Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Christian Spirituality and ScienceIn the most recent 2015 issue of Christian Spirituality and Science published by Avondale College (a Seventh-day Adventist institution under the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists) there are three articles, all of which appear to challenge the firm position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on the literal nature of the creation week described in Genesis. The authors of these papers suggest that the church should put aside such antiquated 19th century notions and accept or at least tolerate the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of at least a  couple billion years or so. Of course, this comes at a time when the church as an organization is considering strengthening its statement of “fundamental beliefs” by adding language to the existing statement on creation that makes the church’s understanding of the literal and recent nature the “creation week” quite clear and unambiguous.

Lynden Rogers2Consider, for example, the article written by Dr. Lynden J. Rogers (Dean of the Faculty of Science and Mathematics at Avondale College) entitled, “Old Universe But Young Life?” In this paper professor Rogers briefly reviews the history of the church’s understanding of the origin of the Earth and the Universe. He then points out that many in the church leadership currently accept that the universe and even the material of the Earth is quite likely very old indeed! – while still holding to the notion that life on Earth must still be of recent origin.  Rogers argues that these views are inconsistent with each other and are based on an inconsistent use of science that is simply irrational. To illustrate his point he cites several examples of why mainstream scientists believe the Earth, and life on it, must be very old – on the order of around 4.5 billion and 2 billion years respectively:

  1. Plate tectonicsTheory of Plate tectonics: Supported by matching puzzle-fitting continents with actively spreading mid-oceanic ridges that must have taken place over vast periods of time when life was clearly in existence on the planet.
  2. Geologic columnGeologic Column:  With its sequentially-deposited layers that must carry temporal implications which can’t be tenably explained by the usual creationist appeals to various sorting mechanisms such as hydrological sorting, ecological zonation, and relative mobility.
  3. radiometric datingRadiometric Dating:  With its ability to date igneous rocks and the fossils associated with those rocks with a “high degree of data concordance” is “compelling for most scientists” and is only supported by additional methods such as radiocarbon dating and amino acid racemization dating techniques. The usual creationist arguments which appeal to a significant reduction in the half-lives of the various radioactive isotopes is simply untenable as a viable rescue for the young-life perspective on origins.
  4. ice core datingIce Core Dating:  With the fairly recent ice-core studies of the vast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica showing extensive data regarding ancient volcanic activity and climate changes over hundreds of thousands of years – and backed up by very similar findings based on lake-bed sediment cores.  Clearly life has been around this entire time since pollen grains and diatoms are spread from top to bottom within the ice cores and lake bed cores.

And, these are only a handful of the examples that could be provided!  Clearly then, the desire of the church to continue to hold to the concept of a literal interpretation of the first few chapters of Genesis is very much outdated and not at all scientifically tenable or otherwise rational – according to a professor teaching and heading the science department in one of the church’s own schools!  One must either accept that life on Earth is old, or if one still believes that life was in fact created within just one literal week, to be consistent, one must therefore argue that the entire universe is young and was also created within that same week of creation. Of course, Professor Rodgers goes on to argue for God being the Designer of the universe, citing some of the numerous fine-tuned features of the universe necessary to support life.  He also notes that several prominent physicists also argue favorably for the “anthropic” view of the universe with some kind of high-level intelligence behind it.

Rogers goes on to explain that there is a real problem with allowing for a “process-driven model for the universe”, starting with a “big bang”, while denying a similar process-driven model for the “biosphere” – i.e., for life and its evolution over time.  He goes on to quote himself in an earlier article that he wrote for Spectrum:

intelligent-design. . ., cosmologists understand that the Big Bang singularity was just the beginning of a long process, which by all appearances was hugely violent, random and wasteful, but through which God has obviously produced a highly specific outcome – our anthropic universe. How do we feel about God implementing his grand design in such a protracted manner? Further, if as creationists we accept this view, do we in any way weaken the basis on which we might counter others who suspect that God may have used similar processes to develop life?

In other words, what’s wrong with neo-Darwinism and all the pain, suffering, and death, and general waste of life and resources required for Darwinian evolution to work if one already believes that God used essentially the same wasteful mechanism in the creation of the universe?  Or to quote Rogers directly:

If God could set off the blue touch powder of the Big Bang in order to initialise this universe and set it on an inexorable path to a finely tuned state of suitability as a womb of life, why could not some similar event under His direction have initiated life itself and established its path to sentience and God-recognition? If it is theologically acceptable for God to use a developmental process for one, why not for the other? Conversely, if it is theologically unacceptable to entertain the idea of such a developmental sequence for life, then why is it acceptable for the universe?

Mitochondria symbiosisRogers goes on to argue that living things on this planet likely evolved in a very similar manner to how the universe “evolves” – citing the theory that the first eukaryotic cell (cells that contain a nucleus) evolved through symbiotic means when prokaryotic bacteria were engulfed, but not digested, by the earliest ancestor to all eukaryotes.  They eventually formed a symbiotic relationship and worked together to produce the ancestor of all eukaryotic creatures living today – giving rise to such things as mitochondria and chloroplasts.

This fortunate invasion is understood to have enabled a “complexity of structure and function that neither component could have evolved separately.”

So, what does this all mean?  Well, according to Rogers, what this means is that “God’s causality is then indistinguishable from natural law…”  In other words, there are no such things as “miracles” in nature that cannot be explained by what we term “the laws of nature” or that would require a special act of “intelligent design” of any kind, much less an act of Divine creative power outside of the natural laws that God originally created,  Rogers explains:

As scientists we can study the arrow in flight but science itself can show us neither the archer directing the process nor the end point – the target.

To read the full article:  Link

__________

My take on Dr. Rogers’ article:

Ellen WhiteMy first thought after reading the article was that Mrs. White would be rolling over in her grave if she knew what the school she helped to found in the  late 1800s was promoting in its “Christian Spirituality and Science” journal.  How can one of our own schools be publishing articles like this that strike as the very basis of the church’s existence? – the very basis of the name “Seventh-day Adventist”?  And, how can the Adventist Church continue to be associated with a school that is so willing to publicly thumb its nose that the organized church and its leadership?

charles darwinBeyond this, however, how good are the arguments presented by Dr. Rogers?  Perhaps the church is wrong after all?  Perhaps I should leave the SDA Church and Christianity as well? Perhaps mainstream secular science has learned something about the workings of God that God failed to reveal to any of his prophets? – choosing rather to reveal them to Darwin (who died as an agnostic without hope in a personal God because of his belief in naturalistic evolution as the source of the diversity of life)?  What does the evidence that is actually available to us suggest? – that Darwin was right after all?  Perhaps the church is also being inconsistent with science by trying to hold onto a literal interpretation of the story of Genesis with regard to the origin of life on this planet, but not so much with regard to the origin of the universe?

Evolution and DeathFirst off, let’s consider the overall theological implications of life existing and evolving on this planet for a couple billion years or so.  Rogers argues that its no big deal as long as one accepts all the waste associated with an ancient evolving universe.  Well, to start with there’s a big difference between a rock and a sentient living thing.  We’re not talking about bacteria or orange peals here.  The key point to consider is that a rock can’t consciously experience pain or suffering or fear or death. That’s a big deal because a God who deliberately created using a protracted and very selfish and painful process of “survival of the fittest” that He knew would cause untold suffering and death for untold billions upon billions of sentient creatures would be seen, by most rational people anyway, as the very definition of evil.  Such a notion also undermines the very concept of a “Moral Fall” and rebellion of mankind and the need for Jesus, the Son of God and Creator, to Himself come and selflessly die on the cross as the Savior of mankind – when He was the One who originally designed that all the suffering and pain and evil of this world should exist to begin with.  This whole concept undermines the very fabric and logic of Christianity at large and paints God in the worst possible light.

But, perhaps God really is evil?  Perhaps science has detected the work of an evil genius at play in our universe?  If that is the case, I for one would like to know.  After all, isn’t that what the “Great Controversy” is supposed to be all about? – putting God on trial before the universe to judge if He is really the God of love He claims to be?  So, let’s look at some of the “science” cited by Dr. Rogers and see if God really is as evil as Rogers makes Him out to be…

 

MitochondriaBiological Evolution:  Dr. Rogers brings up the old argument that eukaryotic organisms (which includes humans) originally evolved hundreds of millions of years ago through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. These internalized bacteria in turn eventually evolved into mitochondria – which are currently the source of the energy currency (in the form of the ATP molecule) of the eukaryotic cell.

Now, it is true that mitochondrial organelles are quite unique and very interesting.  Unlike any other organelle, except for chloroplasts, mitochondria appear to originate only from other mitochondria. They contain some of their own DNA, which is usually, but not always, circular – like circular bacterial DNA (there are also many organisms that have linear mitochondrial chromosomes with eukaryotic-style telomeres). Mitochondria also have their own transcriptional and translational machinery to decode DNA and messenger RNA and produce proteins. Also, mitochondrial ribosomes and transfer RNA molecules are similar to those found in bacteria, Lynn Margulisas are some of the components of their membranes. In 1970, these and other similar observations led Dr. Lynn Margulis to propose an extracellular origin for mitochondria in her book, Origin of Eukaryotic Cells (Margulis, 1970). However, despite having their own DNA, mitochondria do not contain anywhere near the amount of DNA needed to code for all mitochondria-specific proteins. Over 99% of the proteins needed for mitochondrial function are actually produced outside of the mitochondria themselves.  The DNA needed to code for these proteins is located within the cell’s nucleus and the protein sequences are assembled in the cytoplasm of the cell before being imported into the mitochondria (Endo and Yamano, 2010).  It is hypothesized that these necessary genes were once part of the mitochondrial genome, but were then transferred and incorporated into the eukaryotic nuclear DNA over time. Not surprisingly then, none of the initial mtDNAs investigated by detailed sequencing, including animal mtDNAs, look anything like a typical bacterial genome in the way in which genes are organized and expressed (Michael Gray, 2012).

It is interesting to note at this point that Margulis herself wasn’t really very Darwinian in her thinking.  She opposed competition-oriented views of evolution and stressed the importance of symbiotic or cooperative relationships between species. She also argued that standard neo-Darwinism, which insists on the slow accrual of mutations by gene-level natural selection, “is in a complete funk” (Link).

But what about all of those similarities between mitochondria and bacteria?  It would seem like these similarities should overwhelmingly support the theory of common ancestry between bacteria and mitochondria.

ATPsynthaseWell, the problem with Darwinian thinking in general is that too much emphasis is placed on the shared similarities between various creatures without sufficient consideration of the uniquely required functional differences.  These required differences are what the Darwinian mechanism cannot reasonably explain beyond the lowest levels of functional complexity (or minimum structural threshold requirements). The fact of the matter is that no one has ever observed nor has anyone ever published a reasonable explanation for how random mutations combined with natural selection can produce any qualitatively novel protein-based biological system that requires more than a few hundred specifically arranged amino acid residues – this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time. Functionally complex systems that require a minimum of multiple proteins comprised of several thousand specifically-coded amino acid residue positions, like a rotary flagellar motility system or ATPsynthase (illustrated), simply don’t evolve.  It just doesn’t happen nor is it remotely likely to happen in what anyone would call a reasonable amount of time (Link).  And, when it comes to mitochondria, there are various uniquely functional features that are required for successful symbiosis – that bacteria simply do not have.  In other words, getting a viable symbiotic relationship established to begin with isn’t so simple from a purely naturalistic perspective.

ATPsynthaseConsider, for example, that bacteria are not in the habit of sharing the ATP molecules they produce. Their ATPsynthase machine is set up so that the precious ATP molecules that are produced are released on the inside of the bacterium and the bacterium does not export the ATP that it makes. Of course, this same setup is also found in the mitochondria, but with one key difference. Mitochondria do export ATP for use by the host cell – but how?  Now, both ATP and ADP (from which ATP is made) are highly charged molecules that do not diffuse freely across the inner mitochondrial membrane. So, how do the ATP molecules get outside of the mitochonria once they are produced so that they can be used by the host cell?  Well, this requires a very specialized protein translocator protein (ATP/ADP Translocase; also known as Adenine nucleotide translocator or ANT) that moves the ATP molecules from the inner “matrix” of the mitochondria outward to the “intermembrane space” in exchange for ADP molecules (which are moved in the opposite direction). This system is set up so that the entry of ADP into the matrix is precisely coupled to the exit of ATP. ATP/ADP exchange is energetically expensive; about a quarter of the energy yield from electron transfer by the respiratory chain is consumed to regenerate the membrane potential that is consumed during this exchange process (Berg et al., 2002). And, this ANT machine is comprised of a homodimer with each subunit consisting of 297 residues and weighing approximately 30 kDa. Now that ATP is in the intermembrane space, it has to pass through another hurdle or gate-keeper channel known as the “voltage-gated channel” or VDAC (mitochondrial porin) – which is also a fairly complex in both structure and function (Dyson and Forte, 2008). As it turns out,  ATP translocation through VDAC is facilitated by a set of specific in
teractions between ATP and the channel wall (Komarov, 2005).

 Mitochondria diagram3The problem, of course, is that it is hard to imagine much of an endosymbiotic advantage for a primitive eukaryotic cell engulfing a bacterium and keeping it around for a while if the bacterium wasn’t providing an immediate advantage.  After all, if the bacterium isn’t sharing its own ATP, and it is using the host’s resources to generate that ATP, the relationship between them would seem to be more parasitic than symbiotic.  And, as it turns out, the complex and highly specific ANT translocation machine is not found in any bacterial genome with the exception of parasitic Rickettsia and Chlamydia bacteria (Stephan Schmitz-Esser, 2004).

So, the big question is, where did the Rickettsia and Chlamydia bacteria get these genes for the ANT translocation system?  – since no other bacteria have this system and these particular bacteria have lost most of the genes that other free-living bacteria have?  Well, as it turns out, they got the specialized ANT genes by horizontal transfer from plants. In other words, they are “plastid homologues” unrelated to mitochondrial ANT genes (Kurland and Andersson, 2000). In fact, there are several other cases of acquisition of eukaryotic genes by bacteria – to include isoleucyl-tRNA synthetases whose acquisition from eukaryotes by several bacteria is linked to antibiotic resistance, and proteases that may be implicated in the pathogenesis of Chlamydia. (Koonin et al. 2001). In fact, the acquisition of eukaryotic genes by bacteria is a well-known phenomenon – especially parasites (Link).

Mitochondria vs Rickettsia metabolism2So, how do the ANT-like genes (TLC genes) turn the Rickettsia and Chlamydia bacteria into parasites? – when mitochondria are not parasitic? Well, the Rickettsia and Chlamydia bacteria turn the process on its head so that instead of using the system to export ATP, they use it to import ATP from the host in exchange for exporting ADP – thereby sapping the host cell of energy.

In short, the Rickettsial-type system (from which mitochondria supposedly evolved) originally gained the necessary genes, not from previous evolution or from some other type of bacterial species, but from eukaryotic plants!  In other words, eukaryotic organisms already had the necessary genes to begin with, which were then stolen by bacteria, allowing them to become parasitic. And, VDAC-type porins are also found in bacteria (Godbole, 2011), but, like ANT genes in bacteria, are often used for pathogenic purposes (Anne Müller, 2002).

Flagellum3This is a form of degenerative evolution.  It’s not a form of enhanced symbiotic functional complexity at all.  In fact, there are many other examples of systems within parasitic organisms that originally arose, not by the evolution of simpler systems, but by the devolution or loss of informational complexity of more complex systems.  Consider the Type III Secretory System (TTSS) used by pathologic bacteria as a toxin injector (bacteria such as Yersinia pestis, which are responsible for bubonic plague).  For  many years it was argued by prominent evolutionists (like Kenneth Miller or Nick Matzke) that the very functionally complex rotary bacterial flagellar motility system evolved from the TTSS system or something like it.  It is now known, however, that the TTSS system devolved from the fully formed and functional flagellar motility system – not the other way around (Toft and Fares, 2008). TTSSConsider this in the light of the fact that almost all of the proteins used to build the rotary bacterial flagellum are homologous to one degree or another to other bacterial proteins that are doing other jobs as parts of other systems of function.  However, homology alone doesn’t explain how all the modifications that are necessary to get all of these various proteins together to produce an entirely new and unique collective function.  Until all of these required modifications are achieved, the next proposed beneficial steppingstone in the evolutionary pathway simply cannot be realized to any functional advantage that nature can select for in a positive manner (Link).

The same problem is true for the mitochondrial system. Homologies don’t explain the necessary functional differences. Consider, for example, that around 42% of the proteins participating in the aerobic ATP-generating system of yeast mitochondria have been found only in eukaryotes (Kurland and Andersson, 2000). Also, “the protein translocases that drive protein import into mitochondria have no obvious counterparts in bacteria” (Dolzal, et al., 2006). And, these numerous required functional differences at these higher levels of functional complexity (I’ve only highlighted a couple of them here) are what help one detect the required signature of a very intelligent Designer behind these functionally complex systems.

How so?  Because, beyond the lowest levels of functional complexity, biological systems, like any other functionally complex machine or functional computer code where multiple specific orientations of building blocks or code are required, simply don’t evolve and are very unlikely to have ever evolved on this planet or anywhere else in the universe since the universe.  There’s just not remotely enough time by anyone’s book to make the statistical odds tenably favor the Darwinian mechanism when it comes to these higher level systems. What’s left is just a story about how the evolution of this relationship must have happened. However, there’s really no science, no viable mechanism much less any kind of meaningful demonstration, to back it up.  It’s all based on the assumption that similarities between various living things must mean common evolutionary ancestry – not common design.

 

Plate tectonicsTheory of Plate tectonics:

While the movement of the continental plates does seem quite obvious and well beyond serious debate (i.e., the continents do seem to fit together like puzzle pieces), what is not so clear is Dr. Roger’s assertion that this process required vast periods of time.  While it is true that continental drift is currently taking place at a rather sedate pace, if 200 million years had really gone by since the continents were last connected, where is all the continental erosion, from above and from all sides, that should have taken place during that time?  The pieces of the puzzle should no longer fit.

Also where did all the expected sediment go that should be present within the ocean basins if they are really that old? The math is fairly straightforward here: We know how much sediment is being deposited in the oceans on a yearly basis (~30 billion metric tons). We know how much sediment is being removed from the oceans by subduction (~2 billion tons). This leaves ~28 billion tons to increase on the ocean floor every year. Right off the bat this presents a problem for the non-catastrophic models of plate tectonics. After all, at the rate of 28 billion tons per year (~13 kmof sediment) all of the ocean basins (total volume of ~1550 million km3) could be completely filled with sediment in just under 120 million years. It seems, rather, that continental drift was much more rapid in the past than it is today – as would be expected from a sudden large catastrophic release of energy (which would also be consistent with a worldwide watery catastrophe of Noachian proportions).

Also, recent evidence suggest far more rapid magnetic reversals in the past than can be explained by non-catastrophic models of plate tectonics (Link).

For further discussion see: LinkLink

 

Geologic columnGeologic Column:

The geologic column certainly is interesting and I’m not saying that all of its features are without any mystery from a creationist perspective.  However, I dare say that it presents old age uniformitarians with far greater and more significant mysteries in comparison.  One major difficulty is the general lack of erosion between the layers that would be expected if these sedimentary layers of rock were originally laid down over long periods of time with vast stretches of time transpiring between the layers. There is also the problem of a general lack of the expected degree of bioturbation (sediment mixing by burrowing organisms), worldwide, within the geologic column.  Continental or even worldwide paleocurrents all pointing in the same general direction for a given series of layers (Link) are also much easier for a catastrophic Flood model to explain. And, creationist models have proven themselves to have good predictive value when it comes to debunking various mainstream interpretations of various formations within the geologic record.  For example, Dr. Ariel Roth demonstrated that what were once thought to be “termite nests” within the layers of the Jurassic Morrison Formation (pretty hard to explain with a Flood model) were actually inorganic formations – not termite nests at all (Link). And, there are many more such problems that seem to strongly favor or are at least more consistent with a catastrophic Flood model.

So, while “hydrological sorting, ecological zonation, and relative mobility” may not explain all the mysteries of the geologic column or fossil records, they do explain some features quite well and other factors are being discovered that appear to explain more and more mysteries from a Biblical young-life perspective.

For more information see: LinkLink

 

radiometric dating

Radiometric Dating: 

While radiometric dating methods do seem to dramatically counter the claims of young-life creationists, it’s not all peaches and cream for those on the opposite side of the fence. Dr. Rogers doesn’t seem to recognize the fact that radiocarbon dating, in particular, strongly favors the young-life position since significant quantities of radiocarbon have been discovered in the soft tissues of all dinosaur bones examined thus far, producing ages ranging from 16,000 to 32,000 years – essentially the same as the radiocarbon ages reported for large Pleistocene mammals such as mammoths, mastodons, dire wolves, etc. (Link, Link).  Also, pretty much all coal samples contain fairly significant quantities of radiocarbon.  The usual counterarguments of either contamination or in situ production don’t hold water when it comes to explaining the very high levels of radiocarbon so consistently found within the fossil record (Link).

RacemizationAlso, Dr. Rogers doesn’t seem to be up to date with regard to amino acid racemization dating (AAR) – not realizing that it is no longer considered to be the independent dating technique that its father, Peter Edward Hare, originally believed it to be.  It is now known to be a relative dating technique that must first be calibrated against radiocarbon dating for a given area of interest before it can be used.  Also, since the racemization rate of amino acids is heavily temperature dependent, the thermal history of a given location must also be known (Link). Ironically, it ends up that the AAR dating technique is more in line with the young-life position as well and does not support the ancient arrival of life on this planet at all (Link).

In short, there are many problems with the mainstream interpretations of various radiometric dating methods and, while some mysteries do still remain, radiometric dating is not at all the nail in the coffin for the young-life position that Rogers makes it out to be (Link).


Ice Layers 2Ice Core Dating
:

The idea of ice core dating seems simple and straightforward enough – very much like tree-ring dating or the dating of sedimentary layers or varves within lake beds.  All you have to do is count the layers and that will give you the correct age.  But, it’s not that simple.  With ice core dating in particular, the layers get compressed and stretched and thinned until they simply cannot be recognized with the naked eye.  At this point, the layers are detected by chemical analysis or annual signatures. The problem with these chemical signatures is that the chemicals themselves do not say put in the ice layers. They move and form pseudo-layers (Link). Beyond this, multiple layers can be deposited in a single year, which complicates the issue.

Radiocarbon dating helps a bit, but it ends up being that the ice core layers themselves are not very helpful as a source of independent age calibration. The same is true of other layer-based age calculations. For example, lake varves, along with tree rings, etc., have long been used to “calibrate” C14 dates (Link).  The reason for this need for calibration is because the ratio of C14/C12 in the atmosphere doesn’t stay the same.  It changes and has changed significantly over time (Link).  That means, of course, that if you date something by C14 methods that is also used to calibrate the C14 dating method, you’re obviously going to get a “straight line” agreement.  It’s a circular argument.   And, as with counting tree rings and ice core layers, varve layers are not reliable annual markers to use as an independent means of calibrating C14.

Siberian ForestsIt is also interesting to note that Greenland, in particular, has not always been covered in ice.  It was once truly green – all over.  In fact, within the Hypsithermal period or “warm age” (which is said to have lasted some 7,000 years, ending only some just 2,500 years ago), the northernmost parts of the planet were very much warmer than they are today.  Studies on sedimentary cores carried out in the North Atlantic between Hudson Strait and Cape Hatteras indicate ocean temperatures of 18°C (verses about 8°C today in this region) during the height of this period of time between 4,000 to 6,000 years ago in mainstream thinking.  Given that the Greenland ice sheet is currently melting at a fairly rapid rate, it’s rather hard to believe that it existed at all during the very warm Hypsithermal period – a periods when millions of mammoths along with many other types of warmer weather plants and animals happily lived within the Arctic Circle all around the globe along the very same latitudes as Greenland (Link). Carbon 14 dating of Siberian mammoths has shown that they lived in this region till about 9,670 years ago. A 1995 study of mammoth remains located on Wrangel Island (on the border of the East-Siberian and Chukchi Seas) shows that mammoths persisted on this island till about 1,700 B.C.  (Vartanyan S.L, et. al., 1995). And yet, somehow, Greenland was still covered with thick sheets of ice when everything around it was warm and balmy, supporting huge herds of animals and lush forests with fruit bearing trees and abundant grasslands?

More at: Ancient Ice

And the list goes on and on.  Not only is biological evolution via the mechanism of random mutations and natural selection simply untenable beyond the very lowest levels of functional complexity this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time (Link), the notion that life has existed, evolved, suffered, and died on this planet for hundreds of millions of years simply isn’t consistent with a great deal of very good scientific evidence – some of which, ironically, Rogers unknowingly cited himself.

But what about the charge of inconsistency?  Is the church really being inconsistent with regard to its use of the story of Genesis and science at large? – in trying to interpret the origin of life on this planet as young while allowing for the ancient origin of the universe?

Sons of GodRogers suggests that the Adventist church started out teaching that the entire universe was created during the “creation week” described in Genesis – but this is hardly the case.  The concept that there is a “gap in time” between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 is known as the “Passive Gap Theory” – which was supported by many of the founding fathers of the SDA Church – including Ellen White.  As a matter of fact, Mrs. White never says that the entire universe was created during our creation week. To the contrary, she specifically says that the universe pre-existed our creation week – and that angels and intelligences on other inhabited worlds witnessed the creation week of our planet (Job 38:7). This is consistent with the Passive Gap Theory where the “stars”, mentioned on Day 4 of our creation week, already existed and simply became visible through the atmosphere on Day 4 (as did the Sun and the moon).

In fact, this view was predominant among other Adventist pioneers as well. For example, M. C. Wilcox wrote in 1898:

“When did God create, or bring into existence, the heavens and the earth? ‘In the beginning.’ When this ‘beginning’ was, how long a period it covered, it is idle to conjecture; for it is not revealed. That it was a period which antedated the six days’ work is evident.”

M.C. Wilcox, “The Gospel in Genesis One,” The Signs of the Times, 24.27 (July 7, 1898): 16.

In fact, from the 1860s on, many of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, aside from J.N. Andrews, had been discussing this issue in favor of the Passive Gap Theory. Uriah Smith, editor of the Review and Herald, published several pages from a book or pamphlet in 1860, entitled The Bible True, as follows:

Uriah Smith“Nor is there anything in revelation which forbids us to believe that the substance of the earth was formed long before it received its present organization. The first verse of Genesis may relate to a period millions of ages prior to the event noticed in the rest of the chapter. Commentators who wrote hundreds, and some of them fifteen hundred years ago, seem to have understood the first verse as relating to a period far anterior to the creation of man. This interpretation, therefore, is not modern, nor made merely to obviate a difficulty. But if it were, it is so perfectly coincident with the just rules of interpretation, that there can be no just objection to it.” – Uriah Smith

Consider also the more recent comments of Richard Davidson along these lines:

Richard DavidsonAgainst the suggestion that all the words in Genesis 1:2 simply imply “nothingness,” it must be observed that verses 3 and following do not describe the creation of water, but assume its prior existence. The word tehom “deep,” combined with tohu and bohu together (as in Jeremiah 4:34) do not seem to refer to nothingness, but rather to the earth in an unformed-unfilled state covered by water.

This leads us to the initial unformed-unfilled position. A straightforward reading of the flow of thought in Genesis 1:1-3 has led the majority of Christian and Jewish interpreters in the history of interpretation to this position, hence this is called the traditional view.

Richard Davidson (Dialogue)

So, the charge of inconsistency with regard to the literal understanding of the story of Genesis or even the weight of scientific evidence doesn’t hold water. Rather, it seems like Rogers is the one who is trying to have his cake and eat it too.  He’s trying to maintain some basis for belief in God and at least some value or usefulness for the Bible itself while, at the same time, trying to incorporate mainstream Darwinian thinking.  The fact is that these two views are diametrically opposed.  Both cannot rationally be true.  If the Darwinian story of origins is true, then the claims of the Bible, regarding all that Christianity has to offer, are simply ridiculous – completely non-credible.

For example, William Provine, late professor of biological sciences at Cornell University, gave a very interesting speech for a 1998 Darwin Day keynote address in which he pointed out the following:

    William-ProvineNaturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly.

  • No gods worth having exist;
  • No life after death exists;
  • No ultimate foundation for ethics exists;
  • No ultimate meaning in life exists; and
  • Human free will is nonexistent.

Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.

Provine also wrote, “In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.” – Academe January 1987, pp.51-52

It seems to me that Provine, contrary to the claim forwarded by Rogers, was right and was most consistent with the implications of accepting neo-Darwinian claims.  Darwinian-style evolution is just one more argument for the philosophical position of “Naturalism” – a position that suggests that everything within the physical world, everything that we can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell, is ultimately the result of non-deliberate mindless forces of nature.  These forces do not have feelings or care about you or me or our feelings regarding what they are or are not doing to us or for us.

Beyond this, however, I’m not sure why the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church doesn’t say and/or do more about the teachings of the schools that bear its name?  At the very least, if the direction of one of our church schools cannot be put back in line with the primary goals and ideas of the church organization, why continue to lend the church’s name to such a school?

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224 thoughts on “Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

  1. I grow very tired of reading that creationism is a 19th century concept. For the latter part of the 19th century, this was simply not true! By the late 19th century, Darwinism was practically as widespread as it is today, though certainly not in the SDA Church!

    Also I see no conflict between an old universe/sterile earth and a short chronology for life on earth. First, careful exegesis of Gen 1 yields the YLC position. If you look at the structure of Gen 1, each creative day is introduced by the formula “And God said,” utilizing the Hebrew vav consecutive. This formula first appears in Gen 1:3, which strongly suggests that the chaotic earth of Gen 1:2 is pre-creation week. Note also that the Hebrew verb “asah” in Gen 1;16 can as rightfully be translated “established” as “made.” So rather than assuming that the celestial luminaries were created ex nihilo on the 4th, day, it is better to understand that they were established as time-keepers in the earth’s sky at that time. This also accord with Job 38:9, which attributes the primordial darkness at the beginning of creation week to cloud cover, which was progressively cleared away, revealing first light and then the luminaries.

    Second, there is a huge difference between stars condensing out of the energy produced by the big bang (the ex nihilo creation of the universe) and the supposed development of life from non-life (via abiogenesis). Although stars are enormous, they are very simple structures that are primarily composed of hydrogen. In contrast, the DNA molecule is the most complex of all molecules and is really a extremely complex code. I would suggest that God first created the universe (ex nihilo) 13.7 billion years ago and then proceeded to design paradises on certain select planets in the outskirts of the galaxies, probably around stable mid-sized yellow stars and orange dwarf stars. Although the ancients may not have understood cosmology in this way, it is quite compatible with the inspired account in Gen 1.




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  2. I was expecting that Dr. Pitman would be coming up with some fresh and updated responses to the Avondale publication. However, he presents nothing new. He seems to think that repeating old arguments, over and over again, most of which — especially his criticisms of radiocarbon dating and other evidence of great age of the living biosphere of our planet—have been answered so many times, will somehow magically do the trick. As Dr. Hare said about what Dr. Pitman and his fellow-travelers are doing, “they hope by throwing up at lot of sand that it will cloud the picture enough so that the real issues can be ignored.” It’s really interesting to watch Dr. Pitman making such a determined last stand in the light of so much evidence that his views cannot be sustained. I guess perhaps we should just feel sorry for him..




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    • Hello again Erv,

      Thank you for stopping by. However, it would be nice if, every once in a while, you’d present an actual argument beyond your usual lazy but obligatory pejoratives – especially with regard to radiocarbon and/or Dr. Hare’s amino acid racemization dating methods. As you know, I’ve read your papers and I’ve personally attended several of your lectures and asked you direct questions about many of your claims along these lines before. It’s just that on those rare occasions when you do actually try to substantive respond to the “old arguments” of mine, you haven’t come up with anything new yourself that makes reasonable sense. Many of your claims, especially with regard to your lectures on AARD, turned out to be completely outdated and flat wrong. However, I know something that might help. Why not test the non-fossilized soft tissue remains of dinosaur bones for C14 levels in your own AMS lab, performing all the necessary steps to eliminate contamination by modern C14, and publish the results? Now, that would be new and interesting for a change…




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      • Dr. Pitman will be glad to learn that after much consultation with colleagues who are actually quite amused about the “radiocarbon dating of dinosaur bone” fantasy (I explained to them some of the non-scientific sociological and historical issues), I’m current working on a piece of dinosaur bone just so I can personally say that a given experiment was done and here are the results. (By the way, we lump the “dating” of dinosaur bone and wood from “Noah’s Ark” in the same category–strange.)

        I realize that most scientists will think these exercises is a more than a little odd but when you are dealing with certain types of young earth/young life fundamentalist critics, one often have to go the “extra” mile that would not be necessary with reasonable individuals. And, when you get to be my age, you can do some experiments which, in ones younger years, would be rightly considered a little silly.

        (By the way, Dr. Pitman might perhaps wish to purchase the 2nd edition (2014) of my Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective volume which I am pleased to say was coauthored with a distinguished Old World archaeologist. Dr. Pitman might learn some something about the nature of contemporary 14C dating.)
        :




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        • You’ve told me that you were working on the dating of dinosaur bones several years ago. I’ve been waiting quite some time for your results. But, I’m glad that you’re still working on it – despite the supposed “silliness” of the exercise. After all, everyone thought that Mary Schweitzer was being more than a little “silly” too when she first published her findings about finely preserved dinosaur soft tissues, sequencable proteins, and fragments of DNA. No one thought that was remotely possible either given the known kinetics of soft tissue, protein, and DNA decay!

          As far as your book on “contemporary 14C dating”, I would be interested in reading it. Thanks for the heads up…




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        • @Ervin Taylor: The tone of your post is entirely uncalled for. You should be ashamed of yourself.

          Given that you are supposed to be a Seventh-day Adventist, and your position at AToday, you ought to welcome any scientific evidence that supports the biblical account of creation and Noah’s flood. Belittling those who choose to have their beliefs and public statements be consistent with their church membership is simply wrong.

          The dinosaur bone that you intend to date, does it contain soft tissue?




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        • @Ervin Taylor:

          May I just remind you about these EGW statements:

          My dear brethren and sisters, let the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ be in your minds continually and let them crowd out worldly thoughts and cares. When you lie down and when you rise up, let them be your meditation. Live and act wholly in reference to the coming of the Son of man. The sealing time is very short, and will soon be over. Now is the time, while the four angels are holding the four winds, to make our calling and election sure.–Early Writings, p. 58.

          and this one:

          ELLEN WHITE’S VISIONS AND DREAMS
          The battle raged. Sometimes it seemed that the soldiers of the cross were loosing. But it was only to get to a better position. Shouts of joy were heard. A song of praise to God went up, and angel voices united in the song, as Christ’s soldiers planted His banner on the walls of fortresses till then held by the enemy. Our Captain, Jesus, was guiding the battle and sending support to His soldiers. His power was mightily displayed, encouraging them to press the battle to the gates. He taught them and led them on step by step, conquering and to conquer.

          and even more seriously we should personally consider this statement:

          In 1904, Ellen White was shown a strange dream about a ship hitting an iceberg. She knew that this dream was warning that there were some very wrong ideas that people were trying to bring into the church. The dream showed her that God wanted the leaders of the church to speak out against this and not allow it to come into the church. This is the dream:

          “One night a scene was clearly presented before me. A vessel was upon the waters, in a heavy fog. Suddenly the lookout cried, “Iceberg just ahead!” There, towering high above the ship, was a gigantic iceberg. An authoritative voice cried out, “Meet it!” There was not a moment’s hesitation. It was a time for instant action. The engineer put on full steam, and the man at the wheel steered the ship straight into the iceberg.

          “With a crash she struck the ice. There was a fearful shock, and the iceberg broke into many pieces, falling with a noise like thunder to the deck. The passengers were violently shaken by the force of the collisions, but no lives were lost. The vessel was injured, but not beyond repair. She rebounded from the contact, trembling from stem to stern, like a living creature. Then she moved forward on her way.”

          By the church ‘striking’ right away at the wrong ideas that men were bringing in, they were stopped from taking over the church.

          It is interesting that when the great ship the ‘Titanic’ ran into the iceberg in 1915, if it would have hit it straight on like in this dream, it would not have been cut open and sunk. But when they tried to slow down and go around it, the side was cut open and the ship sunk.

          This is like wrong habits and sin in our lives. If we meet it head on with the power of Jesus, we will overcome it. But if we try to find a way around it; decide to wait and see what happens; or make excuses or compromises with it- sooner or later it will sink us.
          At last the victory was gained. The army following the banner that said; “The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,” was Victorious! The soldiers of Jesus were close beside the gates of the city of God, and with joy the city received her King.

          Do you and I hold on to ideas which are not biblical??
          This is what we should ask God to reveal to us…as we many times don’t know it ourselves when we on false paths…
          Let’s come to the Lord with a humble spirit and ask Him to soften our hearts so we can see our true condition!!




