scientist needs.




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  42. To Sean

    “Science is able to detect “miracles” when they happen. ”

    Really? What legitimate scientific field or discipline recognizes miracles? I studied a lot of science but never came across the study of miracles!




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    • What’s your definition of a miracle?

      For me, miracles are relative to one’s perspective. What might seem quite “miraculous” from one perspective would not seem nearly so miraculous from another perspective…

      We’ve recently talked about this. A simple highly symmetrical granite cube is a true “miracle” from the perspective of non-intelligent forces of nature. The same is true for the drift-wood horses I’ve recently presented to you (Link). That is why such objects are detectable, by scientific methodologies, as requiring intelligent design. From the ID perspective, such objects are no longer “miraculous” or unusual. This argument forms the basis for various modern sciences like anthropology, forensics, and SETI.

      The same thing would also be true for undeniable evidence of someone being raised from the dead or the creation of a finely tuned universe like ours. Such a demonstration would be detectable, by scientific reasoning, as requiring very high levels of intelligence and creative power – currently indistinguishable, from our perspective, from god-like creative power.

        “Astronomy leads us to an unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”

        Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics), Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 83.

        “You may find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world to the degree that we may speak of such comprehensibility as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well, a priori one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be in any way grasped through thought… The kind of order created, for example, by Newton’s theory of gravity is of quite a different kind. Even if the axioms of the theory are posited by a human being, the success of such an enterprise presupposes an order in the objective world of a high degree, which one has no a priori right to expect. That is the miracle which grows increasingly persuasive with the increasing development of knowledge.”

        Albert Einstein in a letter to a friend (1956, Lettres a Maurice Solovine)

        “The highest principles of our aspirations and judgments are given to us by the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. It is a very high goal which, with our weak capabilities, we can only achieve inappropriately, but it gives a secure foundation to our aspirations and assessments…

        Are we not all children of one father, as it is said in religious language? Indeed, even the divinization of humanity, as an abstract totality, would be not in the spirit of that ideal. It is only to the individual that a soul is given. And the high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule, or to impose himself in any other way…

        A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of’ his selfish desires and ‘is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations, to which he clings because of their superpersonal value… Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself.”

        Einstein, “The Goal“, from a lecture given May19, 1939 (Link)

      So, tell me, which one of the “miracles” described in the Bible are any more miraculous than these fantastic phenomena and events described by famous physicists? – described as “miracles” detected, though not explained, by science? (For more on “miracles” detected by science see: Link)




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  43. To Sean

    Dictionary definition of a miracle:

    “mir·a·cle
    ˈmirək(ə)l/Submit
    noun
    a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
    “the miracle of rising from the grave”
    synonyms: wonder, marvel, sensation, phenomenon, supernatural phenomenon, mystery
    “his recovery was a blessed miracle”
    a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.
    “it was a miracle that more people hadn’t been killed or injured”
    an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.
    “a machine which was a miracle of design”
    synonyms: wonder, marvel, sensation, phenomenon, supernatural phenomenon, mystery
    “his recovery was a blessed miracle”

    As I said science cannot detect miracles, by the very definition of same. Ergo, if the resurrection of Christ is considered an event of divine agency then science cannot detect it or falsify it.

    When it comes to historical evidence of the event, outside of the gospels which are likely self serving to the audience they are meant to convert, is there independent corroboration of the event? Are all the versions in the gospels the same or are there differences in the various accounts. Why are there similarities with other resurrection stories from other religions?

    If the matter was litigated these are the types of questions that would be asked. Biased eyewitnessed accounts not subject to cross examination under oath in Court are not really of much persuasive value in my experience.

    In sum, a biased biblical account of a miraculous resurrection is not scientific and not proof on the balance of probabilities that it occured. The evidence that you have cited is unreliable and not corroborated by unbiased accounts.

    I haven’t seen a resurrection or a perfect granite cube, Santa Claus, ghosts, demons, fairies, haunted houses, prophets or anything of a miraculous nature that I am aware of. So it is specious for you to ask me hypotheticals in this regard. It’s like me asking you if your head could swivel 360 degrees could you see the world better.

    Onwards….

    Also is it possible Jesus did not die on the cross but removed before he was medically dead? Did some of his followers remove his body from the cave to make it appear he was resurrected? If a multitude of people saw him resurrected why are there only biblical accounts?




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    • As I said science cannot detect miracles, by the very definition of same.

      How is that? Science, while not able to determine the cause or mechanism of miracles, is indeed able, according to numerous very well-known scientists, to detect “miracles” if and/or when they may occur – according to your definition of the term. Please review my last post along these lines and explain to me how a highly symmetrical granite cube is not a miracle from the perspective of natural mindless mechanisms? – or the appearance, out of nothing, of a finely tuned universe that is miraculously predictable and understandable to us through the language of mathematics? – or the origin and diversity of life from a mindless natural perspective where there is no known mindless mechanism? Please do tell me, how are these things any less “miraculous” than any of the “miracles” described in the Bible?

