IT’S THE CULTURE, STUPID

IT’S THE CULTURE, STUPID

By: Dr. Wesley Kime

Wesley Kime

– a popular variation on “it’s the economy, stupid,” game-changing motto dreamed up by James Carville, cultural icon and Democratic strategist for the iconic Clinton campaign of 1992. If it sounds peremptory and patronizing, it’s supposed to: it’s the culture. If the following sounds like satire, it is. That’s our new culture, isn’t it?

As we strolled the Air Force Museum in Dayton our small talk had somehow shifted from comparing the agility of WWII fighter planes, like the P40 vs. the Japanese Zero, to an unexpectedly heated systematic review and debunking of all our Adventist doctrines. After an hour or so of this, we sank in unison, a pair of played out 60-year old men, onto a bench under the shade of the drab-colored huge high wing of a WWII Liberator bomber. “You’ve shot down our every last doctrine, why are you still even an Adventist?” I asked, completely fagged out. Unhesitatingly, though sounding more weary than I, Gordon, my bench-mate, had a ready reply. “Because of the culture.” Born, cradled, and educated an Adventist from sandbox through a doctorate, I didn’t even know we had one. Doctrines aplenty, but culture?

Culture, by the definition I grew up with the better part of a century ago, the one held by Adventists and everybody else back then, the first definition I still think of, meant opera and tuxedos and tiaras, harnesses of pearl necklace, facades and affectations, affected nobleness and taste. All of which was suspect by all earnest Christians, even cultured ones, for example CS Lewis. and downright abjured by Adventists. Gordon must have meant something else.

He did. I hadn’t thought of it, there under the Liberator wing, but by another definition, now prevailing everywhere, Adventist included, Adventists have always indeed had a culture, now a burgeoning, one. “Culture is the totality of traits and behavior patterns — not just the artificially noble or refined ones — characteristic of a particular period, class, community, or population.” Or as an anthropologist friend, good friend, of mine puts it: “culture is a matrix which is instrumental in shaping us individually and collectively; a set of symbols (symbolate) defines culture. The symbolate may be analogous to a genome.” As Carville would say, “culture, stupid.” I think he’s saying that culture has been given an extreme makeover so as to be as accommodating as the big tent and the big-banged universe and every nebulae that in it is. In expanding like the big bang, culture is now Independent and disdainful of nobleness and beauty and is openly inclined towards the most decadent. Of the old definition, not much is left, only the affectation and the yearning to be loved and awarded. If once culture was actively cultivated and rare, culture now is passive and inborn in everybody. Thus the Green Berets and Greenpeace have their culture, likewise Adventists. And anthropologists.

By that definition Adventism could be seen as a culture of nots and nos — not dancing, no jazz, no fiction, no fun; no movies, meat, coffee, alcohol, snuff, smoking, female adornment. No fun. And of eccentricity of what we did do – peanut butter, gluten and meat substitutes, Saturday Sabbath instead of Sunday, diamond watches instead of diamond earrings, chaperons until married.

That’s what sustains Gordon when all else, even God, fails?

I wouldn’t have guessed it from all the sarcastic jokes I’d heard Gordon tell at class reunions, about youth chafing under dormitory curfews and deprived of jazz, movies, and Saturday night prowls — very like black humor and the vintage masochistic delight in public school caning taken by a former generation of British literati, or night-club shticks or small talk chatter about constipation and getting up all night to micturate.

If dorm life was weird, the rest of our culture was, Gordon informed me, embarrassing, as embarrassing as our theology. Our trademark foreign missions were actually fronts for imperialism, colonialism, and patriarchal condescension, and embarrassingly elitist impositions of our own Eurocentric culture. Our trademark gluten steaks and Postum, the essence of whole grain, once promoted as the essence of our health message, are sickening the global gluten-sensitive community.

As culture, Adventism sounds to me as drained of goodies as a whacked piñata. Hardly the golden cord that binds. As the bride sighed the next morning, or did in olden times, is that all there is? Me, if that’s all there is to Adventism, I’d be outa here. Gordon, you look a little gaunt.

Such a peaked culture would seem to cry out for an extreme makeover. Which it has got, in spades. In the 20 years since Gordon’s Liberator declaration, Gordon and I have descended into Octogenariancy, and I have witnessed our cultural face being lifted as high as our doctrines taken under.

If we once winced at jazz, we now jerk and twitch to first-service (“1st Serv”) gospel rock. We once marched children to the front of the congregation to recite Bible memory verses; now, their lines in skits. Our young girls came to church dressed; now they pose in the foyer for selfies in Lady Gaga body sheaths and briefs. Sermons were once built upon homilies and punctuated by amens, now jokes and movie snippets and applause and guffaws. Once we cherished the prophetic image from Daniel 2 possessing only a gold head; now the totally gold Oscar. Money spent for mass distribution of evangelical literature is better spent on costumes and props, or the poor, and anyway evangelism is our crowning embarrassment. If once being a pastor or bible student were the highest callings, now being a scholar, producer, stand-up comedian, and filmmaker are. Once our ministers ministered and served, but now our senior pastors are doctorates and thought leaders, and their thoughts come more from the Fuller Seminary than the SDA Theological Seminary, and from the Tazzla Institute of Cultural Diversity, and Willow Creek Megachurch Association and Leadership Seminars, with whiffs or Buddha and Plato. If we once shied from theaters, we now hold film festivals, in church, and feature church drama instead of sermons, and give our own Oscars.

We are chagrined, Gordon is anyway, that we once simple-mindedly received prophecy, and closed-mindedly and literally bought Genesis 1, and mindlessly proscribed hermeneutics, settling for simple-minded “Bible study.” If we once went only to the scripture and God and prayer for guidance, we now bookmark moveOn.org and hold protests and seminars and opinion polls and engage consultants and coaches, and give awards. If once we tearfully repented of sin, now we cheerfully deny there is such a thing. If once we denounced homosexuality as sin in need of healing, we now damn those who denounce it, notably St. Paul, as hate criminals, or at least culturally challenged. If once we were “born again,” now we are born “that way.” If once our priority and obsession was Christ’s soon coming, now it is women’s ordination, and social justice. If once doctrine-besot and dreary, we are now even more doctrinaire and airy. If once our solid foundation was the scriptures and communing with God, now it is, for many of us, “spiritual foundations” and repeating incantations, to achieve blankness of brain, nirvana, incapable of communicating with anybody except maybe Satan.

If once we were message-centered and faith-based, we are now culture-centric and rock-solid in disbelief. If we had a peculiar message for the world, redemption, now we are panting for the message the world has for us, salvation through culture. If our message was once prophecy, now it’s politics. If once we promoted eternal life, now we brag about living ten years longer than other cultures. Now we’re more hellbent on getting into the 21st century, gay marriages and global warming and that sort of self-validating new eternal verity, than eternity. If once we yearned to save the world, now we are, like the world, obsessed with saving the planet. Formerly, the gospel was our cause, now it’s the Daily Kos (dailykos.Org).

If once we unquestioningly obeyed the ten commandments, and were accused of legalism, now we give witless obeisance to arbitrary political correctitude. If once like Pharisees we got entangled in the Ten Thousand Commandments, now we spin in dizzy circles around our ethics. If once our catechistic check list included things we knew God didn’t want us to do, those very things are now de rigueur. Likewise our check list of foundational “peculiar” Biblical doctrines have been extirpated and replaced by the newest ex cathedra list copy-pasted from talkingpointsmemo.com/. At bottom we remain as subservient and conformist, as legalistic, as ever; on balance worse, I think.

Red-faced at the idea that Mrs. E.G. White was inspired and a prophetess, we dismissed her as a Victorian relic, and our academics pretended she didn’t exist, but now our scholarly research reveals that she’s an underrated historic and cultural figure, a protofeminist icon who stamped out orthodoxy, and celebrates her in documentaries and doctoral theses and art bronze.

If once we were seen as a cult, now we see ourselves as a culture.

The P40s and the Liberator have stayed fixed in concrete in the museum for the last 20 years since they silently lobomed over Greg and me, and will forever, but our culture has revved up and, loaded with smart bombs, roared into the wild blue thin-aired yonder.

An altogether new species, today’s Adventist, spotted, striped or piebald, born again of hermeneutics and humanism, once skulked in the tall grass, but now is stomping the ground and snorting, cavorting and bellowing mating calls and trumpeting that he and she are king of the pews.

This evolution has been, looking back at it, smooth (Darwin should be so lucky), except for one thing – what to call the new creature. Time was when the only adjective Adventists needed was “Seventh-day,” but with the emergent species a new taxonomic designation is required. “Progressive,” “liberal,” “enlightened,” “scholarly,” “open minded,” “liberated,” “postmodernist” or just simply “postAdventist,” “Adventoid,” (my term), have been tried on for size but seemed, well, too constrictive. Concocting the right adjective has taken longer than disassembling our theology.

But just last week it all came together. While visiting one of those chaperoned discussion Sabbath Schools, we saw a middle-aged gentleman stand up and introduce himself, unhesitatingly and powerfully, as a “cultural Adventist.”