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    • @Ervin Taylor: You are so right. It is quite comical to see Pitman repeat, repeat, repeat after he has been debunked by all of science. It is an Emperor’s clothes issue in living color. What is also telling is that his real agenda is a rage against LSU. This is the origin of the site and a legal story that in no way supports this site’s bizarre premises remains the top story. He is not interested in pursuing God’s methods of origin any more than I am interested in his theology. It is good to know your posts are still allowed here as usually rational posts are not allowed on these fundamentalist war grounds.




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  3. Mr. Helm is typical of those who use a chain saw and hatchet to butcher up the bible to patronize science. The first five verses in Genesis are all “the first day”.

    Sean said in his article, “I’m not sure why the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church doesn’t say and/or do more about the teachings of the schools that bear its name?”

    Like our U.S. political situation, our spiritual leaders of the church are impotent to do anything but pontificate about punishment for rebellion against the church. It seems likely the church as a corporate legal entity is becoming useless to God to accomplish and finish His work. It is so fragmented into many independent ministries that the independent ministries do far more evangelizing than the official SDA denomination. Probably 80% of evangelism is done by these independent ministries. God has used, and is to some degree still useing the SDA denomination to defend and advocate some important bible truths. But it is becoming less and less viable in both administration and doctrine. We must be aware that these independent ministries are not officially controled by the SDA denomination. Thus, they are not the “official” church. The church has no control of what they teach or advocate. Not to mention that no one “joins” an independent ministry to become and member of the ministry. This also means if a person supports one of these ministries, they have no “official” voice in what they do or teach.

    On the other hand, technically a church member has some “official” say concerning the SDA church because they are official members. What we have today is mass confusion about almost all aspects of what is the church, and what is the church teaching. And this is one reason there is no discipline by church leadership when false doctrine is advocated and supported in any local church, school, or any other means of communicating the SDA message. One obvious question would be, “Where do you start to clean up the mess?” If you did discipline one avenue of education, they would simply say, “Why are picking on us, when there are many other issues of equal concern on many other levels?”

    So, it seems impossible for any viable discipline on any singular issue unless you deal with every other issue at one and the same time. And this certainly seems unlikely and even unworkable.




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  4. Sean,

    I think some more thought should be given to the inconsistency charge. Dr. Bob Gentry told me a long time ago that he felt there was an inconsistency here. His concern was that the same techniques and arguments that are used to support an old earth are also used to support the old existence of life.

    Robert Brown strongly believed in the passive gap theory. His proposal for resolving the apparent inconsistency was to have old material reworked and incorporated into new deposits. Gentry, on the other hand, proposed singularities during which radioactive decay rates were altered. One question would be, which proposal is best supported by the physical evidence. But I don’t think we can deny that there is an inconsistency.

    If Wilcox and Uriah Smith made their statements knowing what the isotopic ratios were, and having an explanation as to how Precambrian rocks could be somewhat reliably dated using radiometric dating, while Cambrian and higher rocks could not be, then I think their comments are more relevant to the discussion today. The same can be said for Richard Davidson’s comments. It is one thing to derive one possibility of several from a text, it is quite another to make that favored single possibility jive with the physical evidence.

    We still have Ex. 20:8-11’s declaration that God created the heavens, earth, sea, and all that in them is, in 6 days. Thus we should be open to the idea that God created the without-form-and-void ball at the beginning of creation week. At the very least, we should insist that the sun and moon were created on Day 4, not at some earlier point of time, only appearing to view on Day 4.




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    • I don’t think there’s a necessary inconsistency here because all radiometric dating methods used to estimate the age of the Earth are suspect – at least in my opinion. Therefore, we should not base our understanding of the age of the Earth or of the universe on radiometric dating methods at all. They simply aren’t remotely reliable enough given the numerous parameters that cannot be adequately determined over such vast periods of time (as Bob Helm explains quite nicely in his post to Pauluc on this issue – Link).




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      • @Sean Pitman: Then what reason would there be for the passive gap theory? The only reason I know of for proposing a gap of billions of years, which is what is typically done, is to accommodate the conventional radiometric dating of Precambrian rocks. There is certainly nothing in Scripture that would suggest a huge gap.




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        • The reason for the passive gap theory is to explain other parts of the Bible and statements from Mrs. White that claim that the universe and other worlds with intelligent beings pre-existed the creation of our world. Job 38:7 is pretty clear in this regard. Also, the speed of light limits what we could see if the entire universe was just a few thousand years old. None of this is dependent upon radiometric dating methods.




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        • @Sean Pitman: Your quotes of Wilcox and Uriah Smith did not limit the topic to just the universe and other worlds. Instead, they explicitly included the earth in their passive gap theory. And that is something Ellen White never ever did. Correct me if I am wrong.

          To the contrary, MH 414 and 8T 258 explicitly state that “in the creation of the earth,” “in the formation of our world,” God made it out of nothing. Unless we believe that “our world” was formed prior to creation week, we must conclude from these statements that He made it out of nothing during creation week.




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        • Ellen White was obviously aware of the positions of Uriah Smith and Wilcox on this matter. Yet, she never corrected them (assuming they were wrong). And, nothing in her writings explicitly contradicts their suggestion that perhaps the basic material of this planet pre-existed creation week. The question is left open. However, the question regarding the origin of life on this planet is not left open in either the Bible or the writings of Ellen White. Both are very very clear that life on this planet was entirely produced during the literal creation week of Genesis.




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        • @Sean Pitman: Please read MH 414 and 8T 258 again, and see if you think those particular quotes leave the question open.

          We could come up with a long list of points that Ellen White, perhaps (since there might be an unpublished letter), never personally corrected this one or that one on, so we can only take that so far. For example, some held that an atonement was made at the cross, some held that no atonement was made until Christ ascended to heaven, and some held that no atonement was made until 1844. I do not recall Ellen White rebuking proponents of two of these three contradictory positions, even though she did support one of these positions in her writings.

          Do MH 414 and 8T 258 really leave the question open?




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    • @Bob Pickle: I appreciate your thoughts Bob. Gentry’s idea of a much faster radioactive decay rate in the past has been proposed again by the so-called RATE group. One problem with this proposal is that if the decay rate were increased enough to accommodate the Biblical chronology, the resulting heat would have melted the crust of the earth, and the resulting radiation would have sterilized the earth. Personally, I favor the proposals of Robert Brown and Ariel Roth regarding these issues.

      Also, creating the heavens, earth, sea, and all that is in them is applied in Gen 1:6-27 to the work that God did in establishing the expanse (heavens), along with the land (earth) and water (sea), and then filling these realms with life. This expression need not be understand as “creation ex nihilo,” which could have occurred at an earlier time.




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      • @Bob Helm: Three points.

        1. During the singularity of the flood, there was extra heat from somewhere, given that there was extensive volcanism. However, the amount of extra heat generated would be dependent on the method of accelerating the decay rates. We should be careful about imposing today’s observable constants on divinely orchestrated singularities of the past.

        It has been proposed that the acceleration of decay could have affected long-half-life isotopes more than short-half-life isotopes. This idea is not typically taken into consideration when this topic is considered.

        2. The Pb & He retention rate experiments performed independently by both Gentry and the RATE group on Precambrian rock samples show that those rock samples are just thousands of years old. And yet Precambrian rock samples contain overexposed U-238 halos. Can you think of any other explanation for these phenomena than that decay rates were accelerated at some point in the past?

        3. Would you not agree that the account of Day 4 consists of God filling the heavens with at least the sun, moon, and planets, and that thus they were created on Day 4, as Gen. 1 seems to say? And would you not agree that Ex. 20:8-11 in saying that God made the sea and all that in them is suggests that He made the water contained in the sea in the six-day period the passage refers to?




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        • There is no evidence for a significant change in the decay rates of radioactive elements. Certainly there was a lot of energy and heat released during the Flood and shortly thereafter. However, this can be more easily explained by the the impacts of large meteors (for which there is abundant evidence) and the subsequent rapid continental drift with the building of large mountain chains and ocean trenches. This would also explain the significant increase in volcanic activity… etc.

          I’ve looked into the argument for Helium retention and it doesn’t seem like the most solid of arguments to me. Polonium halos within granite rocks also doesn’t seem like the most convincing of arguments. However, polonium halos within squashed coalified logs does seem more convincing.

          As far as what was made on Day 4 of creation, if the stars became visible as the same time as the Sun and the moon, it seems to me at least likely that the Sun and the moon pre-existed creation week. There may have been some modifications to their location and distance from the Earth, as well as to the Earth’s orbit to make it appropriately circular around the Sun. However, beyond this, it seems like there is reasonable Biblical evidence that the stars and likely the basic material of the Earth, to include the water, was already here. I think that the “creation of the seas” means that God created basins to hold the water that were called “seas”. The basic material of the water need not have been created at that time as well.




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        • @Sean Pitman: In what way is Helium retention and Po-218 halos not evidence in any sense of the word, since you said there is no evidence? Thinking an argument isn’t the most solid is quite different than saying that the argument doesn’t exist at all.

          How would you explain the He and Pb retention rates otherwise?

          Re: Day 4, let’s skip the stars of the universe entirely, since Gen. 1 can simply be talking about what Ellen White called “the stars of the solar system” (DA 464; Ed 14). Can you find any hint in Gen. 1 that the author did not mean that the sun, moon, and stars of the solar system were created on Day 4?

          “The basic material of the water need not have been created at that time as well.”

          Then how do you limit Ex. 20:8-11 to mean just life forms in the sea, not everything in the sea, when the text explicitly says God created everything in the sea during the 6 days?




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        • Again, I just don’t think the He/Po evidence is very solid… that’s all.

          As far as the basic material of the Earth and solar system, it appears to me that both the Bible and Ellen White allow for it. Nothing is specifically said against this concept. It could easily be that Moses was writing Genesis from an Earth-bound perspective and only wrote down what became visible to him from that limited perspective on a given day of the creation week.

          When the Bible says that “everything in them is” I interpret that to mean all the living things within the water. I don’t necessarily think this passage requires that the water itself have been created at the same time. It could have been that way, but I don’t think it is a required interpretation. In other words, this interpretation of yours isn’t nearly as clear to me as is the interpretation that at least all living things on this planet were created during the literal creation week.




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        • @Sean Pitman: In what ways are the He/Pb retention rate and Po halo evidence not solid?

          Where does Ellen White allow for the existence of our earth and our solar system long before creation week?

          “It could easily be that Moses was writing Genesis from an Earth-bound perspective and only wrote down what became visible to him from that limited perspective on a given day of the creation week.”

          And from that perspective, Moses wrote that God “made” the sun and the moon on Day 4, and “set” them in the heavens. He also wrote in Ex. 20 that God made the heavens and all that in them during the first 6 days.

          It just seems like a slippery slope. Why then couldn’t we conclude that God only made the “dry land appear” on Day 3, but that it really existed before that day? If the sun and moon can exist before God “made” them, why can’t animals exist before God “made” them too?

          In what way is saying that God “made” the sun and moon on Day 4 an “interpretation”? Isn’t it just taking Gen. 1 and Ex. 20 as they read?




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        • Because, “as they read” must be interpreted by all that the Bible has to say about creation week. It is never wise to take any Biblical statement out of context. And, in this case, I think the context clearly supports a pre-existing universe (despite the “stars” not being mentioned until Day 4 of creation) and does not clearly exclude the possibility of pre-existing basic material for the Earth. Even Peter appears to argue that water pre-existed the creation week since he says that the Earth was made or brought “out of water” (2 Peter 3:5). Taking everything into account, I just don’t think it possible to be dogmatic against the possibility of pre-exiting basic material prior to the creation week.




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        • @Sean Pitman: Just a few more thoughts. Accelerated nuclear decay would destroy the earth with heat and radiation – unless God worked a gigantic and unnecessary miracle that would tend to confuse scientific data. And it would require a second gigantic and unnecessary miracle to accelerate long term isotope decay but not short term isotope decay. Yet without such a miracle, if the half life of uranium 238 dropped to a few thousand years, the half life of carbon 14 would drop to a few months or less. That’s utterly absurd! Now I believe in a God of miracles, but God never works miracles that serve no useful purpose. Nor do I believe that God deliberately tries to deceive us by planting confusing scientific data. That’s not the God I know as my Lord and Savior and Friend! Modern volcanism results from plate tectonics, and the more widespread volcanism during the flood and soon after probably resulted from catastrophic plate tectonics.

          As far as events on the 4th day of creation week are concerned, the verb “made” in Gen 1:16 is a traditional translation much like the placement of the comma before “today” in Luke 23:43 is a traditional translation. But traditional translations are not always correct! In the case of Gen 1:16, we are dealing with an imperfect form of the Hebrew verb “asah,” which is an extremely fluid word. A quick look at any good Hebrew lexicon will reveal that this verb has many shades of meaning. It can mean “made,” but there are many other options as well. In Gen 1:16, I believe that “established” is actually a better translation of “asah” than “made,” because the luminaries were established in their role as time keepers on the 4th day. But it is totally contrary to Hebrew grammar to insist that “asah” always implies creation ex nihilo. IT DOES NOT!

          Also I believe that God created H2O, but this compound was first called “sea” (Hebrew “yam”) on the third day of creation week. See Gen 1:10. Prior to creation week, the universal ocean was called “the deep” (Hebrew “tehom”). See Gen 1:2. This is further evidence that Ex 20:11 is referring to the preparation of our planet for habitation that occurred during creation week instead of the ex nihilo creation of planet earth itself.




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        • I agree – except for the part on water. I don’t think it required that God made the water. I think it could have pre-existed creation week. Of course He could have made the water during creation week. I just don’t think the next requires that interpretation.




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        • @Bob Helm:

          And it would require a second gigantic and unnecessary miracle to accelerate long term isotope decay but not short term isotope decay. Yet without such a miracle, if the half life of uranium 238 dropped to a few thousand years, the half life of carbon 14 would drop to a few months or less.

          On what basis do you say this? How would you know? I think you would have to understand the mechanics of nuclear decay to a degree that no scientist today understands it.

          As far as asah goes, if we apply the same criteria to the other instances in the same passages in question, we might conclude that God established, not created, the firmament in Gen. 1:7, the animals in vs. 25, everything in vs. 31, and the heavens, earth, sea, and all that in them is in Ex. 20:11.

          This perhaps goes to the heart of the whole discussion, since it reveals an inconsistency, and that’s what the Avondale article was all about. None of us using the Bible as the final authority and taking it just as it reads, and without any of the popular scientific conclusions today, would conclude that God created the animals but not the sun and moon during creation week, given the fact that the same Hebrew word is used to describe the creation of both during that week.

          None of us want to see people believing in evolution. We need to be wary lest in our explanations in favor of creation we plant seeds that will lead some that direction anyway.




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  5. For anyone interested, the 14C book is:

    R E Taylor and Ofer Ben-Yosef. 2014. Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective. 2nd edition. Left Coast Press. You can obtain a copy through a number of online book sources including Amazon.




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  6. Bill Sorensen:

    Mr. Helm is typical of those who use a chain saw and hatchet to butcher up the bible to patronize science. The first five verses in Genesis are all “the first day”.

    Bill, with all due respect, I fail to see your argument about the first day. Go get your Bible and look carefully at the text. The account of the 2nd day begins in Gen 1:6. The account of the 3rd day begins in Gen 1:9. The account of the 4th day begins in Gen 1:14. The account of the 5th day begins in Gen 1:20. And the account of the 6th day begins in Gen 1:24. Please note that each of these accounts begins with the formula “And God said,” or some translations say “Then God said.” In the same way, the account of the 1st day begins with the same formula in Gen 1:3. The first chapter of Genesis was very carefully crafted with a definite structure. Gen 1:1-2 is the introduction. Gen 2:1-3 is the conclusion with the Sabbath (it is unfortunate this was placed in Gen 2). And there is a correspondence between the first 3 days and the second 3 days: day one (light) – day four (luminaries), day two (sky and water) – day five (water creatures and flying creatures), day three (plants) – day six (animals and humans that feed on the plants). Careful attention to this structure indicates that the account of the 1st day begins in Gen 1:3 with the formula “And God said.”




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  7. I have read thoughtfully and with considerable understanding the main arguments on both sides of the dialogue to this point. It appears to me that a great deal of bias, butressed by assertions, is involved.

    Allow me to quote James M. Tour, said to be one of the ten most cited chemists in the world.

    “I will tell you as a scientist and a synthetic chemist: If anybody should be able to understand evolution, it is me. because I make molecules for a living…I mean, ab initio, I make molecules…Still I don’t understand evolution.”

    “Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science–with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners. I have sat with them and when I get them alone, not in public–beause it’s a scary thing, if you say what I just said–I say, “Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?” Every time that I have sat with people who are synthetic chemists, who undestand this, they go “Uh-uh, Nope”.

    “I’ve sat with National Academy members with Noel Prize winners…Sometimes I will say, “Do you understand this?” And if they’re afraid to say “yes”, they say nothing. They just stare at me… But you can’t wave by and say, “this enzyme does that.” You’ve got to get down in the details of where molecules are built. So I sincrely want to know, I would like to believe it, but I just can’t.”

    “I was in Israel not too long ago, talking with a bio-engineer, and (he was) describing to me the ear, and he was studying the different changes in the modulus of the ear, and I said, “How does this come about?” And he says “Oh, Jim, you know, we all believe in evolution, but we have no idea how it happened”.

    A man’s mind changed against his will….




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  8. I studied for the ministry at Avondale College from 1989-1992. Lyndon Rogers taught a subject called “Issues in Science” in which he endeavoured to dismantle any faith in a recent creation or a global flood. I shared with him several statements from Ellen White in which she’s said that she was shown in vision the global flood, a six day creation, and that creation was of recent origin – exactly as the Bible states.

    Rogers finally made a statement to the class that if we accept the evidence that he had presented then we will simply have to disagree with what Ellen White said, and that we would need to reinterpret the fourth commandment about creation taking place over 6 literal days.

    I am extremely grieved that our own leadership for over 20 years has not dealt with Lyndon Rogers and sacked him! Why do we continue to pay educators to destroy our faith? Indeed as Pr Ted Wilson has stated – if Lyndon Rogers had any honour about him he should resign. I hold nothing against Rogers personally. I simply cannot understand how our leadership can continue over a course of decades continue to sanction the teachings of a man that does nothing but destroy the young faith of so many students.

    As for me the errors of Lyndon Rogers taught to us at Avondale College only served to strengthen my faith all the more in Biblical truth. Ellen White stated “I was shown that without Bible history, geology can prove nothing.” Spiritual Gifts Vol III, p. 93. In this chapter, called “Disguised Infidelity” Ellen White makes three vision statements in which she says “I was shown…” Each of the three statements confirms the facts of the Bible – a recent creation, a literal six day creation week, and a global flood.

    Through decades of teaching Lyndon Rogers has undermined faith in the fourth commandment, the inspiration of the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy. How we can continue to pay men like Rogers a salary to destroy the faith of young Adventist students at Avondale College is beyond me! Nonetheless, the Word of God and its plain declarations regarding the early history of our world as presented in Genesis, stands firm as a Rock, unmoved by the vain ramblings of men deceived by infidelity dressed up in scientific garb!




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    • @Pr Mark Wilson:
      I am not sure if you have actually read the paper by Rogers that is the basis for this essay by Sean but it is simply making the point that we as a church have moved from the understanding of YEC that EG White espoused to a position where it seems perfectly acceptable because of science to understand the universe as very old. He raises the question that if we have because of science largely discarded the EG White view that is essentially the same as that of groups such as CMI and AIG then what do we do when the logic and science say that life is also old. Sean makes a valiant defense of accepting the YLC position of old age of the earth but young age of life and denies any logic in thinking that the age of life should be subject to the same process that led to the move from YEC to YLC but you are absolutely correct in your implication that if we accept EG White as canonical we must follow the CMI position of YEC. As you indicate Ted Wilson seems to be advancing that position in his adherence to the inerrancy and canonical nature of the writings of EG White.

      It is a matter of a high view of scripture and EG White. If we do accept that then we should be eschewing the impact of scientific understanding of the bible in any way and Sean’s position of only believing the bible because it is empirically verifiable should equally be condemned is precisely the same way as the views you impute, unjustifiably I think, to Rogers.

      Reading the article I really cannot see that it is advocating anything except observing the history and logic of the arguments within Adventism and asking well what will the church do with this logical inconsistency and scientific evidence? He offers possible scenarios but I cannot see any advocacy for one of them. If anything the position of YEC which I think you accept is presented as more logical than Seans YLC.

      It seems that your experience with science at Avondale was not good. I am sorry that was the case but I think it probably does indicate that bible teaching rather than an academic degree in a tertiary institution should be the basis for ministry. I am quite sure that understanding of the nuances of Greek, science philosophy or history required for a degree at Avondale are not useful for your work in Darwin and Katherine. I guess David Assherick and Arise have shown that effective evangelism does not require degrees or academic qualifications from government accredited institutions. I guess the adage that education only increases uncertainty is true and as you say most should not have to be subjected to that uncertainty. It is a burden that those of us who do research must bear but we perhaps shouldn’t impose it on others.




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      • @pauluc:

        we as a church have moved from the understanding of YEC that EG White espoused to a position where it seems perfectly acceptable because of science to understand the universe as very old.

        I’m not sure why you continue to make this claim over and over again when you know it simply isn’t true. Ellen White never “espoused” the notion that the universe was also created during the Creation Week of Genesis. To the contrary, she specifically claimed that the universe pre-existed the Creation Week of our planet. She also never argued against the possibility of pre-existent basic material for the Earth. In other words, she was never a “YEC” as the term is generally understood.




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        • @Sean Pitman: pauluc explicitly said YEC, and you then used the argument that the universe predated creation week as a basis to argue that the earth existed before creation week, when that point is irrelevant to the question of YEC.

          Secondly, Ellen White explicitly argued against the possibility of pre-existent matter for the earth, as already pointed out. Why then say she didn’t when she explicitly did?

          You’re not getting this from either the biblical text or Ellen White’s writings. Where are you getting the presuppositions you’re bringing to the passages in question?




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        • The standard YEC position is that the entire universe was created during the “creation week” of Genesis (Link).

          Beyond this, I don’t read the passages that Ellen White wrote the same way you obviously read them (as described above in some detail). I don’t see that she explicitly argued against the possibility of pre-existent matter for the Earth. She didn’t. She never said that there was no pre-existent material here before the creation week started. That statement simply isn’t there.

          And, I’ve already explained why I have the views I do – where the “stars”, together with the Sun and the moon, all appear together – despite the claims of the Bible that the universe pre-existed creation week.




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  9. Smith, Waggoner, James White and some others were Arian. Many of the pioneers were less than biblical on more than one point. So they are hardly an authority on creation week especially when they deny a clear biblical explanation of creation and the time frame for our world. And to assume everything was created in the whole Universe at one and the same time back in eternity somewhere, and God only altered this world for habitation in 6 days, but did not create it then, only castes doubt on all the bible and its clear statements of truth. It opens the door to a final rejection of scripture as the final authority for determining truth with a “spirit ethic” that supposedly transcends the authority of scripture.




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    • Hardly. As already mentioned, even Ellen White explained that the universe and other worlds with intelligent being pre-existed the creation of life on this planet. The Bible also says the same thing (Job 38:7). The notion that the entire universe was created during the creation week simply isn’t Biblical. – sp




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        • For many Christians, the issue is in fact when the entire universe was created. In fact, “Young Earth Creationists” generally believe that the entire universe was created during the literal “creation week” of Genesis (Link).




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        • @Sean Pitman: But the issue for Seventh-day Adventists is not when the universe was created. The issue is when the earth, sea, sun, moon, and planets of our solar system were created.

          In the context of this discussion, to use arguments pertaining to the creation of the universe to justify saying that the sun and moon existed before creation week just doesn’t cut it. It’s irrelevant. It might be relevant if we were Baptists or Methodists, but we’re not.




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        • Not given the argument that the “stars” aren’t mentioned until Day 4 of Creation Week – yet we know they already existed (via other passages in the Bible). Again, I believe that everything taken together leaves the question open regarding the basic material of the Earth and Solar system (especially given the very good evidence for the pre-existence of the universe).

          Consider, as another example, that when God created the first male and female humans (Gen. 5:2), he didn’t start with nothing. But we know from Genesis 2:7 that God formed Adam from the dust of the earth and in Genesis 2:22 we are told that God fashioned Eve from the rib of Adam. This is a general pattern with God. He usually starts with something. He doesn’t have to, of course, but that’s usually His preference.

          The same could be true, or at least the available texts leave the possibility open, that this is what happened when God created our planet and solar system as a place able to support complex life.

          Consider also that many scholars of Hebrew interpret the opening phrase of Genesis, “the heavens and the earth” (hashamayim we ha ‘erets) to encompasses everything in the physical universe. This interpretation is supported by the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (1980), Vine (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, p 4-55) and Grudem (273, 290-291). Bruce Waltke (2001) also argues that “hashamayim we ha ‘erets” refers to the totality of the physical universe, all matter and energy and whatever else it contains. If so, the Hebrew text may be taken to suggest that the Sun, Moon and stars were created “in the beginning” – not necessarily on the fourth day when they became visible.

          For these reasons, a number of Bible scholars believe Genesis 1:16 is more accurately interpreted as meaning God had made the heavenly bodies prior to the fourth day. Gleason Archer states: “The Hebrew verb wayya`as’ in verse 16 should better be rendered ‘Now [God] had made the two great luminaries…” Wayne Grudem states: “[had made] can be taken as perfects indicating what God had done before… This view would imply that God had made the sun, moon, and stars earlier… or allowed them to be seen from the earth on Day 4.” Harris, Archer, and Waltke state: “Verse 16 should not be understood as indicating the creation of the heavenly bodies for the first time on the fourth creative day.” And, James Montgomery Boice (Genesis, Volume I – An Expositional Commentary, 75.) states: “It is not said that these [sun, moon, and stars] were created on the fourth day; they were created in the initial creative work of God referred to in Genesis 1:1.”

          This also may be taken as being in line with other Biblical passages where God will re-create a “new heavens and a new Earth” (Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1), which obviously starts with a destroyed Earth that is “formless and void (of life)” and then remodels that formless mass, as God did originally, to produce the “New Earth”. Clearly, the entire universe is not involved with this process nor is God starting with nothing – completely from scratch.

          The main point here is that Christianity does not stand or fall if the basic material of the Earth or solar system pre-existed Creation Week. However, the basic concepts and claims of Christianity do fall if life on this planet existed and evolved over a couple billion years of time – if life was not entirely produced within just one literal 7-day period of time. Everything hinges on that concept.




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        • @Sean Pitman: I have already cited DA 465 and Ed 14 where “stars” is limited to objects within our solar system. Therefore, I do not understand why you would base an argument on the “stars” of Day 4 without making some sort of effort to prove that “stars” on Day 4 cannot be limited to the “stars of our solar system.”

          Showing that God formed woman from Adam’s rib does not address the point that Ellen White made: God formed our world and created the earth out of nothing. After He did that, then certainly He could have formed man and the animals from something. But thus far you have not given any reason for concluding that Ellen White was not referring to creation week when she said what she did in MH and 8T.

          The available texts do not leave open the question of whether the sun and moon existed before Day 4. That is an idea that comes from outside the Bible. It isn’t in the text.

          You assert that Gen. 1:1 can be interpreted to mean that the sun, moon, and Jupiter existed before creation week. How so? It uses the Hebrew word for heavens, but says nothing about the sun or moon or Jupiter. It is Day 4 that explicitly says that God created the sun and moon on that day. It is Gen. 2:1 that says that the heavens were finished after creation week. Gen. 1:1 says nothing about the heavens already being finished before creation week; the verse does not use the word “finished” at all.

          Did the scholars you cite arrive at their views of Gen. 1:16 solely from reading the text? Or are they trying to get the text to accommodate the conclusions of scientists that believe differently than what the text states? Two sources tell me that “made” in vs. 16 is an imperfect, not a perfect. Why then does Grudem say that an imperfect should be taken as a perfect? Is his basis for thus amending the text solely the Bible, or is it something else?




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        • I have already cited DA 465 and Ed 14 where “stars” is limited to objects within our solar system.

          Where in these passages does Ellen White use the word or otherwize suggest that the “stars” mentioned in Genesis are limited to our little “solar system”? She doesn’t. She’s only talking about planets here in that they “reflect light” – like the moon. She is not talking about the stars mentioned in Genesis at all.

          Therefore, I do not understand why you would base an argument on the “stars” of Day 4 without making some sort of effort to prove that “stars” on Day 4 cannot be limited to the “stars of our solar system.”

          You’re the very first I’ve ever heard make this argument – that the “stars” mentioned in Genesis 1 are actually limited to the planets of the solar system. I’m sorry, but I think that’s way more than a stretch. I just don’t buy at all – and very few others do either. It seems quite clear to me and pretty much all Hebrew scholars that the “stars” mentioned in Genesis include all the stars of the universe.

          The available texts do not leave open the question of whether the sun and moon existed before Day 4. That is an idea that comes from outside the Bible. It isn’t in the text.

          Not so. The Sun and moon are treated very much like the stars are treated in that they all become visible on the same Day of creation.

          Did the scholars you cite arrive at their views of Gen. 1:16 solely from reading the text? Or are they trying to get the text to accommodate the conclusions of scientists that believe differently than what the text states? Two sources tell me that “made” in vs. 16 is an imperfect, not a perfect. Why then does Grudem say that an imperfect should be taken as a perfect? Is his basis for thus amending the text solely the Bible, or is it something else?

          You need to read Richard Davidson’s article – which I cite in my essay.




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  10. “So, let’s look at some of the “science” cited by Dr. Rogers and see if God really is as evil as Rogers makes Him out to be…”

    You know it’s not going to be worth your time when you read a statement like that.




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  11. Sean Pitman – I just wanted to thank you so much (!) for this whole read. What I got most out of it, as a lay person, was confirmation of my own understanding as regards the age of the universe. I can say that “I thought so”. I knew that Lucifer and the angels had to be created prior to Creation week and I also recall texts mentioning other unfallen worlds. So many times (!), a few evolutionist but Adventist friends have dissed my posts about creation on Facebook. And they sometimes make the assumption that I believe the whole gosh darn universe was also created in that six day period. So it can be annoying to say the least. What was surprising, was that even Uriah Smith had made a comment about it. I didn’t even know that there was a theory called Passive Gap either. Thanks again and God bless.




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  12. I left a similar comment on Advindicate but apparently the conversation is happening here.

    It seems to me that everyone here including the author is missing the greater point. To use an illustration, the situation our church is in (and even Christianity in general) is as if we are on the Titanic after having hit an iceberg and, as the ship is filling with water, we occasionally take a small cup and throw some of that water back out. That is the basic impact of writing articles like this one.

    Imagine for a second someone trying to impose an apostate version of Christianity upon some group of people. No matter how successful their indoctrination process, as long as those people still have access to the Bible, they will continue to discover the truth. To be truly effective, access to the source (the Scriptures) would need to be cut off entirely.

    Today, science has tremendous influence because it has been incredibly successful. After thousands of years of relative darkness, science has taken us from the stone age to the space age in just two hundred years. So what we have to look forward to from here on is for more and more people like Dr. Rogers to spring up from among our membership and promote evolution. And, there are not enough Sean Pittmans around to counter that influence. Not to mention that our access to the secular public (the very people we are trying to reach with the gospel) will diminish more and more because of our stance on Evolution.

    What we need is a solution that deals with the source itself. However, the internet has now made it next to impossible to cut off access to the source of the information. While past generations of Adventists/Christians could remain relatively ignorant of the arguments, today, the information is at everyone’s fingertips, literally.

    The only option left for us is to take on science itself. We have to introduce a scientifically valid alternative model to the theory of evolution.

    Very few people seem to realize how much the theory of evolution is strengthened by the fact that there are currently no valid competing models. Very few creationists seem to realize that their incessant pointing out of flaws with the theory of evolution is accomplishing absolutely nothing if an alternative model is not also proposed. And, very few creationists seem to understand why the alternative theories they are proposing are not scientifically valid or how to make them valid.

    I am not saying that Sean’s essay should not have been written since Dr. Rogers’ article did require a response. But what I am saying is that there is a much more important conversation that we need to have, a fact that most seem oblivious to.




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    • There is a valid “alternate model” that has very good predictive value. That model is called “Intelligent Design”. There is also an alternate model for explaining the origin and timing for the arrival of life on Earth which is called the “Catastrophic/Flood Model”.

      While these theories are rejected by secular scientists, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t valid scientific theories or that they don’t produce a better explanation for the weight of evidence that is currently available compared to neo-Darwinism. Scientifically speaking, they are much much better at explaining the origin and diversity of life on this planet compared to neo-Darwinism.

      Popularity has nothing to do with it. We already know, via the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, that the end-time church isn’t going to be popular. Not at all. So, popularity isn’t something we should be shooting for. What we should be shooting for is a personal understanding of the truth that God has for us to reveal to the world – regardless of who actually accepts God’s gospel message of hope or the Third Angel’s Message to “Worship God as the Creator”. Giving this message of hope to the world is our job. Making the message popular isn’t our job. Conviction must be left up to the Holy Spirit.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Neither Intelligent Design nor the Catastrophic/Flood Model are scientifically valid models. Methodological Naturalism is a cornerstone of modern science and both these models fail in that respect. Intelligent Design directly while the Flood model (itself potentially naturalistic) fails in that it conflicts with other related scientific disciplines, biology, paleontology etc.

        Popularity has nothing to do with it. Science is an open platform. There are systems in place such that, if there are problems with one model, better models can be introduced (relativity superseded Newtonian physics etc.). The fact that in spite of this Evolution remains uncontested in the scientific arena is, in my opinion, our fault entirely. We could have taken our beliefs, came up with a naturalistic hypothesis to test out those beliefs, made predictions, done the research etc. Today, there could have been an alternative school of thought among scientists helping to give credibility to our message with rational, educated people. Our inaction here makes us equally guilty as we would be if we stood by and did nothing while our government did away with the Separation of Church and State clause.




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        • Neither Intelligent Design nor the Catastrophic/Flood Model are scientifically valid models. Methodological Naturalism is a cornerstone of modern science and both these models fail in that respect. Intelligent Design directly while the Flood model (itself potentially naturalistic) fails in that it conflicts with other related scientific disciplines, biology, paleontology etc.

          Obviously, I disagree. Using “methodological naturalism” alone science is very much able to detect true artifacts of intelligent design in the natural world. Entire scientific disciplines are based on this reality – to include forensic science, anthropology and even SETI science. In short, there is no scientific reason why one cannot detect the workings of an intelligent mind behind various kinds of artifacts – to include modern human-made machines as well as the many machines that are found within biological systems that are even more beautiful and fantastic than anything created by a human hand.

          Also, as far as the “Food Model” is concerned, it is claimed that it conflicts with “other related scientific disciplines, biology, paleontology etc” but this isn’t really true. There really isn’t a significant conflict at all. In fact, the Flood model best explains the findings of all of these disciplines – as briefly outlined in the article I wrote (and more extensively detailed on my website: detectingdesign.com).

          We could have taken our beliefs, came up with a naturalistic hypothesis to test out those beliefs, made predictions, done the research etc.

          The origin of life and it’s diversity by God’s hand isn’t exactly a “naturalistic hypothesis”. It’s a hypothesis that these things were created with the use of a very high level of intelligence and creative power.

          Beyond this, such a hypothesis is actually supported by the weight of empirical evidence – as explained above.




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        • Sean,

          I don’t think you quite get what I am saying but I’m in the middle of a business trip and don’t have time to write more now. On my “Intelligent Adventist” Facebook page I have an article where I explain myself in more detail. I will respond some time next week.

          Thanks




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      • @Sean Pitman: I read thoroughly your article admitting honestly, that because I am just a person lacking scientific knowledge, I found it hard to absorb many of those issues presented, especially those with scientific explanations. I did understand a little about the Theory of Tectonic plates and Geologic columns and this helped me a little to understand about the creation of our planet.

        I cannot refute the comments of the commentators. Rather, I thank them, and you, Dr. Pitman, for this enlightening topic that deals with God and His creations. It has greatly strengthened my faith in Him. And no matter what others say about our God, I chose to put all my trust in Him, and not in man.

        I thank you for the your comments of January which I re-stated here:

        “There is a valid “alternate model” that has very good predictive value. That model is called “Intelligent Design”. There is also an alternate model for explaining the origin and timing for the arrival of life on Earth which is called the “Catastrophic/Flood Model”.

        While these theories are rejected by secular scientists, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t valid scientific theories or that they don’t produce a better explanation for the weight of evidence that is currently available compared to neo-Darwinism. Scientifically speaking, they are much much better at explaining the origin and diversity of life on this planet compared to neo-Darwinism.

