Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

by Sean Pitman:

Recently, as part of Dr. Paul Giem’s lecture series at Loma Linda University Church, Drs. Fritz Guy (theologian, former president of La Sierra University, and one of the framers of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation) and Brian Bull (pathologist and well-published medical scientist) were invited to present their latest book, God, Sky & Land, (about how to read the Genesis account of creation as the original Hebrews would have heard it) and respond to various questions about their book (see video below).

In short, Drs. Guy and Bull argue that it is effectively impossible to bring the ancient mindset in line with modern concepts of empirical reality.  They conclude that both the original writer(s) and readers of the Genesis account viewed the Earth as a flat disc covered by a solid dome or vault which separated the land below from the “waters of chaos” above… and that this vault had “windows” in it that could allow, if needed, the waters above to flow down onto the Earth on occasion (as during Noah’s Flood). Obviously, such concepts are completely foreign to the modern reader – given the discoveries of modern science.  Yet, for the ancient Hebrews such concepts were accepted as facts of life.

Drs. Guy and Bull conclude that the Genesis account of origins cannot be taken to be a scientific description of empirical reality.  Rather, it is limited to the idea that God is the Creator without saying when or how He actually created the universe, this planet, or living things on this planet.  After all, Guy and Bull point out that modern science has essentially proven, beyond any real reasonable doubt, that the Earth, and life on it, is very old and that living things have gradually changed or evolved over hundreds of millions, even billions, of years.  Surely then, the Genesis account must be read through the eyes of the ancients. This sort of understanding of Genesis allows the modern reader to combine modern science with modern religion… to obtain a deeper and more intellectually satisfying view of science, religion, and even of God.

Toward the end of the video Dr. Guy makes an interesting comment.  He notes that one of the most difficult claims of Genesis for those who take the Genesis account literally is the account of the creation of the land (the Earth) and the “days” of light and dark, all before the creation of the Sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day.   Guy also argues that Genesis clearly suggests that the creation of the entire universe took place within one week – which is completely opposed to the views of many modern Christians, to include the vast majority of Adventist scientists and theologians who believe that the universe pre-existed the creation of this world.  Even Mrs. White explains that other worlds and other created intelligences pre-existed the creation of our world and that they stood in wonder of God’s creative power as He formed our world.

Before the creation of man, angels were in existence; for when the foundations of the earth were laid, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. – GC, p 511

By the marvelous display of his love in giving “his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” the glory of God is revealed to lost humanity and to the intelligences of other worlds. – ST, April 25, 1892

 

Now, some might be surprised that I, a conservative “Bible-thumping Adventist fundamentalist”, actually agree with many if not most of the arguments that Drs. Guy and Bull present in their book (and in this particular discussion with Dr. Giem).  For example, I do not think that the author of the Genesis account (i.e., Moses) was necessarily given privileged information from the modern scientific perspective to understand the nature of the universe or even our own planet or solar system.  In other words, we might actually know a few things today about the nature of our world and universe that Moses may not have known or understood when he wrote Genesis.  I think most of us would agree on this potentiality (especially given our detailed experience with the life and inspiration of the modern prophetess, Ellen White).

Yet, to argue that Moses was shown, in a vision from God no less, a view of history that really has no useful basis in empirical reality, that God did not actually give Moses privileged information about historical events as they really took place, is a bit premature – even rationally inconsistent with the notion that any part of the Bible was actually inspired by God in any sort of privileged manner.  After all, if nothing in the Bible can be subjected to any kind of potentially falsifying empirical test, upon what basis does it gain credibility as the Word of God? – over a made-up fairytale, moral fable, legend, or just-so story?

Now, I should point out at this point that Drs. Bull and Guy do actually argue that Genesis was inspired by God – though they don’t explain why they believe this given that they see little in Genesis as representing empirical reality or requiring privileged information from God above and beyond that of other creation legends in other cultures.

As far as the argument of limited perspectives is concerned, consider a situation where an infinite all-knowing God shows someone from a very limited perspective a movie or a “vision” of the creation week where the observer maintains his limited Earth-bound perspective.  If one assumes that the author of Genesis had such a limited perspective, the description of a very real historical event, such as the creation week described in Genesis, still makes a whole lot of sense.  The light of the Sun would become visible, penetrating the dense atmosphere, before the actual outlines of the Sun, moon, or stars would become visible – and the “evenings and mornings” would also be detectable before the outline or specific location of the Sun in the sky could be appreciated (as is the case during a cloudy day). The formation of the atmosphere would have appeared, from a limited Earth-bound perspective, as a bright and shiny crystalline-appearing blue dome above the head of the observer; replacing the darkness and the chaotic waters that were there before. It would all be a matter of perspective and appearances from that limited perspective…

Consider also that there is good reason to believe that Moses did in fact understand that the universe pre-existed the creation of our particular planet.  After all, in his writing of the Book of Job, it was Moses who pointed out that the sons of God sang together and shouted for joy at the creation of our world (Job 38:7).  Didn’t the sons of God have to live somewhere prior to the creation of our planet?