So there he stands, perfected, evolved, fully fledged and plumed, agile as a Zero fighter, rich and in need of nothing, certainly not doctrine; well rounded and well fed, ready for prime time, sporting a J. Peterman message t-shirt, “It’s the culture, stupid!”

And here I stand in my bespoken t-shirt: “wheat and tares growing together — the new multicultural diversity”.

Wearily, Christ is replying, “man shall not live by culture alone”. – Variation on Matthew 4:4. If that sounds doctrinal, it’s supposed to.

_____________

More of Dr. Kime’s Essays can be found on his blog at: I esSay There…

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69 thoughts on “IT’S THE CULTURE, STUPID

  1. I’m not sure why anyone would want to take on the title of Christian, much less Seventh-day Adventist, for social reasons alone? – unless for social or political advantages in certain circles. However, such social Christians would melt like the snow given a little bit of hardship because of the Christian title. I bet, for example, that the Yazidi Christians who are dying for their faith in Iraq right now are not just “social Christians”. I bet that they really believe that the empirical claims of Christianity are literally true… that it’s not just some good “moral fable”.

    Yazidi Christians in Iraq




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    • @Sean Pitman: I guess you don’t understand the call of the Christian. The only job of a follower of God is compassion and justice – both of which are elements of a social order that Jesus ordained. Of course Adventists don’t really get this, but this is what God desires.You can not prove the point about melting. The only way not to melt is by having social impact. Do you think Mother Teresa gave a care for what you concern yourself with? No, but she did not melt. You see not one focused on social issues melting. That are the hardest to address. Wooden literalism is the bane of God on Earth. Look at the pain and suffering it has caused. Literalism is essential a front for cultural fundamentalists.

      We do know that you don’t care about truly critical or rational thought, but maybe you’ll see the light someday.




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      • Compassion, justice, and love are very important for everyone – not just the Christian. Christians do not hold the monopoly on such things. What makes the true Christian unique is the expression of all of these elements of “love for others” together with a sharing of the Gospel message of Hope that only the Christian doctrines found in the Bible bring to this world.

        The fact is, without the literal life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as described in the Bible, there is no hope. Recognizing the literal truth of this story is vitally important for anyone looking for some kind of solid hope for the future…




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  2. @ Jerry

    “We do know that you don’t care about truly critical or rational thought, but maybe you’ll see the light someday.”

    Jerry, I am not a Christian, not an Adventist, don’t see proof of ID. However I respectfully disagree with your asessment of Dr. Pitman. I think he is a highly critical thinker but the parameters of such thinking are circumscribed by indelible Adventism no doubt inculcated at a young age. I am not sure if you are religious but could it not be argued that anyone of ‘faith’ is not rational because it is based on proving an unknowable god? Why just pick on fundamental Adventism.

    I actually think he is extremely rational in that he is trying to prove God empirically, although I do not think this can be done in a cause and effect universe without miracles – at least I have not witnessed or seen any proven.

    Respectfully




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  3. @ Sean

    “What would you accept as proof (given that nothing is absolutely provable even in science)? And, how would you define a “miracle”?”

    Well first you would have to define what you mean by God? The original creator? An interventionist in the laws of the universe deity? A hands off deity? A deity outside the confines of time and space? A deity that can transmutate itself into human flesh by immaculate conception, or a pantheistic deity where everything is divine?

    Here is a definition of a miracle:

    mir·a·cle
    ˈmirək(ə)l/
    noun
    noun: miracle; plural noun: miracles

    a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

    Cheers!




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    • Miracle: a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

      Wonderful. Now, what would you accept as “proof” of such an event? – given that there is no “absolute proof” even in science? What would it take to convince you? After all, how can even my humble granite cube be explained by “natural or scientific laws”? – outside of the inexplicable and non-reproducible workings of an intelligent mind? What level of evidence for intelligent design are you looking for? – and what level of evidence is required for you to recognize a “Divine Signature”? – short of some kind of absolute proof?

      Link




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  4. Hypothetical postulates are very interesting as philosophical questions.

    The problem is you cannot present any evidence such non man made granite cubes exist, thus your question is not scientific, but speculative. This is the same as me asking you that if one witnessed Santa Claus squeezing down chimneys every Christmas would this provide proof that Santa Claus exists. First there has to be evidence. What you are attempting to do is construct a rhetorical hypothetical to which the only answer is that there must be design. It is circular reasoning. Ask yourself: what non human designed artifacts in the universe equate to your hypothetical polished granite cubes? Are there any such artifacts that cannot be explained or potentially by cause and effects of the natural laws of the universe? If so, please name those artifacts and we will examine them for design or another possible explanation thereof.

    On the other hand there is plenty of evidence of mindless evolution. It is the degree to which it occurs that you debate, not that it occurs. That seems a bit more palpable to me than fictive objects. Then again, Einstein did do a lot of thought experiments to understand general relatively and space/ time. He also did the math 🙂




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    • I’m just trying to see if you’re actually open to evidence if it were ever presented to you – like you claim you are… Hypothetically, what would it take to convince you? It’s a reasonable question… unless you’re really not open to anything that might be presented? In other words, if you can’t tell me what it would take, hypothetically, I really don’t know what to show you? There’s just no more to talk about.

      Consider also that there are non-man made granite cubes that are in fact produced by mindless natural processes. They just aren’t highly symmetrical is all. As with evolutionary biology, there is a clear limitation in the degree of what mindless nature can do when it comes to making symmetrical granite cubes. Beyond this limitation, intelligent design would be the most rational hypothesis. The same thing is true when it comes to functionally complex machines. Nature can produce a few low-level novelties in form and function. However, beyond these low-level limitations, intelligent design becomes the most rational hypothesis for explaining the origin of highly complex machines that were not produced by humans… unless you can actually demonstrate that such limitations do not really exist by doing “the math” 😉

      As an other example, what if you were walking along (even on an alien planet with no other humans around, and happened upon something like this:

      It’s just a pile of “natural” rocks – right? But can the arrangement of the these natural rocks be explained by natural mechanisms outside of intelligent design? – even given the hypothetical of such a phenomenon being found on an alien planet? – like Mars?

      Or, what about something like this:

      Obviously such examples would be clear evidences of intelligent design regardless of where they happened to be found in the entire universe. Some of these examples demonstrate features of “irreducible functional complexity”. In these particular cases these works of evident design are by gravity stone balancing artist Michael Grab.




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        • Logic and our God-given reasoning abilities are what help us make sense of pictures like these and the world around us in general. And, that is why detecting the Divine Signature isn’t based on mere intestinal “gestalt” or indigestion after eating too many burritos at Taco Bell…




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  5. Sean,
    I don’t quite understand why you posted this article. It doesn’t seem that relevant to the purpose of educatetruth. Of course there is compromise and apostasy in the SDA church, we all know that! After whipping that dead horse yet again, the author then proceeds to use his own unbelief as Exhibit A for why this is so, by questioning Genesis chapter 1. Ultimately the article comes across with the same tedious and depressing arguments we’ve heard for several years now. I much prefer the approach of Creation Ministries International of spending the majority of time presenting evidence in a simple, clear, and concise way so that even the less educated can see the beauty of truth. Leave the negative, skeptical unbelievers to find their own audience. They are not going to give up their views and ultimately God will have to separate chaff from wheat as He has promised to do.




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    • I personally like the article because it speaks to the mentality that the church is up against – the “social Adventist”. This is a fairly new phenomenon in the Adventist Church – at least to the degree that it exists today. In earlier times, those who didn’t agree with the doctrines of the Adventist Church would simply leave and go elsewhere. Not anymore. Now people stay in the church for social reasons alone… believing little if any of the unique doctrinal claims of the church. This is important to understand and talk about and helps one understand why neo-Darwinism is actually being taught as “truth” in many of our own SDA schools today.




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  6. ” Hypothetically, what would it take to convince you?”

    Difficult question, in as far as I know I have never experienced a miracle or the supernatural. It’s kind of like asking someone what chocolate ice cream tastes like before they have tasted it, right?

    So, let’s start with some premises: 1. The universe is intelligently designed by God. 2. Humans have the ability to detect intelligent design.

    Query: what happens when we find that some things are not intelligently designed? Does that negate premise 1? Does it mean that God is not perfect or for that matter not intelligent about all his creation? Does it mean that if intelligently designed we do not in fact have the capacity to recognize God like design? And most importantly, does it mean that our human centric view that humans were designed in the image of God is bloated, conceited hubris?




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    • Hypothetically, what would it take to convince you?

      Difficult question, in as far as I know I have never experienced a miracle or the supernatural. It’s kind of like asking someone what chocolate ice cream tastes like before they have tasted it, right?

      SETI scientists have to know the difference between a natural phenomenon and a designed artifact ahead of time before they can look for artifactual ratio signals coming in from outer space. They can’t recognize an artifact if they don’t know how to detect it ahead of time. Obviously, this is quite different from the entirely subjective experience of tasting chocolate ice cream where you don’t have any idea what to expect before you taste the ice cream.