        Popularity has nothing to do with it. We already know, via the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, that the end-time church isn’t going to be popular. Not at all. So, popularity isn’t something we should be shooting for. What we should be shooting for is a personal understanding of the truth that God has for us to reveal to the world – regardless of who actually accepts God’s gospel message of hope or the Third Angel’s Message to “Worship God as the Creator”. Giving this message of hope to the world is our job. Making the message popular isn’t our job. Conviction must be left up to the Holy Spirit.”

        I share Mrs. White’s view about the pre-existence of our world. Would grreatly appreciate it if you could please give me your reference?




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    • MIke Manea said, “It seems to me that everyone here including the author is missing the greater point. To use an illustration, the situation our church is in (and even Christianity in general) is as if we are on the Titanic after having hit an iceberg and, as the ship is filling with water, we occasionally take a small cup and throw some of that water back out. That is the basic impact of writing articles like this one.”

      There is some viable credibility to this statement. Not to mention, that even if truth is known, it must be maintained with discipline at least in the church community. And this is what has been woefully lacking in the last few decades. After the Dr. Ford fiasco, the church opted for Pluralism so as not to split the church. We see the results of this decision. The truth is, it is a “cop out” for church leaders to ignore their duty and responsibility and so we have what we have as a result.

      At this point, the devil will simply wear us all out eventually, and people will tire of all the bickering in the church, just as they will tire of all the political bickering in US politics. The church leaders can pontificate all they want with threats of punishment for the present rebellion. But those who rebel are like children of indulgent parents who threaten again and again until the child knows they are simply bluffing.

      In the mean time, the Catholic church sits by and watches Protestantism self destruct with Adventism on the same course. The Pope is Mr. Nice Guy and “the whole world wonders after the beast.”

      Some of us don’t expect to see any major issues resolved at the GC this year. It would probably split the church. But what if Abraham Lincoln and those who supported the anti-slavery agenda said, “We can not do anything dynamic, because it may well split the nation.” We are so “hell bent” on unity at all cost, that the truth is being sacrificed on the alter of Baal. And it is doubtful that GYC, ASI, 3ABN, Amazing Facts, Amazing Discoveries, and all the other host of independent ministries will solve the problem. God has used the SDA church in the past and will continue to use it on some level. But unless there is a positive and dynamic move to defend the faith and discipline error with more than idle threats, it is certain the SDA church will eventually be worthless as the final means of grace to accomplish what God intended in the beginning. And those who continue to state “God is in control” apparently do not consider that God can only “control” if and when the human instrumentality yields to His will.

      If “God is in control” in some arbitrary way as some seem to imply, we could ask, “Why did He not control in heaven and keep rebellion and apostacy from materializing?” Or “On earth to keep Adam and Eve from doing the same?” or “Israel, or the early church……etc?” The phrase “God is in control” can easily be a “cop out” for our moral accountability for self discipline in leadership in general and all of us individually by the word of God. If Rome is Babylon on some level, modern Adventism is Babylon on an even higher level.

      None the less, God will eventually and certainly create a Christian community of believers by way of the bible as the Holy Spirit inspires and motivates His people to accept the responsibility demanded of any and all who represent the kingdom of God. But it won’t be by some “unconditional election of the church” that many advocate in the spirit of apostacy of past history. Such a spirituality undermine moral accountability and leaves the church and its members useless to God and His kingdom.




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  13. Sean,

    It seems to me that perhaps one of the bigger weaknesses of the passive gap theory is its denial that Gen. 1:1 is the “topic sentence” of the passage, while Gen. 2:1 is a restatement of that general summary. I read an article some time ago that suggested this simple grammatical understanding of the passage, and it sure makes sense to me.

    “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

    “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”

    If Gen. 1:1 and 2:1 are summaries of the six-day creation account, then we can’t put Gen. 1:1 into the distant past just so that we can bring some sort of harmony between the biblical record and the conclusions of scientists.




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    • There are different types of “heavens” described within the Bible. It all depends upon which “heavens” you’re talking about.

      The long and short of it is that the Bible is quite clear that Jesus made the entire universe (John 1:1). The Bible is also quite clear that the universe pre-existed the creation week of our planet (Job 38:7). The Bible is not definite on what was or was not pre-existent in our particular solar system. However, the Bible is very clear that life on this planet was entirely produced during the six days of our creation week.




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      • @Sean Pitman: I don’t see how the Bible can be any clearer regarding our sun and moon being created on Day 4. Sure, one could speculate that there may have been ice crystals floating around in the vicinity before Day 1 and not conflict with the biblical record, but I don’t see any way that one can speculate that the sun and moon existed before Day 4, much less Day 1.

        One other possibility has been proposed: The visible heavens were created during creation week, and the heavens beyond those are the pre-existing universe. That’s not my view, but I’m open to it. This idea would allow the visible stars to be created during creation week, not just the stars of our solar system, and yet permit the unfallen worlds to exist before that.

        Regardless of that possibility, if we take the passage as it reads, we have two summaries of creation week, one in Gen. 1:1 and the other in Gen. 2:1, even if we define “heavens” in those two verses as not including more than the atmospheric heavens. I don’t see room for a gap between 1:1 and 1:2, because of the literary structure of the passage.




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        • Please understand that I’m not saying that you’re definitely wrong. I’m just saying that it’s not absolutely clear – not to me or to many other conservative Christians who try to take the Bible as it reads (to include many of the founding fathers of the SDA Church). Your arguments simply do not appear to be conclusive is all – and therefore I believe the question of if the basic material of this planet pre-existed Creation Week should be left open within the SDA Church.

          What is overwhelmingly clear, however, is that all life on this planet was created, according to the author of Genesis, during one literal week.




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  14. Mike clearly has a point and your response suggests that in reality there is no model with any prediction and any ex[perimental research program. The church’s direct attempt at any scientific investigation died with the loss of original researchers like Hare and Ritlands from GRI and the invalidation of the hopeful experiments of Gentry. Now it is left to Adventist scientists like Raul and Leonard Brad whose writings in the peer reviewed literature is sound but completely unremarkable in terms of your proposed creationist model.

    Sean Pitman: There is a valid “alternate model” that has very good predictive value. That model is called “Intelligent Design”. There is also an alternate model for explaining the origin and timing for the arrival of life on Earth which is called the “Catastrophic/Flood Model”.

    Sean Pitman: Scientifically speaking, they are much much better at explaining the origin and diversity of life on this planet compared to neo-Darwinism.

    Sean Pitman: We already know, via the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, that the end-time church isn’t going to be popular. Not at all. So, popularity isn’t something we should be shooting for. What we should be shooting for is a personal understanding of the truth that God has for us to reveal to the world – regardless of who actually accepts God’s gospel message of hope or the Third Angel’s Message to “Worship God as the Creator”.

    Since when has science involved any “we already know” from divine revelation?




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    • Outside of Divine revelation, it is impossible for science to tell us about the pre-existence of intelligences on other worlds. However, both the Bible and Ellen White describe such worlds. That’s how we can know about them – based on the credibility of these inspired writings.

      As far as science methodologies themselves are concerned, they can be used to quite clearly support the intelligent origin of life and its diversity on this planet (beyond the lowest levels of functional complexity of course). Science can also be used to demonstrate the superiority of the catastrophic/Flood models for the origin of the sedimentary layers of the geologic column and fossil records.

      Science is not, or at least should not, be opposed to true Inspiration – as found in the writings of the Bible and Ellen White.




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  15. Michael J. Osborne:

    Sean Pitman – I just wanted to thank you so much (!) for this whole read. What I got most out of it, as a lay person, was confirmation of my own understanding as regards the age of the universe. I can say that “I thought so”. I knew that Lucifer and the angels had to be created prior to Creation week and I also recall texts mentioning other unfallen worlds. So many times (!), a few evolutionist but Adventist friends have dissed my posts about creation on Facebook. And they sometimes make the assumption that I believe the whole gosh darn universe was also created in that six day period. So it can be annoying to say the least. What was surprising, was that even Uriah Smith had made a comment about it. I didn’t even know that there was a theory called Passive Gap either. Thanks again and God bless.

    MIchael, I am also pleased that the discussions here have helped you. This may seem like a small point, but I personally prefer the term “Young Life Creationism” to “Passive Gap Theory” or “Soft Gap Theory” for a couple of reasons: 1) It is more expressive of what we actually believe. 2) It is not confused with the traditional Gap Theory (sometimes called the “Hard Gap Theory”) which is derived from questionable exegesis (including animal death before the fall) and which is totally contrary to data from the geologic column and the fossil record. It’s up to you which of the three terms you use, but I just wanted to share my opinion on it.




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  16. Ervin Taylor:
    For anyone interested, the 14C book is:

    R E Taylor and Ofer Ben-Yosef. 2014. Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective. 2nd edition. Left Coast Press.You can obtain a copy through a number of online book sources including Amazon.

    Thank you. I appreciate it!




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  17. pauluc:
    … the invalidation of the hopeful experiments of Gentry.

    Which experiments and what invalidation are you referring to? I am unaware of any invalidation of any experiments. Did someone find an excess of fossil alpha recoil tracks near halo centers?




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    • @Bob Pickle: The Wiki entry on Gentry is a reasonable summary but if you want the original data look at the original Science papers from Gentry and the responses in the scientific literature to his experiemental data and claims.




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      • @pauluc: I’ve read the original papers by Gentry, and I’m unaware of any adequate response in the scientific literature to his data and claims. If you want to cite something in particular, go right ahead.

        Several months ago I spoke at a meeting at a public university partly sponsored by the Free Thinkers on Gentry’s work. It was amazing to have professors there cite a TalkOrigins’ webpage as if it actually refuted anything. Did those professors even read Gentry’s papers and critically analyze the TalkOrigins’ webpage? They couldn’t have, and they probably saw no reason why not to take the TalkOrigins’ webpage’s word for things.

        As I pointed out before that talk, at that talk, and now, that TalkOrigins’ page (a) misleadingly suggests that Po halos may be Rn halos because the Rn-222 and Po-210 rings are indistinguishable in biotite, when they are clearly distinguishable in fluorite; (b) misrepresents Lorrence Collins’ hypothesis as being a diffusion-through-solid-rock hypothesis when it clearly isn’t, and (c) invokes a diffusion hypothesis without accounting for the lack of fossil alpha-recoil tracks, the experimental results of which I think were published in one of the oldest of Gentry’s published reports.

        So here we have someone who is supposed to be an expert on Gentry’s halos, so he has to know about (a) and (c). And yet he doesn’t even mention the fossil alpha-recoil track problem, much less explain it away. Therefore, he is either ignorant of the published scientific evidence, or he is prevaricating. I see no other possibility.

        TalkOrigins is an apologetics website, not a scientific journal.

        So pauluc, I am conversant with much of the quibbles, but may have missed something. Please cite something that you believe truly invalidates the evidence.




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  18. Nona Irwin: I share Mrs. White’s view about the pre-existence of our world. Would grreatly appreciate it if you could please give me your reference?

    You can read the context and discussion of the content of her vision of 1846 purporting to show other worlds where Enoch was visiting and peopled by noble majestic and lovely people.

    “The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes, they were noble, majestic and lovely…. Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated.”—Broadside, To those who are receiving the seal of the living God. Topsham, Jan. 31, 1849. (See also Early Writings, pp. 39, 40, current edition.)

    http://www.whiteestate.org/books/egwhc/EGWHCc07.html




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  19. Bill Sorensen:

    God has used the SDA church in the past and will continue to use it on some level. But unless there is a positive and dynamic move to defend the faith and discipline error with more than idle threats, it is certain the SDA church will eventually be worthless as the final means of grace to accomplish what God intended in the beginning. And those who continue to state “God is in control” apparently do not consider that God can only “control” if and when the human instrumentality yields to His will.

    Bill, we are moving a little beyond the topic of creation and evolution here, but I will say that I agree with you. God’s message about the free grace of Christ in the context of the three angels’ messages will triumph, and when Jesus comes, He will have a people on earth who are trusting in Him alone for salvation and obeying His commandments out of love for Him (Rev 14:12). That much is certain! However, there is no guarantee that the denominational organization with its headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland will remain faithful as a corporate entity. No, God’s church will not fail, but God’s church is people – not an organization. So regardless of what takes place in the denomination, the important thing is for us personally to remain faithful. That is what will count at the end.




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  20. Sean Pitman: Ellen White was obviously aware of the positions of Uriah Smith and Wilcox on this matter. Yet, she never corrected them (assuming they were wrong). And, nothing in her writings explicitly contradicts their suggestion that perhaps the basic material of this planet pre-existed creation week

    On this basis then she obviously agreed with Uriah Smith comments on amalagamation and comments on ” the wild Bushmen of Africa, some tribes of the Hottentots, and perhaps the Digger Indians of our own country”




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  21. pauluc:

    The church’s direct attempt at any scientific investigation died with the loss oforiginal researchers like Hare and Ritlands from GRI and the invalidation of the hopeful experiments of Gentry.Now it is left to Adventist scientists like Raul and Leonard Brad whose writings in the peer reviewed literature is sound but completely unremarkable in terms of your proposed creationist model.

    What about Ariel Roth’s long term research on coral, which resulted in quite a number of peer reviewed articles? What about Leonard Brand’s articles on the underwater origin of the Coconino Sandstone, which were published in the peer reviewed journal, “Geology?” Don’t they count for anything? Both of these lines of research were certainly related to the creationist model.




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    • @Bob Helm: I have cited Leonard Brands work already. His work on animal tracks in the coconino is fine but as I have pointed out he makes no claim in the literature about a global flood precipitated by a flood of a year or so despite what he may publish in the church press. For some of the considerations I have indicated if he did he would not at all be considered geologically sound.

      Ariel Roth published proliferically in church publication and in Origins (not indexed by pubmed or scopus as a peer reviewed publication) and of which he was a long term editor and as history has shown its existence depended on his enthusiasm. He has 6 peer reviewed publications from 1975-1986 listed in Scopus. His most recent paper in Journal of Paleontology on fossil coral orientation is extremely subtle in its creationist implications if any.




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  22. The purpose of Satan is to undermine the non-negotiable objective givens as being beyond comprehension and not discernable. From there he can persuade people to use their own speculation as to what something means and/or change the concepts. This began in heaven and was used very effectively with Eve in the garden of Eden. The question he will always ask is this, “Are you sure you understand exactly what God said or means?” and “You may have mis-understood what He meant.” And finally with Eve, “You will not really die……” The final conclusion is this, God can not hold us accountable for what we can not clearly discern and in the end, God is solely and totally responsible for our response to anything He may have said. Thus, Universalism is gendered and supported by such reasoning. And this is very important as we have been informed by EGW in her book “The Great Controversy” that Spiritualism and Universalism is the final deception.

    Don’t we see this in the church today in all the various discussions about creation vs. evolution, male headship, The Gay agenda, and every other disagreement about biblical revelation. The whole purpose of Satan is to convince us the bible is not a valid revelation of truth that we can trust as the ultimate authority for faith and practice. In in its place we accept a “spirit ethic” that assumes the Holy Spirit will enlighten our minds to discern good and/or bad that transcends the bible. How far are we from the spirituality of the Roman Catholic church? For a “spirit ethic” is exactly how they determine truth and its application by way of spiritual revelations that transcends scripture. In this light, I think few SDA’s have a clue of what the real issue is, and assume that “God is in control” and seldom get involved in church controversies about truth. And in fact, this is what they are educated to do. Even ministers are trained to avoid conflict and discussion as it creates division. The conclusion is this, the spirituality of modern Adventism is far less “Protestant” than people generally think. In fact, it has a close affinity to Catholicism.




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  23. Sean Pitman: I’m not sure why you continue to make this claim over and over again when you know it simply isn’t true.

    I keep making it because you keep trying to equate the creation of the earth with the creation of the universe and confuse everyone. Adventist believe that God pre-existed the creation of the and accept the plain reading of scripture that says the heavens earth moon and stars were created in the creation week. The issue is that she never accepted or articulated that the earth was billions of years old as you do. If you read the infidel geologist statements they are talking about the age of the rocks. She does not make any statement about “Darwinists” unless of course she included natural scientist all as infidel geologists.




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    • You claimed that Ellen White herself said that the entire universe was produced during our creation week. That’s not true and you know it. You know full well that she claimed just the opposite – that the universe pre-existed our creation week.

      Also, she was very clear that all life on this planet was produced during the creation week and that those who suggest that humans evolved from germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds are the “infidel geologists”:

      God created man in His own image. Here is no mystery. There is no ground for the supposition that man was evolved by slow degrees of development from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life. Such teaching lowers the great work of the Creator to the level of man’s narrow, earthly conceptions. Men are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe that they degrade man and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. He who set the starry worlds on high and tinted with delicate skill the flowers of the field, who filled the earth and the heavens with the wonders of His power, when He came to crown His glorious work, to place one in the midst to stand as ruler of the fair earth, did not fail to create a being worthy of the hand that gave him life. The genealogy of our race, as given by inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator. Though formed from the dust, Adam was “the son of God.” – PP, p. 45

      Many who profess to believe the Bible record are at a loss to account for wonderful things which are found in the earth, with the view that creation week was only seven literal days, and that the world is now only about six thousand years old. These, to free themselves of difficulties thrown in their way by infidel geologists, adopt the view that the six days of creation were six vast, indefinite periods, and the day of God’s rest was another indefinite period; making senseless the fourth commandment of God’s holy law. Some eagerly receive this position, for it destroys the force of the fourth commandment, and they feel a freedom from its claims upon them. They have limited ideas of the size of men, animals and trees before the flood, and of the great changes which then took place in the earth…

      I have been shown that without Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of a state of things differing in many respects from the present. But the time of their existence, and how long a period these things have been in the earth, are only to be understood by Bible history. It may be innocent to conjecture beyond Bible history, if our suppositions do not contradict the facts found in the sacred Scriptures. But when men leave the word of God in regard to the history of creation, and seek to account for God’s creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a boundless ocean of uncertainty. Just how God accomplished the work of creation in six literal days he has never revealed to mortals. His creative works are just as incomprehensible as his existence. SG, V3, p. 92-93

      Here we have Ellen White talking about the changes that were produced by the Flood – to include the production of the fossil record and the geologic column that contains these fossils. This has nothing to do with if the basic material of the Earth did or did not exist prior to creation week. What she is clearly challenging here is the notion, popular in her own day, that life existed and evolved on this planet over vast periods of time. That is what she is opposing in no uncertain terms.




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  24. Sean Pitman:
    The “amalgamation” comments are ambiguous at best.Beyond this, she specifically describes such populations as descendants of Adam.

    But Uriah Smith’s were not. To paraphrase “They cant help that they are the product of amalgamation they still have some edenic blood of Gods creation of man and God still loves them and so should we”.




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    • The big difference here is that many times Ellen White specifically commented on the equality of the races – especially emphasizing the shamefulness of anyone trying to draw a distinction between whites and blacks (which was a source of some contention in her day). She wrote that, “There is to be no special heaven for the white man and another heaven for the black man… We have no time to build up walls of distinction between the white and the black race.” (The Southern Work, p. 55).

      In comparison, Ellen White makes no clear statement claiming that the basic material of the Earth was all created during the creation week. However, she is quite clear that the universe was already in existence before our creation week.




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      • @Sean Pitman: Ellen White only mentions “amalgamation” a few times in her early writings, but in her younger years, she was staunchly anti-slavery, and throughout her life, she spoke up for racial equality. I doubt that she would have developed a close friendship with Sojourner Truth if she were racially prejudiced. Perhaps certain other people like Uriah Smith started interpreting those statements racially and this caused Ellen to avoid mentioning amalgamation anymore. I don’t know that this was the case; I’m guessing. But Ellen White and Uriah Smith frequently disagreed.




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        • The word “amalgamation” is only mentioned twice in the writings of Ellen White. It is probably in reference to the intermarriage of the Godly with the ungodly and the interbreeding of animals to produce unusual varieties that would not naturally survive. This conclusion is supported by many of the other statements made by Ellen White regarding the equality of all human races. Beyond this, I do agree that Uriah Smith occasionally took things too far – especially in this case.




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      • Sean Pitman: You claimed that Ellen White herself said that the entire universe was produced during our creation week. That’s not true and you know it. You know full well that she claimed just the opposite – that the universe pre-existed our creation week.

        Have you commented yet on the idea that the visible universe was created during creation week, and the universe beyond existed before creation week? I mentioned before that this idea has been proposed, that I haven’t decided that it is correct, and that I am open to it.




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        • I don’t think there’s any point in arguing that the “visible”, but not the “invisible”, universe was created during creation week. That doesn’t make sense to me given all that the Bible and Ellen White have to say on the topic… and all of the universe and the myriads of galaxies that are in fact visible to us.




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  25. Sean Pitman: You claimed that Ellen White herself said that the entire universe was produced during our creation week. That’s not true and you know it. You know full well that she claimed just the opposite – that the universe pre-existed our creation week.

    Exactly you are confusing with your selective biblical literalism and your espousal of modern cosmology and futile attempt to logically meld the 2. Please give me the references that state unequivocally that Ellen White that the earth pre-existed the creation which is the basis for your YLC. Your argument is a strawman argument that relies of an equivalence between Young Universe Creationism and Young Earth Creationism since no Adventist has claimed that all of the material universe was created during the creation week. They claim that the earth heavens, sun moon and stars was created in the creation week. This is what a literal reading of the text absent a modern cosmology would suggest.

    For the Genesis writers conceptually there was heaven as Gods home that was way out there somewhere in heaven. This was clearly somewhere beyond the firmament of the earth. There is in the Genesis account no conception of millions of light years of distance or even of a universe. There was the earth and its firmament which contained all the heavenly bodies visible to the naked eye. The sun moon and also the stars. God created all these within the 6 days. Beyond this heaven and earth there was where God dwelt. It is implicit in the account that he as creator dwelt in heaven beyond the firmament and in the 6 days of creation created both earth and its environment everything within the firmament. That is the biblical perspective and what Adventist believe. It is the framework for EG WHite statements. Ask the white estate and Bill Sorenson if you do not believe me.

    I am happy for you to disagree with this and pay homage to Younker, Davidson and to current cosmology by supposing that everything except life itself existed for billions of years. But only if you recognize that you are doing injustice to the literal interpretation of the Bible and accord that some right to reinterpretation of the intent to progressive creationism and its ilk.




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    • I’m not doing injustice to the literal reading of the Hebrew text at all – not even according to how the Hebrew scholars themselves read and interpreted it. Also, Ellen White never talked about all the visible stars being created during creation week. She actually suggested otherwise – which other unfallen worlds with their own stars pre-existing our creation week. This isn’t “God’s Home” here. These are other worlds with other intelligent beings on them – other “sons of God”. You therefore aren’t telling the truth when you claim that Ellen White believed and wrote that all the visible stars were created during the creation week of Genesis. That’s not all all what she believed or wrote.




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        • She doesn’t say where they are in the universe. She just says that “Men living in this little atom of a world are finite; God has unnumbered worlds that are obedient to His laws and are conducted with reference to His glory.” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, Pacific Press Publishing Assoc., p.66). She also wrote: “The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy, expressive of the freedom and happiness of the place.” (Early Writings, pp. 39, 40).

          Again, the question is open with regard to where these other inhabited worlds are within the universe. Who knows, many of them may exist right here within our own Milky Way Galaxy? You just can’t say. Also, Genesis appears to include all the stars. The statement about the stars certainly is not clearly limited to the planets within the solar system or even to the stars just within the Milky Way Galaxy.




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  26. pauluc:
    @Bob Helm:

    I have cited Leonard Brands work already. His work on animal tracks in the coconino is fine but as I have pointed out he makes no claim in the literature about a global flood precipitated by a flood of a year or so despite what he may publish in the church press. For some of the considerations I have indicated if he did he would not at all be considered geologically sound.

    Because of prejudice, the concept of a global flood cannot be discussed in mainstream scientific forums, even if no references to the Bible or God are included. J Harlan Bretz faced this same kind of prejudice when he tried to talk about the regional ice age flood or floods in eastern Washington, even though the evidence for such was overwhelming. Fortunately, the door of geology has since been cracked open slightly to catastrophism, and Bretz’ theory has been accepted. But Lyell still has too big a stranglehold on this discipline for a global flood to be considered at the present time.

    With that said, those in the geological community who know Brand personally are well aware of the implications he was conveying in those articles.

    Ariel Roth published proliferically in church publicationand in Origins (not indexed by pubmed or scopus as a peer reviewed publication) and of which he was a long term editor and as history has shown its existence depended on his enthusiasm. He has 6 peer reviewed publications from 1975-1986 listed in Scopus.His most recent paper in Journal of Paleontology on fossil coral orientation is extremely subtle in its creationist implications if any.

    Roth’s work also dealt with growth rates in coral, which does have creationist implications, because it has been claimed that certain coral reefs are too old for the creationist time scale. Considering the rates at which corals grow, this is not true – especially if we are not rigid about 6,000 years.




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  27. pauluc:

    Adventist believe that God pre-existed the creation of the and accept the plain reading of scripture that says the heavens earth moon and stars were created in the creation week.

    Perhaps there are statements in certain Adventist literature that the entire universe was created during creation week, but I have not read them. In fact, one of the things I have appreciated about the usual Adventist stance is that it does not make this extreme claim. Also, the idea that it is the plain reading of scripture that the sun, moon, and stars were created during creation week is only true in the case of most English Bibles. The Hebrew is far more subtle than that. The ancient Israelites may have assumed as much when they read the text, just as they may have assumed a flat earth and solid sky, but the meaning of the Hebrew words does not require these notions. I think it is a mark of inspiration that certain very fluid Hebrew words appear in Gen 1 because they allow this account of creation to fit ancient cosmology or modern cosmology.




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  28. Sean Pitman:
    I agree – except for the part on water.I don’t think it required that God made the water.I think it could have pre-existed creation week.Of course He could have made the water during creation week.I just don’t think the next requires that interpretation.

    You misunderstood about the water Sean. I was not intending to say that the water was created during creation week. Gen 1:2 suggests to me that it existed before creation week. I was only indicating that at some point, the water must have come into being.




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  29. “For God established the two great luminaries – the greater luminary to govern the day and the lesser luminary to govern the night – and the stars as well. And God presented them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth. . .”

    The translation of Gen 1:16-17 that appears above is an extremely accurate and literal translation of the original Hebrew. If you doubt what I am saying, Hebrew texts and lexicons exist; do your own study and see for yourself. From the standpoint of the Hebrew, it is perfectly legitimate to understand that the luminaries were “established” in their role as time keepers on the 4th day. The text does not require their ex nihilo creation on that day.




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  30. Bob Helm: No, God’s church will not fail, but God’s church is people – not an organization.

    Bob, if this were true, then Paul would never have likened the church to a body composed of eyes, feet, ears, etc. The human body is a highly organized machine (evidence of intelligent design), and thus, according to Paul, so must be the church. So I don’t see a basis for saying that the church is not an organization.




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  31. Sean Pitman: Because, “as they read” must be interpreted by all that the Bible has to say about creation week. It is never wise to take any Biblical statement out of context. And, in this case, I think the context clearly supports a pre-existing universe (despite the “stars” not being mentioned until Day 4 of creation) and does not clearly exclude the possibility of pre-existing basic material for the Earth. Even Peter appears to argue that water pre-existed the creation week since he says that the Earth was made or brought “out of water” (2 Peter 3:5). Taking everything into account, I just don’t think it possible to be dogmatic against the possibility of pre-exiting basic material prior to the creation week.

    1. Where do we have the Bible (or the context of Gen. 1 and Ex. 20:8-11) saying anything about the sun, moon, or “stars of our solar system” existing before creation week?

    2. You refer to the stars of Day 4 as if they are all the stars of the universe. Do you have a reason to not limit the stars of Day 4 to what Ellen White called “the stars of our solar system” (DA 465; Ed 14)?

    3. Would not Peter’s statement refer to Day 3, since that is when the earth stood up out of the water? What indication does Peter give that the water was created before creation week rather than at the beginning of creation week?

    4. If there was pre-existing material for a billion years before creation week, how do you explain MH 414 and 8T 258 which seem to say otherwise? (Above you said that you believe she leaves the question open in these passages, but you gave no basis for that conclusion, and did not refer to any of the words in those passages. Given the importance of the topic, I would appreciate some discussion of the points raised rather than conclusory statements.)




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    • First off, the Bible doesn’t use the phrase “stars of our solar system” (i.e., planets). And, Mrs. White is not suggesting that the “stars” mentioned in Genesis one are limited to the planets of our solar system either. This is simply not a tenable argument as far as I can tell – and no Hebrew scholar that I’ve ever read suggests such a thing either – not even among the most conservative of Adventist scholars.

      Beyond this, I’ve read the passages from Ellen White that you’ve mentioned many times. Even according to conservative Adventist scholars Ellen White cannot be taken as arguing when the basic material of the Earth was created. She effectively leaves the question open. She makes no definitive statements in this regard. It could go either way and one should therefore not be dogmatic here. Yours simply isn’t a required interpretation of the Scriptures or of Ellen White.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        1. You did not answer my question. I asked, “Where do we have the Bible (or the context of Gen. 1 and Ex. 20:8-11) saying anything about the sun, moon, or “stars of our solar system” existing before creation week?” If you don’t like my use of Ellen White’s terminology, then substitute the words “planets, asteroids, and comets” for my wording. And then please show me where the Bible or the context of Gen. 1 and Ex. 20:8-1 says anything about the sun, moon, planets, asteroids, or comets existing before creation week.

        2. So your response to my question is that it can’t be a valid idea since no one has suggested it before. I hope no evolutionist applies the same standard to your defenses of a literal creation. In other words, that is not a valid justification for rejecting the idea.

        3. You did not answer this one either.

        4. You still did not cite any of the passages in question to substantiate your position. I’d like to see a discussion of the words of the passages in question, even if it ends up supporting your position rather than mine. Is not the final sentence of 8T 258.4, when it refers to “the earth and all things therein,” talking about creation week? Why then would not the second of the four sentences of this paragraph, when it says “the formation of our world,” also refer to creation week? Is not the final sentence of MH 414.3, when it refers to “the earth and all things therein,” talking about creation week? Why then would not the second of the four sentences of this paragraph, when it says “the creation of the earth,” also refer to creation week?




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        • Here’s what Ellen White says:

          Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3)… The theory that God did not create matter when He brought the world into existence is without foundation. In the formation of our world, God was not indebted to pre-existing matter. On the contrary, all things, material or spiritual, stood up before the Lord Jehovah at His voice and were created for His own purpose. The heavens and all the host of them, the earth and all things therein, are not only the work of His hand; they came into existence by the breath of His mouth… He calls them all by name. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork, showing man that this little world is but a jot in God’s creation. [emphasis added] (Link, Link).

          Notice that this passage may very reasonably be interpreted to be talking about God being responsible for the creation of everything in the universe – “the heavens and all the host of them” – and all of the other inhabited “worlds” that were all “framed by the word of God”. This statement means that God is not indebted to pre-existing material, as some have suggested, before He can create something. In other words, God can create “ex nihilo” or “out of nothing”. That’s what appears to be the key point of this statement.

          Now, this is not to say when God created the universe, or even the basic material of our world or any of the other worlds or planets that exist throughout the universe. It’s just saying that whenever He did it, He originally did start with nothing. It is also not saying that He doesn’t then manipulated various parts of the universe with additional creative acts – such as His use of pre-existing “dirt” to create Adam and Eve. While the dirt itself was originally created by God “out of nothing”, it also pre-existed the creation of Adam and Eve. In other words, the dirt pre-existed its being subsequently “formed” into the bodies of human beings. The same could reasonably be argued for the Earth and our solar system. There’s nothing in these statements from Ellen White that would clearly or definitively argue against the possibility, or even the likelihood, that the basic material of the Earth, the dirt and water if you will, pre-existed its being “formed” into a place that could sustain complex life. Before this point, it could rightfully be called “formless and void” – a very similar state of the Earth just before it is “remade” as the “New heavens and the new Earth” (Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1).

          This potentiality is additionally supported by the statement that the stars also became visible on Day 4 – when both the Bible and Ellen White claim that the universe (to include inhabited planets with their own stars) pre-existed the creation week.

          Beyond this, suffice it to say that your arguments aren’t convincing to me. I don’t know what else to say?




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  32. Sean Pitman: She’s only talking about planets here in that they “reflect light” – like the moon.She is not talking about the stars mentioned in Genesis at all.

    Even if that is true, what would it matter? DA and Ed still are inspired sources which use “stars” in a way that is limited to the planetary objects of our solar system, and DA is commenting on Jn. 1, which starts with the words, “In the beginning,” and explicitly refers to creation. Therefore, we have a basis for narrowing the meaning of “stars” in Gen. 1:16, unless the context of that verse precludes that meaning, which it doesn’t.

    You’re the very first I’ve ever heard make this argument – that the “stars” mentioned in Genesis 1 are actually limited to the planets of the solar system.I’m sorry, but I think that’s way more than a stretch.I just don’t buy at all – and very few others do either.

    If you’ve never heard the idea before, there is no possible way that you have already surveyed scholars to get their input, and thus there is no possible way you could make such a statement while having a factual basis to do so. Therefore, I do think you are taking the position that the sun and moon were not created on Day 4, but were created maybe billions of years earlier, because of some pre-existing, undisclosed bias, not because of the biblical text. Could you please disclose what that bias is and where it came from?

    The Sun and moon are treated very much like the stars are treated in that they all become visible on the same Day of creation.

    But the biblcal text says that they were made on the Day 4. It doesn’t say that they became visible on Day 4.

    Sean, I greatly appreciate your defense of the creation of life within 6 days in the recent past, and you know I do. Do you think that perhaps the idea that the sun and moon pre-existed creation week would fall into the category of such ideas as we will have children in the new earth, we shouldn’t kill flies, etc., questions upon which EGW said silence is eloquence? Think of how this comes across to evolutionists or those on the fence, when the stalwart champion of creation argues against taking the biblical text as it reads. But it’s happened before, like when William Jennings Bryan told Clarence Darrow on the witness stand at the Scope’s trail, that Gen. 1 didn’t say that God created the world in 6 days.

    You need to read Richard Davidson’s article – which I cite in my essay.

    Note the part that you cited. He argues that the water existed prior to God saying, “Let there be light,” which no one is arguing with. More importantly, he explicitly states that everything was in an unformed and unfilled state prior to Gen. 1:3. You are arguing that the heavens of our solar system were in a filled state long before creation week, the opposite of what your quote from Davidson explicitly states.




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    • You are arguing that the heavens of our solar system were in a filled state long before creation week, the opposite of what your quote from Davidson explicitly states.

      No. I and many others interpret the original Hebrew to suggest that the Earth may have existed in a chaotic state, unfilled with living things (i.e., “formless and void”) – just as the Earth will once again appear before it is “re-created” by God the second time. Being formless doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s absolutely nothing there. It just means it’s kind of a shapeless blob. Being “void” also doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing there. It just means it’s empty of something in particular – living things in this case.

      Beyond this, I’m sorry Bob. I just don’t agree with your arguments. They just don’t make as much sense to me…




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  33. Sean,

    I explicitly asked questions regarding the scholars you mentioned regarding Gen. 1:16. I asked why Grudem said that “made” in vs. 16 should be taken as a perfect when my sources say it is an imperfect. You directed me to Davidson’s article in response.

    Davidson nowhere refers to perfect or imperfect tense, nowhere explicitly mentions vs. 16, nowhere mentions the sun or moon except to support the idea that the 6 days are literal time, and nowhere mentions the stars or planets. I do not see how Davidson’s article could therefore answer the questions I raised.




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    • As I’ve already explained, neither Davidson nor anyone else that I know of limits the “stars” of Genesis 1 to the “planets of the solar system”. It’s a reasonable conclusion that the stars of the universe, and therefore everything else, became visible from an Earth-bound perspective on Day 4 of creation. And, the language of Genesis and other accounts of the Creation week throughout the Bible appear to be consistent with this position. Beyond this, I’m just repeating myself. I’m sorry, but I just don’t find your arguments convincing or conclusive.




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  34. Bob Helm:
    “For God established the two great luminaries – the greater luminary to govern the day and the lesser luminary to govern the night – and the stars as well.And God presented them in the expanse of the sky to give light onthe earth. . .”

    The translation of Gen 1:16-17 that appears above is an extremely accurate and literal translation of the original Hebrew.If you doubt what I am saying, Hebrew texts and lexicons exist; do your own study and see for yourself.From the standpoint of the Hebrew, it is perfectly legitimate to understand that the luminaries were “established” in their role as time keepers on the 4th day.The text does not require their ex nihilo creation on that day.

    Bob, I just checked a different reference, and it says that in Gen. 1:7, 16, 25 asah is a Qal imperfect, 3rd person masculine singular. So if “established” rather than “made” is acceptable for vs. 16, we must conclude that it is acceptable in vss. 7 and 25. And that would mean that the firmament and the animals were established on Days 2 and 6, not made or called into existence. Are you really sure you want to go there?

    Even though I may disagree with Rodgers, I agree that there is a big, big inconsistency here.




