How does anyone draw the line between sentient and non-sentient …

Comment on GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation by Rhonda Dinwiddie.

How does anyone draw the line between sentient and non-sentient living organisms? Nervous “systems” span the continuous and very gradual range of non-existent in single-celled creatures all the way up to that of Homo sapiens. There is no clear demarcation for this question.

It is very clear, if one desires to take the Book of Genesis quite literally, that death was present in the world BEFORE the Fall of Man. Far too often, SDA’s, including theology professors, have taken the precise and literal wording of Ellen G White’s writings as always reflecting the intended precise and literal meaning of the writers of Scripture. This is a prostitution of priorities. The purpose of her writings was to lead us to the Holy Scriptures — not to be used as a club or as an infallible interpretation of them.

Although EGW’s writings were not specifically mentioned until my above replies, it is fairly obvious from where much of the interpretive wording of the above original article originates — Spiritual Gifts and Patriarchs and Prophets. I love Ms. White’s writings, and that is why I am very much against their misuse and abuse.

Rhonda Dinwiddie Also Commented

GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
I was not using Ellen White as an authority but rather to show that she, herself, does not accept the idea of the “word inspiration” of the Bible that so many extremely conservative “fundamentalists” do. It is only in about the last 150 years of Christianity that fundamental Biblical literalists have been so prevalent in Christendom. And, yes, I am well aware of the verses you quoted referring to the beasts of the earth, as well as humans, being given the plants of the earth for food AND of Ellen White’s interpretation of them and the rest of Genesis 1 and 2. However, What if the entire story is just that, a story . . .a highly stylistic poetic story not intended to be taken literally in the first place? That seems more than obvious to me since the order in which different aspects of the creation WERE created is quite different in Genesis 2 than they were in the 6 “days” of creation in Genesis 1. If Genesis 1 is a poetic account rather than a literal account of creation, then all of these arguments about the meanings of every detail and every specific word are only so much beating of the wind. I have only mentioned certain Bible passages to show that others related to them display inconsistency IF interpreted literally. Internal consistency is required for anything to be taken literally.


GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
The Bible makes no distinction between “sentient” and “non-sentient” creatures or any type of similar comparison in Genesis 1 and 2, and likely most of the rest of the Bible. And you speak to me of being un-Biblical? It is you, not the Bible, making this distinction. It does not use these words or anything in Hebrew in the first chapters of Genesis that could be translated into these English words. The distinction is a human one and is of recent origin; the derivation is from a Latin word first used in 1632, and its meaning is not related to anything in these two chapters. But, GENESIS CHAPTER 1 does, in fact, distinguish between “domestic” and “wild” animals which God is related to have created as such. God CREATED wild animals in Genesis 1:24-25 (see multiple versions). Does the Hebrew word translated as “wild” mean docile or tame or herbivorous? No. Genesis 16:12, in multiple translations, in speaking of Ishmael, well describes “wild” as “against,” “fighter,” and “being at odds with.” I have no question about what Isaiah and other Bible writers indicate about the new earth. But, they ARE talking about the NEW EARTH, not the original. Besides, much of such wording appears to be more prophetic poetry, just as much of Genesis 1 appears to be more historical poetry, rather than literal events. Snakes do not literally eat dust for nourishment now, and they won’t then either. Genesis paints a picture of a powerful, intelligent and loving Creator. How God loves and creates may be far different than we are capable of imagining and is likely far different than we DO imagine. God is capable of creating creatures that cannot experience pain as “suffering,” no matter what they experience, even though pain, to a degree, is actually needed by “sentient” animals as you refer to them. I do not look at God as a torturer as you imply that I do. That is not the nature of God, and it is not mine. But, you seem to limit the power of God in asserting what He must or must not have done. Besides, EGW says very plainly that it is not the words of the Bible that were inspired. She says only that it was the writers who were inspired just as the Bible says for itself. God’s words are not represented in Scripture. They are ALL men’s words and modes of expression that are used. Hebrew poetry is, indeed, descriptive, but it is often not literal or intended to be literal at all. Nevertheless, to me, these words of men paint a “very good” BIG PICTURE of the WORD of God. God is Love!


