Comment on Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation by Professor Kent.
Ron: The attitude, “God said it, and I believe it, and that settles it for me” may be a great feel good statement, but it is a terrible foundation for evangelism.
Evidence is important, and the evidence that God exists abounds. However, when the evidence and God’s word depart, true SDAs adhere to God’s word. They always have and always will. Further, we don’t base our faith on science; instead, we build it on a personal, interactive relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith devoid of this relationship is hollow, and will fail–which Ellen White reminded us of many times with her messages about the importance of worship and prayer.
Professor Kent Also Commented
Sean Pitman: You, because of your faith in the Bible as the Word of God despite any and all evidence that might be presented to the contrary. That is why I ask you, over and over again, why do you believe the Bible is in fact the true Word of God among so many competing claims? Why choose the Bible? – without some basis in empirical evidence?
You do not like to respond to this question for some reason…
Good God. I’ve responded to this question DOZENS of times. I’ve written at length, and am tired of doing so repeatedly, so I’ll summarize it very briefly once more: (1) fulfilled Bible prophecy; (2) the personal testimony of 12 disciples, all of whom stuck with the story of their experience upon threat of death; (3) the self-validating nature of scripture; (4) the changes I see in the lives of others as a result of reading scripture and accepting God; and (4) the evidence I see in my own personal life as I commune with God.
You, along with the vast majority of mainstream scientists, have been taken in by the claims of neo-Darwinism.
Not true; I reject much of neo-Darwinism, and probably accept no more of it than you.
You actually believe that there is a huge mountain of evidence in opposition to the claims of the Bible.
Yes, I do. It would be easy to take the position that every little piece of contradictory evidence actually supports the Biblical position on origins, but then I would be doing faith-based apologetics–like you. I’d rather be honest, concede the difficulties, and base my belief on something other than so-called origins science.
But, for many people, such a position rationally undermines the credibility of the Bible’s claim to be the true Word of God…
I don’t arrive at my position based on the need to avoid undermining the Bible’s credibility. I arrive at it because I look at the data honestly.
The SDA Church, as an organization, expects and has requested that all science teachers in our schools actively support and promote the empirical evidence favoring the SDA position on origins. They have taken this stand, obviously, because they see the evidentiary basis for faith…
I totally agree with the position of the SDA Church. All science teachers must support the Church’s position. However, there is no official position that science teachers must promote the favorable evidence and declare the weight of it superior to the unfavorable evidence. Moreover, the Church sees it as a matter of faith more so than evidence for one simple reason: we belief the Genesis account only because we believe God inspired it. The evidence from fossils and DNA is irrelevant.
Your problem is that you lump all of Mrs. White’s statements together. You do not make a distinction between statements of her own opinion and those where she claims she was either shown something directly in a vision from God or told something directly by God.
You have no idea what you are talking about. You are making unfounded accusations that are factually wrong.
Likewise, if these key elements can be shown to be effectively falsified by the empirical evidence, the credibility of her claim to have been directly inspired by God in such a privileged manner is effectively undermined.
I think you’re pushing this too far for one reason only: to validate your faith in scripture and Ellen White. Your faith is strong and magnificent. You should be proud of it rather than downplay it. I applaud your faith.
So, what you’re doing in your constantly bringing up supposed challenged to the Biblical view of creation, without highlighting the many many features of the planet that support the Biblical perspective, is undermining people’s faith in the credibility of both the Bible as the true Word of God and in the writings of Mrs. White where she claims to have been directly inspired by God with privileged information.
I have spent decades getting intimately acquainted with my parents. I’m convinced they love me. If someone challenges my understanding that I am a product of their genes, why would it undermine my conviction that they love me dearly? Or that they consider me their son? I have my evidence from a personal relationship with them. I don’t give a rat’s hairy behind what any “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence” has to say. I wish you had the comfort and sureness of God’s existence from a personal relationship. I pray that you will find this one day.
However, regardless of your own personal sincerity, your efforts are misguided and will result in harm to others and even to yourself. Your sincerity will save you in the end, but your influence may influence others to reject God and His Word.
It’s a shame that others would put their faith in what I have to say, or what you have to say, or what silent baleen teeth have to say. A tragegy. And if these people one day disagree with you, I hope they simply change their view on the evidence but continue to cling to God (even as the “loyal” SDAs demand them to get out of their Church).
It is wise, at this point, to ask yourself if the disciples of Christ had more or less faith in Him as the Son of God before or after the empirical evidence of His Resurrection from the dead was given to them? Consider that the entire theme of the New Testament hinges on the clearly understood reality of the witness of the Resurrection…
I agree. If this is truly important to you, then why don’t you create a website to promote the Good News of the Resurrection rather than Believe as I Do or I Publicly Excoriate You?