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    • @Bob Pickle: That is correct; it is a Qal imperfect, 3rd masculine singular form of “asah.” As far as the translation of “asah” is concerned, it should be determined by context. In verse 7, I would actually favor translating “asah” as “established” because God really did establish the expanse (better translation than firmament) on the second day. In verse 25, it is fine to translate “asah” as “made,” although even here, the verb does not denote creation ex nihilo because the animals were made from the ground (Gen 2:19). You could also translate “asah” as “produced” in verse 25. “Asah” also appears at the end of Gen 2:3, and here the best translation is probably “accomplished”; i.e., “from all the work He had accomplished (“asah”) in creation.” In fact, some translations render it as such.




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    • @Bob Pickle:
      Finally some proper recognition of the real issues. Your cogent and well reasoned defence of the adventist position is appreciated at least by me. Whether you take a high position of scripture as the Fundamentals do with an position of inerrancy, or take the Adventist position on inspiration without invoking biblical inerrancy you have to be consistent with the intention of both the scripture and EG White. Whether it is scientifically wrong or not you have to honestly admit that the position of EG White and Genesis was of sun moon and stars created along with our earth in the creation week. If you do that then to scientifically argue for a billion your old earth and God creation described in Genesis limited to a few thousand meters of topsoil and a few thousand meters of the earth atmosphere seems pretty restrictive. It seems to me the intention of Genesis is a little more expansive and cosmic than that.




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      • Whether it is scientifically wrong or not you have to honestly admit that the position of EG White and Genesis was of sun moon and stars created along with our earth in the creation week.

        Again, the Bible claims that the universe, to include the stars, pre-existed our creation week (Job 38:7, Hebrews 11:3). Also, according to the Bible, Lucifer’s rebellion pre-existed our creation week as well. The Genesis account carefully considered in the Hebrew language, does not necessitate that the entire universe or all the stars or even the Sun or the moon be created “ex nihilo” on Day 4 of our particular creation week. And, neither did Ellen White who also claimed that the universe, to include other inhabited worlds, pre-existed the creation week of our “little atom” of a world in comparison to the entire universe of galaxies, stars, and worlds which came before.

        Therefore redemption was not an afterthought … but an eternal purpose to be wrought out for the blessing not only of this atom of a world but for the good of all the worlds which God has created.

        The creation of the worlds, the mystery of the gospel, are for one purpose, to make manifest to all created intelligences, through nature and through Christ, the glories of the divine character. By the marvelous display of His love in giving “his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” the glory of God is revealed to lost humanity and to the intelligences of other worlds.

        EGW, God’s Amazing Grace, p. 129




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  35. Sean Pitman: The standard YEC position is that the entire universe was created during the “creation week” of Genesis

    Why do you restrict Adventism to a particular form of YEC when you do not feel at all constrained by the Wiki definition of Gap creationism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_creationism

    You are consistently employing this strawman argument that really doesnt help the credibility of your arguments.

    At least be honest and argue with what Adventists have argued not with what you believe they have to argue because of your or anyone elses definition.




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    • The term “YEC” has a standard definition that is quite different from “YLC”. It is therefore disingenuous of you to continue to use the term YEC when you know that what most people think of when they hear the term “YEC” without any further qualifcation, doesn’t really reflect SDA thinking… nor did it ever. That is why it is you, not me, who is building and attacking a strawman of your own creation that simply doesn’t reflect reality.

      In comparison, when I talk about the “gap theory” I consistently qualify what type of gap theory I’m talking about – as in “Passive Gap Theory”.

      Beyond this, I am in fact being very honest with what Adventists have argued. I’m not trying to hide anything or use words that I know mean very different things to different people without any explanation or qualification.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Forget the semantics. You are arguing that the earth is billions of year old. You accept a gap creationism which was developed within a particular historical context in response to geological evidence that the earth was very old. That is not the position of EG White nor of Martin Luther or early protestants who accepted a plain reading of scripture before the 19th century.

        That most YEC are Young Universe creationists is beside the point. That you may pretend that your position of gap creationism is completely determined by your reading of scripture and does not at all reflect the science of Geology in the 18 and 19th century I find extraordinary. The reality is that most gap creationists adopt this position because they are interpreting the bible according to a paradigm that is based on empirical evidence or science. Whether you are capable of admitting it or not that is precisely the context of the Rogers article. If we take science as the guide to our biblical interpretation and accept a billion year old earth where is the logic for then discarding the evidences for old life. It is a critical question which in all your blathering about what EG White really believed has not been properly addressed particularly when you say
        “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” (http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-18717).




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        • Forget the semantics.

          It’s not just meaningless “semantics” here. Words and phrases mean different things to different people. It is only honest to present your ideas in a way that you know they will be properly interpreted by those with whom you are trying to communicate. You are not doing that. You are using words and phrases that have specific meanings associated with them that simply do not apply to those to whom you apply the label – without any qualifiers.

          You are arguing that the earth is billions of year old.

          As you know, it’s a bit more subtle than that. What I’m arguing is that I don’t know how old the basic material of the Earth is. I believe the question remains open and that it is certainly possible that the basic material of the Earth may be billions of years old – which is an important distinction. I simply don’t believe radiometric dating methods (which are used to argue for an old age for the Earth) are remotely reliable. However, it is true that I do not believe that the layers of sedimentary rock that make up most of the geologic column and contain the fossil record are more than a few thousand years old. I believe that the weight of evidence that I think I understand clearly indicates that they were producing rapidly and catastrophically.

          You accept a gap creationism which was developed within a particular historical context in response to geological evidence that the earth was very old. That is not the position of EG White nor of Martin Luther or early protestants who accepted a plain reading of scripture before the 19th century.

          The concept of an old universe, or a “gap in time” between the creation of the universe and the Creation Week of Genesis dealing with this little planet has been around a very long time – far before any “geological evidence” as interpreted as the Earth being “very old”. And, Ellen White certainly did not hold to the view that the universe, with all of its stars and galaxies and other inhabited worlds, was created during our particular creation week. She specifically denied that notion – as did many others (for reasons having nothing to do with radiometric dating or geological arguments for the old age of the Earth). She also never said how old the basic material of the Earth might be or if it did or didn’t pre-exist Creation Week. She simply left that question open.

          That most YEC are Young Universe creationists is beside the point.

          No, it isn’t. The fact that the term “YEC” is so strongly and generally associated with the concept of a young universe means that you need to use qualifiers when you use the “YEC” term. Otherwise, you’re simply being deliberately misleading.

          That you may pretend that your position of gap creationism is completely determined by your reading of scripture and does not at all reflect the science of Geology in the 18 and 19th century I find extraordinary.

          Oh come on. M.C. Wilcox, Uriah Smith, and Ellen White all believed in an older universe without any appeal to geology for this conclusion. The same is true for many others who understand from the Bible itself that this world was created after the universe and other intelligences and worlds were created. (Job 38:7 and Hebrews 11:3)

          The reality is that most gap creationists adopt this position because they are interpreting the bible according to a paradigm that is based on empirical evidence or science.

          So what? Just because some people make this argument doesn’t mean that everyone has or does. You simply cannot paint everyone who holds to any version of a gap in time between the creation of the universe and the creation of our world with the same brush. That’s simply not honest or reasonable.

          Whether you are capable of admitting it or not that is precisely the context of the Rogers article. If we take science as the guide to our biblical interpretation and accept a billion year old earth where is the logic for then discarding the evidences for old life.

          Rogers’ article creates a false dichotomy – a false choice between two and only two options that he sets up as the only “consistent” options available.

          1) Young universe with young life
          2) Old universe with old life

          According to Rogers, there is no other valid option. So, clearly, if one has to pick between these two options the obvious choice is going to be to go with #2 and reject any semblance of reading the Bible literally – which is what you and Rogers have obviously chosen to do. The problem here, of course, is that Rogers is wrong in arguing for only two consistent options. The old universe/young life position is perfectly consistent with all of the claims of the Bible regarding the creation of the universe and of life on this planet. And, there is absolutely no need to appeal to “geology” to come to this conclusion. Geology need have nothing to do with it.

          It is a critical question which in all your blathering about what EG White really believed has not been properly addressed particularly when you say
          “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” (http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-18717).

          That’s absolute right. You yourself have obviously left everything about Christianity behind except for certain of its ethical claims. You don’t believe that God created Adam and Eve with His own hands out of the dust of the ground. You believe that humans evolved through a natural “process” of evolution over a couple billion years or so, with much suffering, pain and death, from single-celled organisms. You don’t necessarily believe, then, in a moral Fall or the literal story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. You don’t necessarily believe in a literal virgin birth or resurrection of Jesus. You don’t believe in a literal carbon-based life after death where sentient animals will no longer suffer and die. You don’t believe many of the statements attributed to Jesus in the Bible. You think they were added in later on. You don’t seem to believe in the Biblical prophecies. Everything in the Bible is just a good moral fable to you – “like Moby Dick” as you explained a while back.

          In fact, if I accepted neo-Darwinism like you have, I’d probably think very much like you think. I might still believe in a God of some kind – but certainly not the Christian-style God described in the Bible or my current views of the nature of God. You see God very differently from how I see God – in line with your views of empirical reality. So, it only follows then that as one views the empirical evidence differently, it usually does have a very dramatic effect on one’s views of God as well.

          You claim to be an “Adventist”, but that’s really in name only. You keep the title for social reasons perhaps, but you really believe very few of the doctrinal claims of the church. You’ve really defined your own religion independent of anything the church has to say – but still like to use the same name. Not me. If I ended up seeing the world like you see it, I would be honest enough to drop the title “Seventh-day Adventist” and even “Christian” and simply move on to something else. I wouldn’t even pretend to be something that I don’t really represent or use a title that only causes confusion for those who think I believe something very different from what I truly believe when I use a particular title – without any qualifiers.




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  36. Bob Pickle:

    Sean,

    I explicitly asked questions regarding the scholars you mentioned regarding Gen. 1:16. I asked why Grudem said that “made” in vs. 16 should be taken as a perfect when my sources say it is an imperfect. You directed me to Davidson’s article in response.

    Bob, it is certain that the form of the verb “asah” in 1:16 is a Qal imperfect. The imperfect denotes incompleted action and is often, though not always, used for action in the future. In contrast, the perfect denotes completed action and is often, though not always, used for action in the past. However, the imperfect verbs that appear in Gen 1 are a peculiar grammatical form that is known as the vav consecutive. Unlike many imperfects, vav consecutive imperfects are always translated as simple pasts or as pluperfects. In this sense, they function like perfects. Perhaps this is what was meant when it was stated that it should be taken as a perfect. At least, that’s the only valid explanation I can think of.




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  37. pauluc:
    @Bob Pickle:

    Whether it is scientifically wrong or not you have to honestly admit that the position of EG White and Genesis was of sun moon and stars created along with our earth in the creation week.

    Bob, our final authority must always be scripture, not Ellen White. But I do believe that God used Ellen White as His messenger, and we need to represent her accurately. The first chapter of her book, “Patriarchs and Prophets,” is entitled “Why Was Sin Permitted?”. This chapter describes Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven, which I think even you will agree took place before creation week on earth. In that chapter, she makes the following statement:

    “God’s government included not only the inhabitants of heaven, but of all the worlds that He had created, and Lucifer had concluded that if he could carry the angels of heaven with him in his rebellion, he could also carry all the worlds.”

    Here Ellen White claims that inhabited worlds existed even before Lucifer began his rebellion. In other words, Ellen White believed that sinless alien beings were living on other planets before the fall of Lucifer. Bob, Ellen White was not stupid. If she believed that inhabited planets existed before the fall of Lucifer, then she must have believed that those planets were orbiting stars that existed before the fall of Lucifer. So how can you honestly state that Ellen White believed that the stars were created during creation week? In light of what she says in “Patriarchs and Prophets,” your statement makes no sense.

    Now you are welcome to disagree with Ellen White if you want to, and I think she would grant you that privilege. But please don’t try to make her say something that she never said. I have never read anything from Ellen White suggesting that the stars were created during creation week. She clearly believed in an old universe!




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    • @Bob Helm: The issue is that she did not try to place her visions of heaven and unfallen worlds into a scientific paradigm of a big bang, an expanding universe that is expanding at an increasing rate and creating space as it expands into nothingness. I am not supposing she was stupid but she was a product or her times not the late 20th century where the Adventist church is facing a secularism based on science as the basis of philosophical naturalism.

      Do you suppose she even thought about where these planets were relative to the reach of the naked eye the Hubble telescope or radiotelescopes? Do you? Are the inhabited worlds within our solar system, within our galaxy or even within the expanding universe that we attempt to understand. Is Gods throne-room even a place within our physical universe? If we sent a space probe through to Orion would we be able to eventually end up where God dwells and the place from which the heavenly city will descend. That cube of 2,330 Km in each dimension that when present on our earth would extend well beyond our atmosphere.

      The essential question is how do we reconcile what we understand physically through empirical science with our understanding of God and revelation. You know by now how I do that by considered that spiritual claims are understood spiritually by an act of faith. And our physical universe can be understood by a process of explanation by natural law and process. Science and religion differ in both objective and method. As Sacks would say religion is about understanding the meaning and why science about understanding the how. Haught models it as layers of understanding and meaning. We can understand why things happen by natural process but that does not give us the ultimate significance. Even if an event can be understood mechanistically as occurring by natural law that does not detract from understanding it as an act of God done to His Glory and to His good purpose. From this perspective the creation is an act of God even if there is a process involved. I would see process in the creation of life and the universe over long periods of time. That there was process does not detract from its attribution to God. You iike Sean seem to see some process only in the creation of the physical universe up to the point of the crucible for life.




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      • It’s not “all or nothing” Paul. Of course God has created natural “processes” that act over time according to the pre-established laws of nature. However, God is also able to act to manipulate these natural laws. Such manipulations can be detected as true “artifacts” of deliberate design. Your mistake is that you think everything can be explained as a process beginning with the same set of original natural laws. That’s simply wrong. Many things cannot be explained as an inevitable process resulting from these original natural laws. The origin of the universe itself cannot be explained as a natural process. It literally screams intelligent design – as you yourself have occasionally admitted. Likewise, the origin of life cannot rationally be explained as a process based on natural laws. The mechanical complexity of the most simple of living things precludes this and therefore demands the additional input of creative intelligence to manipulate basic materials beyond what natural laws and processes along could achieve this side of eternity. Also, the diversity of life with the existence novel mechanically-complex systems cannot be tenably explained by the original natural laws and processes beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity. Again the additional input of high level creative intelligence is required to explain the existence of such functionally complex diversity.

        You see then, arguing for the existence of God without any ability to recognize His hand in anything beyond what can be explained by natural laws and processes leaves one with nothing more solid than wishful thinking when it comes to believing in God. Such fideistic wishful thinking cannot form the basis of useful religion that is able to establish a rational hope any anyone else beyond yourself in a better reality beyond this life and place.

        That is why both the Bible and Ellen White describe Heaven and the New Earth as a real physical place – not a metaphysical idea or something off in some other dimension completely different from what we experience here in this world. There will be plants and animals. There will be mountains and hills, valleys and rivers. We will eat and drink. We will plant gardens and build houses. We will walk on streets and live in physical structures. Yes, the city of Heaven is a physical place with a physical location in a physical universe.

        Beyond this, Ellen White did seem to understand the concept of a massive universe that had a beginning – as did the Biblical authors. After all, Genesis starts out with a description of “the beginning” of the universe (Genesis 1:1). The idea that the universe had a finite beginning and was not always popular in science (since a universe with a finite beginning is much more difficult to explain without an appeal to a Designer to explain its origin out of nothing). Also, the Bible appears to even speak of an “expanding universe”. For example, Isaiah 40:22 says that God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” This would suggest that the universe has actually increased in size or “spread out” since its original creation. Ellen White also specifically speaks about the Plan of Salvation being in existence “prior to the beginning of time” (Signs of the Times, Nov. 21, 1892). In fact, the idea that the universe and time itself had a beginning is a very Christian idea. The idea of a “Big Bang” actually supports the idea of a need for a Designer of the universe – a Designer who is able to make something out of nothing and exist outside of our time and place. Also, as far as the size of the universe, Ellen White describes the Earth as the tiniest speck, the tiniest “atom” in comparison to the rest of the universe which “circles the throne of God”.

        All the treasures of the universe will be open to God’s redeemed. Not limited by mortality, they fly tirelessly to far-off worlds. The children of earth enter into the joy and wisdom of unfallen beings and share treasures of knowledge that these have gained through ages upon ages. With undimmed vision they gaze on the glory of creation—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of God. (EGW, LF, p. 273)

        And, what do you know, physicists have suggested that the entire universe might indeed be rotating or spinning after all (Longo, 2011, Shamir, 2012, Sivaram, 2012, Seshavatharam, 2014)

        It seems then that Ellen White did have a reasonable understanding of the universe – given her limited background and education. Did she understand everything that we know today about the universe? Of course not. But, what she did seem to know is not inconsistent with what we know today…




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  38. pauluc:

    Why do you restrict Adventism to a particular form of YEC when you do not feel at all constrained by the Wiki definition of Gap creationism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_creationism

    Paul, your article on “Gap Creationism” does not at all describe what young life creationists believe. Furthermore, Sean is right. In spite of superficial similarities, there are major differences between YEC and YLC. Many if not most YLCs accept the standard model for the universe, including the Big Bang. At least, this is the position of Ariel Roth, Clifford Goldstein, and Gorman Grey (a non-Adventist who advocates YLC). YLC only rejects Lyell’s uniformitarianism along with Darwin’s General Theory of Evolution, although it accepts his Special Theory – also known as micro-evolution or speciation.




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  39. Bob Helm: Here Ellen White claims that inhabited worlds existed even before Lucifer began his rebellion. In other words, Ellen White believed that sinless alien beings were living on other planets before the fall of Lucifer. Bob, Ellen White was not stupid. If she believed that inhabited planets existed before the fall of Lucifer, then she must have believed that those planets were orbiting stars that existed before the fall of Lucifer. So how can you honestly state that Ellen White believed that the stars were created during creation week? In light of what she says in “Patriarchs and Prophets,” your statement makes no sense.

    You are making some assumptions that I do not think even occurred to White.
    1] You are assuming that the stars refers to all stars throughout the universe.
    2] There is a single place the universe in which everything exists that does exist.
    3] These unfallen worlds and the fall of Lucifer in heaven occurred within this one single Universe which has a sub-location Heaven that has existed since the creation of the universe.
    4] This universe has existed since the beginning and contained everything that has existed in all of the physical universe
    5] No new planets stars galaxies could be created within that static universe.
    6] Life is the only new thing that could be created from the substance that has already been created
    7] If this universe had existed then the earth must have already existed and Gods creative work is constrained to a simple reorganization and creation of some new life from the substance of one of the pre-existing planets.
    8] When the writers of genesis looked up and saw the stars they know for sure that these were all part of a monolithic expansive universe created in the beginning and have existed for all of time and that if they said they say God made the visible stars moon and Sun recently then they would be saying something ridiculous since no part of the universe can be created since it all must exist since the beginning. So when they wrote the sun moon and stars also they actually didnt really mean that. They actually thought he made the pre-existing simply appear.

    QED the earth is billions of years old.

    Sorry if that is the logic you are using then I must confess I find that argument absurd.




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    • First off, the Biblical authors did have a concept of the universe with other worlds and other intelligent beings living elsewhere in the universe – as did Ellen White who claims to have even visited some of these other worlds in vision. She doesn’t say where they are in the universe. She just says that:

      “Men living in this little atom of a world are finite; God has unnumbered worlds that are obedient to His laws and are conducted with reference to His glory.” (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, Pacific Press Publishing Assoc., p.66). She also wrote: “The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy, expressive of the freedom and happiness of the place.” (Early Writings, pp. 39, 40).

      Beyond this, no one is arguing that the universe is “static” – that God cannot create additional matter within this universe. What is being said is that the universe itself did pre-exist the creation week dealing with our little world and that stuff was already here within the universe before creation week. That’s it.

      The QED argument is, therefore, that a literal reading of the Genesis account does not necessitate that all of the basic material of this planet or the solar system, much less the entire universe, needed to have been created “ex nihilo” at that time. The basic materials could very well have pre-existed the creation week given everything that the Bible has to say about the creation week and the pre-existing universe. The conclusions along these lines for a pre-existing universe with stuff in it, as understood by the Biblical authors themselves, is therefore not at all “absurd”. After all, “A straightforward reading of the flow of thought in Genesis 1:1-3 has led the majority of Christian and Jewish interpreters in the history of interpretation to this position, hence this is called the traditional view.” How then can something so obviously “absurd” have become the “traditional view” among the majority of Jewish and Christian interpreters?

      Your suggestion that perhaps there are multiple universes of which Ellen White would have been unaware is an irrelevant argument. If Ellen White was unaware of the possibility of other universes, her default assumption when visiting Heaven and other inhabited worlds would have been that Heaven and these worlds also existed in our universe. She would not have thought that they existed in other universes.




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    • @pauluc: Paul, I am having a hard time following your arguments. I am not claiming that Ellen White was an astronomer or astro-physicist. All I am saying is that in her time, it was common knowledge that a planet revolves around a star, so if she believed that there were unfallen planets, then she must have believed that those planets revolve around stars. Another time, she spoke about a planet with seven moons. Wouldn’t such a planet orbit a star? That isn’t hard to understand! On the other hand, I am very doubtful that Ellen White gave any thought to multiverse theory, etc. When you bring up such issues, you are making something very simple seem complex.




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      • @Bob Helm: I am not arguing anything about multiverses. The point is your argument of billion year old earth based on her statements about other planets revolves around an assumption that the stars in Genesis connotes the stars in the entire universe. That is completely unjustified particularly when you acknowledge that EG White “…was an astronomer or astro-physicist” and perhaps did have any conception of the extent of the universe.

        A few questions to clarify. Yes and no responses would be enough for me to see your logic
        1] Do you believe that the earth was created when the rest of the universe was created ie the beginning of all matter?
        2] Do you think the scientific model of the big bang of 13 billion years ago is valid and was the beginning of the universe?
        3] Do you think that it took 7-8 billion years for the earth to form from the material distributed by the big bang?
        4] Do you think these other inhabited worlds like our earth were created after this big bang by condensation of matter into stars and planets?
        5] Do think life on these other unfallen worlds was created after condensation of the matter into habitable worlds fulfilling the Goldilocks criteria billions of year ago.
        6] Do you think heaven as the physical dwelling place of God is a particular location within this material universe
        7] If so would it have been inhabited by God and Angels only after the condensation of matter into habitable planets perhaps fulfulling different Goldilocks criteria
        8] Do you believe that angels are material beings and produced from the matter of the big bang just as man was made from the dust of the plant earth
        9] Do you believe that the big bang hypothesis is the scientific explanation of the Gods creation of the universe
        10] Do you believe that God can create ex nihilo at any time after the initial creation of the universe.
        11] Do you believe God could create a planet at any time
        12] Do you believe God could create a moon that could orbit that planet
        13] Do you believe that God could create a sun and a solar system at any time
        14] Do you believe that God could create ex nihilo to increase the universe by 50% without at all affecting the universe that already exists.

        Tell me again why God is constrained to making only life on this planet and why the substance of our planet must be billions of years old. That view seems to come from being a slave of the scientific process of material evolution that is the big bang theory.




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        • 1] Do you believe that the earth was created when the rest of the universe was created ie the beginning of all matter?

          It is certainly possible, and I believe likely, that the basic matter of the Earth was created along with the basic matter of the rest of the universe “in the beginning”.

          2] Do you think the scientific model of the big bang of 13 billion years ago is valid and was the beginning of the universe?

          Yes… as far as I can tell it is reasonable to assume that the universe is quite old indeed.

          3] Do you think that it took 7-8 billion years for the earth to form from the material distributed by the big bang?

          It is not unreasonable to conclude that it could have taken quite a long time for the material of the Earth to assemble itself into a planet.

          4] Do you think these other inhabited worlds like our earth were created after this big bang by condensation of matter into stars and planets?

          Could be…

          5] Do think life on these other unfallen worlds was created after condensation of the matter into habitable worlds fulfilling the Goldilocks criteria billions of year ago.

          Could be…

          6] Do you think heaven as the physical dwelling place of God is a particular location within this material universe

          Yes. I think there is a physical place, a physical “throne” where God especially reveals Himself in physical terms for the benefit of physical intelligences that He has created.

          7] If so would it have been inhabited by God and Angels only after the condensation of matter into habitable planets perhaps fulfulling different Goldilocks criteria

          Probably.

          8] Do you believe that angels are material beings and produced from the matter of the big bang just as man was made from the dust of the plant earth

          Yes, angels are material beings and are dependent upon God, just like we are, for life. Both the Bible and Ellen White describe Satan and his angels as being physically destroyed by real fire and turned into ashes upon the ground.

          9] Do you believe that the big bang hypothesis is the scientific explanation of the Gods creation of the universe

          Yes. I believe that the Bible and Ellen White describe the universe as having a clear beginning with a clear direction to time.

          10] Do you believe that God can create ex nihilo at any time after the initial creation of the universe.

          Of course.

          11] Do you believe God could create a planet at any time
          12] Do you believe God could create a moon that could orbit that planet
          13] Do you believe that God could create a sun and a solar system at any time

          Yes, yes, yes.

          14] Do you believe that God could create ex nihilo to increase the universe by 50% without at all affecting the universe that already exists.

          Yes.

          Tell me again why God is constrained to making only life on this planet and why the substance of our planet must be billions of years old. That view seems to come from being a slave of the scientific process of material evolution that is the big bang theory.

          No one is saying that the planet “must be billions of years old”. The repeated argument is that the basic material of the planet could be very old, even billions of years old. The argument is that there is nothing in the Bible that requires otherwise. Could God have made our entire Earth and solar system ex nihilo with a snap of His fingers? Of course! Is this option the required option? from the reading of text? No. It isn’t. What is required from a straightforward reading of the text as a description of literal events by a human witness observing from a limited perspective is that life on Earth was entirely created during one literal week. That’s it.




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  40. pauluc:
    @Bob Helm:

    The issue is that she did not try to place her visions of heaven and unfallen worlds into a scientific paradigm of a big bang,an expanding universe that is expanding at an increasing rate and creating space as it expands into nothingness.I am not supposing she was stupid but she was a product or her times not the late 20th century where the Adventist church is facing a secularism based on science as the basis of philosophical naturalism.

    I gladly affirm that Ellen White was a product of her times – the 19th and early 20th centuries. So unless God showed her something of the things you describe, I would not expect her to know anything about them, and I see no evidence that God did reveal these things to her. I believe that Ellen White received genuine visions and dreams from God, but their purpose was not to make her an astro-physicist. Their purpose was spiritual – to be a lesser light to lead people back to the greater light of scripture and Christ – which is the one legitimate purpose of new covenant prophecy after the close of the canon. But in her lifetime, it was common knowledge that moons revolve around planets, and planets revolve around stars. So when she described seeing beings on other planets who love and serve God, and she stated that these inhabited worlds existed before the angelic rebellion in heaven, I have to conclude that Ellen believed in the existence of an intact universe that existed before creation week. This isn’t hard to understand; it is simple and straightforward logic. But why are you telling me that she didn’t know anything about an expanding universe or the Big Bang? I never remotely suggested that she did. However, that is irrelevant to what we are discussing. Ellen White could have easily believed that the universe existed before creation week without having a knowledge of these esoteric scientific issues, and I submit to you that if her words mean anything, that was her position.

    Do you suppose she even thought about where these planets were relative to the reach of the naked eye the Hubble telescope or radiotelescopes?Do you?Are the inhabited worlds within our solar system, within our galaxy or even within the expanding universe that we attempt to understand.Is Gods throne-room even a place within our physical universe?If we sent a space probe through to Orion would we be able to eventually end up where God dwells and the place from which the heavenly city will descend. That cube of 2,330 Km in each dimension that when present on our earth would extend well beyond our atmosphere.

    Paul please – Ellen White died in 1915, and neither the Hubble telescope nor radio telescopes existed at that time. In fact, Edwin Hubble himself was just beginning his work about that time. I see no evidence of inhabited worlds in our solar system, and I have no idea where they are located, although some earth-sized planets have been discovered recently that seem to be the right distances from their stars to support life. But when Ellen White spoke about inhabited worlds, I have to assume that she understood them as existing within our universe because that was the only universe she knew about and the only one we know about today. I take heaven to be a real place; however the apostle Paul’s description of three heavens – the atmosphere, the realm of the stars, and the dwelling place of God – leads me to suspect that the third heaven (God’s dwelling place) is outside the confines of our universe. In saying that. I am not questioning heaven’s reality or that we will exist there as physical beings, but I suspect that it is extra-cosmic. I’m doubtful that it is on a planet revolving around a star called Kolob, as Jopeph Smith claimed, or anything similar to that – because stars and planets are located in the second heaven, not the third. As far as the new Jerusalem is concerned some of its aspoects may be literal and other symbolic.

    The essential question is how do we reconcile what we understand physically through empirical science with our understanding of God and revelation.You know by now how I do that by considered that spiritual claims are understood spiritually by an act of faith.And our physical universe can be understood by a process of explanation by natural law and process.Science and religion differ in both objective and method.As Sacks would say religion is about understanding the meaning and why science about understanding the how. Haught models it as layers of understanding and meaning.We can understand why things happen by natural process but that does not give us the ultimate significance.Even if an event can be understood mechanistically as occurring by natural law that does not detract from understanding it as an act of God done to His Glory and to His good purpose. From this perspective the creation is an act of God even if there is a process involved.I would see process in the creation of life and the universe over long periods of time. That there was process does not detract from its attribution to God.You iike Sean seem to see some process only in the creation of the physical universe up to the point of the crucible for life.

    I agree with much of what you have written here. However, there are some things that are too complex to arise through processes. Sean and I both believe that life is one of these things. Things that have come into existence via direct intelligent design rather than through processes give evidence of their intelligent design through certain tell-tale markers, as Sean has repeatedly pointed out. Furthermore, there is simply no evidence for abiogenesis. So again, I am quite content to admit that God has used processes, but in the creation of the universe itself and in the creation of life, I see Him taking a more direct role because that is what His word claims and where the scientific evidence points.




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    • Ellen White could have easily believed that the universe existed before creation week without having a knowledge of these esoteric scientific issues, and I submit to you that if her words mean anything, that was her position.

      Exactly…




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  41. Bob Helm: When you bring up such issues, you are making something very simple seem complex.

    Indeed you are correct. To me it seems very simple if we dont try to impose modern scientific ideas and cosmologies onto scripture and assume it is not talking about science. The desperate need for the plain reading to be scientific particularly seems incongruent when one takes a view that scripture should be read plainly as it reads and that it is inerrant. Sean’s expanding universe rotating around the throne of God and Isaiah image of a tent really being about an expanding universe seems rather astrological to me.

    The writer of Genesis is talking about the creation of the earth, the firmament and the things in the firmament. Beyond this was the higher heavens where God dwells. There is absolutely no conception of God creating a universe. This is the YEC (properly understood as young earth not young universe, perhaps we could for Seans benefit extend the acronym to YEC-YEC) that Genesis is talking about. YEC-YUC really is the bastard progeny brought forth by creation scientists that derives from trying to meld the plain reading of scripture with modern cosmologies. Cosmologies that claims that the distinction between everything within the raquia the firmament of our planet and what lay beyond up to the seventh heaven did not exist.




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    • The concept of a “rotating universe” is a statement from the writings of Ellen White – a concept that has only been very recently entertained by modern physicists. Also, she very clearly had the idea that the Earth is only a tiny speck in an enormous universe beyond – a universe which pre-existed the “creation week” of our tiny world. Beyond this, she was not an astrophysicist and I don’t believe it was God’s goal to make her one.

      Also, I agree that Moses was not likely aware of the extent of the universe when he was given a vision of Earth’s creation. I think it likely that he was writing down what he saw from a limited Earth-bound perspective. However, this perspective, though limited, makes sense as far as a literal description of what one would see during a literal creation week. Beyond this, Moses obviously had a universal perspective and understanding as well, to at least some degree, since he likely wrote the Book of Job and described a pre-existent universe with many “Sons of God” living before Adam and Eve were created on this little world. The writer of Hebrews also talks about other inhabited worlds in the universe.

      So, the concept that a universe did in fact pre-exist the Creation Week of our planet was not beyond the comprehension of these writers.

      To then argue that nothing from this pre-existing universe was thought to be visible from our planet, by Moses or the other writers of Scripture, seems more than a little dubious. It seems much more consistent to interpret these passages as Moses claiming that God created the entire universe, to include other inhabited worlds, as well as our little world – but God didn’t created life on all of these worlds at the same time.




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  42. Sean Pitman: After all, “A straightforward reading of the flow of thought in Genesis 1:1-3 has led the majority of Christian and Jewish interpreters in the history of interpretation to this position, hence this is called the traditional view.” How then can something so obviously “absurd” have become the “traditional view” among the majority of Jewish and Christian interpreters?

    What you also omit to say however is that the most of these traditionalist have taken the option that Rogers gives and have accepted old age both for the earth and for life on it. Jewish thought has never been afraid of conventional science and accept process for both the material universe and the origin of life and can interpret the scriptures in the light of scientific knowledge. This is now the catholic and the mainstream protestant view. It seems the evangelicals and fundamentalists are the ones who continue to reject process for life and the material universe. But evangelicals are as you are aware a mixed group and even here many such as Collins would go beyond your position of acceptance of process for material evolution and would also accept process for the origins of life.

    Bottom line is if you reject process for creation of life in deference to divine fiat for the origin of all life where is the logic for not also accept divine fiat for the origin of the material universe and rejecting process? Surely you are not now arguing for authority and tradition as the basis for accepting old earth creationism?

    I guess when you are desperate you will use arguments which you scathingly reject when used by others.




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    • What I reject is the notion that one must be forced into an exclusive “either/or” approach to creation. It’s not that God either used “process creation” alone or “fiat creation” alone. The truth is that there is a mix between the two – as the Bible clearly supports. The Bible talks about both the processes of natural law as well as the fiat miracles of God that are in fact detectable as working above and beyond the processes of nature law.

      I reference the works and ideas of others, not for myself, but to counter certain statements of your that are obviously exaggerated. Of course I do not use any particular “scholar” as authoritative beyond what anyone should be able to determine on an individual basis from the study of Scriptures and the empirical evidence in hand.




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  43. Sean Pitman: Also, Genesis appears to include all the stars. The statement about the stars certainly is not clearly limited to the planets within the solar system or even to the stars just within the Milky Way Galaxy.

    No Genesis talks about the firmament and the things that are in the firmament including sun moon and stars. Are you saying that we must interpret the firmament as the universe? That the stars in the firmament of this earth absolutely have to be the all stars in the universe?

    This does not in any way do justice to the text.




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    • The statement could very reasonably be interpreted as all the stars and galaxies in the universe whose light has actually reached Earth and are visible through the “firmament” or “expanse” or “vault” of the atmosphere (effectively the entire universe). There’s simply no requirement to limit a special subset of stars to the Genesis account and exclude the rest of the universe of stars and galaxies – especially when the Bible emphasizes the their huge number and the existence of other worlds (Genesis 15:5, Job 38:7, Hebrews 11:3). The only reason why you feel the need to interpret the “stars” of Genesis 1 as some sort of special subset of “stars” or “planets” within the universe is because you want to maintain your bias by removing from the Scriptures anything ability to say anything substantive or literal about empirical reality.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        This whole thread started because you disagreed with the contention in the cited paper
        1} Adventism has moved from a YEC-YEC position to a YLC position with its acceptance of very old age of the earth the moon the sun and the stars.
        2] You argue that in fact rather than YEC-YEC EG White and the pioneers accept that everything except life itself is very old.
        3] You bolster this argument with a few nonsequiturs
        a] YEC can only ever be young universe creationism
        b] EG White believed that there are planets in the universe that pre-existed creation of life on this earth
        c] These planets must be among the stars visible from earth and therefore no stars could have been created in the 7 days of creation
        4] You then argue that even if you do believe the earth is billions of years old then that doesn’t mean you believe it because of the science.
        5] It is because it is explicit in the text of the bible and in the writings of EG White.
        6] When it says in genesis that God made the stars it actually doesn’t mean that it was the visible stars because
        a] the stars referred to in Genesis must be the all the stars in the universe.
        b] It is inconceivable that God could have created some stars and the earth separate from the creation of the universe
        c] One should interpret these passages as Moses claiming that God created the entire universe, to include other inhabited worlds, as well as our little world – but God didn’t created life on all of these worlds at the same time.
        d] This means that the sun moon and stars described as made in Genesis where made to appear and were pre-exisiting much like David Copperfield’s aeroplane.

        It is little wonder the common man is oftern sceptical about the genius




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        • The fact is that the Bible and Ellen White both talk about other inhabited worlds that pre-existed our creation week. Therefore, it is quite clear that all of these authors believed that the universe did in fact pre-exist our creation week (which is quite different from the standard YEC position). I think that much is quite clear to most people who carefully consider the relevant passages.