      In the same way, you say that you’ve never experienced a miracle, but how can you say that if you don’t even know what you’re looking for? – or what such an experience would be like if you ever did witness it? It almost seems like you’ve made the very concept of a miracle undetectable by definition. As such, you’ve made all discussion about such a possibility pointless, as there is no basis for conversation with you on this topic…

      So, let’s start with some premises: 1. The universe is intelligently designed by God. 2. Humans have the ability to detect intelligent design.

      Query: what happens when we find that some things are not intelligently designed? Does that negate premise 1? Does it mean that God is not perfect or for that matter not intelligent about all his creation? Does it mean that if intelligently designed we do not in fact have the capacity to recognize God like design?

      Look at the pictures of the balanced rock formations in my post above. Does the existence of various formations within these photographs that do not require intelligence design to explain their origin negate the need to invoke intelligent design behind those formations that cannot be tenably explained by any known natural mechanism outside of intelligent design?

      And most importantly, does it mean that our human centric view that humans were designed in the image of God is bloated, conceited hubris?

      The concept that humans were originally made in the image of God (though we are now fallen significantly short of our original ideal) isn’t based on mere human hubris or desire, but is based on the authority of a book, the Bible, that claims to have been inspired by God Himself. The credibility of this claim is therefore based on the credibility of the Bible’s claims to be the Word of God.




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  7. Would you agree that there is non human non intelligent design? How do you determine that?

    Do you consider all of the universe to be perfectly designed and why? Would you have done it this way if you were a perfect good God?

    You see as much as adherents of ID, want to dumb it down as a wedge issue, one must think through the consequences of what if the grand design ain’t quite so intelligent – or perfect – after all?

    Miracles- really Dr. Pitman?- demonstrate them scientifically, repeatedly – I’ll gladly look at that evidence. If medicine was based on miracles you’d be a faith healer not a licensed doctor.




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    • Miracles- really Dr. Pitman?- demonstrate them scientifically, repeatedly – I’ll gladly look at that evidence.

      How can you “look at the evidence” when you won’t even say what evidence would meet your definition of a miracle?

      It sounds to me like you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner. You just don’t want to say what evidence would convince you of anything beyond the mindless laws of nature? Why not? – for fear that someone might actually present you with such evidence? Until you can tell me what it would take to convince you, however, what’s the point when you won’t put yourself on the line and actually say what God would have to do to convince you of His existence? What are you afraid of?

      If medicine was based on miracles you’d be a faith healer not a licensed doctor.

      Not everything is based on miracles nor does God always perform miracles in all situations. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist or that He never acts or has acted in detectably miraculous ways.

      Do you consider all of the universe to be perfectly designed and why? Would you have done it this way if you were a perfect good God?

      There are certainly imperfections in the universe. I suppose if God wanted a universe with a bunch of mindless robots in it, things could be perfect and extremely precise and orderly in all situations and at all times and places. However, the fact that things aren’t always perfect, that people do appear to have freedom of will to act in various imperfect ways, doesn’t disprove the concept of God-level intelligent design behind the various extraordinary features of the universe and living machines. Like the rock piles pictured above, the existence of various piles of rocks that are not “perfect” or that do not require high levels of intelligence to explain does not negate the fact that intelligence is quite clearly required to explain the origin of some of the rock formations pictured above. And, not even you have any difficulty knowing which piles of natural rocks do or do not require ID to explain their origin. If you’re not agnostic with respect to the origin of these various rock formations, what would it take to cause you to recognize an even higher level Signature that you yourself would admit as being indistinguishable from the finger of God?

      It’s a perfectly legitimate question – unless you’re trying to say that you really can’t say, or won’t say, which rock piles where produced by intelligent design…

      Would you agree that there is non human non intelligent design? How do you determine that?

      As in the pictures above, some rock piles can be explained by mindless natural mechanisms without the need to invoke intelligent design to explain the origin of these rocks or their arrangements. Such are examples of non-intelligent design. And, even you can tell the difference between the different types of rocks and rock piles pictured above… right? How do you do that? Ask yourself that question…




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  8. “What are you afraid of?”

    Not of my mortality or any promise of heaven, my friend. And not of compromising my intellectual freedom thorough religious or atheist bias. I don’t need certainty or hope. Those are temporal pablum.

    Very glad that you agree there are imperfections in the universe. So does that mean an imperfect creator. an imperfect designer, ergo an imperfect God? What empirical evidence is there that the universe was once perfect and Adam esting a forbidden apple caused imperfection to occur? None is the only rational, non mythical answer – but saying so I don’t begrudge any there faith to the contrary, especially if it gives them hope in their daily lives. My mirror is most severe and the abyss most deep. And in facing that I am peace with myself. But I will fight ignorance tooth and nail, my friend, especially if religion disguises itself as reason or science.

    That being said there may or may not be a design to this universe. In answer to your question what would convince me, I would have to be convinced that our universe is in fact not part of a metaverse where other possible universes with different properties are possible. I would also to understand if this universe is designed, why such a design if intelligently designed? If God marvels life why not design it on every planet? I would also need to see majority scientific peer reviewed support that macro evolution is not viable. You raise some interesting points but I don’t think you are an evolutionary biologist and have done little experimentation or research in the area. I appreciate this an appeal to authority, but at least it is an appeal to scientific authority as oppossed to holy books written by men 🙂

    Hope that helps explain my position a bit more.

    By the way, Dr. Kime’s diatribe on the relative, changing landscape of Adventism is outstanding. It is a microcosm of what happens to all religions over time and how they schism based on the wiles of Man to rest authority away from exisitng tenets or persons wielding power with orthodoxy. It’s why I say all religion is relative cultural phenomena, even the various iterations of the Bible. It will continue to change as new prophets and power brokers come along. Do you think EGW would hold court in today’s modern society? She was a anachronism of her time and that age’s credulity. There will be more prophets and rational cynics will be there to hobble their celestial ankles.

    I wish you and my pard Wes a happy Sabbath,




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    • You talk about the theoretical existence of multiple universe (which is actually beyond the realm of real scientific methodologies or even the potential for falsification) like this somehow eliminates the ability to detect anything that goes beyond natural law or that requires intelligent design to explain. However, you yourself should know that this notion of yours is clearly false because even you can recognize the need to invoke intelligent design to explain something as simple as a highly symmetrical granite cube or some of the rock formations pictured in the photographs I’ve already presented to you. The argument that the potential existence of large numbers or even infinite universes would have the power to explain how these things could happen outside of intelligent design by chance alone undermines the very power and logic of science itself – the very concept of “predictive value” is shot to pieces with this argument of yours. And, it would in fact undermine your ability to detect intelligent design behind anything – to include the rock formations in the photographs I’ve presented to you. So, the fact that you can clearly recognize the need to invoke ID to explain some of these rock formations and patterns is very good evidence that your multiverse argument is simply wrong. How do you not see that?

      But, your final argument seals it. You’re not really open to thinking for yourself outside of your chosen source(s) of authority – i.e., the popular opinion of modern scientists. You need not have a personal understanding of the potential and/or limits of what natural mechanisms can or cannot do. You simply trust the claims of your chosen “experts” with a kind of blind faith that is equivalent to that of any religious fundamentalist. Given such a position, there really is nothing that anyone outside of your chosen sources of authority can say or present to you that would change your mind – nothing. If it doesn’t convince your scientists, it won’t convince you – no matter what.

      What then do you have to contribute to a discussion like this since you really have no arguments of your own? What is the basis then of further conversation between us? You clearly don’t understand the arguments in play for yourself. You’re just going on blind faith that your chosen sources of authority must be right. And, what can I possibly present to you that would change your mind? Nothing. You will not present any particular hypothetical situation that would convince you that an intelligent designer, much less a God, exists – unless it also convinces your scientists.

      As far as your attempts to counter the design implications of the various examples I’ve given, you have to know that your examples of snowflakes and various other patterns within nature do not explain away the evident design behind the clear artificial situations that I’ve presented to you (highly symmetrical granite cubes or the balanced rock formations pictures above). Also, for you, if there are imperfections within the universe, a God cannot exist because you cannot fathom that a perfect God would create anyone with a free will that would deliberately choose contrary to the perfect will of a perfect God? Do you truly not understand the nature of free will?




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  9. Check out this 88 butterfly. Cool eh. Sure looks like it was designed doesn’t it? Maybe to play a piano that has 88 keys 🙂

    photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photos/patterns-butterflies/




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    • Cool, but clearly not in the same category as the various rock formations presented in the photographs I’ve provided for you. Like seeing an elephant or a lion or other such features in the clouds or the stars or the patterns on my carpet, such patterns are not the same as the highly symmetrical polished granite cube when it comes to the need to invoke intelligent design to explain their origin. Do you really not see the difference?