Sean Pitman: Beyond this, the notion that these stories really happened as described, that they aren’t just “cleverly invented stories” (2 Peter 1:16), isn’t based on faith alone if you want your faith to be something more than mere wishful thinking. You need some kind of evidence to support the credibility of the story teller. A fantastic story demands fantastic evidence that God not only exists but that He really did act in the manner described.
So tell me, which of the following three claims are better supported by evidence. Real evidence. Not evidence of something else, but falsifiable empirical evidence directly supporting the claim.
1. Millions of people tell us today that life on this planet originated spontaneously.
2. An ancient storyteller once told us that a piece of wood tossed into water can cause an axehead resting on the bottom of a stream to float to the water’s surface.
3. Several ancient storytellers once told us that a human body can get up and walk three days after the heart stops beating and the brainwaves cease.
Which, if any, of these three claims have direct empirical support. I want to believe only if there is true evidence!
Sean Pitman: Beyond this, the notion that these stories really happened as described, that they aren’t just “cleverly invented stories” (2 Peter 1:16), isn’t based on faith alone if you want your faith to be something more than mere wishful thinking. You need some kind of evidence to support the credibility of the story teller
Oh wait a minute…looking again at what you wrote, it’s not really the claim itself, but credibility of the storyteller? We use science to test the storyteller rather than the claim? Seriously?
So if my parents tell me all sorts of things about life on this planet, and they all prove true, I can then believe them well they tell me about Santa Claus? After all, I do have “some kind of evidence to support the credibility of the story teller.”
Recent Comments by Professor Kent
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Nic Samojluk: No wonder most creationist writers do not even try to submit their papers to such organizations.
Who wants to waste his/her time trying to enter through a door that is closed to him/her a priori?
You have no idea what you’re writing about, Nic. As it turns out, there are in fact many of us Adventists who “waste” our time publishing articles through doors that open to us a priori. Even Leonard Brand at Loma Linda, a widely recognized creationist, has published in the top geology journals. I mean the top journals in the discipline.
The myth that creationists cannot publish in mainstream science is perpetuated by people who simply do not understand the culture of science–and will remain clueless that they do not understand it even when confronted with their misunderstandings. Such is human nature.
Your questions about conservation genetics are very insightful. I don’t understand how all these life forms were able to greatly increase in genetic diversity while simultaneously winding down and losing genetic information to mutations. Sean seems to insist that both processes happen simultaneously. I had the impression he has insisted all along that the former cannot overcome the latter. But I think you must be right: God had to intervene to alter the course of nature. However, we can probably test this empirically because there must be a signature of evidence available in the DNA. I’ll bet Sean can find the evidence for this.
I’m also glad the predators (just 2 of most such species) in the ark had enough clean animals (14 of each such species) to eat during the deluge and in the months and years after they emerged from the ark that they didn’t wipe out the vast majority of animal species through predation. Maybe they all consumed manna while in the ark and during the first few months or years afterward. Perhaps Sean can find in the literature a gene for a single digestive enzyme that is common to all predatory animals, from the lowest invertebrate to the highest vertebrate. Now that would be amazing.
Wait a minute–I remember once being told that SDA biologists like Art Chadwick believe that some animals survived on floating vegetation outside the ark. Now that would solve some of these very real problems! I wonder whether readers here would allow for this possibility. Multiple arks without walls, roof, and human caretakers.
Ellen White said, “In the days of Noah, men…many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians [presumably referring to humans] perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history…”
Sean Pitman said, “All human fossils discovered so far are Tertiary or post-Flood fossils. There are no known antediluvian human fossils.”
Ellen White tells us that humans and dinosaurs (presumably referred to in the statement, “a class of very large animals which perished at the flood… mammoth animals”) lived together before the flood. Evolutionary biologists tell us that dinosaurs and humans never lived together. You’re telling us, Sean, that the fossil record supports the conclusion of evolutionists rather than that of Ellen White and the SDA Church. Many of the “very large animals which perished at the flood” are found only in fossil deposits prior to or attributed to the flood, whereas hunans occur in fossil deposits only after the flood (when their numbers were most scarce).
Should the SDA biologists, who are supposed to teach “creation science,” be fired if they teach what you have just conceded?
La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
For those aghast about the LSU situation and wondering what other SDA institutions have taken out bonds, hold on to your britches. You’ll be stunned when you learn (soon) how many of our other schools, and which ones in particular, have taken out these bonds. You will be amazed to learn just how many other administrators have deliberately secularized their institutions besides Randal Wisbey, presumably because they too hate the SDA Church (as David Read has put it so tactfully).
Be sure to protest equally loudly.
So clearly you believe that science can explain supernatural events. Congratulations on that.