          However, you’re claiming that even if these writers did believe that the universe and other inhabited worlds pre-existed the creation of our world, that they still somehow clearly believed that our “section” of the universe, to include all of the stars and galaxies that are in fact visible from our planet, had to have been created during the six literal days of our special creation week? Talk about a non sequitur! How likely is that? While it is true that Ellen White doesn’t say where the populated planets she visited were located within the universe relative to us, it is quite clear that she believed them to be somewhere within our universe – and I certainly don’t think that she would have ruled out the possibility that many of them could have been within our own galaxy. Such an idea is not at all beyond the realm of what Ellen White would have herself thought possible or even likely. The same is likely true for the Biblical writers as well.

          Also, those early church founders like Uriah Smith or W.C. Wilcox were not using arguments from long-age geological scientists as a basis for their belief that the universe likely pre-existed the “Creation Week” of Genesis. Their ideas were based on their own understanding of the Scriptures without regard to “radiometric dating”… etc. They simply said that they had no idea how old the universe or the basic material of the Earth might be – only that the basic material of the Earth could have pre-existed creation week. That’s it. And, they are by no means the first ones to come to this conclusion.

          In this light Rogers is the one who is presenting a true non sequitur argument by claiming that there are only two consistent options open to a serious student of the Bible (Old Universe/Old Life or Young Universe/Young Life) – and only one of these is rationally consistent with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence. Rogers goes on to argue that the YLC position evolved over time in an effort to meld the scientific evidence for the old age of the Earth (via radiometric dating and the like) with an effort to maintain some kind of literal interpretation of the Bible. None of that is true. Not only is the YLC position consistent with the available science, it is also consistent with the literal reading of the Biblical texts on the topic as well as with the claims of Ellen White regarding her visions on the topic and even with the beliefs of many of the founders of the Adventist Church who accepted the pre-existence of the universe – conclusions which were not entertained as an effort to incorporate the opinions of long-age geologists.




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  44. Sean Pitman: In fact, if I accepted neo-Darwinism like you have, I’d probably think very much like you think.

    No you would not because you are quite convinced that enlightenment empiricism is the basis for your Adventism and Christianity. This is evident in your claim of leaving all if it was not verifiable empirically.
    You place empirical evidence above all else. You do not manifest any regard for Christ as the manifestation of God on earth as something that must be apprehended by faith. Anyone who might believe despite empirical evidence is irrational and should be discounted as a worthless fideist.
    That is the intent of all that you have written and I find it highly unlikely that you would accept a Christianity based on faith should you not believe in a literal 6000 year history of life on earth.




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    • Look, you believe nothing that Jesus said regarding empirical reality. You only accept certain ethical claims of Christ. That’s it. Nothing else. If I came to such a position as this, I wouldn’t think to continue to go by the title of “Christian”. I’d call myself something else in order to more accurately represent my views…




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  45. pauluc:
    @Sean Pitman:

    Forget the semantics.You are arguing that the earth is billions of year old. You accept a gap creationism which was developed within a particularhistorical context in responseto geological evidence that the earth was very old.That is not the position of EG White nor of Martin Luther or early protestants who accepted a plain reading of scripture before the 19th century.

    What you are saying is not true. Thomas Chalmers developed the gap theory and tried to argue that the supposed vast ages for the geologic column, including the fossils, fitted into that gap before the old world was destroyed by a catastrophe and God recreated everything during the six days of creation week. Thus gap theorists gladly accept Lyellian uniformitarianism, and some may even accept a form of Darwinian evolution; they simply try to fit all this into their gap. But there is no evidence for a great catastrophe that formed a vast disconnect between the fossils and the modern biosphere,. This is not at all what YLCs believe. Furthermore, you say that our position is contrary to a plain reading of scripture, but what evidence can you provide suggesting that the account of the first day of creation begins in Gen 1:1 instead of Gen 1:3? It seems to me that in making this claim, you are the one who is ignoring the plain reading of scripture.




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    • @Bob Helm:
      Of Course you are right gap theory as you indicate was developed as a solution of a particular problem that old age of rocks and their contained fossils presented. Jack Provonsha is probably the only adventist that has espoused this traditional view of gap creationism. It seems to me YLC differing only from YEC-YEC by its advocacy of an old earth is a solution for which no problem exists. All problems that Gap creationists responded to can be accounted for by the combination of YEC and Flood Geology. I know Sean is an iconoclast and could be expected to argues against the YUC that no Adventist beyond the accolytes of CMI and AIG has seriously entertained to arrive at passive gap creationism but why do you have to distort the literalist interpretation of Genesis to advocate an old earth?
      What does it explain if all problems of age of the earth are solved by divine intervention in the YEC and Global Flood models? You do not seem to be accepting process as the mechanism for creation of the Universe or if you are you are carving off earth geology and a fiat creation of life as not subject to process. Why do you feel compelled to argue against the YEC -YEC position that says the earth sun moon and at least some part of the stars were created in the recent creation. Occam would have a field day with YLC when it was definition included recent creation of all life.

      As you can see Sean with his “possibly” and “could have been” responses to my question there is only flimsiest base for rejection of the earth sun moon and visible stars as products of the creation of 4004BC according to the Masoretic text.

      Help me I am lost here. What is the gain of advocacy of YLC logically or scientifically. it is a completely redundant hypothesis completely dependent on a particular reading of EG White and some unjustified assumption that stars are universal and indivisable and could only ever be created at one time. YLC does not explain age except of the precambrian rocks, all beyond that including all fossils date from a global flood 4000 years ago. Are you now accepting radiometric dating for the precambrian? If you are then fine but even that is subject to the apparent age argument of a YEC-YEC.

      You like Sean may question why I am even interested in this. Don’t I believe that God used process for inanimate and animate objects. I may accept that as the most logical and consistent position as a scientist but I am also a Christian and an Adventist and accept that to understand what the Bible actually says is important even if I may think that a non-literal interpretation is better than a literalist interpretation. As with all neo-orthodox I believe the text is inspired and matters profoundly as it is through the text God is revealed. To play fast and loose with its intent because of some supposed scientific presuppositions is poor scholarship and undermines that respect. You must at least divine what the text says before you start any attempt at reconciliation with other fields of learning or with empirical fact.




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      • The purpose of YLC is that it recognizes the pre-existence of the universe (unlike YEC), which is in line with the claims of the Bible and of Ellen White – who also wrote of pre-existent populated worlds. That’s the primary purpose of YLC.

        Given this primary claim, it reasonably follows that there is at least the potential for the basic material of the Earth to be quite old as well. There is no requirement, in either the claims found in the pages of Bible or Ellen White, for the basic material of the Earth to have been created during the “creation week” for our little planet. Could God have done it? Sure. However, does the text make it clear that God did do it this way? No. Not at all. In fact, the text seems to lean toward the idea that something was already there before God started manipulating materials in the formation of our planet. The fact that the observation of the stars isn’t mentioned until Day 4 also supports the idea that the solar system itself could also have existed prior to creation week since the stars most certainly did as well.

        There simply is no rational reason to believe that God created all the visible stars and galaxies on Day 4 of the creation week of our “atom” of a planet relative to the universe (as Ellen White describes it). Your suggestion that a valid reading of the text requires this assumption is just nonsense. Such an assumption is not at all required for the honest student of Scripture.

        And, the YLC position allows for such conclusions while still maintaining that both Ellen White and the Bible claim, in no uncertain terms, that life on this planet was entirely produced during one literal week… which also happens to be in line with the weight of empirical evidence.




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  46. Those who advocate some kind of “gap” theory in the first 5 verses of Genesis undermine scripture and will do so on other subjects as well as time goes by. We don’t go by logic or “common sense” when we endeavor to understand the bible. We first accept the clear declarations of scripture, and then seek to understand the continuity of any given revelation as it fits the whole of the word of God.

    Neither do we study science and then try to force scriptural declarations to fit any scientific knowledge. The age of anything at creation is not discernable. God created a full grown tree. How old was it? Adam was not a baby. How old was he? The rocks fall into this same dilemma. On day one, they could have been created a million years old. So it is useless and futile to examine any created thing and then declare you can determine how old the earth is by some scientific evaluation. You will eventually become an unbeliever in the bible and be skeptical on any and every other issue that nature can not affirm.

    The bible is not validated by human speculation, or even science. There is no viable “gap theory” in the first 5 verses.




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    • We don’t go by logic or “common sense” when we endeavor to understand the bible. We first accept the clear declarations of scripture, and then seek to understand the continuity of any given revelation as it fits the whole of the word of God.

      The problem here is that you are forced to use your own personal abilities for “logic and common sense” in order to understand or interpret the Bible. What might appear to you and your reasoning abilities to be a “clear declaration” may not be so clear or “logical” to someone else given their reasoning abilities and past experiences.




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  47. Sean Pitman: The purpose of YLC is that it recognizes the pre-existence of the universe (unlike YEC), which is in line with the claims of the Bible and of Ellen White – who also wrote of pre-existent populated worlds. That’s the primary purpose of YLC.

    And this purpose is complete fulfilled by the YEC-YEC that is Adventism’s traditional position. It is faithful to the Genesis account as Bob Pickle has pointed out. It is about the creation week bookended between the executive summary in verse 1:1 and the concluding summary in 2:1. It is about the creation of the planet earth and the expanse of the covering raquia into which the heavenly bodies are placed. Arguably you may be able to separate 1:1 from the rest of the narrative but 1:16,17 can hardly be clearer. It takes a 20th century mind to obscure the obvious meaning because of preconceptions about time and space a arguments about the universe or its indivisibility.




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    • I’m not sure what you mean by “YEC-YEC”? The YEC position does not recognize the pre-existence of the universe (because of the mention of the “stars” on Day 4). Pickle wants to maintain that the “stars” actually refer to the planets of the solar system or just to the visible stars, but perhaps not the entire universe. That position doesn’t make sense and is not required by a straightforward reading of the text or of the writings of Ellen White.

      As far as reading verses 16 and 17, as I’ve explained to you several times before, one doesn’t have to be a cosmologist or astrophysicist to describe what when sees from a limited perspective – which I think it what is going on here. It makes perfect sense as a description of the creation week from an Earth-bound perspective. Take, as an illustration, a little child describing seeing a television for the first time and saying that he saw little people inside a box. That’s a valid description of a real empirical observation. One should not take the position that the writers of the Bible were omniscient. They weren’t. They simply wrote down in their own words from their own limited perspectives what they saw. God did not dictate the Bible. Very few places in the Bible is God directly quoted.




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  48. pauluc:

    Indeed you are correct. To me it seems very simple if we dont try to impose modern scientific ideas and cosmologies onto scripture and assume it is not talking about science.The desperate need for the plain reading to be scientific particularly seems incongruent when one takes a view that scripture should be read plainly as it reads and that it is inerrant.Sean’s expanding universe rotating around the throne of God and Isaiah image of a tent really being about an expanding universe seems rather astrological to me.

    Please be careful about reading things into what I say that are not intended. I have never advocated strict Biblical inerrancy. Also, I have never heard of any evidence for a rotating universe, and when I don’t know about something, it is best to remain silent. Nor have I ever claimed that Isaiah’s comments about the tent refer to an expanding universe. I will agree with you that the Bible is not a science book; however, there is an interface between scripture and science, and this was always recognized right up until certain Enlightenment thinkers proposed putting science and Christianity into separate airtight compartments. This is the origin of fideism. It is completely alien to the New Testament and was unknown until the 18th century. Read the New Testament and notice the repeated appeals to prophecy and the facts of history to affirm Jesus’ resurrection. The apostles repeatedly appealed to powerful evidence, and Paul told King Agrippa that the Christ Event did not occur in a corner. How could you possibly think the apostles were fideists?

    With that said, my comment about making something simple seem complex was not directed at any interpretation of scripture. It was directed at your comments about inhabited worlds existing in other universes to try to explain away Ellen White’s clear statements indicating that she believed in an old universe. Ellen White knew nothing about other universes, and it is quite obvious what she meant.

    The writer of Genesis is talking about the creation of the earth, the firmament and the things in the firmament. Beyond this was the higher heavens where God dwells. There is absolutely no conception of God creating a universe.This is the YEC (properly understood as young earthnot young universe,perhaps we could for Seans benefit extend the acronym to YEC-YEC)that Genesis is talking about. YEC-YUC really is the bastard progeny brought forth by creation scientists that derives from trying to meld the plain reading of scripture with modern cosmologies.Cosmologies that claims that the distinction between everything within the raquia the firmament of our planet and what lay beyond up to the seventh heaven did not exist.

    The human author of Genesis did not write a scientific treatise. Nor did he have a vast vocabulary at his disposal. The English language has about a million words, whereas Hebrew only has about 30,000 words. This means that certain Hebrew words are very fluid – that is, they have more than one meaning and can fit very different contexts. Whatever is above the head is the raqia, which you have rendered “firmament,” but which is better rendered “expanse” – because is derived from the verb “raqa” – “to spread out.” This verb was sometimes used for beating out a sheet of metal, and the ancients may well have thought of the sky as something firm, but that meaning is not implicit in the word itself.

    Let me ask you something. If you were God, and you wanted to communicate with both ancient people and modern people about your actions in creating the world, how would you do it, assuming that people in different times have held very different cosmologies? The creation account is not myth, but after reading it carefully in Hebrew, I am struck by the fluidity of the words that are used. And I see this as a genuine mark of inspiration. I really think that God did inspire this account and that He wanted fluid words to be used so that it could be understood by both ancients and moderns. Indeed, one could hold to a flat earth cosmology with a solid dome sky and make good sense of Gen 1. The language can be interpreted from that perspective. But the language is so fluid that it can also be interpreted from the modern perspective.

    Let’s consider a few of the Hebrew words from Gen 1: 1) “raqia” – this word refers to something that is spread out, and some of the ancient people may have thought of a metalic sky that was beaten out. However, that meaning is not implicit in the word; “raqia” simply means “expanse,” which is how a modern person would describe the sky and whatever is beyond it. 2) “eretz” – this word means “earth” or “land.” The ancients may have thought of the earth as a flat piece of land that was surrounded by water, but the word also serves for what we consider the earth to be today, and it is so used in modern Hebrew. 3) “asah” – this word has about 20 different meanings, and those meanings can only be determined by context. The ancients may have thought that the luminaries were “made” ex nihilo on the 4th day, but another meaning of “asah” – “established” fits very well into the context of Gen 1:14-19 and does no violence to Hebrew grammar. I submit that it is legitimate to translate “asah” either way in Gen 1:16, but “established” actually fits the context better, because the luminaries were established in their role as time keepers on the 4th day. That is the main point of the pericope! 4) “nathan” – this verb can mean “to set” or “place,” and the ancients may well have understood Gen 1:17 to mean that the luminaries were literally set in a solid dome sky on the 4th day. However, the more frequent meaning of “nathan” is “to give” or “present.” So it is just as legitimate to translate this verb in 1:17 to mean that God presented the luminaries in the expanse of the sky on the 4th day, which fits a modern cosmology.

    No, Gen 1 is not a scientific document, but that does not mean that it is a myth. It is a sketch of how God created our world, given in simple language that is intelligible to both ancient and modern people, and those in between. Be aware that in New Testament times, almost everyone in the Roman Empire realized that the earth is a sphere, and they also had some concept of outer space as a series of crystaline shells in which the luminaries were embedded. But except for Aristarchus of Samos (who anticipated Copernicus), they still believed in geocentrism. God had to communicate with that society as well, and its cosmology was neither fully ancient or fully modern; it was somewhere in between. What a great task God faced, and He has used the frailty of human language to communicate His message about creation as effectively as possible to very different groups of people who have lived in different ages.

    So rather than writing the creation account off as an ancient flat earth myth, I encourage you to take it to heart as a simple but true message from our loving heavenly Father about how He created our world and its living organisms.




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    • Interesting and well-reasoned thoughts. I would only emphasize here that God did not directly write the Genesis account. It was written by a human being with limited knowledge from a limited perspective with limited language at his disposal. However, this does not mean that he wasn’t shown real historical events by an omnipotent God. It is just that he had to describe what he was shown himself. God did not dictate the language; He just inspired it.

      This means, then, that some statements in these passages are easier to understand in definitive terms than others. For example, from a limited perspective it may be quite difficult to understand the meaning of stars suddenly appearing in the sky overhead. How is one going to understand everything we understand about the universe today from what was probably a much more limited perspective? On the other hand, it is very difficult to argue that a description of “evenings and mornings” isn’t definitive as a very clear description of literal days – even from a very limited human perspective indeed.




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  49. Sean Pitman: In this light Rogers is the one who is presenting a true non sequitur argument by claiming that there are only two consistent options open to a serious student of the Bible (Old Universe/Old Life or Young Universe/Young Life) – and only one of these is rationally consistent with the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence.

    My reading of the article is that he is arguing if you take process and science as the basis for an Old universe and accept big bang cosmology with the ages it entails logically you really have no argument with process and science in terms of life’s creation. They are one and same process. If you accept young universe and divine fiat then logically young life follows. Having accepted divine fiat for life’s origin what is the compunction for accepting any science for process for the creation of the physical material universe. He is arguing the logical consistency. YEC-YUC is the most consistent position if you argue either the divine fiat creation of life or of the Cosmos.

    He is not trying to cover every contingency and certainly none of this may apply to you who does not accept the Big Bang cosmology or its time frame ( or do you?) but advocate old age for the universe and young age for life on earth but perhaps you do invoke indeterminant age for life on other planets but perhaps more recent than 7-8 billion years when the cosmos settled enough to allow God to settle in heaven’s throne room at the centre of the spinning universe, create angels and populate other planets. I am still curious what is the evidence that EG White thought that these populated worlds predated our creation? I cant see it was clear from the descriptions of the 1846 visions I have seen.

    I really have trouble following how much of big bang cosmology you accept and how much you do not.It seems to vary with the day and the argument. I dont know from what you have written how much you accept as process and how much you accept as supernatural by divine fiat. Most people have a more consistent acceptance of process.

    I am sure Rogers has, as a science lecturer at an Adventist institution, encountered a lot of ideas on origins but such a syncretic view may indeed be unique. He seems to have elected to tackle this from a more mainstream perspective.




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    • My reading of the article is that he is arguing if you take process and science as the basis for an Old universe and accept big bang cosmology with the ages it entails logically you really have no argument with process and science in terms of life’s creation. They are one and same process. If you accept young universe and divine fiat then logically young life follows. Having accepted divine fiat for life’s origin what is the compunction for accepting any science for process for the creation of the physical material universe. He is arguing the logical consistency. YEC-YUC is the most consistent position if you argue either the divine fiat creation of life or of the Cosmos.

      That’s exactly what Rogers is arguing. He leaves no room for the possibility that God would create anything after His original creative act of bringing the universe into existence. That’s a non sequitur argument. It doesn’t follow that God would be limited in His creativity to only one point in time. It does not follow that just because God creates a “process” that therefore this “process” can explain everything else in the universe all by itself without requiring any additional special creative acts of God. Even you argue that God is able to create a small subset of stars within a pre-existent universe. Also, it would be very interesting for the created intelligences who already exist within the universe to see first-hand God’s creative power in action in the creation of another world.

      Beyond this, the very notion that God would deliberately create life on any world through a “process” that requires pain, suffering, and death of sentient creatures of any kind is downright evil. It is not reflective of the Christian-style God described throughout the Bible – a God who is actually concerned when even a little sparrow falls to the ground. It also doesn’t explain the many miraculous acts of God listed throughout the Bible that simply cannot be explained by “process” arguments – such as instantly turning water into wine, healing the blind, curing leprosy, parting the Red Sea, the 10 plagues of Egypt, the burning bush that didn’t burn, the resurrection, and on and on and on.

      So, you see, the argument that there can only be creation by either “process alone” or “Divine fiat alone” is nonsense – especially for a Bible-believing Christian.

      He is not trying to cover every contingency

      Rogers is trying to cover pretty much every contingency in his argument – trying to leave one with an “all-or-nothing” choice.

      and certainly none of this may apply to you who does not accept the Big Bang cosmology or its time frame ( or do you?)

      As I’ve already explained, I do believe in the evidence for a beginning for the universe many billions of years ago.

      but advocate old age for the universe and young age for life on earth but perhaps you do invoke indeterminant age for life on other planets but perhaps more recent than 7-8 billion years when the cosmos settled enough to allow God to settle in heaven’s throne room at the centre of the spinning universe, create angels and populate other planets. I am still curious what is the evidence that EG White thought that these populated worlds predated our creation? I cant see it was clear from the descriptions of the 1846 visions I have seen.

      Many times Ellen White speaks of populated worlds that pre-existed our own world and even had their own trees of “Life” and the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Consider this passage again:

      All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s redeemed. Unfettered by mortality, they wing their tireless flight to worlds afar,—worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe, and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul. With unutterable delight the children of earth enter into the joy and the wisdom of unfallen beings. They share the treasures of knowledge and understanding gained through ages upon ages in contemplation of God’s handiwork. With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation,—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator’s name is written, and in all are the riches of his power displayed. (EGW, GC, p. 677-678)

      I asked one of them [on one of these other unfallen worlds] why they were so much more lovely than those on the earth. The reply was, “We have lived in strict obedience to the commandments of God, and have not fallen by disobedience, like those on the earth.” Then I saw two trees, one looked much like the tree of life in the city. The fruit of both looked beautiful, but of one they could not eat. They had power to eat of both, but were forbidden to eat of one. Then my attending angel said to me, “None in this place have tasted of the forbidden tree; but if they should eat, they would fall.”

      Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated… I asked him if this was the place he was taken to from the earth. He said, “It is not; the city is my home, and I have come to visit this place.” He moved about the place as if perfectly at home. (EGW, EW, p. 290).

      Here she is clearly describing these worlds as witnessing all the struggles our world went through in our rebellion against God… and even having to resist the very same temptation to which Adam and Eve were subjected with the same access of Satan to a “forbidden tree”.

      I really have trouble following how much of big bang cosmology you accept and how much you do not.It seems to vary with the day and the argument. I dont know from what you have written how much you accept as process and how much you accept as supernatural by divine fiat. Most people have a more consistent acceptance of process.

      Where have I been inconsistent? I’ve already told you that I believe that the universe had a beginning, likely billions of years ago as far as I can tell, and that it functions by the natural laws created during its formation. I’ve already made it clear that these laws cannot explain the origin of various other things that exist within this universe – such as the origin and diversity of life on this planet or the fine-tuned features of this particular world and solar system needed to support that life. How is this unclear to you?

      I am sure Rogers has, as a science lecturer at an Adventist institution, encountered a lot of ideas on origins but such a syncretic view may indeed be unique. He seems to have elected to tackle this from a more mainstream perspective.

      The YLC perspective is and always has been mainstream within Adventism. There is nothing I’m presenting here that’s unique or outside of standard Adventist thinking.




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  50. pauluc:
    @Bob Helm:

    “Of Course you are right gap theory as you indicate was developed as a solution of a particular problem that old age of rocks and their contained fossils presented. Jack Provonsha is probably the only adventist that has espoused this traditional view of gap creationism.It seems to me YLC differing only from YEC-YEC by its advocacy of an old earth is a solution for which no problem exists.All problems that Gap creationists responded to can be accounted for by the combination of YEC and Flood Geology.I know Sean is an iconoclast and could be expected to argues against the YUC that no Adventist beyond the accolytes of CMI and AIG has seriously entertained to arrive at passive gap creationism but why do you have to distort the literalist interpretation of Genesis to advocate an old earth?”

    You are probably correct. Jack Provonsha was the only well-known Adventist I am aware of who advocated what is usually understood as the gap theory. Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. I am not really interested in “literalist interpretations.” I am interested in good exegesis that arrives at what the text is actually saying, not what is imposed on the text. Again I make the plea that you tell me where I am distorting the text of Gen 1 to suit my fancy. Simply making a bald assertion without providing evidence will not convince me. I require evidence for everything I believe. So please provide the evidence that I am distorting Gen 1!

    “What does it explain if all problems of age of the earth are solved by divine intervention in the YEC and Global Flood models?You do not seem to be accepting process as the mechanism for creation of the Universe or if you are you are carving off earth geology and a fiat creation of life as not subject to process. Why do you feel compelled to argue against the YEC -YEC position that says the earth sun moon and at least some part of the stars were created in the recent creation.Occam would have a field day with YLC when it was definition included recent creation of all life.”

    Why do I feel compelled to argue against the YEC position that says the earth, sun, moon, and at least part of the stars were created in the recent creation? I’ll be blunt with you Paul. My first and foremost reason is that this position is based on a superficial reading of the text in an English Bible. It ignores the meaning of the Hebrew, and it pays scant attention to the very carefully crafted structure of Gen 1. Good exegesis does not yield the YEC position! Let me tell you something. Once, for a period of time, I held to the YEC position, but after learning Hebrew and carefully studying Gen 1, I realized that this was not representative of the message of the text. I did not change my mind because of scientific data; I changed my mind because of what the text really says.

    “As you can see Sean with his “possibly” and “could have been” responses to my question there is only flimsiest base for rejection of the earth sun moon and visible stars as products of the creation of 4004BC according to the Masoretic text.”

    Paul, have you paid attention to anything I have posted about these issues? If you have, why do you refuse to interact with me about them? Again – simply making these bald assertions without backing them up is not convincing. Pray tell, where did you get the date 4004 BC? You will not find any statement in scripture that creation week was in 4004 BC. That came from Ussher. Do you plan to go a step further and assert that Adam was created at 9 AM on October 23, 4004 BC, that he sinned at noon, and that he found God’s forgiveness at 3PM? None of that is in scripture either; it all came from Lightfoot. You need to stop reading the opinions of these 17th century Englishmen into scripture, because the Bible doesn’t say any of this!

    “Help me I am lost here.What is the gain of advocacy of YLC logically or scientifically.it is a completely redundant hypothesis completely dependent on a particular reading of EG White and some unjustified assumption that stars are universal and indivisable and could only ever be created at one time. YLC does not explain age except of the precambrian rocks, all beyond that including all fossils date from a global flood 4000 years ago. Are you now accepting radiometric dating for the precambrian? If you are then fine but even that is subject to the apparent age argument of a YEC-YEC.”

    1) What do you mean by completely redundant, and why is this true of YLC?
    2) Ellen White advocated an old universe, but I am not sure whether she believed that the material of the earth pre-dated creation week. My take on Ellen White’s comments is that they can be taken either way. I respect Ellen White as one who had a new covenant prophetic gift, but since she repeatedly stated that the Bible is our only rule of faith, I am more concerned with what it says. I am happy that Ellen White affirmed an old universe, and I also affirm her warnings about the errors of Lyell and Darwin (though she did not mention them by name), but she is not my final authority!
    3) I repeat. My foremost reason for accepting YLC is exegesis of scripture. However, I am happy to note that it also fits the scientific evidence much better. It is overwhelmingly clear that the universe is very old. Recent measurements of the Hubble constant indicate that it is about 13.7 billion years old. The solar system also looks old to me. For example, I cannot possibly account for all the impact craters on the moon and other bodies in a few thousand years. The proportion of hydrogen and helium in the sun suggests that hydrogen fusion has been occurring on the sun for a very long time. Also, while I agree that there are problems with radiometric dating, I do not discount it as much as Sean does. I believe that the deep time radiometric dates that are obtained represent the genuine ages of certain very old minerals in igneous rock. I see no reason to discount this, although I also suspect that parent daughter isotope ratios were not completely reset to zero at the time of the flood. I also see real value in C14 dating. On the other hand, the Grand Canyon and many other features of geomorphology and stratigraphy do not look old to me. They look catastrophic!

    “You like Sean may question why I am even interested in this.Don’t I believe that God used process for inanimate and animate objects.I may accept that as the most logical and consistent position as a scientist but I am also a Christian and an Adventist and accept that to understand what the Bible actually says is important even if I may think that a non-literal interpretation is better than a literalist interpretation.As with all neo-orthodox I believe the text is inspired and matters profoundly as it is through the text God is revealed.To play fast and loose with its intent because of some supposed scientific presuppositions is poor scholarship and undermines that respect.You must at least divine what the text says before you start any attempt at reconciliation with other fields of learning or with empirical fact.”

    I agree with your last sentence completely. Butchering the text will never do, and if you think I am doing this, I implore you to clarify how you think I am doing it.

    I am glad to affirm you as a fellow Christian, although I am genuinely puzzled as to why you are a Christian. Believing something without evidence doesn’t make any sense to me. I say that cautiously because I don’t want to be a stumbling block to your faith in Christ. I very much want you to cling to Christ in faith, and I genuinely hope to meet you in the Lord’s kingdom someday. I just wish you would open your mind to evidence for Christianity because it is real and plentiful.

    I have a harder time accepting your Adventist credentials because I was taught that one of the reasons the Holy Spirit raised up the Advent movement was to counteract Darwin’s views. And in fact, Rev 14:7 contains a call to worship the Creator. I rather think that “Adventist evolutionist” is an oxymoron. Once macro-evolution is accepted, the incarnation, the atonement, justification by faith alone, the second advent, and the Sabbath all cease to make sense. As one of Madelyn O’Hair’s sons commented in “The American Atheist”: “Tear down the creation account, and you will find the dead body of the Son of God in the rubble.” I hope I’m not offending you in saying these things because I wish to be kind, but I feel I must kindly state what I perceive to be the truth. I find the YLC model for understanding natural history to be something very beautiful, and I wish you could share my enthusiasm for it. Accepting YLC might bring some scorn down on you, but I really think it would make you a more consistent Adventist Christian and a better scientist. I’ll leave it at that!




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  51. Gordon Engen in 1966 wrote thus on page 4 of http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/LUH/LUH19660419-V58-16.pdf

    Are some in our midst working so hard on acceptance that they are willing to construe God’s Word as wonderful prose, challenging philosophy, and good literature, but not necessarily so? Do they say that the Spirit of Prophecy must take a back seat to geological theories which scientists have “proven?” Those who would do this are doing more than merely taking their fingers out of the holes in the dike. They are opening the entire series of floodgates, thus eroding the fundamental principles which set our church apart as the remnant church, keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Prophecy. Each step in this direction is followed by another until the point of no return has been passed. It may begin ever so innocently in the concept of pre-existing matter before creation, but it leads a half-step at a time to the existence of life before creation, to the doubting of the creation story as recorded, to the acceptance of creation covering long periods of time, to the various theories of evolution, to the very heart of the Sabbath question—to the concept that it’s not all necessarily so and that the Spirit of Prophecy served its purpose for a bygone age.

    Engen gives as the first step in a hypothetical path toward infidelity the idea that there was pre-existing matter before creation, and it is clear from the following clause what he meant by that.

    I don’t have time at the moment to keep up with this conversation, and to do research into the topic as well. So I will do the latter and post here some items, leave the catching up until maybe next week.

    John Gill (1697-1771) wrote the following on Gen. 1:16 in his commentary:

    [He made] the stars also; to rule by night, #Ps 136:9 not only the planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, but the vast numbers of stars with which the heavens are bespangled, and which reflect some degree of light upon the earth; with the several constellations, some of which the Scriptures speak of, as Arcturus, Orion, Pleiades, and the chambers of the south, #Job 9:9 #Job 38:31-32 Am 5:8 though some restrain this to the five planets only.

    Gill routinely gives various interpretations, often citing numerous Jewish scholars, but makes clear which interpretation he favors. Thus in the above he makes clear that he favors the thought that the stars of Gen. 1:16 include the stars of the universe. But he admits that there are those who limit those stars to the stars of our solar system.

    Unfortunately, in this case, Gill does not identify who these folks are, so we have no way to know whether they include Maimonides or Rashi.

    But we do know from this statement that the idea of limiting of the stars of Gen. 1:16 did not originate with me, and that it was common enough prior to 1771 (or prior to 1748 if that’s when that volume was published) to warrant inclusion by John Gill in his commentary.

    At http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/FT/FT19111227-V03-46.pdf W. M. Crothers in 1911 has an article entitled, “When Was the Earth Created?” Crothers uses 8T 258-259 to attack the idea that “instead of the earth being really created, or brought into existence, during the six days of Genesis 1, God during that time only formed it into a habitable globe out of matter which he had before created and which had previously existed in elementary form and chaotic state.for untold ages.” He also cites PP 47 to show that the foundations of the earth were laid during the 6 days of creation, not previously.

    These statements to the true believer in the third angel’s message, are more reliable than all the findings and theories of men; and, if thoroughly believed and remembered, will save us from being deceived into adopting error; and in harmony with them nearly all of our translators and commentators will interpret Gen.1:1 to signify the making of the earth out of nothing as a part of the six days’ work. “Beware lest any man spoil you thru philosophy and vain deceit” (Ibid.).

    Looks like Crothers felt strongly about the issue.

    J.N. Andrews was clear that the sun and moon were created during the creation week, but when speaking about Day 4 he would say that they “appeared” at that time. Here’s is a fuller statement by him as to what he meant:

    On the fourth day God caused the sun and moon and stars to appear as light-bearers in the heavens. By this we are not to understand that these heavenly bodies were this day created; for they were doubtless included in the work of the creation of “the heaven” on the first day. As the earth during the first three days underwent a great transformation, we may reasonably conclude that a like work was carried forward in the heavenly bodies during that time. And thus, when the fourth day arrived, they were ready to be made light-bearers to the earth. (Sermons on the Sabbath and Law, p. 8)

    It seems clear from the above that Andrews did not believe that the sun and moon existed as we know them today from Day 1 onward.




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    • As today, there are those who felt strongly on both sides of this issue from the very beginnings of the Adventist Church. However, in studying this question from what is available in the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, it is quite clear that the universe pre-existed the creation week of our little planet and that the question of if any basic material of the planet pre-existed creation week remains open.




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  52. Sean Pitman: Beyond this, the very notion that God would deliberately create life on any world through a “process” that requires pain, suffering, and death of sentient creatures of any kind is downright evil. It is not reflective of the Christian-style God described throughout the Bible – a God who is actually concerned when even a little sparrow falls to the ground. It also doesn’t explain the many miraculous acts of God listed throughout the Bible that simply cannot be explained by “process” arguments – such as instantly turning water into wine, healing the blind, curing leprosy, parting the Red Sea, the 10 plagues of Egypt, the burning bush that didn’t burn, the resurrection, and on and on and on.

    This really is a very tired argument that does not at all get better or more compelling with repetition. How can you as a soldier be so squeamish about death. You who has previously taken a strong stand against pacificism and suggested that Heaven is only a peaceful place because of the doctrine of overwhelming force and the civil war that established that peace. DId not God Himself murder the first animal after the fall when Adams vegan approach to clothing failed? DId not God prefer the dead animal than the offering of vegetable in the narrative of Cain and Abel. Wasn’t the sacrificial system pointing to God himself based on sacrifice and death. Isn’t atonement by death and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Wasn’t our salvation purchased through his blood? According to your logic Gods method of salvation is “downright evil”. Of course you are right. Let the obfuscation begin.




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    • I know that you don’t believe in the story of Adam and Eve as literal history. However, consider that all of the examples you cite here are post-Fall examples… all a consequence to the moral Fall of mankind. Given that these events actually happened as described, do you not think that having to sacrifice a sentient animal would have caused both God and Adam significant pain? – which was the entire point? – to get Adam to understand the seriousness and enormity of the cost of his sin? – to include the pain and suffering involved with Jesus coming as a sacrificial covering to save mankind? Do you not understand that this is why the sacrifice of “fruit and vegetables” from the garden would not have the same seriousness or effect? – because Adam actually did have empathy for the innocent lamb and would have naturally felt empathy and pain to see it suffer and die? – because of what he did which resulted in the suffering and death of the innocent? Does that not make sense to you?

      The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty. A star of hope illumined the dark and terrible future and relieved it of its utter desolation. (EGW, PP, p. 68).

      This description of animal sacrifices ordained by God is far more in line with a God who never intended that death and suffering should ever exist in His universe compared to your far more heartless position that such death and suffering is of no real consequence and should illicit from us no repulsion or negative emotion of any kind – that we should be fine with the death and suffering of animals without giving it a second thought. Such an attitude is often exhibited in sociopaths who are unable to experience empathy for man or beast – who actually enjoyed torturing and killing animals as children…

      So, please don’t try to tell me that you actually believe that a good God would deliberately create using a mechanism of suffering and death for sentient creatures of any kind. Such a situation would never have been His original ideal for a “good” and “perfect” world! If you don’t believe that the deliberate torture and killing of animals simply to create what God could have created with a snap of His fingers would be evil and sociopathic, why are Earth are you a pacifist? – if you see no problem at all with the suffering and death of sentient creatures? Or, is your empathy strictly reserved for humans? – that the suffering of sentient animals is simply a necessary evil in a carbon-based world? I’m sorry, but that’s absolute nonsense and not at all reflective of the God of the Bible.