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  10. Would you agree with the author’s opinion in the link below, that God designs every single, unique snowflake? Or do you think this happens through random process of nature? The lovely filigree of flakes looks a lot more designed than your hypothetical polished granite cubes don’t you think? 🙂




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    • Snowflakes and other such crystals do not require intelligent design to explain their origin beyond what mindless natural laws can themselves explain. It is knowledge of the material in question that is important in making this determination. Take the same pattern found in a snowflake and reproduce that pattern in the material of granite, and you have yourself a clearly designed artifact. How so? Because, such patterns are not “natural” to granite outside of intelligent design while they are natural to water molecules in the proper natural environment. And, there are some pretty interesting snowflakes. Consider the scanning electron micrographs of snowflakes in the following pictures:

      Yet, these amazing snowflakes did not require intelligent input above and beyond the mindless natural laws of nature. The same is true for pyrite crystals as in this picture:

      You see, the ability to detect design, to detect true artifacts, requires some investigation and research – some science. You can’t automatically know if a given artifact was or was not designed before you’ve worked with its underlying material and studied how it reacts with various forces of nature.

      Now, tell me, are you really unable to determine the differences between the various rock formations in the photographs I’ve posted above? Really?

      Here’s a couple more for you:

      Can you honestly say that you cannot recognize the need to invoke intelligent design to explain such formations of otherwise natural rocks and how these formations are quite different from your snowflake examples? – even if found on an alien planet? – regardless of what your science “experts” might or might not believe? Do you really need anyone else to hold your hand on this one? Or, would you rather invoke your “multiple universes” argument to get around what should otherwise be quite obvious?




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  11. Very good Sean. We now agree that apparent design in nature does not necessarily mean intelligent design. So the author of the article I cited was wrong on his initial assumption of inputting a quite unique elaborate design to intelligence, hence an intervening God.

    And, as you have indicated, there is a need of an investigative process to determine intelligent design as at first blush all design in nature is not intelligent. Agreed.

    OK, let’s have some fun with flakes, of which I am likely one 🙂 ( Wes as an artist may enjoy this flaky analogy as well). Not Kellogg’s corn flakes but snowflakes. Say an artist of Wes’s pedigree decides to use materials ( ceramics, etc) to make an apparently identical snowflake in appearance to that which appears in nature. Right down to the fine feathered filigree. Then a talented photographer takes pictures of the two, indistinguishable to the human eye. Then the Kime Inquiry National Gallery (KING) agrees to host the two exhibited pictures side by side. Sean and George walk into the KING and observe the photographs not knowing the sources of the images. Which one would they decide comes from intelligent design vs mindless nature. Art imitating life and life imitating art. Intelligent and mindless design side by each ( as they say in Newfounfland bye’).

    My point being that apparent intelligent design may not be so apparent at all. And, as natural snowflakes eloquently demonstate, mindless nature is able to produce quite elaborate designs. The question of course are what, if any, the limits of nature to design by cause and effect mechanisms and the laws of the universe over 13 billion years? And, as some- granted disputed- evidence suggests, a metaverse exists can we say definitively that our universe was intelligently designed and not rsndomly formed?

    Now, as time, technology and scientific investigation have advanced we are better able to determine how cause and effect mechanisms ‘design’. If is a legitimate question to investigate what the limits of those cause and effect mechanisms are. However I don’t think at a specific technological or scientifc point in time one can can default to intelligent design as a scientific conclusion. At best one can say we don’t yet have the answers to what appears to be designed mechanisms in the universe.

    Hope that helps to better explain my thoughts.




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    • OK, let’s have some fun with flakes, of which I am likely one 🙂 ( Wes as an artist may enjoy this flaky analogy as well). Not Kellogg’s corn flakes but snowflakes. Say an artist of Wes’s pedigree decides to use materials ( ceramics, etc) to make an apparently identical snowflake in appearance to that which appears in nature. Right down to the fine feathered filigree. Then a talented photographer takes pictures of the two, indistinguishable to the human eye. Then the Kime Inquiry National Gallery (KING) agrees to host the two exhibited pictures side by side. Sean and George walk into the KING and observe the photographs not knowing the sources of the images. Which one would they decide comes from intelligent design vs mindless nature. Art imitating life and life imitating art. Intelligent and mindless design side by each ( as they say in Newfounfland bye’).

      At least you’re starting to think about the problem. Of course, as your illustration nicely points out, the detection of design requires that one knows what the material in question is and has some background experience with that material as it interacts with various forces of nature. Why do you think I specifically chose the material of granite, rather than pyrite, when arguing that a highly symmetrical granite cube would be a clear artifact of intelligent design? Knowledge of the potential and limits of the material in question makes a big difference – as you yourself know full well.

      My point being that apparent intelligent design may not be so apparent at all.

      Not true. Apparent intelligent design is not apparent until one has investigated the phenomenon in question, determined its material, and has some prior experience with the material in question regarding its potential and limitations in various natural environments. After all, not even you would question the intelligent origin of the rock formations in the photographs I’ve presented – even if found on an alien planet. Why not? Because you know that such formations are well outside of the creative powers of all known natural forces this side of a practical eternity of time (or a practically infinite number of universes). That is why your multiverse argument is meaningless and why you yourself don’t really subscribe to it and all that it implies.

      And, as natural snowflakes eloquently demonstate, mindless nature is able to produce quite elaborate designs.

      And yet, somehow, you’re still able to recognize that a highly symmetrical granite cube is outside of what mindless nature can produce (as many of the rock formations in the pictures I’ve presented to you). Again, your conclusion doesn’t rationally follow your argument nor are you being consistent…

      The question of course are what, if any, the limits of nature to design by cause and effect mechanisms and the laws of the universe over 13 billion years? And, as some- granted disputed- evidence suggests, a metaverse exists can we say definitively that our universe was intelligently designed and not rsndomly formed?

      Ok, given 14 billions of years of time, do you think it is remotely likely to find a highly symmetrical polished granite cube anywhere in the universe as a product of any mindless force of nature? – or any of the rock formations I’ve shown you so far in this forum? Of course you don’t. You know full well that you would recognize any of these phenomena as clear artifacts of intelligent design regardless of where they happened to be found in the universe. Your appeal to a multiverse is simply inconsistent with what you would actually conclude – or what any other rational person would conclude. The multiverse argument is in fact, as I’ve already explained, fundamentally opposed to scientific reasoning and methodologies.

      Now, as time, technology and scientific investigation have advanced we are better able to determine how cause and effect mechanisms ‘design’. If is a legitimate question to investigate what the limits of those cause and effect mechanisms are. However I don’t think at a specific technological or scientifc point in time one can can default to intelligent design as a scientific conclusion. At best one can say we don’t yet have the answers to what appears to be designed mechanisms in the universe.

      Oh please. Are you telling me that you would not recognize a highly symmetrical granite cube or any of the rock formations are true artifacts of intelligent design if they happened to be found on an alien planet? You would really argue that “we don’t know yet” what produced these formations? – that you have absolutely no idea if they are or are not intelligently designed? That’s such a ridiculous proposal that I don’t think you actually believe what you’re saying here. You’re basically arguing that SETI science is effectively impossible – even in theory. You’re saying that it is scientifically impossible to detect a true artifact as the result of intelligent design regardless of the nature of the artifact. That’s an absurd position that is completely opposed to basic scientific methodologies as well as numerous mainstream sciences that are based on the ability, the scientific ability, to recognize true artifacts of intelligent design with very high predictive value.




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  12. By the way I enjoyed the pictures of the pyrite chrstals. Now if that picture was shown to me in the KING, without explantion as to it’s natural source, I could very easily, but obviously mistakenly, conclude such an photographed exhibit, was man made. Appearances can be deceptive 🙂




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    • That is why you have to know what the material in question is and have some prior experience with that material as it interacts with various forces of nature. In other words, you can’t reliably detect design without science…




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  13. ” Do you truly not understand the nature of free will?

    Oh my goodness Sean, I do hope your question is rhetorica!!! To ask an existentialist – as surely you must have determined I am over the years? – if he understands free will, is like asking an Adventist if he understands which day is the Sabbath!

    What I think you are trying to imply is if I understand that Adam’s free will choice of eating the ole forbidden apple caused the erstwhile perfect world, universe to degrade? Yep, I get the gist of that miracle 🙂 Not too sure that was so intelligently designed by the ole creator though? Why not just let Adam and Eve degrade as oppossed to ‘His’ creation. Why punish the rest of what One created as a result. For as a parent, is part of my parenting plan to reprimand one child for the misbehavior of the other? I don’t think that would be too Inteligent do you?




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    • Freedom of will means that one must allow the free will agent to do bad things if he/she/it so chooses. This means, of course, that you must allow the free will agent to do bad things to those around the agent that might be innocent. That’s the nature of free will. If you limit the free will agent to hurting him or herself only, you haven’t provided true freedom of will.




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  14. “Now, tell me, are you really unable to determine the differences between the various rock formations in the photographs I’ve posted above? Really?”

    “That is why you have to know what the material in question is and have some prior experience with that material as it interacts with various forces of nature. In other words, you can’t reliably detect design without science…”

    Sean, do you see any inconsistencies between your above juxtaposed statements. On one hand you are telling me it is apparent and evident what is intelligently designed and what is not from photographs. On the other hand you are saying we need to use science? Without explanation those pyrite chystals look like a Picasso retrospective to me? What say the artist Kime?