      In sum, a biased biblical account of a miraculous resurrection is not scientific and not proof on the balance of probabilities that it occured. The evidence that you have cited is unreliable and not corroborated by unbiased accounts.

      As far as historical evidence, you seem to demand 100% reliably or proof. However, that’s not how science works – especially the historical sciences. Again, it’s all based on the weight of evidence – not absolute proof.

      Also is it possible Jesus did not die on the cross but removed before he was medically dead? Did some of his followers remove his body from the cave to make it appear he was resurrected?

      It is not possible given the description of Jesus’ death – where a spear was thrust through his side and into his heart, causing blood mixed with water to pour out (John 19:34). Also, His followers could not have stolen the body from the tomb because it was sealed with a Roman seal so that no one could get in or out without breaking the seal and it was guarded by a large number of Roman soldiers – specifically put in place in order to avoid having the body stolen by the disciples of Jesus (Matthew 27:62-66).

      If a multitude of people saw him resurrected why are there only biblical accounts?

      There are extra-biblical accounts of Jesus’ life and death – and even the empty tomb. Both Josephus and Lucian indicate that Jesus was regarded as wise. Pliny, the Talmud, and Lucian imply He was a powerful and revered teacher.Both Josephus and the Talmud indicate that He performed miraculous feats. Tacitus, Josephus, the Talmud, and Lucian all mention that He was crucified. Tacitus and Josephus say that this occurred under Pontius Pilate. And, the Talmud declares it happened on the eve of Passover. There are also possible references to the Christian belief in Jesus’ resurrection in both Tacitus and Josephus. Josephus records that Jesus’ followers believed He was the Christ, or Messiah – which wouldn’t be true if He was known to be dead. And, both Pliny and Lucian indicate that Christians worshiped Jesus as God.

      With regard to the reality of the empty tomb, even the very antagonistic Toledot Yeshu, a compilation of early Jewish writings from the 11th century, acknowledges that the tomb was empty – though it is argued that the body was somehow removed from the tomb. Add to this the historical fact that Jesus’ tomb was never venerated as a shrine. This is striking because it was the 1st century custom to set up a shrine at the site of a holy man’s bones. Since there was no such shrine for Jesus, it suggests that his bones weren’t there. In this historical context, an interesting archaeological discovery lends early support to the biblical accounts of the Resurrection. The “Nazareth Inscription” is a marble tablet with Greek writing that has been dated to approximately AD 41. The inscription is likely an abbreviated form of an edict (called a rescript) from Emperor Claudius making taking body from a tomb a capital crime. (Link)

      Also, the tomb was discovered to be empty by women – not men. Why is this important? Because the testimony of women in 1st century Jewish culture was considered worthless. If the empty tomb story were a legend, then it is most likely that the male disciples would have been made the first to discover the empty tomb. The fact that despised women, whose testimony was deemed worthless, were the chief witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb can only be plausibly explained if, like it or not, they actually were the discoverers of the empty tomb.

      Beyond this, as previously mentioned, it is very very unlikely for a dozen fishermen to dream up this story and then be willing to die for what they knew was a lie. That’s just not a credible or otherwise reasonable conclusion. It simply is not plausible to suggest that each of these men would face continual persecution and horrifying deaths for something they knew to be a lie. After all, liars don’t make good martyrs.

      Finally, due to the remarkable circumstances in first-century Jerusalem, Christianity would have never been able to get started if Jesus had not risen from the dead. Recall that the Resurrection of Jesus was central to the disciples’ preaching. Even if they had the courage to preach without having seen the risen Lord, what message would they have proclaimed? They certainly could not repeatedly claim to have been eyewitnesses of His Resurrection, as they did (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31). Without this bold proclamation of the Resurrection, and if His body was rotting in the grave, people would not be converted and the memory of Jesus and His disciples would quickly fade. In fact, it may be safely said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, very few people living today, if any, would have ever heard of Him.

      In summary, there are “minimal facts” that are accepted by nearly all New Testament scholars which include:

        1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
        2. Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them.
        3. The church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed.
        4. The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed.
        5. The tomb was empty.

      These facts are nearly universally accepted by New Testament scholars, including liberal scholars.

      I haven’t seen a resurrection or a perfect granite cube, Santa Claus, ghosts, demons, fairies, haunted houses, prophets or anything of a miraculous nature that I am aware of. So it is specious for you to ask me hypotheticals in this regard. It’s like me asking you if your head could swivel 360 degrees could you see the world better.

      How would you know if you had? – given that you don’t seem to know how you would be able to rationally detect a “miracle” if you ever did see one? Even if you did see a definitively dead and decaying corps brought back to life before your very eyes, would that actually do it for you? – since you claim that such things are not detectable as miracles “by definition”?

      The fact of the matter is that you have seen highly symmetrical granite cubes (and drift wood horses and the like) that are obvious artifacts of intelligent design – true “miracles” from the perspective of non-intelligent natural mechanisms. You also believe in the “big bang” where something came from nothing producing an extremely fine-tuned universe – which is “miraculous” from the perspective of natural law alone. You also believe that living things were produced from non-living things – which is also “miraculous” from the perspective of natural law alone since there is no known natural mechanism that can do this over a reasonable amount of time.