      Of course, this does not discount the fact that there are indeed necessarily evils in an evil world – to include the use of force to maintain peace and order against those who would destroy and/or torment the innocent (to include the police and military, even in Heaven, to avoid anarchy). However, such a world is not at all an ideal or perfect world. A good and perfect God would never have deliberately designed a system that was, from its very beginning, intended to be dependent upon suffering and death and the selfish dog-eat-dog code of the “survival of the fittest”. If you wouldn’t call that evil, I’m very sorry for you…




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        We have been over this all before. I do not at all believe in your God of vengeance that is modelled after your earthly republic. A republic ostensibly the most Christian in the world where the story of a coward with a gun who from a distance killed more people than anyone before becomes a box office hit. A republic where violence is the solution to every conflict.

        I believe in an incarnate God who lived the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. A kenotic God who died because when the love of God is manifest to the natural man he is subject to the the only think that is known violent death.

        Either what was recorded in Matthew 5 and the synoptic Gospels is real or it is according to your model of reality a simplistic version of what is real.

        Do you really think that supernova and the big bang were peaceful gentle and loving. That there was no violent or wasteful events in the 13 billion years of the creation of the universe? The natural is always self seeking and selfish with little regard for anything beyond our survival.

        That is the essence of sin and the natural man. The nature of carbon based live as the progeny of a process of creation is not peaceful or non-violent. That is the message that the incarnate God seeks to convey. That the transcendent way is the way of the Cross. Of love unto the point of death as Philipians 2 would have it. God ask us to rise above the tooth for a tooth that is the way of the world. To transcend evil just as He did with generous Grace and Love. By never repaying evil with evil. Without that Adventism and Christianity is worthless.

        I may be wrong but I certainly will not take as any value the word of a man who though he may well worry about the death of a swallow and may well shed a tear as he puts a bullet in an man’s brain for the sake of following orders or because of his republic.




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        • Do you really think that supernova and the big bang were peaceful gentle and loving. That there was no violent or wasteful events in the 13 billion years of the creation of the universe?

          What is non-loving or wasteful about a “big bang” where no sentient creature is hurt or killed? You, like Rogers, mistakenly equate an event where only non-living matter is involved with “violence” that does actually involve sentient living creatures. That’s a ridiculous comparison on its face! You and Rogers should know better than to try to float such nonsense. Think about what you’re saying here! No one cares if a bunch of rocks are blown up. However, everyone would care if a bunch of human babies or even dogs were tortured and killed or blown up “just because”. Surely you can tell the different?!

          The natural is always self seeking and selfish with little regard for anything beyond our survival.

          Mindless nature is not self-seeking. It’s just mindless is all. It functions according to set laws and cannot do otherwise. That’s it. If you cross these laws, you’re going to get hurt and even killed. That’s a fact.

          However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death. Nothing can life forever separated from God. Only God is eternal and only God has life within Himself. Everything else borrows its existence, its life, from God.

          That is the essence of sin and the natural man. The nature of carbon based live as the progeny of a process of creation is not peaceful or non-violent.

          Oh please. Mankind was originally made, in a sinless state, from the very dust of the ground as carbon-based life forms. Yet, there is absolutely no mention of suffering or death before the moral Fall of mankind when man chose to step away from the constant regenerative power of God. Your argument that God originally created man in a “violent and non-peaceful” world is absolutely nonsense from the Christian perspective. Such an argument is inherently anti-Christian.

          That is the message that the incarnate God seeks to convey. That the transcendent way is the way of the Cross. Of love unto the point of death as Philipians 2 would have it. God ask us to rise above the tooth for a tooth that is the way of the world. To transcend evil just as He did with generous Grace and Love. By never repaying evil with evil. Without that Adventism and Christianity is worthless.

          While it is true that God does call us to be loving and to not follow the results that selfishness that rebellion against His laws produces, it is not true that God originally created this world as a violent non-peaceful place before the moral Fall of mankind! You’re completely confusing these points… blaming God for coming up with the idea of violence and selfishness affecting sentient creatures to begin with! You’re the one crediting God with the very origin of all of this evils suffering – rather than putting the blame on Satan and the deliberate rebellion of Adam and Eve (whom you don’t believe ever literally existed)! You simply have no concept of the reality of a moral Fall of mankind and the changes that resulted in this world as a consequence of that Fall or Rebellion of mankind against the governance of God. That is why your view of God and of Christianity is so twisted…

          I may be wrong but I certainly will not take as any value the word of a man who though he may well worry about the death of a swallow and may well shed a tear as he puts a bullet in an man’s brain for the sake of following orders or because of his republic.

          Oh please. Even you appreciate the need for a police force to uphold law and order. Beyond this, who are you to accuse me of blindly following orders? You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Just so you know, I was put up for court martial in the army, not once, but twice for refusing to follow what I thought were immoral orders. Admiral Black, the highest ranking chaplain in the services at that time, was actually going to testify at one of my trials. But, when they found out he was coming, they dropped the charges – unfortunately. I would have liked to have seen what would have happened when he showed up.

          In any case, I do answer to God first, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the need for governments with military and police forces to maintain ethical laws and civil order whenever and wherever these are threatened.




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        • @Sean Pitman: Why am I not surprised. An iconoclast like you, an expert in every field being told what to do. Your army record would be a fascinating read but I supposed would be censored if it is subject to freedom of information. You and an institution such as the army which relies on some semblance of a chain of command I think are not a great fit. I am surprised why you event bothered.
          Yes of course I appreciate that there is an army and a police force and I pray for them just as Paul suggested but does that mean they are institutions to which Christians should belong. There are occupations that Christians morally would feel inappropriate. Sex industry, casino operator, hit man, assassin and mercenary services I think would fall into that category. Maybe you would disagree on all or some of them.

          EG White and the Adventist church once had a position on military service and moral position which was part of the teachings of Adventism. As a US based church we have now discarded these outmoded ideas influenced as they were by mthodists, quakers and anabaptists. I am sure you will tell me that I am reading EG White wrong and that she did believe in participation in holy war just as I am wrong in not seeing that she believed the earth to be billions of years old.




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        • So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath. Also, I cannot believe that you compared those who work as policemen or soldiers to those who work as hit men, mercenaries, or who run prostitution rings. That’s really uncalled for. Even Jesus honored those who worked as military men in His day – and said nothing against their profession. In fact, the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, repeatedly affirms the need for military service to support the civil peace of governments.

          As far as Ellen White’s position on military service is concerned, consider the following:

          We have just said farewell to three of our responsible men in the office who were summoned by the government to serve for three weeks of drill. It was a very important stage of our work in the publishing house, but the government calls do not accommodate themselves to our convenience. They demand that young men whom they have accepted as soldiers shall not neglect the exercise and drill essential for soldier service. We were glad to see that these men with their regimentals had tokens of honor for faithfulness in their work. They were trustworthy young men… (Ellen G. White Uncopied Letter 23, 1886. Written from Basel, Switzerland, Sept. 2, 1886)

          When World War I broke out Ellen White gave no other instruction in writing which would bear on the duty of those called to military service. In fact, in oral conversation she counseled against defying military authority.

          What is also amazing here is that you speak in such strong and even hateful terms against anyone who works in the police force or military yet you see absolutely no problem with the death and suffering of sentient animals or even humans over millions of years via the very painful and selfish mechanism of “survival of the fittest”. No big deal – right?




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    • @pauluc: I know this argument is repeated often, but that doesn’t mean it is tired or wrong. All the instances of sacrifice that you mention are post-fall and do not reflect God’s original plan. In God’s original plan, moral perfection was the norm, and any deviation from this imperils the happiness of the entire universe. This is why the death penalty is attached to breaking God’s law and why substitutionary atonement is necessary. But that doesn’t make it nice; God’s original plan was much better. In the same way, to quote General Sherman (from the American Civil War), “War is hell.” But sadly, in this fallen world, war is sometimes necessary to prevent even greater evil. But suffering, war, and death have never been a loving God’s will.

      The existence of predation has bothered many people who have found it irreconcilable with a God of love. It bothered Charles Darwin, who was gradually driven toward agnosticism by it. Darwin really did make a valiant effort to be a theistic evolutionist, but the contradictions were too great for him. It also bothers the contemporary philosopher, Quentin Smith, who became an atheist because of it. Read the following article by Quentin Smith. I don’t agree with his atheistic conclusions, but I think he has a valid point, and I also think I understand why he is an atheist. I believe in a very loving God Who has never desired suffering and death for human beings or animals.

      infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/evil_laws.html




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  53. Paul, you still have not interacted with any of my recent posts. You keep saying that YLC violates a straight-forward reading of Gen 1, but you have not explained your reasoning on this. I really would like to hear from you on this and on my suggestion that the Hebrew wording in Gen 1 can fit ancient or modern cosmology.




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  54. Bob Helm: I believe in a very loving God Who has never desired suffering and death for human beings or animals.

    And yet the response according to you to that transgression of man is that He conferred death and suffering not just on the culpible pair and mankind but on all life on earth. Do you believe in an omnipotent God or not? Even our Justice system hold the perpetrator responsible and does not kill all the family members for the evil of one man. Why should God be less just than our fallible system? Of course we dont know what is the ultimate plan of God and can only accept what is and accept by faith our position that life and growth can continue into eternity with no death. As it was in the beginning. That is the literalists faith position but I fear it does leave any room for any science of what is and it would be best not to allow for any science in that schemata.

    Something does not compute in this model and account of the fall and I like everyone struggle with the problem of evil and death. But I do see death as an inevitable consequence of carbon based life based on growth. Most death has a natural cause. A cancer gene, a plaque in a coronary artery an infectious disease a fall from impossible heights, sudden impact with a stationary object while sitting in a small metal box travelling at many meters for second. These are not evil these are natural consequence of life and of natural law. Did God do it this way. I suspect yes but you cannot conceive of it but then again I have not found anyone who can conceive of immortal life for carbon based life that grows and expands without death and turnover. In medicine and biology we call that a cancer. there is a symmetry and a balance. Life Growth and Death. They are the principles of all life we see around us.
    I can see and appreciate the life we see around us as of God and his creation. There is indeed beauty among the ugly. But is it evil and suffering that God enjoys? No more than he might enjoy the consequence of his gift of free will. The HPTFTU that is the natural man. Is free will worth it? Is carbon based life worth it? Is say yes praise the Lord.

    What is evil then; Now a man plunging a bayonet into a mans chest that rises to the level of an act of conscious will and under almost all circumstances is evil.

    Religion is concerned about the injustice of death particularly death as Isaiah says when the person is less than 100 years old. Belief in God is about seeking to transcend the carbon based life where there is suffering and death to live beyond what is. The Judeo Christian traditions say that God is beyond all this but asks us to live now as we would then. We are judged morally by how we live in the now according to the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven not by some meaningless orthodoxy that has no consequence.




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    • What is evil then; Now a man plunging a bayonet into a mans chest that rises to the level of an act of conscious will and under almost all circumstances is evil.

      And how is that any different from God doing the same thing when it is clearly in His power to create without the use of suffering and death for innocent sentient creatures?

      You confuse the moral fall of mankind and the resulting suffering for innocent creatures under man’s domain with God’s original intent to create using a mechanism of suffering and pain from the very beginning. You yourself don’t really like all the suffering and pain, but you consider it a necessary evil. You actually do see it as evil, but you think it somehow necessary in a carbon-based world. You cannot bring yourself to even imagine that an omnipotent God would be able to create carbon-based life without the need for any sentient creatures to have to suffer or die.

      Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…




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  55. Bob Helm: I agree with your last sentence completely. Butchering the text will never do, and if you think I am doing this, I implore you to clarify how you think I am doing it.

    You didnt respond to my previous questions to you which would have clarified my understanding of your view. They seem to have been hijacked by Sean and fallen off the bottom of the list of comments.
    Comments of January 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm
    http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/avondale-college-arguing-in-favor-of-darwinian-evolution/comment-page-1/#comment-64310

    Let me try to summarize what I have gleaned of your understanding of origins in broad terms.

    1] I think you believe in the process of the big bang and evolution of the cosmos over 17billion years with potential for God to intervene miraculously outside of natural law and process at any time and as frequently as need to account for the observations.
    2] I dont know whether or not you think that heaven is a material place or that angels are physical material beings as does Sean
    3] I think your understanding is that the other occupied planets EG White references are some place in the Universe and may be in our solar system our galaxy.
    4] I think you agree with Sean that it took around 7-8 billion years for the condensation and cooling of planet on which God acted miraculously to place life just as he did Heaven as the throne room of God.
    5] I think you agree with Sean that the earth and our solar system is several billion of years old and formed by natural process consequent to the big bang
    6] You therefore think based on science that the earth the sun moon and stars could not have been created around 6000 years ago when life was created on planet earth.
    7] You seem to interpret Genesis independently of this understanding of the “scientific” age of the earth.
    8] Part of that interpretation is that “made” in Genesis 1 is actually “presented” or “made to appear” and is consistent with a very old earth that was pre-formed.
    9] I cannot see why it is legitimate to make the sun moon and stars to appear but not living organisms? I am no greek scholar but it seems “made” is the same whatever the object in Genesis 1. Is this not true?

    “Tear down the creation account, and you will find the dead body of the Son of God in the rubble.”

    I am not offended in any way. This is the typical response of someone who is concrete in thought and believes that literalistic interpretation of the genesis creation account is exhaustive of its meaning. I am a creationist who has a doctrine of creation in common with all Christian but does not think that doctrine of creation has to be restricted and linked to one particular theory of creation.




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    • @pauluc:

      1. The big bang was not a process, but it was followed by processes. Also, recent measurements of the Hubble Constant suggest that the big bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago, not 17 billion years ago. But yes, I think it likely that what cosmologists call the big bang and what theologians call God’s ex nihilo creation of the universe were the same thing. Also, I do believe that God works miracles – sometimes by transcending natural laws, but more often by utilizing natural laws in unusual ways. However, God’s miracles are not magic. They are simply unexplained events that tend to strengthen faith.

      2. I believe that heaven is a real place (probably extra-cosmic) where physical beings with bodies of flesh and bone can exist. So it must have material features, as Sean has mentioned. However, I cannot agree that angels are material beings, because Heb 1:14 calls them spirits. Also God is spirit (John 4:24). Perhaps heaven has the dimensions we are familiar with that contain its material features, along with higher dimensions where angels live. That’s just a guess!

      3. I do not think there are any intelligent beings besides us in our solar system. However, I do believe that Ellen White received genuine visions from God in which she caught glimpses of intelligent beings living on other planets. And considering the number of extrasolar planets that are being discovered, what she reported sounds very reasonable. Perhaps these inhabited planets are in the Milky Way, in other galaxies, or both. I would point out that some Christians seem to have a hard time with E.T.s, and I do not consider this a doctrine. If someone doesn’t believe it, I will not contest them.

      4. Our planet is reported to be about 4.5 billion years old, and I have no reason to dispute that. However, I don’t think that life was produced by processes, because processes cannot produce advanced codes. So I consider abiogenesis to be impossible. I believe that life was intelligently designed on earth a few thousand years ago.

      5. Yes, that is what I believe.

      6. First, I believe that creation week was a few thousand years ago, but a bit further back than 6000 years. The Bible never says that creation week was 6000 years ago; that is something man came up with. But no, I do not believe that the sun, moon, and stars were created ex nihilo during creation week.

      7. I don’t know what you mean by this.

      8. No, “asah” cannot be translated as “presented.” But that is a good translation of another Hebrew verb – “”nathan.” In Gen 1:17, we read that God “presented” (“nathan”) the luminaries in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.

      9. First of all, Genesis was written in Hebrew, not Greek. The Hebrew verb “asah” has many meanings: do, work, make, arrange, establish, accomplish, institute, bring forth, bring about, produce, etc. But we should not apply these meanings willy nilly; they must be determined by context. However, to claim that “asah” always means “made” whatever the object is false even in the creation account! According to Gen 2:19, the animals were formed from the ground; in other words, they were brought into being. So it is appropriate to say that they were “made” (“asah”). However, when we consider the expanse (Gen 1:7), it was created by God. but it was also put in place by God. So you can say that it was “made” (“asah”), but you can just as easily say that it was “established” (“asah”). This means that the translation of “asah” in 1:7 can go either way. In Gen 1:14-19, the luminaries are appearing in the sky to give light on the earth and to mark seasons and days and years. In other words, they are being established as time keepers. Therefore, I (and many others) contend that in 1:16, “established” is a very legitimate translation of “asah.” “So God established the two great luminaries – the greater luminary to govern the day and the lesser luminary to govern the night – and the stars as well.” That makes perfectly good sense because the sun and the moon were established to govern day and night respectively. Lastly, in Gen 2:3, “God rested from all the work He had accomplished (“asah”) in creation” is an excellent translation. Many translations read “from all the work He had done in creation.” That’s OK, but not quite as good as “accomplished.” But notice that contrary to what you suggested, “made” does not fit here at all. “God rested from all the work He had made”? That doesn’t make any sense! So again, the meaning of “asah” is determined by context, and while “made” can be used in 1:16, as in most Bibles, “established” actually fits the context better.

      Lastly, I do not claim that the literal interpretation of Gen 1 exhausts its meaning! This account was clearly composed as a polemic against polytheistic accounts of creation. However, that does not mean that the literal meaning is false. In fact, the New Testament builds its doctrine of salvation on that literal meaning. We call Jesus our Savior, but if Adam and his fall into sin are mythical, why do we need a Savior? How can there be a second Adam if there was no first Adam? Without a first Adam, passages like Rom 5:12-19 become nonsense. You may be willing to live with such contradictions, but many bright young people will not. For them, this is a tremendous intellectual turn off for Christianity, and it will only breed more atheists.




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      • As far as angels being “spirits” without physical bodies, I don’t think that’s what the Bible is saying. I think the angels have spirits as well as physical bodies. For example, the Bible describes Satan as being turned into physical ashes by fire at the of the controversy (Ezekiel 28:18). I don’t think the death of a spirit without a body would leave behind ashes. Lucifer is also described wearing physical things like “precious stones” – which would seem a bit silly for a spirit without a body. Also, Ellen White says that she was given a view of Satan as he now is:

        I was then shown Satan as he was, a happy, exalted angel. Then I was shown him as he now is. He still bears a kingly form. His features are still noble, for he is an angel fallen. But the expression of his countenance is full of anxiety, care, unhappiness, malice, hate, mischief, deceit, and every evil. That brow which was once so noble, I particularly noticed. His forehead commenced from his eyes to recede backward. I saw that he had demeaned himself so long, that every good quality was debased, and every evil trait was developed. His eyes were cunning, sly, and showed great penetration. His frame was large, but the flesh hung loosely about his hands and face. As I beheld him, his chin was resting upon his left hand. He appeared to be in deep thought. A smile was upon his countenance, which made me tremble, it was so full of evil, and Satanic slyness. This smile is the one he wears just before he makes sure of his victim, and as he fastens the victim in his snare, this smile grows horrible. (EGW, SG, Vol 1., p. 27-28).

        Consider that she describes physical details of his body – to include the “flesh” of his hands and face. Doesn’t sound like a spirit without a body to me.

        Otherwise, great commentary…




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  56. Sean Pitman: Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…

    Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead.

    Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others. Just as in the biological world so in the spiritual. By his death we have life. Just as God sanctified the practice of sacrifice of appeasement practiced by most cultures for thousands of years before and showed that in the Judeo-Christian tradition these same acts of sacrifice were emblematic of a monotheistic God that would become incarnate and bring life from death. So also he took the preceding accounts of creation derived as they were of the mesopotamian valley and recast it as an account of the monotheistic God who is above all but comes and dwells among us to become one of us. Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.

    That is the message I get from the images and visions of the Canon and EG White. But of course I read it for the message that it conveys not as a scientific text. That is where we fundamentally differ.




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    • Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead. Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world

      Who said anything about doing away with metabolic processes? What we are doing away with here is death and suffering for sentient creatures. How do “metabolic processes” require the death of sentient creatures?

      and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others.

      So God causes “good” to come out of the evil that He Himself created?

      Now you’re sounding a whole lot like my LDS friends who believe that evil is necessary in order for us to recognize the good – that God is indebted to evil in order for His goodness to become apparent. It’s very similar to the oriental concept of Ying vs. Yang. However, if God is indebted to evil, then evil really isn’t evil or fundamentally wrong anymore is it? This whole notion paints God as impotent and selfish – the very source of all evil.

      Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.

      You’re telling me that Jesus came to live and die in this world in order to show us how to live above the evil that He Himself created here? Do you not see that this story you’re telling me paints God as a monster? If God really were like this, He’s certainly not someone I’d be remotely attracted to! And you would? God tortures you in an evil world that has always been evil, by His own design, in order to train you how to appreciate the good? That’s why millions of children starve to death every year or die of disease or cancer or various sundry random accidents? – to teach you how to rise above it all? Really?




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  57. Sean Pitman: However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death.

    And this interpretation is precisely why you need a theodicy. Where is the justice in killing all for the sake of the sins of one woman+man? It makes no sense logically. If they were conditionally immortal because of eating of the tree of life then did all the animals in all the world congregate around this tree like beasts around a water hole on the serengeti. how exactly do you as you are wont to do translate the account into a literal reality. And which beast had to come and eat. Or was it symbolic? Oh now that’s a thought.




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    • Animals are not moral creatures. Humans are. Humans therefore had to eat from the Tree of Life as a symbol of their free will choice to continue their relationship with God. Animals have no such freewill choices to make and therefore need not eat of the Tree of Life to maintain their lives. Their lives were entirely dependent upon what Adam and Eve did as rulers of this world. However, the animals, though not free moral agents, are still sentient creatures in that they can experience pain and suffering. The whole world therefore fell when Adam and Eve fell because Adam and Eve were responsible for it all. When they turned over their sovereignty of this world to Satan, he became the new “prince” or leader of this world (John 12:31) – and was therefore able to do whatever he wanted to with it (within certain limitations or none of us would be here now). The pain that Satan is able to inflict in this world isn’t really directed at us so much as it is directed at God. Satan takes great pleasure even in the suffering of animals because he knows that God sees it and suffers even with these seemingly small and insignificant creatures. Consider the comments of Ellen White and the Bible in this regard:

      “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” – Proverbs 12:10.

      Few realize as they should the sinfulness of abusing animals or leaving them to suffer from neglect. He who created man made the lower animals also, and “His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:9. The animals were created to serve man, but he has no right to cause them pain by harsh treatment or cruel exaction.

      It is because of man’s sin that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.” Romans 8:22. Suffering and death were thus entailed, not only upon the human race, but upon the animals. Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God’s creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant. A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellow men or to the brute creation, is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness, to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures. (EGW, PP, p. 442-443).




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  58. pauluc:

    And yet the response according to you to that transgression of man is that He conferred death and suffering not just on the culpible pair and mankind but on all life on earth.Do you believe in an omnipotent God or not?Even our Justice system hold the perpetrator responsible and does not kill all the family members for the evil of one man.Why should God be less just than our fallible system?Of course we dont know what is the ultimate plan of God and can only accept what is and accept by faith our position that life and growth can continue into eternity with no death.As it was in the beginning. That is the literalists faith position but I fear it does leave any room for any science of what is and it would be best not to allow for any science in that schemata.

    But we are not simply talking about imputed guilt. Human beings really are sinners in themselves. And considering how quickly seemingly small acts of evil grow into great acts of evil, I believe that God is being abundantly fair. If selfishness were allowed to flourish, it would destroy everything. If Hitler and Stalin were still alive, I dread the thought of what our world would be like today. Evil must be nipped in the bud!

    Something does not compute in this model and account of the fall and I like everyone struggle with the problem of evil and death. But I do see death as an inevitable consequence of carbon based life based on growth.Most death has a natural cause.A cancer gene, a plaque in a coronary artery an infectious disease a fall from impossible heights, sudden impact with a stationary object while sitting in a small metal box travelling at many meters for second.These are not evil these are natural consequence of life and of natural law.Did God do it this way. I suspect yes but you cannot conceive of it but then again I have not found anyone who can conceive of immortal life for carbon based life that grows and expands without death and turnover. In medicine and biology we call that a cancer.there is a symmetry and a balance.Life Growth and Death.They are the principles of all life we see around us.

    I admit that I do not have all the answers because I have never observed a perfect world. But I’m not sure why carbon based life could not be eternal? If the genome were kept in pristine condition without being attacked by free radicals and other harmful agents, there would be no cancer genes or plaques in arteries. And suppose that originally all bacteria and viruses were beneficial and none of them were pathogens. In that case, there would be no infectious diseases. I actually think there may be a hint in the real world that this was originally the case. Consider the fact that among pre-Columbian native Americans, many of the old-world diseases were unknown. Could it be that when the native American ancestors arrived in the new world during the post-flood ice age, these diseases had not developed yet? I think that is a distinct possibility. If all genomes were kept in pristine condition, I don’t see why death from diseases or old age need take place; in fact, the aging process itself would not occur. Remember, the human body is different from machines because it regenerates all its cells. This means that it is an open system which need not be subject to the second law of thermodynamics. The fact that we regenerate our cells also suggests to me that our bodies were not intended to wear out. And what if animals instinctively stopped breeding when their population reached a sustainable limit? I have heard that elephants actually are imbued with this instinct even today, but what if it was common to all soulish animals? Freedom from accidents does seem more difficult to explain, but I do not know how the natural world in a paradise would be constructed. We could be missing something.

    Again, I am not suggesting that my comments here should be set in stone, but they seem fairly reasonable to me.

    I can see and appreciate the life we see aroundus as of God and his creation.There is indeedbeauty among the ugly.But is it evil and suffering that God enjoys?No more than he might enjoy the consequence of his gift of free will.The HPTFTU that is the natural man. Is free will worth it?Is carbon based life worth it?Is say yes praise the Lord.

    I agree that free will and carbon based life are worth it. But I cannot conceive of suffering and death as being worth it. If God enjoys those things, He is a sadist.

    What is evil then;Now a man plunging a bayonet into a mans chest that rises to the level of an act of conscious will and under almost all circumstances is evil.

    Under nearly all circumstances, it is evil. But there are exceptions. There really are some people who are so evil that they deserve to die. I can understand being a pacifist because war is horrible. I hate war, but I am not a complete pacifist because I believe there are things that are worse than war and that simply must be stopped. This is a difficult issue, and if you disagree with me, I will not contest you. But be aware that hurting and abusing animals is very wrong. Some years ago, a man here in America was prosecuted for tying his beagle puppy to his car and dragging the puppy to death. Animals are sentient creatures, and abusing them is evil.

    Religion is concerned about the injustice of death particularly death as Isaiah says when the person is less than 100 years old. Belief in God is about seeking to transcend the carbon based life where there is suffering and death to live beyond what is.The Judeo Christian traditions say that God is beyond all this but asks us to live now as we would then.We are judged morally by how we live in the now according to the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven not by some meaningless orthodoxy that has no consequence.

    Heaven is not achieved by works; eternal life is a free gift – by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. I’m doubtful that eternal life means transcending carbon based life because Jesus had a body of flesh and bones after His resurrection, and Paul tells us that our resurrected bodies will be like His body. I could be wrong, but that sounds like a glorified carbon-based body. Also remember that Isaiah saw animals in heaven (or the new earth). I suspect that at least some animals will be resurrected.




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    • I agree with most of what you said except for a couple fairly minor things. You mentioned that carbon-based lifeforms could inherently live forever because they could overcome the “second law of thermodynamics” since they are “open systems”. The problem here is that being an “open system” has nothing to do with informational entropy (a unique although somewhat related concept to thermodynamic entropy)… which is what causes living things to get old and die. The thermodynamics of an open system may stay exactly the same, yet that system will still eventually wear out and stop working… because of a gradual loss of informational complexity. The same is true for all machines. Without constant repair they eventually wear out and stop working – regardless of if they are “open systems” or not.

      This is a common confusion for a lot of people who think that evolution pr informational complexity has to do with the second law of thermodynamics, but that’s just not the case. The fact of the matter is that nothing would live forever if God did not step in and keep regenerating it. Everything that lives forever will always be dependent upon God for life – and the constant repairs that make that life possible. The instant one steps away from that constant care from God, who is alone eternal, one will start to decay and will eventually die… which is what happened to Adam and Eve. They were fearfully and wonderfully built machines, but once they stopped eating from the Tree of Life, and separated themselves from God’s constant regenerative care for them, their bodies immediately started to deteriorate and they eventually stopped working and they died.




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      • @Sean Pitman: I agree. However, our bodies are different from machines in that they constantly regenerate themselves by growing new cells. And if Adam and Eve had not sinned and had continued to eat from the tree of life, I believe that their DNA and genomes would have remained pristine, and they would have lived forever. Yes, this did require a connection with God, but it is interesting that God constructed our bodies to regenerate themselves, which is something that machines cannot do.




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        • I agree. However, our bodies are different from machines in that they constantly regenerate themselves by growing new cells. And if Adam and Eve had not sinned and had continued to eat from the tree of life, I believe that their DNA and genomes would have remained pristine, and they would have lived forever. Yes, this did require a connection with God, but it is interesting that God constructed our bodies to regenerate themselves, which is something that machines cannot do.

          The regenerative process of the human body is based on coded information stored in the DNA (the “software program”) that helps the body renew protein parts as they wear out. This is in fact a type of machine or computer-type code that retains the information needed to build the machine. This is not beyond the theoretical abilities of human-made machines to achieve. Robots could be programmed with internal software that allows them to make and replace their own parts as they wore out.

          The problem here, of course, is that such a machine that has its own code and mechanism to produce its own parts as they wear out, would not last forever – even given that the system is a thermodynamically open system and there is plenty of raw energy available. The underlying code itself would still eventually wear out if not maintained by an outside source of information. This is why, when stepping way from God, Adam and Eve started to wear out and eventually died. Of course, it took quite awhile for their magnificent machines to wear out – I’ll give you that. However, it is not possible for even such a fantastic machine to maintain itself indefinitely.




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  59. Sean Pitman: So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath

    On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”

    You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.

    Lets for a moment step back from lala land. Where are we and where did we come from on this thread?

    1] You posted a rehash of all your usual arguments in response to an article about the more mainstream Adventist positions that may impact the way Adventism reacts to conventional science. All very straight forward.
    2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets. This is where it gets really strange.
    3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.
    4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.
    5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.
    6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.

    I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.

    Grace




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    • On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”

      Indeed. I have no problem with working on the Sabbath as a policeman or a firefighter, etc. I work as a doctor on the Sabbath as well. Some jobs simply have to be done by somebody – even on the Sabbath. Jesus himself commented on this situation noting, “Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? (Matthew 12:5). The Sabbath command is not against doing necessary work for the service of others, but doing purely personal work or otherwise unnecessary work that could wait for another day.

      You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.

      You’re the one trying to have it both ways! – not me. I think that those who claim that some jobs are necessary in this world, but who aren’t willing to do these jobs themselves, are being inconsistent. I for one would not ask anyone else to do what I’m not personally willing to do.

      2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets.

      Yes.

      This is where it gets really strange. 3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.

      Intelligent design is no more “magic” for God from his perspective than it is for you from your perspective. The fact is that the Bible is very very clear that God does in fact step in and act, on occasion, above and beyond what the mindless natural laws themselves can explain. You do the same thing. You can create using your own powers of intelligent design to produce artifacts which cannot be explained by any mindless natural mechanism. There is no “magic” here – unless you want to call your own abilities to create beyond what natural law can explain “magical” – which in a sense it is.

      The fact of the mater is that the universe does contain artifactual features – to include the precisely balanced fundamental constants of the universe as well as the machines of living things that function at a very very high level of informational complexity. Such machines cannot be explained by mindless natural processes at all – period. They do in fact require intelligent input to explain their origin – intelligent input that occurred well after the origin of the universe.

      This is a very Biblical concept and not at all “strange” from a truly Christian perspective.

      4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.

      Again, the science in hand strongly supports the contention that life could have have either arisen according to the mindless laws of nature nor could it have evolved any diversity beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity – without the additional input of very high-level intelligent design (or “creative intelligence” if you prefer). Those are the facts in hand.

      Beyond this, I really can’t believe that either you or Rogers would deliberately equate a “process” involving inanimate materials with a process that requires suffering and death for sentient creatures. Morally speaking, these are not remotely in the same ballpark! Only a true sociopath wouldn’t be able to see the difference…

      5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.

      Oh please. The entire medical science of forensic pathology takes into account both natural laws and processes as well as the very real potential for deliberate and intelligent manipulation of those laws in a very artifactual manner. There is no “incongruity” here at all. The notion that the detection of true artifacts of deliberate design is beyond the realm of science is absolute nonsense. Such concepts are used everyday in medical science as well as many other mainstream sciences. The only difference when such concepts are applied to the origin of living things or the origin of the fundamental constants of the universe is that it is known that humans weren’t involved. Otherwise, the scientific arguments are identical.

      6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.

      I think you do actually recognize that there’s a problem with the suffering and death of sentient animals. You don’t like it. A true sociopath would either get pleasure out of animals suffering or be completely indifferent to it. And, it sounds to me like you are painting God as a sociopath – someone who deliberately creates a painful world from the very beginning in order to highlight His own goodness. To me, that would be something only an evil monster would do. I could never love or respect a God like that. And, you yourself are not comfortable with the problem of suffering. You don’t like it. You just think it is somehow a necessary evil that is unrelated to any moral fall of mankind. You think that it is somehow necessary to teach us to appreciate the good – and therefore God had to create an evil world to teach us this lesson. Again, that’s a very Mormon way of thinking.

      I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.

      Let’s see here, you’re the one claiming a title of “Christian” while arguing that God is the one who deliberately created an evil world in order to teach us to appreciate the good. You’re the one claiming that there was no moral fall of mankind that explains the evil in this world – that it was all God’s doing from the very beginning. You’re the one equating a process involving only mindless matter, like a bunch of rocks rolling down a mountainside, with a painful process involving the suffering and death of sentient creatures – like there’s no moral difference or that such a comparison isn’t any big deal. You’re the one suggesting that mindless natural processes can actually explain the origin of machines that function at an extremely high level of informational complexity – despite the complete lack of demonstration or logically tenable evidence along these lines outside of intelligent design. You’re the one who claims that if God did act above and beyond the mindless natural laws that He originally created that this would be equivalent to an appeal to “magic” – despite your own abilities to create beyond the powers of these very same natural laws and despite your own claim that God does in fact exist and was likely responsible for the origin of the universe and its fine-tuned features (but somehow can’t do anything else? not even what you yourself can do?).

      Talk about living in the twilight zone! I think you’re seriously confused and very inconsistent in your thinking. I don’t think you really understand the implications of much of what you’re saying here…




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  60. Gerhard Hasel in 1975 in http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/ST/ST19750601-V102-06.pdf states that Gen. 1:1 is referring to the creation of “the planet Earth, our globe, and its more or less immediate surroundings.” Thus, he must have included our solar system in the creation of Gen. 1:1, while excluding the rest of the universe. He also contends that bara means to create out of nothing. That led me to look at usage of bara. Gen. 2:4 states, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” This verse doesn’t seem to permit us to separate by billions of years God’s creating and God’s making of the earth and heavens.

    This one was unexpected: In p. 10 of History of the Sabbath, J. N. Andrews states: “That this creative act marked the commencement of the first day instead of preceding it by almost infinite ages is thus stated in 2 Esdras 6:38: ‘And I said, O Lord, thou spakest from the beginning of the creation, even the first day, and saidst thus: Let heaven and earth be made; and thy word was a perfect work.'”

    Even if we give no credence to the apocrypha, this verse does suggest that Jewish writers at the time 2 Esdras was written understood Gen. 1:1 in the same way J.N. Andrews did, and in the same way Pfandl and others think Ellen White did.

    R. H. Brown in http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/MIN/MIN19700301-V43-03.pdf states after quoting Ellen White’s statement about pre-existing matter and after quoting ST 3-13-1884:

    Both context and usual usage of terms indicate that the author of these statements was speaking of the creative activity that took place during the first six days of the Creation week described in the book of Genesis

    Brown’s citing of ST 3-13-1884 was particularly helpful since it led me to other statements than MH 414 and 8T 258. 3MR 208 & 3SM 312 contain the same sentiment, taken from Ms 127, 1897, and in the previous paragraph, found on 3MR 207 and 3SM 311, she writes, “I am afraid we have altogether too cheap and common ideas.” Given that Wilcox’s quoted statement is dated 1898, we may have the possibility that Ellen White’s 1897 statement is a response to Wilcox’s sentiments. Thus, I’m not sure we can say that Ellen White never tried to respond to his views.

    Brown’s article coupled with his article in http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/RH/RH19711104-V148-44.pdf leads us to several conclusions: (a) Brown believes 8T 258 is referring to creation week. (b) Brown believes God brought matter into existence during creation week so as to harmonize 8T 258 with the idea that the planet is 4.5 billion years old. (c) Brown believes that radiometric dating has “firmly indicated” that the earth’s crust is billions of years old. (d) Brown believes that fossils in sediments yielding old radiometric ages is due to the incorporation of this previous material into those sediments. Thus, how Brown explained it to me sometime in the last decade or so is how he explained it back in print in 1971.