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    • Sean, do you see any inconsistencies between your above juxtaposed statements. On one hand you are telling me it is apparent and evident what is intelligently designed and what is not from photographs. On the other hand you are saying we need to use science? Without explanation those pyrite chystals look like a Picasso retrospective to me? What say the artist Kime?

      The origin of the highly symmetrical granite cube and the balanced rocks in the photographs above is “apparent and evident”, even to you, only because both you and I already have experience with sandstone and granite rocks. That past experience, and a form of scientific reasoning, is what makes these formations extremely obvious artifacts of deliberate design. If you’re an honest man, you must admit that the artifactual nature of these rock formations is extremely obvious. Even your scientific experts, whom you put so much faith in, would agree with me here.

      Let’s look at one of these pictures again:

      Are you seriously telling me that you can’t tell that this pile of sandstone rocks, the pile that forms the round ball-like structure, required the input of intelligent design? Are you really trying to tell me that you do not have enough background knowledge, scientific knowledge, to make a rational judgement as to the origin of this structure? – a structure created with otherwise natural-looking rocks? This isn’t a pyrite crystal there the elemental building blocks that can self-assemble into such structures. This is extremely clear – even to you. This is a structure comprised of natural sandstone rocks for goodness sake. And, you can’t tell if such a structure is or is not the product of intelligent design? Really? If course you can tell. You’re just not being honest at this point.

      At least Dr. Paul Cameron (Pauluc) was eventually honest enough to admit this much – that these artifacts are quite obviously true artifacts of “creative intelligence” regardless of where they might be found in the universe. In fact, he used the phrase, “blindingly obvious” to describe their artifactual nature. You, on the other hand, are not being honest when you say that you can’t tell, when clearly you can.

      The fact is that you and I both know, without any reasonable doubt, that such structures do in fact require the input of deliberate intelligence and creative design to explain – regardless of where they might be found in the universe. You know as well as I do that there is no reasonable basis to argue that such structures could be formed by any mindless natural mechanism – even given trillions of years of time anywhere in the universe. Why then are you acting like the origin of such a phenomenon is such a confusing mystery? given what you do in fact already know about the materials of both sandstone and granite? It’s not like you’ve never seen sandstone or granite rocks before. You have plenty of background knowledge with these materials to make an informed decision here, and you know it. You do in fact know that there is no real mystery here. You know that quite well – as would any reasonable person with a candid mind. As already noted, even your mainstream scientists, your expert authorities, would agree with me on this one – that these rock formations are “blindingly obvious” artifacts of intelligent design regardless of where they might be found in the universe. You just don’t want to admit it… for obvious reasons. You seem to see where taking this path would lead you…




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  15. “If you limit the free will agent to only hurting him or herself, you haven’t provided true freedom of will.”

    Naturally, by how do you let that free human will change the perfect laws of the universe? Where does that human power come from? Doesn’t that require a wee bit of divine intervention to let the perfect universe unwind? Or did Adam and Eve have a different type of free will with magical powers that extant humans do not have?




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    • I never said that the fundamental laws of the universe weren’t perfect for their intended purpose. They are extremely fine-tuned indeed. What I said is that humans on this planet aren’t perfect.

      Beyond this, why would a God have to create according to your ideas or even my ideas of “perfection”? The fact is that one doesn’t need to know the motivations of God or why He created this or that way before one can understand quite clearly that, for whatever reason, the realization of a particular phenomenon obviously requires extremely high levels of intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond mindless natural laws. One does not even need to know if God is good or evil before one can know that, either way, an extremely powerful God-like creative power clearly exists behind the origin of various phenomena within this universe.




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  16. “Are you seriously telling me that you can’t tell that this pile of sandstone rocks, the pile that forms the round ball-like structure, required the input of intelligent design? Are you really trying to tell me that you do not have enough background knowledge, scientific knowledge, to make a rational judgement as to the origin of this structure? – a structure created with otherwise natural-looking rocks?”

    “You’re just not being honest at this point”

    Dr. Pitman, take a deep breath and gain your composure. Please read my posts again. Did I ever comment on the sandstone rocks at all? Have I ever commented on SETI or are you conflating that withnsomething else that I said? How can I be dishonest about something I haven’t even commented on?!!! I don’t think I have ever accused you of being dishonest. You are so overcome with your zealousness that you are right and there cannot be any rational argument against intelligent design that you unfortunately have lowered yourself to an ad hominem attack. That is indeed unfortunate sir. I have tried to patiently argue that apparent to the human eye design may not be intelligent design at all. I have given you examples of that. I have patiently explained to you on many occassions that hypothetical highly polished granite cubes of which there is no evidence are in my estimation are not particularily relevant to the issue of intelligent design. I have patiently pointed out that scientists have presented evidence- disputed yes! – of a metaverse, but you conclude there is none.

    Now you can call me dishonest or irrational but don’t you realize this is exactly the same type of attack people use against creationsits. So what does that accomplish to say the other side is not honest or crazy? How does that aid civilized debate?

    I know you feel strongly about your position and I am prepared to treat your personal comments against my intellectual integrity as being stated in the heat of the moment. I’m quite fond of you Sean, so I don’t take any personal offence. I don’t think you alone have a franchise on intellectual honesty and rationality though 🙂

    Take care, your God bless you




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    • Dr. Pitman, take a deep breath and gain your composure. Please read my posts again. Did I ever comment on the sandstone rocks at all? Have I ever commented on SETI or are you conflating that with something else that I said? How can I be dishonest about something I haven’t even commented on?!!!

      Wait a minute here. You’ve argued several times in this thread along the lines that various artifacts are not clear artifacts because, put side to side with the same shapes in other materials that are not true artifacts, you couldn’t tell the difference.

      Now you’re telling me that you’ve never even suggested anything about the origin of granite cubes or the balanced rocks in the pictures I’ve shown you? That itself is being rather disingenuous don’t you think? I’ve asked you very direct questions about the origin of these particular rocks and rock formations and you’re telling me now that you never even intended to directly answer my questions? What? You refuse to walk down the conversational path with me by giving misleading responses to my questions? Why waste my time then if you really don’t want to have a serious conversation?

      Look, I really do think you’re a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean I think you’re being honest with this particular topic or with me in this particular discussion. I really don’t think you are…

      I don’t think I have ever accused you of being dishonest.

      That’s because I’ve always been very honest and direct with you. I’ve never played games with you or refused to answer any of your questions as directly and honestly as I am able. You, on the other hand, have just told me that you’ve avoided honestly and directly answering my questions of you… That’s dishonest in my book, and no way to have a respectful conversation. If you don’t want to answer my questions, just say so up front. Don’t just ignore me or my questions or pretend like you’ve answered them when you yourself now claim that you haven’t.

      You are so overcome with your zealousness that you are right and there cannot be any rational argument against intelligent design that you unfortunately have lowered yourself to an ad hominem attack. That is indeed unfortunate sir.

      If you continually refuse to directly answer my questions, the answers to which are downright obvious to the vast majority of people (even my 5-year-old son knows the answers to these very simple questions), we aren’t really having a true and honest conversation then are we sir?

      I have tried to patiently argue that apparent to the human eye design may not be intelligent design at all.

      Exactly! Which comes across as a suggestion that it is impossible to really tell if any apparent artifact is really an actual artifact of intelligent design at all! It comes across as a suggestion that not even the rock formations pictured above are necessarily artificial – that you can still rationally remain agnostic regarding their designed or non-designed origin. That’s not an honest position or suggestion – and you know it!

      I have given you examples of that. I have patiently explained to you on many occassions that hypothetical highly polished granite cubes of which there is no evidence are in my estimation are not particularily relevant to the issue of intelligent design.

      I’m not asking you about biological evolution at this point or the origin of life or the universe. I’m just asking if you’re honest enough to answer a very very simple question – if your honest enough to tell me that things like highly symmetrical polished granite cubes or the rock formations pictured above are in fact “blindingly obvious” artifacts of intelligent design and would be recognized as such by any candidly intelligent mind regardless of where they might happen to be found in the universe? You evidently are refusing to answer that question – which strikes me as disingenuous. It really does. Why not honestly and directly answer this very simple question? Why be so disingenuous and coy?

      I have patiently pointed out that scientists have presented evidence- disputed yes! – of a metaverse, but you conclude there is none.

      The problem that you don’t seem to understand is that the way you and others are using the metaverse concept undermines the very basis of science itself. You claim to respect science while using the metaverse concept to argue against the value and usefulness of the very basis of all scientific methodologies – statistical predictive value.

      Now you can call me dishonest or irrational but don’t you realize this is exactly the same type of attack people use against creationsits. So what does that accomplish to say the other side is not honest or crazy? How does that aid civilized debate?

      What would really help is for you to honestly and directly answer my question. Otherwise, I don’t see us having an honest discussion or “debate” at all. You’re just not being honest with me – and I say that in all sincerity. I really don’t think you want to have a meaningful discussion on this particular topic.

      If you think otherwise, then directly answer this question: Would you recognize a highly symmetrical polished granite cube, or any of the balanced rock formations photographed above, as true artifacts of intelligent design if you happened to see them anywhere in the universe? – Yes or No? It’s a very simple question.