        “It sounds startling, but science can’t explain ordinary experiences, much less supernatural experiences. No one knows how thoughts arise, why intuition exists, where creativity comes form, or most important of all, how the porridgy gray matter of the brain, which is totally dark and silent, produces the sights and sounds of the three-dimensional world. The simplest and most profound miracle that everyone encounters every day is this miracle.”
        “There is the obvious fact that we need to know something about what normally occurs in the world to recognize when something marvelous happens. So, the better we understand the natural order, the easier it is to identify the truly miraculous. On the other hand, the existence of miracles, by definition, makes necessary a limit to the power of science to fully explain all of reality.”

      Clearly then, even though science can’t explain things that are call “miracles” with the use of purely naturalistic mechanisms (because knowledge is limited), science can in fact detect the existence and reality of true miracles when they do happen in our world…




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  44. Sean,

    Thank you for your response.

    By definition, I don’t believe in miracles or apocryphal, anthropomorphic stories about same.Why aren’t scientists observing them today if they occur? Could it be that science is better able to detect hoaxes and false claims? For me the value of science is to take us out of the dark ages and look for cause and effect laws and forces to explain reality. Frankly I do not see God’s hand as an intervening force in our universe.

    Cheers




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    • Now, I like you George, but I must say that restating the very same claim over and over again, without even addressing the counterarguments or questions presented to you regarding your claim, is not helpful to me, at all convincing, or even part of what I would call an interesting, much less, a productive conversation. I mean, you keep repeating, without substantive argument as far as I can tell, your simple claim that science (or any other form of rational thought for that matter) is not able to even detect a “miracle” if one happened to happen before your very eyes – like this claim of yours should simply be taken at face value as an incontestable self-evident fact.

      “As I said science cannot detect miracles, by the very definition of same.” – george

      Then, you go on to claim that miracles do not exist? But, how can you make this claim when, at the same time, you also claim that it is impossible to even recognize a miracle if one were to happen? Do you not recognize the self-defeating internal inconsistency of your position here?

      Note that I’m not asking you to explain how a miracle happens, but only to be able to detect one if and/or when one does happen to occur. However, you simply ignore the comments of scientists who claim that science is, in fact, able to detect the miraculous when it happens (and has, in fact, done so – according to a fair number of very well-known scientists). You’ve also consistently ignored the questions I’ve asked you that seem to me to undermine this oft-repeated claim of yours. Why is that?

      I’m sorry, but I just don’t see that you’re actually open to a genuine conversation here – which begs the question as to why you even bother to be here at all if you’re not a troll (although a fairly benign friendly sort of troll)?

      Now, if I’m somehow misreading you and you are actually open to a real conversation on this topic, why not begin by substantively responding to at least one of the simple questions that I’ve repeatedly asked you in this forum?

        Would you recognized a highly symmetrical granite cube measuring, say, 10 x 10 x 10 cm, as miraculous from the perspective of non-intelligent natural mechanisms? – and therefore rationally/scientifically conclude that it is a clear artifact of intelligent design? – even if found on an alien planet like Mars? Why or why not?

      Simple question…




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Suppose you were at a crime scene … there is a tree limb on the ground and a bullet hole in the victim — “all natural causes”? or is one ‘not natural’? Those who say that nothing can be detected as “not naturally occurring in nature” – because all results, all observations make it appear that every result “naturally occurred without intelligent design” seem to be missing a very big part of “the obvious”.




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        • No one actually believes that intelligent design is not rationally detectable behind various artifacts and phenomena that are clearly the result of deliberate design and intelligent intent. It is only in an effort to avoid acknowledging “God” that secular scientists who have taken on philosophical naturalism put forth superhuman effort to avoid admitting what is otherwise obvious.




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  45. george:
    By definition, I don’t believe in miracles or apocryphal, anthropomorphic stories about same.Why aren’t scientists observing them today if they occur?

    Circular argument. If they were naturally occurring we would expect scientists to see that they are still occurring today. If they are singular events caused by an intelligent being – that being would be under no obligation to “keep causing world wide floods” as if “to do it once you must continually do it”. Armstrong went to the moon.. shall we argue that unless he keeps going to the moon so each new generation can see it … then it did not happen?

    Your argument is of the form “all eye witness evidence to some event in the past is no evidence at all unless that event keeps repeating itself so we too can witness it”. Seems less than compelling.

    “Could it be that science is better able to detect hoaxes and false claims?” As a rule for dismissing every eye witness account in the past – it is less than compelling. (even when that event cannot be repeated)

    Evolutionists “claim” that dust, rocks and gas (in sufficient quantity and over sufficient time and a lot of luck) self organized into rabbits via prokaryote-then-eukaryote-then-more-complexity. But such self-organization cannot be “observed” today.

    (What is worse – such a sequence cannot even be intelligently manipulated to occur in the lab)

    By your own argument then you should not believe in evolution.




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