    I highly doubt that we can find informed advocates of the passive gap theory that do not hold that view partly in order to accommodate the ancient ages assigned to Precambrian rocks. Brown explicitly gives this as a reason to adopt this view.

    Gerhard Pfandl in 2005 in http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/MIN/MIN20050601-V78-06.pdf mentions two Adventist views on Gen. 1: “The Adventist Gap Theory,” and “The Original Creation Account.” On the latter he states:

    This view sees the six-day Creation week beginning in verse 1, not in verse 3. In other words, “heaven and earth” in verse 1 refers only to our planetary system or our Milky Way and not to the universe as a whole.

    After citing Ellen White’s “not indebted to pre-existing matter” statement, Pfandl states that he believes that “Ellen White held the second view.”

    When speaking of “The Adventist Gap Theory,” Pfandl does not say whether or not this includes the idea that God made the sun and moon long before creation week.

    Robert Leo Odom in 1959 wrote in http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/MIN/MIN19591201-V32-12.pdf that the stars of Gen. 1:16 could refer to the planets of our solar system. In suggesting this, he cites Bible writers and Ellen White (Ed 14; GW 50) calling our planets “stars.” Odom was influenced in this direction by a number of letters he received from “leading Seventh-day Adventist ministers and teachers.” He states that “the view that the entire solar system may have been created in the six-day period of the creation of the earth merits consideration.”

    While neither Pfandl nor Odom are coming down hard in favor of their preferred view, readers sometimes did. Howard Wieland in 1977 in http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/RH/RH19770414-V154-15.pdf states re: 8T 258, “This plain language would have to be terribly distorted to make it agree with the article [“The Oklo Natural Uranium Fission Reactor”]. Such distortion is entirely unnecessary.”

    Uriah Smith was quoted as believing in the passive gap theory. The part quoted was the ninth point of 12 that he gave. Here is his point 8, as taken from the quotation from Bible Truth found in RH 7-3-1860:

    Nor is there anything in scripture which asserts that animals never died until man sinned, or that they would not have died if man had not sinned; though it is freely admitted that man himself would have been immortal if he had not by transgression lost the favor of God. The Bible does not even assert, although it may be true, that there are circumstances revolting to our feelings often attending the death of animals, beyond what would have attended their dissolution if man had not sinned.

    I don’t understand the last sentence, but I do understand the first, and don’t have a clue where he came up with the first part of that first sentence from. It may therefore be unwise to give point 9 much prominence when trying to prove that the earth existed before creation week. And Uriah’s comments certainly don’t address the question of whether the sun and moon existed before Day 1.

    @Sean Pitman: Does the question remain open to you?




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    • Yes, for all the reasons I’ve already gone over in some detail, the question remains very open to me. It’s not like I’m unaware of the historical disagreement or controversy over this question. I’m well aware of it. And, I don’t see any of the arguments as conclusive regarding this question. It therefore remains open to me and to many other conservative Adventists who read the story of Genesis as a literal historical account of origins.




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      • @Sean Pitman: Are you equally open to the idea that the solar system and our planet did not exist prior to creation week, and to the idea that they did exist prior to creation week?

        Do you think it possible that Ellen White’s 1897 statements were a rebuttal of Wilcox’s sentiments as he expressed them the following year?

        Sean, I don’t understand how the 4 or so posts I did not make until today, January 27, somehow got posted under the date of January 26, which was yesterday’s date. I can understand the concatenation into a single post if you want to consolidate, but why the inaccurate date?




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        • As already noted, I’m open to either option, but I favor the pre-existence of the basic material of the Earth and solar system – for reasons already presented in some detail. And no, I don’t think Mrs. White was clearly arguing in favor of the idea that this entire solar system, to include all the basic materials, was created during the Creation Week of our world – as I’ve also explained in some detail.

          As far as the date change on your post(s) that must have happened when I was putting them together. It makes more sense for these posts to be presented as one post rather than a bunch of smaller posts. I’ll look into fixing the date if its important to you.




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        • @Sean Pitman: The post’s date isn’t important to me. I was just trying to understand what happened.

          I don’t think you answered my question: “Do you think it possible that Ellen White’s 1897 statements were a rebuttal of Wilcox’s sentiments as he expressed them the following year?” She obviously was addressing some sort of ideas that had come into Adventism. If these ideas weren’t what Wilcox expressed, what were they?




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        • I think she was most likely trying to address the idea that God couldn’t make something out of absolutely nothing… that God had to start with something. I don’t think she was addressing Wilcox’s ideas at all. I think she was simply explaining that God doesn’t have to start with anything – that He can and did in fact ultimately make everything out of absolutely nothing – by the speaking things into existence.

          The entire universe seems to be, ultimately, based on information from the Mind of God – i.e., “The Word”. What we see, feel, touch, smell, and taste really has no independent existence outside of the Mind of God and His constant care so that everything exists and moves and has its being “in Him.” – like a mental projection.




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        • @Sean Pitman: What evidence do you have that Adventists at that time were dabbling with the idea that God couldn’t make something out of nothing? Thus far, the only sentiment I’ve seen that she could have been referring to was that expressed by Wilcox. If it was some other sort of sentiment, let’s see an example referenced or published somewhere around 1897.

          By the way, according to http://drc.whiteestate.org/files/528.pdf “Wilcox’s” statement wasn’t signed, so he may not have been the author after all. And the same document shows that the ST 8-25-1898, maybe 7 weeks after the issue where “Wilcox’s” statement is found, made clear that the sun and moon were “made, formed, and finished” on Day 4, even if the matter they were made out of was created earlier. So we really can’t use “Wilcox” to say that the solar system existed before creation week.

          Lastly, in your OP, you state, “In fact, from the 1860s on, many of the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, aside from J.N. Andrews, had been discussing this issue in favor of the Passive Gap Theory.” Who were these “many” “pioneers”?




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        • @Bob Pickle:

          I know this is a topic of significant interest and importance to you, but it really isn’t to me. For me the topic remains open, as I’ve explained in some detail, and I’m not really interested in going round and round further on it. I do wish you all the best and I’m not going to challenge you on this topic if you feel strongly about it. I just don’t think its fundamental to the SDA position on origins.




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  61. pauluc:

    And yet the response according to you to that transgression of man is that He conferred death and suffering not just on the culpible pair and mankind but on all life on earth.Do you believe in an omnipotent God or not?Even our Justice system hold the perpetrator responsible and does not kill all the family members for the evil of one man.Why should God be less just than our fallible system?

    After reading your statement over again, I realized that I did not answer it as fully as I should have – because I see you are dealing with animal death as well. Animals are not intelligent enough to be held morally accountable, so they are not sinners, even if they sometimes behave in vicious ways. And I do not believe that God has punished animals for human sin. But when humans did sin, this entire world lost its connection with the Life Giver and fell behind enemy lines. As a result, humans and animals alike began to suffer degeneracy and death. In the case of the animals, this was not a punishment. It was simply a consequence of the entire world losing connection with God. I don’t know enough of the fine details of what occurred to explain anything more about it, so I will leave it at that.




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  62. I read through most of the comments this far and it is unfortunate that so much time is spent on what really is a dead-end conversation. I, on the other hand, am having such a hard time generating interest in a discussion that could potentially lead to actual solutions.

    Obviously, I disagree. Using methodological naturalism alone science is very much able to detect true artifacts of intelligent design in the natural world.

    Since other people might share your (Sean) perspective, I will reproduce this conversation on the Intelligent Adventist page as well.

    There are several points I need to bring out here:

    A. Mainstream scientists make the rules, and, to stand a chance, we have to play by those rules.

    As mentioned earlier, the scientific community has won the confidence of the general public through decades of hard work and unprecedented success. And, the overall consensus within this community is in favor of Evolution.

    Imagine for a second that you invented a new version of soccer where the use of hands was allowed. You and your team got really good playing this way so you decided to challenge the world’s top teams at the World Cup. But, after several games, you were either disqualified for hand use or were defeated when trying to play without using them.

    Now you might choose to complain about the unfairness of the official soccer rules or about how your version of soccer is better, but, no one is really going to care. In the end, you really have only two choices: you either learn to play by the official rules or, you work on popularizing your own version of soccer, so that hopefully, someday, the world will like your version better.

    Creationists, ID proponents and anti-evolutionists in general have been complaining for decades about flaws with the methodology of science or about the incorrect use of this methodology in regards to Evolution. And, all this complaining has gotten us nowhere. Mainstream science continues to flourish while the opposition is fading away in obscurity; the public increasingly views us as pretty much on par with the flat-earth society.

    So, just like with my soccer example, we are left with only two choices if we really hope to make a difference:

    1) We find a way to make our case regarding Evolution using a process that the scientific community finds acceptable, or,

    2) We develop a new scientific methodology, take several decades to demonstrate to the world that our methodology is at least as effective as the current methodology, and, once we have earned the respect of the public, we take on Evolution.

    And, going with the second option will take much longer and a lot more work, if even possible. So we definitely should look for ways to work within the current constraints.

    B. Scientists don’t consider Intelligent Design or the Flood model scientifically valid.

    I mentioned earlier that Methodological Naturalism is a cornerstone of modern science and that both these models fail in that respect. Now I realize that it is possible to view methodological naturalism in such a way that it is compatible with these models but that is not how the scientific community views it and, again, they make the rules. Their reasoning is simple:

    Complex living organisms exist and we need a naturalistic hypothesis to explain how they came to exist. Darwin’s descent with modification is such a hypothesis. ‘God did it,’ (ID) is not. Anything that involves God is considered outside the parameters of science regardless of whether we agree or not.

    The Flood model on the other hand could be naturalistic. But, if true, then the current understanding of geology, biology, paleontology etc. is wrong. In other words, if the entire fossil record was caused by a recent flood then there was no time for evolution to have happened and, the only explanation left is that God did it (no longer naturalistic).

    So basically an unbiased (open-minded) scientist looking at this question has to choose between an explanation for the fossil record supported by the findings of thousands of scientists over the past century and a half or go with the findings of a hand-full of scientists who are proposing an explanation that requires invoking the supernatural to explain everything else. It is not surprising that such a scientist would look for ways to explain away the findings of this second group rather than the first.

    C. The open nature of science works against us.

    You might argue again that we should not worry so much about what scientists think since it is not popularity we are after. Those who live godly will suffer persecution. The problem however, is that we don’t live in the time of the Roman emperors when Christianity was forbidden and those who accepted Christ faced public ridicule if not more. We don’t live in the time of the Papacy or inside an Islamic state where holding opposing views is forbidden. We don’t live in a communist country like I did growing up where Evolution was shoved down our throats in school as part of a state-run anti-religion indoctrination program that we were powerless to do anything about. Instead, we live in a democracy and science itself, like I mentioned earlier, is an open platform that has a process for examining dissenting opinions. The very ability of science to adapt to new evidence is what harms our credibility now that we’ve had so much time to come up with something better.

    Consider also another point. If in Scripture there were numerous and clear passages claiming unequivocally that the earth was flat, would we side with the Bible or with science? Yes, as Protestants, we base our faith on the Bible and the Bible only. But, we also evaluate the trustworthiness of Scripture based on how well it lines up with what we know about the nature of reality. When we do evangelistic meetings we spend the first few lectures discussing the reliability of the Bible in order to establish trust in what the Scripture has to say regarding spiritual things.

    The Theory of Evolution is preventing a significant and important segment of the population (educated professionals) from being receptive to the Third Angel’s Message. And, as those commissioned to take this message to the world, we have a responsibility to challenge current assumptions and demonstrate scientifically that alternatives exist.

    So how do we argue our position in a way that mainstream scientists will find acceptable?

    If we took 100 atheistic evolutionary scientists and asked them the following questions, they will all answer in the positive:

    – Do you expect that science will advance far enough for us to make significant modifications to organisms using genetic engineering?
    – Will we be able to invent new organs or even new organisms eventually?
    – Once space travel to greater distances becomes possible, if we ever came across a planet that already has simple life forms, would we be able to tamper with their genetic information to introduce new features and speed up their evolution?

    But if so, how do we know something like this did not happen to our own planet?

    Basically, it is possible to have a fully naturalistic hypothesis of Intelligent Design that still allows us to test our beliefs of supernatural intelligent interference. And, we don’t need to claim that this hypothesis is a complete replacement for evolution but just an alternative explanation for some small aspect of the theory, just enough to get our foot in the door. If we can develop such a model, make predictions, test out those predictions and produce some positive initial results, we have something to take to the scientific community that they have no reason not to consider. This would then allow us to publish articles in scientific journals in support of an ID model and will allow cooperation with scientists from various religious backgrounds as well as scientists that want to look into the possibility of extraterrestrial interference.

    Most importantly, such an alternative model will allow us to preach the message without people thinking the Bible comes in direct contradiction to established science.




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    • @Mike Manea:

      This has been and is being done at the Discovery Institute. The problem of course is that evolutionists are fully aware of the whole “foot in the door” idea and will not allow even very testable theories of intelligent design for any aspect of living things, even based on methodological naturalism, to get published in mainstream journals. Those who do happen to publish such articles get a lot of heat for it and often lose their jobs. Mainstream “science” simply isn’t an “open platform” like your suggest when it comes to the concept of intelligent design for any aspect of living things. Look at what happened to Richard Sternberg when he tried to do this very thing.

      http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/angry-scientists-publishing-on-intelligent-design/




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        And this is precisely the problem: we mistake ‘open’ for ‘ easy.’

        Think for a moment of the civil rights movement. That movement would not have succeeded under a monarchy or a dictatorship. However, just because it took place under a democracy did not mean that it would be successful without careful planning, hard work and sacrifice.

        With virtually every other approach creationists have taken, scientists had legitimate concerns. With this approach there are no legitimate objections based on their own rules of engagement. Does that mean it will be easy? Definitely not. But if we don’t make the effort we have only ourselves to blame for the success of evolution and our inability to reach people with the gospel.




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Yes, lots of people are making significant efforts. Lots of people have been making significant efforts for a century and a half now. And, fifty years from now they will still be making significant efforts though our situation by then will likely be quite a bit worse.

          With this approach however, if we play our cards right, there is a descent chance that in as little as five years we can introduce something that will completely change the game for us. So I apologize if I’ve offended in any way, but, at least in my opinion, this matters.




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        • @Mike Manea: Mike, the problem is not a lack of evidence for the creationist model. The problem is the hold that the Lyell/Darwin model has on the scientific community, including all the psychological baggage that goes with it. This is not just a theory; this is a way of viewing all of reality (much like a religion), and for many people, it has great psychological appeal. For this reason, it is naive to think that it can be overthrown in a few years. However, the evidence for the creationist/catastrophist model continues to mount, and those with open minds are willing to at least examine it.




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        • @Bob Helm:

          We don’t need to overthrow; we need to coexist. The problem is that for many scientists, their philosophy coincides with their methodology (naturalistic). We on the other hand must come up with a way to test super-naturalistic concepts using methodological naturalism, which is somewhat tricky but not impossible.




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  63. Sean Pitman: I know this is a topic of significant interest and importance to you, but it really isn’t to me. For me the topic remains open, as I’ve explained in some detail, and I’m not really interested in going round and round further on it. I do wish you all the best and I’m not going to challenge you on this topic if you feel strongly about it.

    And perhaps that is the best approach for now. However, I do not think that shooting-from-the-hip responses and evading questions is the best procedure when trying to convince the public regarding Adventist beliefs about origins.

    For example, I posted a link (with comments) to where Leo Odom in 1959 used Ed 14 to support the idea that the stars of Gen. 1:1 were the planets of our solar system, a view held by the writers of letters to him when he was a young minister. Your response was the following:

    Sean Pitman: It’s not like I’m unaware of the historical disagreement or controversy over this question. I’m well aware of it.

    And yet you had already posted that you had never heard the idea before. It would have been much more credible if you had said thanks for the reference, that you didn’t know the idea had been openly discussed in Adventist literature that long ago, rather than giving the impression you already knew about the reference when you had already said you had never heard the idea before.

    Another example: I specifically asked you to list the “many” “pioneers” you referred to in your OP, and you evaded the question. At this point I have to conclude that your wording in your OP is a misstatement of the facts. It would have been far better to either give a list or correct the wording rather than to ignore the issue, since it raises questions about accuracy that neither you nor I want raised. This has nothing to do with being open about the topic or not going round and round about it. You stated certain things as fact in your OP, and those facts now appear to be false.

    One last example: I raised the question of Po halos and He/Pb retention rates a number of times, and I can’t find above where you discussed that evidence other than making the conclusory statement that it wasn’t convincing. So I will just guess that you lean toward the idea that God created a solid world very quickly at some ancient point of time, with the Po already in situ in the granite, since long cooling under today’s laws would not permit Po halos to exist. In this way one could hold to an ancient earth and still have a rational, non-falsified explanation for the existence of the halos.

    But then, I wouldn’t have a clue how you propose that more He and Pb didn’t diffuse out of those zircons in the last 1.5 billion-year-old. And this raises the question of whether there are other times when issues aren’t being discussed in a methodical manner that experts in the various fields will find convincing. And that too is counter-productive.




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    • I did read your comments and references on the planets being the “stars” of Genesis. It’s great that others evidently had this idea before you did. But, that doesn’t mean it makes any more sense to me (and it didn’t seem to make sense to Lee Odom either). These arguments you’ve brought up so far to me seem a bit contrived, not fitting the data well – as I’ve already explained in some detail. Therefore, as I’ve mentioned several times before, I really don’t know what more I can say to you on this topic? You’re arguments simply don’t seem conclusive to me and I really don’t see the importance of spending a whole lot of my time discussing something that doesn’t seem to be of prime importance to the Adventist position on origins…

      However, since you brought it up several times, I will briefly respond to the Gentry polonium halo argument and his ideas on the very rapid creation of Granite during the Creation Week. Again, I just don’t find them clearly convincing for various reasons – many of which are cited by Collins, 2010. Of course I’m not as well versed in such arguments as you may be, but from what little I think I do understand I tend to favor the arguments presented by Collins and some others in this regard. However, I still find the flatted polonium halos found in coalified wood to be pretty convincing for their recent burial (since not enough lead exists with these squashed halos to be consistent with the long-age scenario). Beyond this, I’m really not that interested.

      In short, you may be right, but you may be wrong. I tend to favor the idea that the basic material of the Earth could have pre-existed creation week, but I also think the question remains open and is not a fundamental concern for the Adventist perspective on origins.




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  64. Sean Pitman: But, that doesn’t mean it makes any more sense to me (and it didn’t seem to make sense to Lee Odom either).

    Your response again illustrates my point: Robert Leo Odom was arguing in favor of that possibility, and you summarize what he said as “it didn’t seem to make sense” to him. There is no possible way to accurately summarize his statements in that way, even if he is dead wrong. Accuracy and fairness is my concern here.

    I have an email from Collins in which he agrees with me that his theory posted on his website probably cannot account for the existence of Po halos. This is because if the crystal grows too slowly, the resulting halos will be more exposed on one side than the other, darker in color on side than the other, and no such lopsided halos have been found. If one instead proposes rapid growth of the crystal, then one should be able to produce granite in the laboratory, and you end up with problems re: the accumulation of enough isotopes during the proposed timespan. When faced with these considerations, I told Collins my gut feeling was that it couldn’t happened, and he concurred. I will have to read his article to see if he has come up with anything new since then, but a cursory scan indicates that he is still using the same arguments.

    Sean Pitman: Beyond this, I’m really not that interested.

    I’m interested in any evidence supportive of the biblical accounts. I do not understand why you would say you are uninterested in evidence for a young earth, especially since you have already said multiple times that you are open to the idea.




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    • Your response again illustrates my point: Robert Leo Odom was arguing in favor of that possibility, and you summarize what he said as “it didn’t seem to make sense” to him. There is no possible way to accurately summarize his statements in that way, even if he is dead wrong. Accuracy and fairness is my concern here.

      I’m sorry. In my comment I meant to talk about your reference to John Gill’s commentary where he argued that the phrase, “the stars also” in Genesis refers to the planets as well as all of the rest of the stars in the sky – despite the fact that some would limit the term “stars” to the planets. Gill clearly doesn’t agree with limiting the term “stars” to the planets of the solar system.

      Beyond this, Odom also argues very much as I have regarding the “stars” mentioned in Genesis.

      “There is the possibility that the rest of our solar system was brought into existence then [during the Creation Week of Genesis]. However, we would not speak dogmatically on that point. Other heavenly bodies were in existence before our world was created. We would not attempt to say how much older they are than the earth, because the Scriptures do not tell us specifically when they were created. Many of them may be millions of years older than the little planet we inhabit.” – Odom, 1959

      This is exactly what I’ve been arguing – that here is the possibility that the rest of our solar system was brought into existence during Creation Week. However, we should not speak dogmatically on this point. The same is true for the origin of the basic material of the Earth. Such questions simply aren’t fundamental to Adventism.

      I have an email from Collins in which he agrees with me that his theory posted on his website probably cannot account for the existence of Po halos. This is because if the crystal grows too slowly, the resulting halos will be more exposed on one side than the other, darker in color on side than the other, and no such lopsided halos have been found. If one instead proposes rapid growth of the crystal, then one should be able to produce granite in the laboratory, and you end up with problems re: the accumulation of enough isotopes during the proposed timespan. When faced with these considerations, I told Collins my gut feeling was that it couldn’t happened, and he concurred. I will have to read his article to see if he has come up with anything new since then, but a cursory scan indicates that he is still using the same arguments.

      How old is your E-mail, because in the Collins’ paper I referenced he argues that the crystals can grow quite rapidly:

      The rate at which silicate crystals grow in granite pegmatites (where large crystals several centimeters wide may form) can be rapid because of the local great abundance of water (steam). The abundant water occurs because water tends to concentrate in localized volumes in late stages of crystallization of magma because most minerals crystallizing in granite lack any water in their lattices, and it is where abundant water is present that pegmatites form. Crystals in pegmatites can grow to large sizes in a matter of a few days or weeks (London 2008; Nabelek and others 2009; Sirbescu and others 2008; Webber and others 1999).

      The rate of growth of calcite and biotite in fluids where calcite vein-dikes form must be even faster than the rate of growth for silicate minerals crystallizing in pegmatites in a granite body. The fluids that produce the calcite vein-dikes would have a high water content and notably low silica so they would have low viscosity. The growth of large crystals of biotite (and fluorite) crystals could, perhaps, be in a matter of hours or less, and, therefore, the growth of superposed lattice layers would also surround nucleating polonium ions on the faces of the growing crystals. Thus, thousands of polonium halos per cubic centimeter in crystals of biotite and fluorite are possible lacking any evidence for microfractures.

      Collins, 2010

      And, finally, regarding your last comment:

      I’m interested in any evidence supportive of the biblical accounts. I do not understand why you would say you are uninterested in evidence for a young earth, especially since you have already said multiple times that you are open to the idea.

      As I’ve mentioned several times already, I just don’t see that your ideas are required of the Biblical accounts nor are they fundamental to one’s reading or understanding of the key claims of the Bible or the Gospel message. That is why I don’t consider your ideas fundamental to Adventism and why I really am not all that interested in using a great deal of my time reviewing these perhaps interesting but non-fundamental concepts… with you or anyone else. I find it far more conclusive and profitable and fundamental to Adventism to talk about the origin of life on this planet. So, that’s where I’m going to concentrate my study and time. I hope you don’t mind.




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  65. pauluc:

    6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.

    I find this statement extremely strange because the process of life and death DID NOT give us the physical substance of the universe. You write as if stars and nebulae are alive, but that is absurd! Hydrogen gas is not alive! And comparing the simplest and lightest element – hydrogen – with the DNA code is also very strange. Statements like this are one reason I do not find your arguments very convincing.

    Also, no one has called you an “animal hating sadistic psychopath.” But I do find your belief in a loving God and natural selection as God’s instrument of creation to be incongruent. So did Charles Darwin in his final years, and so do Quentin Smith and Richard Dawkins, among others. In fact, Quentin Smith bases his atheism precisely on this point!

    I really cannot understand you Sean.Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.

    Since my name is mentioned here, I feel I need to respond. I did NOT develop my views from reading Dr. Sean Pitman! My views are the result of my own study, including taking some college geology courses to supplement my training in theology. However, I am happy that Sean and I agree on the major points, but that doesn’t mean we are in collusion. Sean and I actually differ on a few things: 1) He wants to end the flood at the K/T boundary, whereas I tend to think the flood/post flood boundary is in the upper Cenozoic. 2) On the other hand, my view of radiometric dating is a little more positive than his, although I still recognize problems. 3) You have stated that Sean considers angels to be material beings, whereas I believe they are spirits (Heb 1:14).

    What you call the “twilight zone” is actually the mainstream Adventist position. I never saw evolution articulated in any Adventist publication until the mid 1990s when “Spectrum” published a pro-evolution article based on the argument that humans and apes share certain pseudo-genes – which has been emptied of substance since the publication of the Encode Project data.

    Grace

    Paul, I am glad you ended your post with this powerful word. If you have put your faith in the grace of Christ and received Him as your personal Lord and Savior, then, despite our differences, I regard you as my brother in Christ. . . because we are not saved by perfect knowledge or correct views on every issue. We are saved by Jesus Christ, in spite of our flaws, mistakes, and sins. . . and I have plenty of them!

    With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.

    PEACE!




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  66. I have really appreciated the scientific elements of this information and the following conversations. But some of those that are trying to explain the potential immortality of “carbon based” life and the observable issues of death and decay on this planet as something that a loving God would not introduce, are attempting to explain the spiritual dimension by using the scientific method. I am neither a scientist nor a scholar or theologian, I am just your run of the mill SDA converted from the world. But one thing I know from my own experience is the God of the Bible is real and His Word can be trusted. My personal belief on these issues is that God has set forth both natural laws and spiritual laws that cannot be separated. When the spiritual laws are broken by natural beings who have a free will the effects are both immediate and observable in the natural world where they reside. When God, through the true gospel, can demonstrate to the universe through those who have been reconciled to his perfect spiritual law that His law can be kept through the power He provides, then both they and the natural world will be again restored to its original perfect state, and this experiment with sin can come to its end.




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    • @Randolph Belsky:

      But some of those that are trying to explain the potential immortality of “carbon based” life and the observable issues of death and decay on this planet as something that a loving God would not introduce, are attempting to explain the spiritual dimension by using the scientific method.

      That’s not true. Some of us are using scientific arguments to support the claims of the Bible regarding the origin of life and its diversity on this planet – evidence which strongly suggests the need for intelligent design in recent history to explain the origin of life and its complexity.

      However, when it comes to the Bible’s claims regarding “everlasting life” for sentient carbon-based creatures, my belief in that particular claim is based on the overall credibility of the claims of the Bible together with the evidence that God does exist and that such a God is rationally capable of maintaining carbon-based life if He so chooses.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean, I appreciate your reply to my post and I did not mean to offend anyone and I apologize for that if I have done so. I agree that there is a great deal of true evidence found in current scientific discoveries within various living things sufficient to cause a rational and reasonable person to believe that what we see in the natural world was designed and therefore required a designer, no differently than those things that are man made. I also agree that there is enough other evidence within the Bible to make a person a believer in it without the need for anything else, but when you have both the Bible and the scientific evidence working together it definitely makes one wonder why so many want to argue against it, but that is the way it is. Regarding the issue of “everlasting life” for carbon-based creatures, God’s answer to that is contained in the “tree of life”, and though I am not a scientist now, I am truly looking forward to an eternity of learning about how God makes it all work.




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  67. Bob Helm: With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.

    You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away. It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views. It very hard to get to the science when we cannot even agree on what is science. What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous. I think Roger’s paper may well be relevant to Adventist that believe that Christianity has and must respond to a careful study of physical reality by reconsidering its interpretations of the word of the Lord, but as Sean has indicated you are exception to that characterization. I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science. It seems a bit messy to worry about facts. It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.

    Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.




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    • @pauluc:

      First off, Bob and I aren’t suggesting that the Flood and its effects were Supernaturally generated. We both believe that the Flood was largely if not entirely the result of natural “processes” that did not need intelligent design of any kind to explain. Most likely, it was a removal of God’s protection that allowed for the Earth to end up with such a catastrophic event. We are, of course, told that Noah was Divinely protected while in the ark (or the ark wouldn’t have survived such a catastrophe), but the direct cause and effects of the Flood were probably entirely natural. As previously explained, the Flood could have been naturally produced by the impacts of large meteors. The massive resulting Flooding of the entire planet with the building of the geologic column and the fossil record were all natural consequences of such a sudden catastrophe that broke up all the fountains of the great deep within a single day (Genesis 7:11).

      As far as “taking the Bible seriously, but not literally”, isn’t that kinda like taking a moral fable, like Moby Dick, seriously but not literally? – as you’ve explained before? You see, it makes a world of difference, beyond what can be realized from a “cunningly devised fable”, if the story is actually true or not.

      That is why we “worry about science” – because without science, without an ability to rationally study the empirical evidence, it would be impossible to rationally discover the Signature of God behind either the claims of the Bible or behind any artifact in the natural world. Without science or the ability to think scientifically, all you’d be left with is fideism (or “wishful thinking” about God).

      Remember the story of John the Baptist trapped in prison all day long? One day he got so depressed that he sent word to Jesus asking Him, “Are you the Christ or should we look for another”? (Luke 7:20). What did Jesus say in response? Did He send a message back to John that He needed to have more faith? Nope. Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t say anything right away – nothing at all. Instead, He kept right on doing what He had been doing. He cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. In other words, He kept on providing empirical evidence of who He claimed to be. Then He said, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Luke 7:22-23)

      This story should strike you with the weight that the Biblical authors themselves placed upon empirical evidence. Jesus didn’t ask for blind faith devoid of the support of the weight of empirical evidence. Rather, He expected people to make a rational leap of faith based upon the weight of empirical evidence that had been given to them.

      Of course, you think you’re a scientist, but you’re “science” concerning origins is based more on philosophy than real scientific evidence. The available evidence actually strongly supports the empirical claims of the Bible regarding:

      1) The intelligent origin of life on this planet – which cannot be explained by any mindless natural “process” of which your or anyone else is aware.

      2) The recent origin of all life and its diversity on this planet in line with numerous evidences from biology, chemistry, geology, physics, etc. Certainly your Darwinian mechanism is clearly limited to the low levels of functional/informational complexity – which neither you nor anyone else can tenably counter.

      3) A Noachian-style catastrophic Flood as being responsible for much of the fossil/geologic records with numerous features that are diametrically opposed to the gradual uniformitarian concept for the origin of these features.

      In short, neo-Darwinism is based more on secular philosophy rather than real science.

      Also, your notion that God cannot act within His creation in a detectably artifactual way (which clearly requires intelligent design to explain – something you like to call “magic”) is not at all in line with what is generally understood as “Christianity”. A God who cannot even act in a detectably intelligent manner that is no more “magical” compared to what you yourself can achieve, is no God at all. Any religion based on such a non-detectable God is powerless to provide a rational hope in the future or any solid comfort in this life.




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  68. Sean Pitman: Beyond this, Odom also argues very much as I have regarding the “stars” mentioned in Genesis.

    “There is the possibility that the rest of our solar system was brought into existence then [during the Creation Week of Genesis]. However, we would not speak dogmatically on that point. Other heavenly bodies were in existence before our world was created. We would not attempt to say how much older they are than the earth, because the Scriptures do not tell us specifically when they were created. Many of them may be millions of years older than the little planet we inhabit.” – Odom, 1959

    This is exactly what I’ve been arguing – that here is the possibility that the rest of our solar system was brought into existence during Creation Week.

    I must have misunderstood you. I apologize. I did not realize that you were arguing, like Odom, that the “stars” of Genesis 1 could be referring to our solar system. (Odom in that article never used the “stars” of Gen. 1:16 to refer to stars outside of our solar system, unless I missed something.)

    Sean Pitman: How old is your E-mail, because in the Collins’ paper I referenced he argues that the crystals can grow quite rapidly:

    The emails are a bit older than his paper.

    Note that his paper is posted on a pro-evolution special interest group’s website, not in a standard peer-reviewed journal. At the time of our communications, Collins told me that the standard journals refused to publish his theories on granite. What does that tell you? His peers generally didn’t feel his theories held water. Now perhaps since then his peers have “seen the light,” but we also have the possibility that this special interest group can’t find anything better to attack the evidence for creation with.

    Yes, he does argue for rapid re-formation of granite crystals. That’s his hypothesis in that paper. Then he should test his hypothesis and see if he can rapidly grow such crystals in the presence of relatively immense amounts of Rn to see if he can create a crystal with a Po-218 halo inside. He doesn’t get a pass on testing his hypothesis. Mere plausibility arguments don’t cut it.

    Re: Collins’ theory, you may not be aware of this fact of physics: A decay chain’s radioactive isotopes when in equilibrium will be present in amounts proportional to their half-lives. Since Rn-222 has a half-life of 3.8235 days and Po-218 a half-life of 3.098 min., there needs to be 1777 times more Rn atoms than the required number of Po atoms in the presence of the growing crystal, in order to have enough Po atoms available at any given point of time (after equilibrium is reached) to become emplaced in the growing crystal. Since Collins is here calling for the growth of large crystals in hours or less, we’re talking about the near instantaneous formation of the part that would encapsulate a single Po halo. (If a small 1 cm crystal grew in 10 hours, it would grow at the rate of 500 to 1,000 halo center diameters per hour: 1 cm = 10,000 microns growth per 10 hours = 1,000 microns growth per hour. A Po halo diameter would be 1 to 2 microns. This small crystal would be growing at roughly 10 to 20 such halo centers per minute.)

    Note that Collins is trying to explain the presence of 20,000-30,000 Po-218 and Po-210 halos per cubic cm, as reported in Gentry’s 1968 paper which he cites. Questions I would have are: (a) What naturalistic mechanism does Collins propose whereby the Po-214 halos would be missing from that Norwegian sample? (b) What naturalistic mechanism does Collins propose separated the Po-218 from the Po-210 such that little or no Po-218 became emplaced in Po-210-halo centers, close by Po-218 halo centers in the same nearly instantaneously formed cubic cm of granite?

    The more immediate question in my mind is where did all the radiogenic lead go? If there was 1777 times more Rn-222 atoms than Po-218 atoms present per Po-218 halo, then for every Po-218 halo there should be 1777 times as much Pb-206 lurking around somewhere than what is in each Po-218 halo center. Unless there is a relative abundance of radiogenic Pb nearby that could be explained as the remains of the required Rn, Collins theory appears to be a non-starter.

    It’s really worse than that. From Collins’ paper:

    Uranium is commonly found in scattered zircon crystals in granite (as noted above), but some uranium may also be concentrated in late stages of granite crystallization in pegmatites in the mineral uraninite because of its very large atomic size. Biotite and fluorite crystallizing near this uraninite could plausibly contain Pohalos because the concentrated uranium atoms in this uraninite and in fluids bringing this uranium to the pegmatites would be an abundant source of radon 222Rn and polonium isotopes.

    Because U-238 has a half life of 4.5 billions years, then for every Rn-222 atom required, there should be 430 billion atoms of U-238 lurking around somewhere, assuming equilibrium. If he wasn’t proposing nearly instantaneous crystal formation, the numbers would be a little better. If you need 5 billion atoms to produce a single dark Po-218 halo, and you need 1777 times that much Rn-222, you then need 430 billion x 1777 x 5 billion atoms worth of U-238 per Po-218 halo, assuming that 100% of the Rn-222 gas produced by the U-238 deposit just happens to float over to near the vicinity of the future 1-micron diameter Po-218 halo center.

    I suspect that the rapid removal of Po from availability due to emplacement in the nearly instantaneous growth of the crystal might mess up the above scenario. Will the cloud of Rn decay fast enough to replenish the Po lost, such that the crystal can continue its rapid growth, encapsulating more and more Po, to the tune of thousands of Po halo centers per cubic centimeter? Sounds like a miracle to me, the very thing that Collins, reportedly a devout Methodist, is trying to disprove ever happened.

    Sean Pitman: As I’ve mentioned several times already, I just don’t see that your ideas are required of the Biblical accounts nor are they fundamental to one’s reading or understanding of the key claims of the Bible or the Gospel message. That is why I don’t consider your ideas fundamental to Adventism ….