      I know you feel strongly about your position and I am prepared to treat your personal comments against my intellectual integrity as being stated in the heat of the moment. I’m quite fond of you Sean, so I don’t take any personal offence. I don’t think you alone have a franchise on intellectual honesty and rationality though 🙂

      Look, you’ve generally been a decent person and very cordial in the various discussions you’ve carried out with various individuals in this forum. However, I’m not going to let you get away with avoiding key questions or being disingenuous in your discussions here. I’m going to call you out on these things because I really don’t think you’re being honest with yourself or with me. This opinion of mine has nothing to do with the fact that I think you’re a nice guy. I’m sure you are. I just don’t think you’re being honest with this particular topic.




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  17. “Beyond this, why would a God have to create according to your ideas or even my ideas of “perfection”?”

    Or your or my ideas of intelligent design for that matter? 🙂




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    • You’re correct. God didn’t have to make the universe make rational sense to us. However, the fact of the matter is that the universe is a very rational/logical place that we can study and understand with our God-given abilities of scientific methodologies. It is these scientific methodologies that allow the vast majority of people to recognize the above-photographed rocks and rock formations as true artifacts of intelligent design – to include the vast majority of scientists.




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  18. Sean Pitman: At least Dr. Paul Cameron (Pauluc) was eventually honest enough to admit this much – that these artifacts are quite obviously true artifacts of “creative intelligence” regardless of where they might be found in the universe. In fact, he used the phrase, “blindingly obvious” to describe their artifactual nature.

    At least be honest with what I said. There was no eventual. I did not and do not accept that the extroplation from artefacts clearly designed by intelligent life have anything to do with the the origins of that life. They can be explained as emergent properties of that life and the recognition of artefact is blindingly obvious because all intelligence we can empirically test or know is based on neural systems and brains which have evolved for pattern recognition. Of course we can consider the caveat that there can be thinking machines but they remain embodied in a physical substrate. That is the science.

    To accept that there is even any disembodied intelligence is a leap and an act of faith that we as Christians see as the basis for meaning, beauty and purpose. It has no support in empirical science as scientists would understand it despite your strident and unfaltering insistence.

    Dont imply that I have accepted your ID/creationism. I have not.




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    • At least be honest with what I said. There was no eventual. I did not and do not accept that the extroplation from artefacts clearly designed by intelligent life have anything to do with the the origins of that life.

      I never claimed that you said otherwise. The point here is that, at the very least, you would recognize things like highly symmetrical granite cubes or the arrangements of otherwise natural rocks in the photographs above as true artifacts of “creative intelligence”. Of course you still believe that the intelligent agents themselves “evolved” over time or were somehow naturally produced as “emergent” properties of the universe – for some very strange reason. Yet, despite this, you still admit that certain artifacts are “blindly obvious” and do in fact require creative intelligence to rationally explain their origin.

      They can be explained as emergent properties of that life and the recognition of artefact is blindingly obvious because all intelligence we can empirically test or know is based on neural systems and brains which have evolved for pattern recognition. Of course we can consider the caveat that there can be thinking machines but they remain embodied in a physical substrate. That is the science.

      As George himself as so eloquently demonstrated, “pattern recognition” by itself is not enough to detect the true artifactual nature of a given phenomenon. The very same shape or pattern that is so clearly artifactual when exhibited in the material of granite is not so artifactual when exhibited in the material of pyrite or salt (which can naturally self-assemble to produce highly symmetrical cubes without the need to invoke intelligent design). So, you’re clearly mistaken when you say that the ability to recognize true artifacts is nothing but “pattern recognition”. You also need some background information regarding the material itself and how it is likely to interact with various mindless forces of nature. That’s where the science of detecting design comes into play. That is the basis of various mainstream sciences that are looking for true artifacts in nature – like SETI, anthropology, and forensic science.

      To accept that there is even any disembodied intelligence is a leap and an act of faith that we as Christians see as the basis for meaning, beauty and purpose. It has no support in empirical science as scientists would understand it despite your strident and unfaltering insistence.

      Everything in science requires a “leap of faith” beyond what can be absolutely demonstrated or known with absolute certainty. The fact is that the evidence for the intelligent origin of the universe is so striking that most physicists suspect that there was mindful purpose behind its origin. In fact, many physicists are now suggesting that the universe constantly requires intelligent input – that it is nothing short of entirely depending upon the mind of God – that it appears, in fact, to be a type of mental projection (a “holographic universe”).

      Science is not so constrained as you claim where it cannot detect, with very good predictive value, the artifictual nature of various phenomena that are so magnificent that the responsible designer would require access to intelligence and creative power that you would not be able to distinguish from what a God or God-like mind would possess.

      Dont imply that I have accepted your ID/creationism. I have not.

      I would never think to suggest otherwise. At least I hope that I never suggested or implied that your thinking comes remotely close to the level of an IDist much less a creationist! … even if you might be slightly closer to it than a few others (like George for instance).




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  19. “One does not even need to know if God is good or evil before one can know that, either way, an extremely powerful God-like creative power clearly exists behind the origin of various ”

    You do undrestand I am an agnostic, right? I certainly acknowledge the possibly of this, merely because of my own concious existence and what science has provided educate us about the nature of the universe and life.

    I suspect, but cannot prove, or understand, that there is some force – which Man calls God(s) – behind the First Cause- the origin of matter in a dynamic state. However my human temporal understanding of First Cause- outside of this univesrse- may be quite flawed if Time started with the Big Bsng. What was there before the Big Bsng? God? A potential for the Big Bang?

    And I appreciate what you are trying to do to establish ID as a scientifc discipline. I do believe that our dialectic helps to explore the parameters of that proposed discipline. But I do not understand how hypothetical polished granite cubes or SETI is particularily relevant to the Intelliegent Design of the universe. Sorry!

    However I do think ‘we’ are making progress by jointly exploring the topic and it’s linkage to the biblical God through your professed credibility of the Bible. Your approach to use ID to firstly establish a creative God like force evident in the universe – but not necessarily the biblical depicted God – is quite rational in my humble opinion. That is very frightening to many Adventists because they see it as making faith the lapdog of science. Others Adventists, who have concluded that science cannot corroborate God, YLC , YEC or the resurrection of Christ – and have perhaps become theistic evolutionists- are worried that you are stripping faith of its sine qua non: to believe and not know, sometimes in contrast to peer reviewed science! But your great mentor, the esteemed Dr. Kime, sees you as a hero as you brilliantly attempt to bridge science and faith as progressive truth under the Adventist paradigm. I share his admiration for your efforts.

    Moreover, you and Dr. Kime have caused me to deeply explore the empirical and philosophical basis for my agnosticism, for which I am ‘eternally’ 🙂 grateful. By understanding what you are attempting to do as a first step: to recognize a god like signature in the design of the universe independent of theodicy, I have gained a better appreciation for my own agnosticism. Is there a concious design to this universe? For me the jury is still out on that as there is great evidence of mindless design that appears to be governed by the physical laws of the universe. However, why do those laws exist? Intellligent Design? Certainly possible! Can such design be detected? That is an ongoing debate as cause and effect mechanisms of the universe contine to explain many features of the universe that previously were assigned to design, miracles or an intervening God. Philosophically I am concerned that ID not simply be the default mechanism to conclude there is design if science has not yet determined how phenomena have occured naturally under the existing laws of the universe.

    Hope that helps




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    • And I appreciate what you are trying to do to establish ID as a scientifc discipline. I do believe that our dialectic helps to explore the parameters of that proposed discipline. But I do not understand how hypothetical polished granite cubes or SETI is particularily relevant to the Intelliegent Design of the universe. Sorry!

      The problem is that you refuse to admit that even something as simple as a highly symmetrical polished granite cube or the artifactual rock formations pictured above are obvious artifacts of intelligent design. Why not honestly admit the obvious? If you won’t admit that even these things are clearly evident artifacts, there is no way we can talk about the nature of the universe or living things. Further conversation with you along these lines is simply pointless.




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  20. Oh, and by the way, lest I be accused of being a fence sitter, I do not believe the biblical God exists. I think such a deity has been invented by Man in man’s image out of fear, ignorance and culture. I believe the Bible is a much redacted text that incorporate previous cultural creation, flood stories and resurrection stories.

    However, that does preclude whatsoever the possibility of God- or for lack of a better term a creative force- the nature of which we likely do not understand. The nafure of our universe however ‘may’ over some clues as to such a force.

    There you go!




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    • @George:

      Ok George, here’s the deal. I’m not going to have a further discussion with you until you honestly and directly answer my questions regarding the origin of my highly symmetrical granite cube or the balanced rocks pictured above. Until then I just don’t see the point as I see no common ground to talk about anything else regarding origins.

      Until then, I wish you all the best… and God’s speed.




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  21. “Ok George, here’s the deal. I’m not going to have a further discussion with you until you honestly and directly answer my questions regarding the origin of my highly symmetrical granite cube or the balanced rocks pictured above. Until then I just don’t see the point as I see no common ground to talk about anything else regarding origins.

    Until then, I wish you all the best… and God’s speed.”