GC Delegates Vote to Tighten Language of Fundamental #6 on Creation
@Rhonda Dinwiddie: I am apparently having to reply to my own previous reply to yours, since it seems I was left no option to reply to yours re: mine. Yes, I have read all of the texts you refer to, many times in fact, and that is why I brought up the idea hoping that you would refer to them. These texts open up many questions. And, yes, since reproduction could be modified by an all-wise, all-powerful God, as the earth is filled to capacity, the fact that he could have and hasn’t is somewhat telling. There are many things God could have done that \He did not do that are very interesting to me. For example, instead of bringing a world-wide flood upon the earth to destroy evil people and innocent “sentient” animals along with them, God could have sent a destroying angel to slay only the evil people, as he did in the Exodus, and left the animals unharmed. Or, He could have opened up cracks in the earth to swallow up only the pre-diluvian rebels against God as He did with Korah and his followers, leaving ALL of the innocent “sentient” and “non-sentient” animals and Noah and his family unharmed. I have not used the words “necessary evil.” They are your words, not mine. All I am doing is saying that to speculate that there were no predators or death of “sentient” creatures before the Fall is un-biblical. There is nothing that states this as a fact in the entire Book of Genesis let alone chapters 1 and 2. And, after the Fall, the Bible specifically states, for example, that God feeds predators like ravens and their young, with their prey! Oh, and you still haven’t really given a good explanation for the distinction made in Genesis 1:24 between domestic and “wild” animals. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


Recent Comments by Rhonda Dinwiddie

La Sierra University gets 3-year AAA Accreditation
To say that we all “know” what is taught at LSU is not really saying very much unless you, yourself, have actually sat in the classrooms, listened, took notes, asked questions, participated in group learning activities and dug deep into assigned readings. I have not, and I am not thoroughly convinced of the accuracy, sincerity and honesty of the reports of those who have. Evolution, as a theory, should be taught in all of our educational institutions, and so should creationism or the “scientific theory of intelligent design” be taught in all of our schools . . . as a theory. As a denomination we have for far too long been overly concerned about “indoctrination.” Doctrines are important, but not so important that we feel compelled to shove them down the throats of others. We compile, enunciate and codify doctrines of what we believe the Bible and/or EGW teach us about God, life, spirituality, history and many other things. But, our understanding of the Bible and EGW are in a constant state of flux. Is not one of our greatest doctrines that our Christian religious experience is to be just that, experiential and experimental, not static but dynamic? Yes, I know, we have many “old landmarks” that are the “pillars” of the church. But, it is important to remember to be continuously open to new and fresh understandings of every one of them. This is the doctrinal truth of “Present Truth.” Without it, spiritual progress wanes and we get stuck in the proverbial conservative “rut.” Conservatism and liberalism must be balanced in the Christian experience.


Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
It seems apparent that even the concept of “fossil” DNA or “junk” genes will soon become fossilized . . . a dead remnant of neo-Darwinism, just as did the concept of phylogeny recapitulating ontogeny and the extreme dependence upon so-called “vestigial” structures for support of Darwinian evolution. Once upon a time it was believed that there were scores, if not hundreds, of vestigial structures in adult humans. Almost all of them have been recanted. Just because we are not yet aware of the function of a piece of genetic code or an organ in the body doesn’t guarantee that one doesn’t exist. This is a fairly recent area of study, and only additional time and research can provide the hard statistical evidence upon which one can base a reasonably sound conclusion.


Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Why Evolution is an Idea that Won’t Die—IV [A Review]
I, for one, would like to know what kind of bias is displayed by mean-spirited sarcasm. Can one who resorts to it be free from it? Truth can afford to be fair AND kind at the same time.


Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Why Evolution is an Idea that Won’t Die—IV [A Review]
Unfortunately, the lack of the ability to procreate between species, subspecies or varieties is no proof at all that they did not have a biological common ancestor. Artificial selection (by humans) of specific traits or characteristics in animals or plants can create offspring separated by many generations that are so very different from their ancestry and from one another that they can become genetically isolated and incapable of again interbreeding and producing hybrid offspring that are viable. Truth can afford to be fair.


Bringing the Real World to Genesis: Why Evolution is an Idea that Won’t Die—IV [A Review]
Excellent refutation, Sean. In a somewhat different but related discussion of such matters, I would appreciate your views on the probability of only levorotatory (left-handed) stereo enantiomers of almost all of the amino acids found in living systems developing purely by chance. I’ve never heard of any neo-Darwinist taking on this one as far as origins goes. Have you? And of course, how can DNA develop independently of proteins or proteins develop independently of DNA? Don’t they both have to be in existence concurrently? Not to mention, what is the probability of correctly functioning proteins, which are generally many hundreds or thousands of amino acid building blocks long, if only a single amino acid is out of place? All biologists, ID or Darwinists (neo- or otherwise), also need to be honest staticticians!