Comment on Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation by Sean Pitman.
It’s not about us–relying on our self-intelligence and knowledge about what constitutes potentially falsifiable evidence. It’s all about relying on God, who can speak to us through our conscience without any need to study and acquire knowledge that allows us to comprehend science–whether SDA-informed or falsely so-called (there are only two versions, right?).
This philosophy is the basis of the Spiritual Formation movement where the claim is that studying nature and the written Word to gain knowledge about God isn’t necessary. All one has to do is talk to God directly and God will directly speak to the individual, telling him/her all she/he needs to know. One doesn’t even really need to read the Bible or study any written text or any empirical form of evidence at all. One just needs to have this “experience” with God.
The problem here is that many voices claim to be God – to include many spirit voices. How do you know to whom you are speaking? – or just who is speaking to you? Not all voices are really from God. Also, God specifically tells us to read the Bible and to study nature to gain knowledge about His nature and character. He simply does not directly speak to very many people as He occasionally speaks to prophets. We are not all so inspired. Yet, we are not left in the dark either.
That is why God always uses evidence to support His own claims. The Bible is full of examples of God using evidence to demonstrate His claim to be God and the trustworthiness of His word. Never does the Bible argue that anyone should believe in the claims of the Bible, or in the voice of any spirit claiming to be God, without any supporting evidence… evidence that appeals to our God-given minds to add credibility to the one true Voice among many competing options.
P.S. This is not to say that knowledge is the basis of salvation. It isn’t. People can be saved without ever hearing the name of Jesus or reading a Bible – by living according to the Royal Law that is written upon the hearts of all. However, a closer relationship with God and a hope for the future while in this life is based on knowledge – knowledge that is gained through the study of nature and the Bible. Without this personal effort to learn and study what God has revealed to us in the way of evidence, a rational trust in the Bible as the true Word of God cannot be achieved.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
The Bible makes claims about the future. It does not cause the future. It therefore is not “self-validating”. It’s just a book after all. It can be read, but it cannot itself act to perform any tasks. Therefore, it’s claims, if they are to be rationally understood to be “true” must obviously be supported by external evidence based on the historical sciences. In other words, its own claims regarding history are validated by external sources – based on independent evidence that comes from outside of itself. How is this concept not self-evident?
Let’s get a few things straight. I have not attacked the claims of scripture regarding the “the recent origin of all life on this planet, created within just six literal days, and the worldwide nature of the Noachian Flood.” All I did was point out that the physical evidence supporting flood geology has serious problems.
That is an attack on Scripture. When you attempt to undermine the empirical claims of Scripture as being contrary to the weight of empirical evidence, you are in fact undermining the rational basis for Scriptural credibility.
Don’t you recognize that in claiming that the weight of scientific evidence clearly favors the neo-Darwinian perspective, a perspective which is diametrically opposed to the Biblical perspective, you do in fact undermine the credibility of the Biblical account? Your faith-only approach, regardless of the evidence, simply doesn’t do it for many people. For many many people such arguments as you are presenting do in fact undermine the rational basis for their faith despite your own ability to be able to have faith despite the weight evidence. Many people see this as irrational – and for good reason.
Faith, without a need for a basis in the weight of evidence, is irrational by definition. It is blind-faith in that it cannot be rationally distinguished from a form of wishful thinking.
And you were the one, not me, who has asserted that the flood did not create all of the layers of the geological column.
Of course. I fail to see why this might be a problem?
By implication Nebuchadnezzar won the battle with Egypt – just as Ezekiel prophesied. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the Babylonians would have recorded the event…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
We are talking about something a bit more subtle here than the question as to what is merely “alive” and what is not “alive” – in the most basic sense of the term (as in the skin cell on my earlobe is “alive” and “human”). What we are talking about here are the qualitative differences between a single cell or a small cluster of unformed cells and a human being that can think and feel and appreciate sensory input. Now, someone might have their own personal ideas as to when, exactly, the human soul is achieved during embryogenesis, but the fact remains that the Bible is not clear on this particular question – and even includes passages suggesting that there is a spectrum of moral value to the human embryo/fetus. Consider the passage in Exodus 21:22-25, for example, which seems to many to suggest such a spectrum of value where the unformed fetus is not given the same value as a fully formed baby or the life of the mother (especially if read from the ancient LXX Greek translation which appears to be the most accurate translation of the original Hebrew text).
Because of this, there actually appears to me to be a great deal of disagreement among honest and sincere Bible-believing Christian medical professionals, embryologists, and theologians (modern and ancient) over when, exactly, during embryogenesis, does humanity become fully realized. Given the information currently in hand, I certainly could not, in good conscience, accuse a woman of “murder” for using various forms of birth control that end pregnancy within the first few days after conception (such as intrauterine devises or birth control pills).
Would you actually be willing to take action on this as you would for any other cold-blooded murderer? Would you be willing to accuse such a woman of wanton murder with all the guilt that is involved with such an accusation? or put her in prison for life for such an intentional act? Could you really do this? I certainly could not for the use of such standard forms of birth control during the earliest days following conception. Yet, that is what the current language of the church’s guidelines on abortion suggest… that these women who take such forms of birth control are in fact guilty of a heinous act of cold-blooded murder.
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
”These latest guidelines appear to me to put the SDA Church in the same position as the Catholic Church on this topic –with human life beginning at the moment of conception. That doesn’t seem like a reasonable position ” – Sean Pitman (From an Adentist Review Article: https://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story14133-statement-on-the-biblical-view-of-unborn-life-and-its-implications-for-abortion)
Yes, it is also in harmony with when every SDA pioneer, including the church’s founder, put the beginning of human life. It is also the same point that virtually every secular, evolutionary embryologist puts the beginning of human life. In fact, it’s the unanimous point of agreement among every biology textbook. If that doesn’t sound like a reasonable position based on empirical evidence then factual reasoning has escaped those who try to equate preventing the conception of a human being with intentional kllling of one that is already biologically and detectably in existence.
Brilliant and Beautiful, but Wrong
Thank you Wes. Really appreciate your note and being able to see you again!
Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
As far as the current article is concerned, I know of no “outdated” information. The information is current as far as I’m aware. The detrimental mutation rate is far too high for complex organisms to avoid an inevitable downhill devolutionary path. There is simply no way to rationally avoid this conclusion as far as I’m aware.
So, perhaps your friend could be more specific regarding his particular objections to the information presented?
Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
Look again. I did reference the 2018 paper of Basener and Sanford (which was the motivation for me writing this particular article). Of course, as you’ve mentioned, Sanford has also written an interesting book on this topic entitled, “Genetic Entropy” – which I’ve previously referenced before in this blog (along with a YouTube video of a lecture he gave on the topic at Loma Linda University: (Link). For those who haven’t read it or seen Sanford’s lecture on this topic, it’s certainly worth your time…