    While I respect your point of view I feel like a cow being herded into the Pitman debate corral! Then again, as you are making it abundantly clear, it is your site which and you can control the debate.

    I wish you and my friend Wes all the best as well. Farewell




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  22. Sean Pitman: I would never think to suggest otherwise. At least I hope that I never suggested or implied that your thinking comes remotely close to the level of an IDist much less a creationist! … even if you might be slightly closer to it than a few others (like George for instance).

    Let me clarify yet again before you effectively shut down your site through inanition now you have no Kent George and myself from which to parlay.

    I am a creationist like all Christians but because I accept the Christian doctrine of creation that does no mean I accept your “scientific” theory of creation through ID which is effectively a non-scientific circular argument based on incredulity. There may be one common doctrine of creation on which we can agree but that does not mean we must all accept a specific scientific mechanism of creation. Your myopic vision of creation as a single monolithic belief is at core the problem you have with diversity of belief and LSU.




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    • I’m very well aware of you’re “Christian” beliefs and that they are very much different from the claims of the Bible. Also, I have no problem at all with diversity of belief. My problem is with those who claim to be something they’re not – especially with those who expect a paycheck for teaching or preaching something that they’re not. In short, my problem is with those who are being dishonest and stealing from the church. That’s just not right in anyone’s book.

      If you don’t agree with the fundamental claims or the primary goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, why not just do the honest thing and join another church that is more in line with your views? – or start up an entirely new church of like minds? That would be a far more honest thing to do compared to taking on the title of something that you don’t remotely represent – just because you grew up in and identify with the “Adventist culture”? That makes everything else Ok? The “culture” of Adventism trumps the fundamental doctrinal positions and message of the church? I think not.

      Beyond this, I have no need to endlessly debate these ideas with those who are set in their ways against the teachings of the Bible and the church. The primary purpose of this website is informational for the general membership and leadership of the SDA Church. Now, I don’t mind discussions or debates at all – as you well know. However, the debates that I’m involved with have to actually be interesting to me if I am to continue in a particular discussion. Otherwise, why waste my own time if you’re simply repeating the same old tired ideas over and over again? – or completely ignoring what I have to say and refusing to respond directly to the key questions that I’m asking in a discussion? I have plenty of other far more interesting things on which to spend my time than to go around and around in endless circles with the likes of you, George, or Professor Kent. I’m sorry, but I just find your arguments rather lame, ill-informed, disingenuous, and downright boring. And, I’m sure you think the same thing about my arguments. So, why should I waste any more of your time? 😉

      All the best to you…




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      • @Sean Pitman: Boring? Never! I find you incredible and unique. A highly intelligent educated man (albeit from cradle onwards within Adventist institutions and enclaves) can argue with such chutzpah, certainty and conviction against any demonstration of faith without empirical evidence and yet apparently have so little insight into his life of faith that informs any scientific exploration such as it is.

        I never cease to be amazed. It is ironic that Wes’s contribution is used to point at others without at all recognizing that your whole belief structure is based on an fixed enculturated fundamentalist Adventist view and at the same time claim the position of an iconoclast that brokes nothing but what he can personally understand even if that means denying any recognition of any authority,

        Indeed it is the culture; Adventism circa 1875

        I will not disturb you further. Grace.




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        • I’m not sure why you feel the need to repetitively inform me, over and over again, with these very same pejorative observations of yours? You keep “leaving for good” and then coming back again and again with nothing new. I’m just not interested anymore. If you want to be interesting beyond your intestinal “gestalt” feelings of faith or truth, present some actually evidence, a rational argument of some kind, that goes beyond your personal subjective fideistic feelings and arguments from authority for why I, or anyone else for that matter, should listen to much less favor your perspective above the church’s perspective or even my own personal perspective. Now that would be interesting for a change…




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  23. Sean Pitman: The primary purpose of this website is informational for the general membership and leadership of the SDA Church.

    If this is true then its seems you are enjoying a modicum of success. It will be most interesting to see how successful you and the current leadership are in your march to the past when it comes to San Antonio. Will the bishops stick with the Pope we have or will they elect to move on to someone who can engage with even 20th century. Will we have a Francis. We can only hope and pray.




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  24. My guess is this Sean, you are intent on proving how a miracle happens like creation. We can all see the result of something present, but exactly how it got here and happened in the realm of a miracle is not possible. Science can affirm that something exists. But it can not always affirm how. Thus, a Christian accepts divine revelation over and above science with the full knowledge that science may not affirm the biblical conclusion. But neither can science deny it, since it is a miracle.




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  25. @Sean Pitman:
    It is you not me that is attacking LSU and Adventist academics and scientists engaged in science in very conventional ways.

    Sean Pitman: present some actually evidence, a rational argument of some kind, that goes beyond your personal subjective fideistic feelings and arguments from authority alone for why I, or anyone else for that matter, should listen to much less favor your perspective above the church’s perspective or even my own personal perspective

    I know you have low view of authority. I do appreciate however that you pointed me to the book by Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd which makes a reasonable attempt at refuting the Jesus Legend perspective but am most curious to know how you engage in the world of ideas beyond your own personal perspective. Do you follow Teds advice and not read anything outside Adventist literature and accept the BRI as the authoratative source of biblical knowledge? I know you skimmed though the Rosenhouse book in a night but did you actually read the Boyd book? What are the books on science and religion that you have read in 2014? What do you think was the most important scientific paper in biology in 2014 that challenged you view of origins? What paper best supported your views? I would be most interested to know what does engage your mind beyond debate here or at other blogs?




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    • I’m sorry Paul. I’m just not interested in further discussion with you at the moment – nor will I be until you present some actual evidence and rational argument, in your own words (not just some naked reference to some book or journal you want me to read), that seems new and interesting to me on the topic of origins.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        I am also sorry Sean. This is after all a blog not a scientific forum and I am not sanguine enought to to think that I alone in my own words can present some “actual evidence and rational argument” that will convince you of anything scientific when if you were actually interested there is a vast amount of information and thought freely available to the honest seeker.




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        • Of which I am fairly well informed, having read the available scientific literature extensively, and with a great deal of effort to honestly consider and understand it, over the past 20 years or so. I dare say I’ve read a bit more about the science and debates surrounding the topic of origins than you have – from authors arguing from both sides of the issue. In fact, I read far more from the mainstream evolutionary literature than I do from the ID or creationist literature. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily right in my thinking. However, it does mean that at least I’m very well informed on the topic. In other words, I’ll know when you’re just blowing smoke. However, if you see some specific error in anything I’ve said on this topic, beyond your various forms of “gestalt” sensations or bald appeals to arguments from authority, by all means present a real argument. I will honestly consider it to the best of my ability. Otherwise, I’m just not interested in talking about your subjective fideistic “feelings of truth” on science or religion any further…




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  26. Sean Pitman: I dare say I’ve read a bit more about the science and debates surrounding the topic of origins than you have – from authors arguing from both sides of the issue.

    And for all that while claiming to have a statistical analysis of sequence space that decimates the theory of evolution I still cannot find any scopus entry from Sean D Pitman more recent than a paper on granular acute lymphoblastic leukaemia from 7 years ago. I know you are not at all modest but that would I think be pretty close to fulfilling the criteria for blowing smoke.




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    • As I’ve mentioned to you the last dozen times you’ve brought this up, if I’m so clearly “blowing smoke” why not present the best argument you know of that proves me wrong regarding my proposed limits to evolutionary progress? or how to detect true artifacts of intelligent design in nature? It should be easy if I’m so full of smoke and bluster without any real substance – right? Why not put me in my place already if it’s so easy and obvious to understand and explain? – so evident to the honest seekers for truth that might happen to read about your brilliant arguments and overwhelming evidence? Yet, you seem so reluctant to present any real evidence beyond your usual arguments from authority or repeated suggestions that I “read the literature!” I have read it – in some detail over a fairly long period of time. What then, specifically, have you found that you believe clearly counters anything I’ve said on the topic? – something that I’ve clearly missed or don’t understand correctly? By all means, in your own words, explain the evidence for the high level creative potential of your Darwinian mechanism.

      Otherwise, we’ve already gone round and round and round about publishing on this topic. That’s your only real argument isn’t it? – that I haven’t published on this topic so therefore I can’t possible know or understand much at all about neo-Darwinism. I can’t possibly understand the material that I’ve read in the mainstream literature if my own name isn’t there? Really? Do we have to get into all that yet again? Don’t you have anything better than bringing this same nonsense up time and again?

      Just let me know, with all your reading, brilliance, and advanced education on this topic, when you finally have a tenable argument for naturalistic evolution beyond the lowest levels of functional complexity… What are you waiting for?




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  27. Sean Pitman: Yet, you seem so reluctant to present any real evidence beyond your usual arguments from authority or repeated suggestions that I “read the literature!” I’ve read it – in some detail over a fairly long period of time. What, specifically, in your own words, have you found that clearly counters anything I’ve said on the topic?

    This is a blog where we simply have a fireside chat as it were. You have never actually said anything scientifically on this topic until it is published in the place it counts the peer reviewed literature. If you do not understand that you do not know science whatever your claims of superior knowledge.