    MH 414 and 8T 258 use the phrases “formation of our world” and “creation of the earth” when speaking of how God did not use pre-existing matter. I therefore looked up every reference this morning to creation or formation of the world or earth, and could not find one single statement that suggested a passive gap theory. To the contrary, Ellen White associated these phrases with the 6-days of creation, and the gift of the Sabbath, which does suggest that we are indeed talking about something that potentially affects the fundamentals of Adventism. One interesting example:

    The creation of man in the beginning, the formation of the heavens and the earth, the beauty and glory with which the Creator had clothed all nature, had called forth the wonder and admiration of the universe of heaven, their reverence and love. (RH 7-15-09)

    So the unfallen worlds and the angels watched as God formed the heavens and the earth. And that indicates that the formation of the heavens and the earth out of nothing occurred well after the unfallen worlds were created. We therefore can’t really use the fact that there already were unfallen worlds to argue that the formation of the world out of nothing could have happened a billion years before creation week.

    By observing the memorial of the creation of the world in six days and the rest of the Creator on the seventh day, …. (3SM 256) (dated 1901)

    The Sabbath was to stand representing God’s power in his creation of the world in six days, and his resting upon the seventh day. (GCB 3-4-1895)

    Human Philosophy declares that an indefinite period of time was taken in the creation of the world. Does God state the matter thus? No; He says, “It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days [not six indefinite periods of time; for then there would be no possible way for man to observe the day specified in the fourth commandment] the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” (TM 135; PH086 33) (dated Jan. 12, 1898)

    Consistently, she refers to the creation of the earth, which she elsewhere said was not out of pre-existing matter, as occurring during the 6 days, and of which the Sabbath is a memorial. The Sabbath is certainly not a memorial that God formed the earth billions of years ago.

    The topic of intelligent design is a powerful tool to use to present the truth. I’m all for it. But in a meeting conducted by a representative from a major ID organization, it was surprising to hear him espouse an old earth/life view, and put down a young earth/life view, indicating that none of the scientists they had working with them held a young earth or young life view. The radiometric dating of dinosaur bones could help at a time like that, but I used the halo and retention rates evidence that evening and in correspondence to suggest to him that there was indeed an evidentiary basis for a young earth/life view, and he was open to the material and suggestions.




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    • I’m sorry, but I still don’t find your arguments very convincing. While “possible”, I don’t think it’s likely that God created the basic material of the Earth or the solar system during Creation week. Also, I don’t think this concept matters one way or another to the fundamentals of Adventism.

      As far as “young-granite” based on polonium halos, I just don’t find your line of reasoning here very convincing. There are numerous other problems with granites beyond the numerous polonium halo issues (which I don’t see as being clearly resolved). For instance, xenoliths of many different types are quite common within granite rocks. Also, granite rocks often overlay fossil-bearing sedimentary layers or intrude into them – suggesting their formation after these layers. Also, polonium halos are found within Mesozoic and even Cenozoic granite (from the Cascade Mountains of Washington State). Since there are many post-Phanerozoic granitic rocks, which are acknowledged by all to be non-primordial (created after life was already in existence on this planet; Link), would this make a large portion of fossil-bearing rocks “primordial”? – in conflict with virtually all young-earth/Flood models? I don’t think so.

      Again, these arguments you’re presenting do not seem to be very solid to me nor do I see the notion that the basic material of this planet must be young as fundamental to the Adventist position on origins. I recommend that regardless of your own personal opinions on this topic, that you not be “dogmatic” in these points.

      I will leave you with that…




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      • Sean Pitman: For instance, xenoliths of many different types are quite common within granite rocks.

        Why is that a problem? If the xenolith’s boundaries are distinct with no mixing with the surrounding rock, and if its melting point is the same as or lower than the surrounding rock, then we don’t have evidence here of a much older rock being engulfed by magma.

        Also, granite rocks often overlay fossil-bearing sedimentary layers or intrude into them – suggesting their formation after these layers.

        Or suggesting the incorporation of creation rocks within flood sediments. For one thing, if the claimed intrusion is very narrow, that would allow very rapid cooling, and then there shouldn’t be any reason why granite with crystals the same size couldn’t be formed in the laboratory. But since all granite synthesis experiments along these lines have failed, another explanation needs to be found. Also, the heat of magma would destroy the fossils in question, and so we would not expect to find fossils next to granite if granite really formed from magma.

        Also, polonium halos are found within Mesozoic and even Cenozoic granite (from the Cascade Mountains of Washington State).

        How was it determined that the granite was Mesozoic, and that it originated about the same time that Mesozoic strata did? How was it determined that it wasn’t Precambrian granite that was relocated due to a global catastrophe? Or did the one who initially raised these arguments forget to rule out other possibilities?

        If laboratory experiments demonstrate the impossibility of Po-218 forming naturally, which they do, then it is highly unlikely that that granite is really Mesozoic, and evolutionists need to find another explanation for its existence. In other words, if Po-218 halos really have been found in really Mesozoic strata, then someone should be able to make a Po halo in the laboratory in a piece of biotite or fluorite. But if that still can’t be accomplished, then the assumptions evolutionists have made about that “Mesozoic” granite are wrong.

        Since there are many post-Phanerozoic granitic rocks, which are acknowledged by all to be non-primordial (created after life was already in existence on this planet), …

        Since Gentry does not acknowledge granite (he specifically is speaking of rocks with crystals visible to the naked eye, not rhyolite) to be non-primordial, all do not acknowledge the existence of post-Phanerozoic granites.

        While “possible”, I don’t think it’s likely that God created the basic material of the Earth or the solar system during Creation week. Also, I don’t think this concept matters one way or another to the fundamentals of Adventism.

        1. Are you suggesting the possibility that God only created “the basic material of the … solar system” before creation week, or that He created the sun and moon before creation week? There’s a huge difference between the two as far as the biblical text goes.

        2. Did you look up any SoP references containing the words world or earth and creation or formation to see how Ellen White used those phrases, in order to better understand what she could have meant when she said that God did not use pre-existing matter in the creation of the earth and the formation of our world?

        _________________________

        Sean, I think the following should be a separate post from the other I wrote this morning.

        The following are calculations for the amount of U ore and the amount of Rn-222 that Collins’ hypothesis at http://ncse.com/rncse/30/5/origin-polonium-halos is calling for. His hypothesis is that “large crystals of biotite (and fluorite) crystals could, perhaps” grow “in a matter of hours or less” under certain conditions, encapsulating Po-218 as they grow, the Po-218 coming from Rn- and Po-bearing hydrothermal fluids, producing as many as 20-30 thousand Po-218 and Po-210 halos per cubic cm in a Norwegian mica.

        Collins correctly recognizes the problems

        1. Why is Collins suggesting emplacement of Po-218 in growing crystals? Because that would explain how the Po got there without leaving any footprints. There are no fossil alpha recoil tracks left by atoms that decayed before they could arrive at the halo centers, which there should be if the Rn or Po diffused through an already solid crystal. This is why Collins is proposing a process that doesn’t involve diffusion.

        2. Collins calls for crystal re-formation at temperatures lower than the melting point, “350-“550ºC,” which is important since heat anneals (erases) halos. Despite this fact, I think the temperatures he does propose would probably still erase the halos over time. The crystals must be cool enough to allow halos both to form and also to endure for their assumed age.

        What size might “large crystals” be?

        The largest documented biotite crystal is reported to have leaves 7 sq. m in size. The largest fluorite crystal is reported to be a 2.12 m cube. We will skew our calculations in Collins’ favor by using the measurements of a large but comparatively small biotite crystal for sale on eBay that is described as 15 cm x 13 cm x 1.5 cm. We will assume this crystal is 100 cubic cm in volume in order to account for its irregular shape.

        Hypothetical growth rate for this crystal

        “In a matter of hours or less” would mean 23 hours down to < 1 hour. Let's assume that the relatively small 100 cubic cm crystal grew in 5 hours. That would be 20 cubic cm per hour, or 1 cubic cm per every 3 minutes, and 3 minutes is Po-218's half life.

        Bear in mind that we have competing and conflicting parameters involved. We need higher temperatures to erase or prevent the footprints, but we need lower temperatures to allow for the formation and endurance of the halos. We need rapid crystal growth to avoid lopsided halos (where one side is lighter than the other because some Po had decayed before the crystal could grow far enough), but we need slow crystal growth in order to excuse the failure of laboratory granite synthesis experiments, and to account for the required accumulation of isotopes. We need rapid accumulation of isotopes to explain the lack of footprints, but we need slow accumulation of isotopes to avoid absurd initial quantities of U-238 and Rn-222, and violations of diffusion laws.

        We require more Po-218 atoms than we might think

        According to the published reports, a Po halo center is 1 to 2 microns in diameter, a dark halo requires 5 x 10^9 Po-218 atoms, and the concentration of Po needed for a dark halo is > 50% (http://www.halos.com/book/ctm-app-05-a.htm).

        If we are losing 5 billion Po-218 atoms every three minutes as a growing crystal is encapsulating more and more Po-218, we need twice that much Po-218 to start with to keep from falling behind. If we will lose half of 10 billion Po-218 atoms to decay every 3 minutes, then that is also the rate that Po-218 is being replenished. Thus, if we start out with less than 10 billion atoms, we will be on losing ground, since replenishment will not equal the loss of 5 billion Po-218 atoms every 3 minutes to the growing crystal.

        That skews the numbers in Collins’ favor if we stop there, which we shall, since it would be impossible for the 50% of the Po-218 that decays to be the same 50% that gets encapsulated, such such 100% efficiency is impossible to achieve in nature. In reality, if we start with 10 billion atoms of Po-218, at the end of 3 minutes, while 5 billion atoms may have been encapsulated, half of the remaining 5 billion atoms would have decayed, leaving us with but 7.5 billion atoms to begin the next 3-minute cycle (2.5 billion remaining, undecayed Po-218 atoms + 5 billion newly formed Po-218 atoms = 7.5 billion atoms).

        Required volume of Rn-bearing fluids

        The amount of Rn absorbed by a fluid depends on the temperature: as the temperature rises, less Rn will remain in solution. The greater the pressure, the more should dissolve. However, Collins explicitly proposes that the crystals that are re-forming and encapsulating Po-218 are located in low-pressure areas, allowing transport of isotopes from high pressure areas to low pressure areas. He’s got to get the isotopes to the proper sites somehow, and this is how he does it. But the lack of pressure limits the amount of Rn that can be contained in the fluid, and the high temperatures his hypothesis requires works against his hypothesis. (While his suggested temperatures are lower than the melting point, they are far above 20 degrees C.)

        The record for Rn in well water in Connecticut was set by a well which had a Rn level of 660,000 pCi/L (http://ct-radon.info/CT_general.html). Since there are 27 pCi per Bq, we’re talking about 24,444 Bq/L. A Bq is one emission per second, so 24,444 atoms in 1 liter of water are decaying per second when the amount of radioactivity is 24,444 Bq/L. But since one study said that they measured Rn levels after equilibrium was reached in 3 hours, I think this means that those 24,444 emissions include alpha particles coming from Po-218 and Po-214 decay too. So in order to figure out how many Rn-222 atoms we really are talking about, we need to divide 24,444 by 3, and that leaves us with 8,148 Rn-222 atoms decaying per second.

        If we divide that number by Rn-222’s decay constant (2.1 x 10^-6 s^-1), we should end up with the total number of Rn-222 atoms in that well water, 3.88 x 10^9/L. Let’s assume that’s enough atoms to form a nice Po-218 halo, though a dark halo requires 5 x 10^9 atoms. Then since when equilibrium conditions are reached there are 1777 Rn-222 atoms for every Po-218 atom, and we need more than 2 times the amount of Rn we might think we need, we need > 1777 x 2 liters of dangerously high Rn-bearing well water to have enough Po-218 atoms at any given moment to form a single Po-218 halo, and still have the same amount of Po-218 available for the next 3-minute half-life cycle.

        Now all we have to do is decide how many Po-218 halos we want to account for in a cubic cm, since we’re working with the assumption that it grew at the rate of 1 cubic cm per 3-minute half-life. If we want only 100 halos, then we need > 100 x 1777 x 2 liters of dangerously high Rn-bearing well water, or > 355,400 liters, which would be 355.4 cubic m. So if 100% of the Po-218 formed from the decay of Rn in > 355.4 cubic m of Rn-and Po-bearing fluid with a similar concentration could get transported in time to the halo centers, we could seemingly account for 100 Po-218 halos in a single cubic cm of biotite, though our target number of halos is a bit higher.

        But some Po-218 will undoubtedly go left instead of right, and so we need even more fluid, since 100% will never be at the right spot at the right time. But the more fluid we need, the less likely a high percentage of Po-218 will get to the right spot. It just doesn’t seem plausible without calling for an even greater concentration of Rn in that fluid, greater by 8 or 9 orders of magnitude (> 355.4 cubic m = > 355,400,000 cubic cm, and a change of 8 or 9 orders of magnitude would get the required volume of fluid down to < 1 cubic cm). But there would be a limit to how high the concentration would go in nature, and that's where I come up short. I couldn't come up with a naturally occurring maximum Rn concentration in hydrothermal fluids subjected to subsurface temperatures and pressures. But http://www.whoi.edu/cms/files/Kadko_1996_28285.pdf on p. 357 gives a number of Rn concentrations for seafloor hydrothermal vents, and the highest value is 1037 dpm/L (disintegrations per minute/L), which would be 17.28 Bq/L (1037 dpm/(60 Bq/dpm)), which is much, much less than the figure for the bad well we used above.

        Required volume of U-bearing ore

        U-238 and Po-218 have half-lives of 4,468,000,000 years and 3.098 min respectively. Thus for every atom of Po-218, there needs to be 2.35 quadrillion (4.468 x 10^9 years / 3.098 min. = 2.35 x 10^15) U-238 atoms lying around somewhere. If we needed 5 x 10^9 atoms of Po-218 per halo on average, then we need 2.35 x 10^15 x 5 x 10^9 = 1.18 x 10^25 total atoms of U-238 per Po-218 halo. Converting the numbers of atoms of U-238 and Rn-222 to grams, we get 4,680 g and 1.11 x 10^-12 g respectively. Since U has a density of 19.1 g/cubic cm, we need 245 cubic cm of pure U-238 for every Po-218 halo center. And because we still need to have > 2 times what we might think we need, we really need > 9,360 g and > 490 cubic cm of pure U-238.

        (We’ll ignore the fact that naturally occurring U also contains U-235, and would have contained considerably more at the time Collins thinks these crystals formed, given that U-235 has a much shorter half life than U-238. Ignoring this will again skew the numbers in Collins’ favor.)

        Collins is trying to account for the large number of Po halos in a Norwegian mica, and I couldn’t find any references to U ores in Norway. So let’s assume that the U ore available to produce Rn in Norway is low-grade ore (.1%), which is 200 to 333 times the amount of U contained in granite. I think this means that we need > 9,360 kg of .1% ore to end up with > 9,360 g of U.

        Gummite, a type of U ore, has a density of 5.5 g/cubic cm. > 9.360 x 10^6 g would then have a volume of > 1.7 x 10^6 cubic cm, or > 1.7 cubic m per Po-218 halo center. If we’re trying to account for 100 Po-218 halo centers being encapsulated every 3 minutes, we then need > 170 cubic meters of .1% U ore.

        Previous calculations in 2003

        Working with the liberal assumption that crystal growth could not allow more than 25% difference in dosage for dark halos between two sides of a single halo (the 25% being calculated after subtracting the coloration threshold, the dosage needed before seeing any coloration), I calculated that the crystal had to grow at least 1 micron every 3 sec. in order for the crystal to reach the edge of the future Po-218 ring quickly enough. 1 micron / 3 sec = 1 cm / 30,000 sec. = 1 cm / 500 min. The first Po-218 halo at http://www.halos.com/book/ctm-rc-4.htm is so faint that the speed of crystal growth would have had to be much, much higher. And so a minimum speed of 1 cm per 3 min. is not unreasonably high, and may be unrealistically slow.

        In April 2003, Collins told me by email that he had decided against his re-crystalization explanation for Po halo formation because of the above calculations, and was going back to a diffusion or transport along microfractures hypothesis. Our discussion then turned to the speed of transport via diffusion, since too slow of transport would allow too many atoms to decay enroute, resulting in fossil alpha recoil tracks and, I thought, excess Pb between the Isotope source and the halo centers. At some point I consulted with an evolutionist geologist about the plausibility of diffusion along cleavage planes and/or microfractures, and this is one thing he said: “I think the diffusion rate I cite above as a reasonable guideline suggests that diffusion rate is sufficient to get migration of Po on the scale of millimeters, and Rn on the scale of cm.” Get the picture? We’re seemingly back to square one: How could Po-218 possibly diffuse far enough in order to form the halos we now see?

        This geologist also wrote: ” I think that it is unlikely that solubility of the Rn will be the limiting factor in the availability of Rn. Rather, supply of Radon by the decay of U238 will be the limiting factor. That is, the amount of Rn that is present, rather than the amount that will dissolve in water, determines how much is available in the biotite environment. ” I think he’s probably correct. Back in 2003 I found somewhere a figure of maximum solubility for Rn of .5g/L at STP, which would be around 1.36 x 10^21 Rn-222 atoms/L, or 1.36 x 10^6 atoms/cubic micron. If we need 5 x 10^9 Po-218 atoms per halo, need 1777 as much Rn-222 as Po-218, need > twice as much Rn as we might think, and need to end up with 100 halos per cubic cm, then we need 1.3 x 10^9 cubic microns of such saturated water (far less than a cubic cm) to account for all 100 Po-218 halos in a cubic cm. So if such concentrations could occur in nature, they could only do so at the localities needed if there was an adequate source of U, and there probably isn’t such, since if there were, Norway would be a major U producer.

        Conclusion

        If we take an unreasonably large amount of U ore, propose that plate tectonics or something similar pulverized that ore, propose that some sort of naturally occurring process resulted in the gathering of 100% of the Rn that U ore was producing, propose the transport of that Rn to the halo centers through some sort of means, and propose rapid crystal growth at low enough temperatures, we have come up with an explanation for the formation and continued existence of Po-218 halos in biotite and fluorite. That pulverization is necessary is suggested by Collins invoking microfracturing. Otherwise, some of that Rn simply won’t get out of that ore before it decays, and we need every possible Rn atom near the future halo centers as that crystal is growing.

        Even if I’ve made a mistake somewhere, I think the conclusion will be the same. Suppose they suddenly discover a 2% U ore in Norway, reasonably close to where Po-halo bearing mica has been found. We would then be down to needing > 8.5 cubic meters of 2% ore, which still doesn’t sound plausible.

        The polonium halo evidence for creation, despite Collins’ 2010 paper, remains unrefuted.

        If anyone begs to differ, ask him how the isotopes got to the halo centers without leaving footprints, without leaving fossil alpha recoil tracks. That’s much of the problem in a nutshell.

        But we never even touched the problem of why some samples contain more Po-218 halos than Po-210 halos, when under equilibrium conditions (what you might have if isotope accumulation at the halo centers happened over long ages) there would be far more Po-210 than Po-218 available to make halos: Po-218 half-life 3.098 min. / Po-210 half-life 138.376 days = 1 Po-218 atom / 64,319 Po-210 atoms. Or, since the beta-emitting precursor of Po-210 has a half-life of 22.2 years, 1 Po-218 atom / 3,768,983 Po-210 atoms.




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        • First off, I’m sorry but I feel that your latest posts on this topic needed to be combined so that they are located in the same proximity within this thread – so as to better keep track of individual conversations.

          As far as the arguments you’ve presented, there seem to me to be numerous significant problems for your position. First off, your suggestion that post-Phanerozoic granitic rocks don’t exist is just nonsense. They do exist – to include granite rocks with “crystals visible to the naked eye”. Even Gentry himself used such rocks in his original paper on the topic. Consider that numerous creationists admit this particular fact and many have argued that Gentry’s claims simply aren’t tenable. For example, in a 1988 paper R. H. Brown, H. G. Coffin, L. J. Gibson, A. A. Roth, and C. L. Webster (Link) argued:

          In Creation’s Tiny Mystery, Gentry repeatedly states (pp. 25, 36, 65, 66, 98, 117, 153, 184) that the Precambrian granites represent the primordial creation rocks. Part of the reason for this statement is the presence of pleochroic halos found in them. However, Wakefield (6) and Wilkerson (7) challenge this interpretation, pointing out that the localities where the pleochroic halos are found represent secondary rocks, specifically dikes of granite and even calcite veins that intrude older rocks; hence, they are at least secondary in origin. Wise (8), who has reviewed the literature on the localities where pleochroic halos have been reported, indicates that a majority (15 out of 22) appear to come from veins or dikes (pegmatites), and hence represent secondary and not primary rocks.

          Without entering into the argument as to the absolute age of the rocks (either primary or secondary), it would be safe to state that the majority of halo-containing minerals are younger than the host rock and therefore do not represent primordial material.

          The presence of non-polonium pleochroic halos found near polonium halos in biotite, fluorite or other minerals weakens Gentry’s case even further. This is especially true when Gentry must invoke a nonuniform increased radioactive decay rate to account for the presence of U-238, Th-232 and Sm-146 halos, while leaving untouched the polonium decay rates! Gentry must invoke a nonuniform rate increase for some of the halos, because at present the half-lives of these other halo-producing isotopes are on the order of hundreds of millions to thousands of millions of years!

          If Gentry’s independence assumption (polonium halos formed from polonium which was not produced by the radioactive parent U-238) is found to be incorrect, or even found to be strongly questionable, his whole contention that pleochroic halos are evidence of ex nihilo creation becomes suspect. The fact that the polonium isotopes involved in halo formation in the rocks are only those which are daughter products of systematic uranium and thorium decay forces one to suspect immediately that they are derived from uranium rather than a special creation.

          Also, the existence of older xenolith inclusions within granite rocks (even within Mesozoic or Cenozoic granitic rocks) is also inconsistent with Gentry’s notion that God created all granite rocks instantaneosly during the Creation Week. It just doesn’t make sense that God would incorporate such xenolithic inclusions, some obviously from sedimentary rock, within such specially created granite rocks. Consider Collins’ arguments further in this regard:

          Precambrian granite bodies in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Colorado have an erosion surface on which the horizontal, Paleozoic, fossil-bearing sediments are deposited, with the Cambrian Tapeats sandstone at the bottom and the Permian Kaibab limestone at the top. The eroded surface indicates that these granites are older than these sediments, the so-called “Noachian Flood deposits.” On the other hand, the Donegal granites in northwest Ireland intrude and enclose inclusions of sedimentary rocks of Cambrian age, illustrating that the granites are younger than the Cambrian deposits, whose contacts with the granites have a high-temperature metamorphic aureole (Pitcher and Berger, 1972). The same kinds of metamorphic contact-relationships are found in the granites that intrude fossil-bearing sediments in Maine, Connecticut, and Rhode Island (Harrison et al., 1983). The Narragansett Pier granite in Rhode Island surrounds inclusions of Pennsylvanian metamorphosed sediments containing flora fossils, Annularia stellata (Brown et al., 1978). The flora fossils are now totally carbonized as graphite, indicating the high temperature of the granite body that metamorphosed the sedimentary inclusions. The fact that the granite contains inclusions of these fossil-bearing sediments makes the granite younger than these supposed “Flood” sediments. The Sierra Nevada granite intrusions in California also have intruded and metamorphosed supposed “Flood sediments” in roof pendants containing Ordovician graptolite fossils (Frazier et al., 1986) and Pennsylvanian brachiopod fossils (Rinehart and Ross, 1964; Rinehart et al., 1959). In other places, the Sierran granites have intruded and metamorphosed “Flood sediments” containing Triassic ammonites (coiled cephalopods) (Smith, 1927). A granite in the Mojave desert in California near Cadiz intrudes Cambrian limestone containing stromatolite fossils. At the contact, this limestone is converted to marble with high-temperature metamorphic minerals, but remnants of the stromatolites can still be found (Richard Squires, oral communication, 1998). Thus, it is very clear from the above examples that some granite masses are the same age as or even younger than the “Noachian Flood deposits.” (Collins, 1998)

          As another example, consider the Bathurst Batholith which intrudes into fossil-bearing layers of sedimentary rock. At the contact with this granite batholith the host fossiliferous sedimentary strata have been metamorphosed by the heat of the cooling granite batholith (Joplin 1936; Snelling 1974; Vallance 1969). Numerous minor granitic dikes cut across the margins of the Bathurst Granite and out into the surrounding host strata. Good exposures of these dikes are seen in the many railroad cuts between Sodwalls and Tarana. Up to 45 m (about 150 ft.) wide, these granitic dikes have the same composition as both the Bathurst Granite and the Evans Crown dike, often with the same porphyritic texture (Snelling 1974). The granitic bodies making up the batholith invade host country rocks as young as upper Devonian, and on the eastern margin are overlapped by Permian sediments. (Link)

          As far as your reading of the SoP, I’ve gone over what Ellen White has to say about origins very very carefully and have discussed these comments with you in some detail already. Suffice it to say that your arguments remain unconvincing to me and I highly suggest that you not press the issue with others or become “dogmatic” in your position on this topic. It simply isn’t fundamental to Adventism.




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  69. pauluc:

    You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away.It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views.

    I never remotely suggested this. I enjoy our dialog and have no desire for you to go away. Also, I am very open to learning about flaws in my position. But I am not convinced when you compare processes involving hydrogen gas in space to the life and death of sentient beings. That is not convincing!

    Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.

    I am not a “fundamentalist.”




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  70. pauluc:

    What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous.

    You want to put Christianity and science in two separate air-tight compartments so that they cannot interact. None of the great founders of the scientific disciplines subscribed to this view, and it is not necessary for the scientific enterprise to be successful. Methodological naturalism has only been a guiding principle in science for about 100 years, and I cannot accept it because it is an atheistic perspective.

    I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science.It seems a bit messy to worry about facts.It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.

    Why am I interested in science? Because I am fascinated with the natural world/universe that God has created. I have always loved science! Also, I am very interested in the facts, which is why post-modernism seems so alien to me. Are you suggesting that the existence of God is not a fact? I don’t think you want to go there!

    Sean and I agree that the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary marks the onset of the flood. However, he believes that the flood ended at the Mesozoic/Cenozoic boundary (also known as the K/T boundary). Perhaps he is right, but I find this position hard to swallow because Cenozoic erosion and deposition was still very great. I rather think the Mezozoic/Cenozoic boundary marks the crest of the flood, and most of the Cenozoic marks the declining stages of the flood.




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  71. I have a general post that I would like you all to respond to if you would please. I have not read all of your posts but enough to see that science and the use of purely or at least primarily scientific methods and guidelines for arriving at any conclusions on these topics is the main issue, and there are a number of different competing views for the origins of life and the planets and the timing of their respective beginnings, etc.

    As a way for me to see from you all how you view scientific evidence in relation to a God that created the natural laws, please each of you if you would tell me if you believe that God actually parted the Red Sea, and not some low lying salt marsh but actually opened up the Sea in the Gulf of Aqaba to allow Moses to lead them across, and if you believe it how God did that, explaining it from a natural law perspective.

    Then if you would please tell me if you believe that when God made life on this planet he first separated the water on the earth from the water above the earth and placed the atmosphere in between, which is what Genesis says and explains the amount of water that fell in the days of Noah; and if you believe that how did he do that within natural law.

    I would then suggest that if you don’t believe either of those stories is true then you don’t really believe God, and if you do believe those stories are true but cannot explain them strictly within natural law, then why are you trying to explain all of these variables of creation using the same method.

    I look forward to reading all of your replies, unless of course you don’t believe the questions are worthy of your response.




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    • I do believe that God parted the sea for Moses and the Israelites to cross over while drowning the entire Egyptian arm. I also believe that God created the structure of the planet needed to support complex life. And, I believe that He accomplished these feats outside of what mindless natural mechanisms can achieve. The same is true for explaining the origin of a computer or an F-16 or a highly symmetrical granite cube or a chocolate cake. None of these artifacts of intelligent design can be explained by mindless natural mechanisms or “processes” either. Just like we can create beyond what mindless natural laws and processes can explain, so can God – just on a higher level is all.




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    • @Randolph Belsky: I am not necessarily convinced that “Yam Suph” refers to the Gulf of Suez (it could not have been the Gulf of Aqaba), but it was a significant body of water. It was certainly not a salt marsh! As the Designer of natural law, God could have suspended the laws of physics to cause the water to part and pile up into walls, but the wording of the account suggests to me that He probably accomplished this through an unusual use of wind. However, regardless of whether He used wind or suspended physical laws, this was a genuine miracle (a very striking event that strengthened faith).

      As far as the creation and establishment of the expanse (or atmosphere) on the 2nd day of creation week is concerned, this was direct action on the part of the Creator, and no natural law can account for it. God clearly transcended natural law in this case. He spoke, and it was accomplished!

      I don’t know how much water fell from the sky during the flood. It was a significant amount, but probably quite secondary to what came from the fountains of the great deep (Gen 7:11-12). I suspect that the flood was a very unusual natural event that God utilized to accomplish His purpose of cleansing the earth from evil and violence. If that was the case, perhaps it was initiated when a series of asteroid impacts caused runaway subduction of the sea floor and the consequent splitting of an antediluvian super continent. This theory is called “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics” (CPT), and as a theory, it could certainly be wrong. But it does provide a possible scientific mechanism for understanding the entire flood scenario. However, the suggestion that the flood was a natural event that can be studied by science in no way minimizes God’s use of this event. God is the Lord of science, and He often uses nature to accomplish His purposes.

      In conclusion, I believe that God’s intervention in the world/universe can transcend natural law, but it can also utilize natural law, and I suspect that both of these factors came into play in the instances you have mentioned.




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  72. “After the knowledge, and obedience to, the will of God, the next aim must be to know something of His attributes of wisdom, power, and goodness as evidenced by His handiwork. It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintanceship with the mind of God therein expressed.” (James Prescott Joule)

    Paul, the physicist James Joule held the exact philosophy of science that I am proposing. Would you like to pose that same question to him: “Why should you be interested in any science? It seems a bit messy to worry about facts!” Unfortunately, he’s not here to defend himself because he died at the end of the 19th century!

    Joule’s perspective was very common before methodological naturalism gained its stranglehold over science. For some strange reason, you are willing to tolerate his likes, but if a modern researcher expresses this same opinion, you want to kick him/her out of the scientific community and ask the rather insulting question, “Why should you be interested in any science?” I honestly don’t understand your mindset. It baffles me!




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  73. Sean Pitman: First off, your suggestion that post-Phanerozoic granitic rocks don’t exist is just nonsense. They do exist – to include granite rocks with “crystals visible to the naked eye”.

    We have the laws of physics and experimental evidence demonstrating that Po-218 halos in granite cannot form naturally. In opposition to these incontrovertible facts, you bring arguments based not on the laws of physics or experimental evidence, but rather on interpretations of rock formations, which interpretations are influenced on uniformitarian presuppositions. Thus, you haven’t made your case. Since the laws of physics and experimental evidence falsify the hypothetical interpretation of the rock formations in question, that hypothetical interpretation must be wrong.

    Sean Pitman: Also, the existence of older xenolith inclusions within granite rocks (even within Mesozoic or Cenozoic granitic rocks) is also inconsistent with Gentry’s notion that God created all granite rocks instantaneosly during the Creation Week.

    Have you personally (or anyone else that you know of) examined these xenoliths and confirmed that either (a) they have a melting point higher than that of the surrounding rock, or (b) the boundary between the xenolith and the surrounding rock is indistinct because mixing has occurred, since the surrounding magma would have melted the edges of the xenolith? If not, then you can’t properly address the points I raised.

    You cite Collins’ reference to a number of sites where supposedly granite intrudes fossil-bearing rock, which may bring us full circle back to the topic that started this discussion. When do you propose that the granite intruded the fossil-bearing rock in the various examples he gives? Since he is an avid evolutionist out to refute evidence for creation and the flood, he has no problem with the fossils being deposited over millions of years, and the granite being formed millions of years later. But you do have such a problem. When do you propose that that granite formed? Are there any pictures so that we can see the large crystals of granite next to metamorphic rock next to fossil-bearing rock? And if you propose that certain granitic intrusions formed deep within the earth, what events would have caused resulting batholiths to become exposed, when, and over how long a period of time? There’s a potential conflict between hypothetical uniformitarian erosion processes and biblical chronology.

    If the fossils were deposited during the flood, and the Bible’s chronology gives an approximate date of the flood as 2350 BC, the granite would have had to intrude either during the flood or after. If a magmatic intrusion cooling for less than 4350 years can result in a cold batholith with large crystals, exposed by erosion to the air after forming deep within the earth, then granite ought to be able to be rapidly synthesized in the laboratory, but all such experiments have failed.

    You mention the Bathurst Batholith. How large is it? How long did it take to cool from magma, if that’s how it formed? When do you think it intruded the rock surrounding it? During the flood? Around the time of Christ? Since? At the rate it must have cooled, according to evolutionists, if their whole theory about its formation is true, shouldn’t granite be able to be synthesized in the laboratory?

    Sean Pitman: As far as your reading of the SoP, I’ve gone over what Ellen White has to say about origins very very carefully and have discussed these comments with you in some detail already. Suffice it to say that your arguments remain unconvincing to me and I highly suggest that you not press the issue with others or become “dogmatic” in your position on this topic. It simply isn’t fundamental to Adventism.

    Presumably you will not have a problem with my being dogmatic that truth can bear investigation, and thus I again point out that you evaded my question rather than answered it. I specifically asked you whether you had searched the SoP for where Ellen White used the words creation or formation and world or earth as a phrase in order to determine what she meant when she said that God was not indebted to pre-existing matter in the creation of the earth and the formation of our world. Rather than cite a single statement where she used these phrases or anything similar to refer to something outside of creation week, you dodged my question.

    If the insistence that our planet or the sun or moon were created before creation week results in acceptance of dates for rock formations and granite batholiths that conflicts with biblical chronology, and I emphasize “if,” then in some way that insistence is undermining fundamentals of Adventism, and there needs to be open and free inquiry into the topic. The Avondale article asserts that there is a connection, and Gentry has said the same for years. But if you can propose a plausible scenario whereby granitic intrusions can form in fossil-bearing rock during the flood event or since, you will demonstrate that the perceived connection is unnecessary.

    Bear in mind that Snelling (as of a number of years ago) wants granite batholiths to form during the flood, and Po halos in them to form via diffusion. But he acknowledges that the lack of fossil alpha recoil tracks is a problem. And so he proposes that almost all of the isotope transport occurred while the temperature was above the annealing point, and almost all of the decay occurred while the temperature was below the annealing point. So in his effort to have a somewhat naturalistic explanation for Po halos within a YEC framework, he really is proposing something quite miraculous. These points must be kept in mind as one thinks of how Po-Halo-containing granite might form in recent times in fossil-bearing sedimentary rock. The lack of fossil alpha-recoil tracks has to be explained in the process.




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  74. 2/11/2015

    I came across this 2014 article by Snelling:

    https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/radiohalos-in-multiple-sequentially-intruded-phases-of-the-bathurst-batholith-nsw-australia-evidence/

    He is proposing accelerated decay rates and accelerated cooling in order to explain Po-halo-bearing granite within fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks. So we have two creationist explanations on the table: (a) These granites are creation rocks that got reworked and relocated during the flood, partly because granite cannot form naturally. (b) These granite rocks miraculously formed during the flood, during a suspension or modification of the operation of natural laws as we know them today.

    That Snelling would opt for an explanation that aligns with a geologist’s typical interpretations of field relationships is only natural, since he is a geologist.




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  75. Bill Sorensen:
    Mr. Helm is typical of those who use a chain saw and hatchet to butcher up the bible to patronize science. The first five verses in Genesis are all “the first day”.

    Sean said in his article, “I’m not sure why the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church doesn’t say and/or do more about the teachings of the schools that bear its name?”

    Like our U.S. political situation, our spiritual leaders of the church are impotent to do anything but pontificateabout punishment for rebellion against the church. It seems likely the church as a corporate legal entity is becoming useless to God to accomplish and finish His work. It is so fragmented into many independent ministries that the independent ministries do far more evangelizing than the official SDA denomination. Probably 80% of evangelism is done by these independent ministries. God has used, and is to some degree still useing the SDA denomination to defend and advocate some important bible truths. But it is becoming less and less viable in both administration and doctrine. We must be aware that these independent ministries are not officially controled by the SDA denomination. Thus, they are not the “official” church. The church has no control of what they teach or advocate. Not to mention that no one “joins” an independent ministry to become and member of the ministry. This also means if a person supports one of these ministries, they have no “official” voice in what they do or teach.

    On the other hand, technically a church member has some “official” say concerning the SDA church because they are official members. What we have today is mass confusion about almost all aspects of what is the church, and what is the church teaching. And this is one reason there is no discipline by church leadership when false doctrine is advocated and supported in any local church, school, or any other means of communicating the SDA message. One obvious question would be, “Where do you start to clean up the mess?” If you did discipline one avenue of education, they would simply say, “Why are picking on us, when there are many other issues of equal concern on many other levels?”

    So, it seems impossible for any viable discipline on any singular issue unless you deal with every other issue at one and the same time. And this certainly seems unlikely and even unworkable.

    Amen to that. And what are we suppose to do as members.




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  76. Pingback: Church Updates Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation | Educate Truth

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