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    • Whatever. We’ve been through this endlessly before regarding your droll claim that it’s impossible to rationally think for one’s self or reasonably judge if anything is right or wrong unless some mainstream journal publishes the argument and a majority of Darwinian fundamentalists are converted. Forget about the idiots like Galileo, Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle, Archimedes, etc… who obviously learned nothing worthwhile or “scientific” on an individual basis because their work lacked official “peer review” in some popular journal of the day.

      Sure, peer review has it’s place. It’s certainly worth while when available. However, it is by no means the end-all nor is it even vital to scientific discovery or understanding of the world in which we live. Do you think any of the guys mentioned above cared one lick if anyone else or any “majority” group of “peers” in the world agreed with them? Do you think any one of them would have changed his mind simply given the opposition of any kind of “majority opinion” alone? – without a personal understanding of the evidence itself? Not at all. Not a single one of them would have believed that they were in error simply because any or all of the peers of their day disagreed with them. They studied for themselves and came to their own firm conclusions regardless of what anyone else said or thought.

      I recommend trying to do the same thing for yourself as well. Try thinking for yourself on occasion, at least on certain topics of special interest – regardless of what anyone else thinks. Who knows, you might like it! And then, please do let me know when you come up with something new and interesting for a change – something worth my time to “chat” about by the fireside.




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  28. Sean Pitman: droll claim that it’s impossible to rationally think for one’s self or reasonably judge if anything is right or wrong unless some mainstream journal publishes the argument and a majority of Darwinian fundamentalists are converted.

    Indeed it is a droll claim since it is a figment of your imagination and not at all what I have said.

    I simply respect the process of scientific investigation and accept what is in the peer reviewed literature in good faith. Accept that it has according to that review past the barest criteria for novelty, logic, and experimental process, statistical analysis as well as ethics. I always accept that it could have been done fraudulently but there is an element of trust involved in any human enterprise. If you bothered to read Kuhn or Oreskes you would know that science is a human process done by humans and political or religious motivation can distort science particularly when it is done in the popular press. Or worse still the blogosphere. Case in point your citation with aprobation the http://www.dinosaurc14ages.com/carbondating.htm a site which as far as I can see is silent on the identity of its protagonists who as far as I can see have no clue on C14 dating limitations. I am sure you are familiar with the issues of C14 dating after many half lives and know that there are sources of C14 from Uranium-thorium decay which affects the ability to use C14 for coal dating. You claim of knowledge on this point is suspect. Just look at wiki and talk origins on C14 dating. When you unthinkingly parrot the claims of dinosourc14ages and cast aspersions on Mary Schweitzer because she does understand something about C14 dating beyond 80000 years I have to critically appraise your claim of great knowledge attained over 20 years of intense study.




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    • There is far far too much radiocarbon in this samples of dinosaur bone to be explained by either contamination or uranium-thorium decay (production of non-atmospheric C14). These “talk.origins” and “wiki” arguments of yours are nothing new (Link) and they simply don’t hold water when it comes to explaining the origin of such high levels of radiocarbon. We aren’t talking about C14 dating beyond 80,000 years here. We’re talking C14 dates that are well within the detection spectrum of AMS techniques – well less than half that “age”.

      And, as Dr. Giem noted back in 2010, “It is difficult to imagine a nature process contaminating wood, whale bone, petroleum and coal, all roughly to the same extent. It is especially difficult to imagine all parts of a coal seam being contaminated equally.” See also my 2010 discussion with Erv Taylor on the potential and limitations of radiocarbon dating here: Link.

      But, please do, inform me of my inability to appropriately read the available “literature” that you cited here and why Schweitzer should be excused for not subjecting her dinosaur bone specimens to C14 analysis and publishing the result?




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  29. @Sean Pitman:
    Mea Culpa. I see that you indeed have previously dispatched the experts if not the arguments of the experts and seem now to accept the word of another MD and unnamed bloggers possibly Ivanov and Kouznetsov and their accolytes who do not recognize any of the limitations of a technique that users and developers such as Taylor and Gove would recognize.

    There is a good discussion on the background of old carbon in the context of the Borexino project by Gove and colleagues.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004NIMPB.223..333B

    The goal of the old carbon project is to measure the ratio of 14C to 12C in methane at levels below 10−18 by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). This research is chiefly motivated by the need for very low background raw materials (methane, petroleum) to manufacture scintillator fluids for large volume neutrino detectors, particularly for solar neutrinos. The 14C activity in such material, introduced by the radioactivity of the reservoir rocks, cosmic rays or later handling, limits the low-energy sensitivity of the neutrino detector. This paper reviews the scintillator requirements for low-energy neutrino observation in terms of the 14C/12C ratio, as well as earlier AMS and decay counting measurements of this ratio at the 10−18 level. Recent experiments to determine the limitations of the heavy element line on the IsoTrace spectrometer for these ratio measurements are reported; analysis of the data obtained to date indicate a maximum interference limit of 14C/12C ≈ 10−19. This progress report will also mention some methods for reducing this interference further.

    An article in Physics Letters B from 1998 by Almonti et al says of the varying C14 in petroleum that gives detectable and variable ages for some petroleum and coal;

    Production of 14C deep underground can occur through nuclear reactions involving neutrons and α particles emitted by the surrounding natural radioactivity. The neutron flux deep underground originates chiefly from (α,n) reactions [15]on Al, Mg, Na and other elements in the surrounding rock. The uranium and thorium decay chains supply most of these α decays (neutrons are also emitted in spontaneous fission of uranium). Consequently, it is the abundance of uranium and thorium in the rock containing the petroleum that governs the abundance of 14C therein.

    I see no reason to believe that any carbon found in fossils will not be subject to the same local production of C14 from the same particle radiation from Uranium-thorium decay and appear as less than 50000 year whatever its real age. That many fossils contain residual degraded organics identifiable by synchotron SRS-XRF or mass spec is now clear
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20457935 ,
    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org./content/278/1722/3209 ,
    And Schweitzer has suggested mechanism for the maintenance of protein and degrade DNA with more than single bases from appropriate specimens. Both her Bone paper from 2013 and her previous paper from Proc R Soc B of 2007 (see table 1) suggest that there is a time frame for degradation that shows no collagen reactivity in any samples from cretaceous but reactivity in samples up to 300ka

    This does not at all provide support for a scientific model that all these animals are 4000 years old.




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    • I don’t think you understand the argument. Of course very small amounts of C14 can be produced by the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium in rocks close by. That’s not the problem or the relevant question. The real question is, how much C14 can be produced by this method? And, why would this source of C14 production be so uniform? As I’ve already suggested to you, your argument that C14 production by uranium and thorium explains very high C14 levels within dinosaur bones equivalent to ages of 15-35 kyrs simply doesn’t seem like a tenable argument. Is there remotely enough uranium and thorium scattered in a fairly uniform manner all over the world to generate that much C14 underground? That’s a pretty big pill you’re asking me to swallow don’t you think? – especially given that a level of less than 20 parts per million of uranium and thorium was detected in the dinosaur bones that contained large quantities of radiocarbon? (Link) Beyond this, turning 12C into C14 by neutron capture isn’t very easy to do. In fact, nitrogen creates carbon-14 from neutrons “110,000 times more easily” than does carbon. This dramatically increases the amount of uranium and thorium that would be needed to produce all the necessary C14 to make your theory tenable.

      For example, to produce a C14 age of 40,000 years we need a ratio of 14C/12C equal to about 1e-14. As best as I can tell, producing this ratio would require 125 atoms of uranium per carbon atom, which is a concentration by weight of 99.96% uranium (Link).

      Also, according to your arguments, C14 dating would be pretty much worthless beyond about 10,000 years due to all the extra C14 being produced by uranium and thorium underground. No one believes that. So, how then can C14 be used on the one hand to “reliably” date mammoths and mastodons and the like as living some 10-35 kyrs ago, but when these same levels of C14 are discovered uniformly throughout thick coal beds or dinosaur bones it must have been the result of non-atmospheric C14 production? A 14C/12C ratio of only 1e-15 corresponds to a ~60,000 yr age for a specimen. We’re talking about less than half that age or more than twice as much C14. I’m sorry, but yours seems like a self-defeating argument even without knowing how much uranium and thorium would be needed. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Do you see the problem I’m having here with your argument? Or, do I need to read more talk.origins or wiki articles to figure it out?

      As far as Schweitzer’s discoveries are concerned, I’m not sure of the significance of your point when you argue that no “collagen reactivity” was detected in response to collagenase in the dinosaur soft tissues? In her 2007 paper (Link) she did in fact note that, “antibody reactivity was significantly decreased after we digested dinosaur tissues with collagenase.” However, even if this wasn’t the case, so what? The really amazing thing is that there are soft tissues at all – to include sequencable antigenic proteins and even fragments of DNA in dinosaur bones dating from 60Ma to more than 150Ma (Link). Just a few years ago science had shown, by kinetic chemistry experiments, that such soft tissues and proteins should have been completely degraded within less than 100 ka. The current argument that iron helps to preserve soft tissues like formaldehyde doesn’t really solve the protein of kinetic chemistry decay.




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