Of course, there are several other things I find troubling about God, Sky & Land.  For example, how can Drs.  Bull and Guy feel themselves free to quote Mrs. White in a way that suggests that she would actually support their efforts to promote a modern neo-Darwinian view of origins which does away with a literal 6-day creation week in favor of hundreds of millions of years of death, suffering, and evolutionary changes of sentient creatures on this planet? – before the moral Fall or even the existence of mankind?  What is most strange is that Drs. Bull and Guy fail to point out where Mrs. White claims that she was shown, directly by God in vision, that the creation week of Genesis was actually a literal week – the same as the weeks we now experience.

I was then carried back to the creation, and was shown that the first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week.

Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 1, Chap. 8, “Disguised Infidelity”, p. 85

Beyond this, in her well-known book, Patriarchs and Prophets, she even has an entire chapter entitled, “The Literal Week” where she writes:

Geologists claim to find evidence from the earth itself that it is very much older than the Mosaic record teaches… Such reasoning has led many professed Bible believers to adopt the position that the days of creation were vast, indefinite periods.

But, apart from Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Those who reason so confidently upon its discoveries have no adequate conception of the size of men, animals, and trees before the Flood, or of the great changes which then took place. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of conditions differing in many respects from the present, but the time when these conditions existed can be learned only from the Inspired Record. In the history of the Flood, inspiration has explained that which geology alone could never fathom. In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but men, with their vain reasoning, fall into the same error as did the people before the Flood–the things which God gave them as a benefit, they turn into a curse by making a wrong use of them.

So, at minimum it seems rather inconsistent for Drs. Guy and Bull to think to quote Mrs. White in support of their views on Genesis when she was very strongly opposed to their main conclusions… in no uncertain terms.  I mean really, if you’re going to quote someone as some kind of authority to support your position, at least present his/her actual views on the topic at hand.

Brian Bull

Fritz Guy

Another interesting argument presented in their book is the notion that the Biblical authors/readers had no concept of natural law outside of a direct act of either God or man. At least part of the problem here is that the Biblical authors did seem to have a rather good concept of “chance” occurrences outside of the direct action of either God or man and they also seem to have had a concept of consistently predictable natural laws.

For example, consider the experiment described in the Bible where the Philistines put the Ark of God into a cart to send it back to Israel.


Now
then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us and that it happened to us by chance. – 1 Samuel 6:1-12

Notice that the concepts of random chance events as well as consistently predictable natural laws were well established in the mind of this biblical author.

Randall Younker

Another problem with the arguments presented by Bull and Guy is in regard to the supposedly Hebrew concept of “raqi’a” as an inverted metallic or otherwise solid half dome covering a flat Earth. According to Randall Younker (Andrews University):


“The idea that the ancient Hebrews believed the heaven(s) was a solid vault appears to emerged for the first time only during the early 19th century when introduced as part of the flat earth concept introduced by Washington Irving and Antoine-Jean Letronne. Scholars who supported this idea argued that the flat earth/vaulted heaven was held throughout the early Christian and Medieval periods, and indeed, was an idea that goes back into antiquity and was held by both ancient Mesopotamians and Hebrews. However, more recent research has shown that the idea of a flat earth was not held by either the early Christian church nor Medieval scholars. Indeed, the overwhelming evidence is that they believed in a spherical earth surrounded by celestial spheres (sometimes hard, sometimes soft) that conveyed the sun, moon, stars and planets in their orbits around the earth. Moreover, research of ancient Babylonian astronomical documents shows that they did not have the concept of a heavenly vault. Rather, this was erroneously introduced into the scholarly literature by a mistranslation of Enuma Elish by Peter Jensen.

A review of the linguistic arguments that the Hebrews believed in the idea of a flat earth and vaulted heaven shows that the arguments are unfounded. The arguments derive from passages that are clearly figurative in nature. Indeed, one of the great ironies in recreating a Hebrew cosmology is that scholars have tended to treat figurative usages as literal (e.g. Psalms and Job), while treating literal passages such as in Genesis as figurative. The noun form of raqia is never associated with hard substances in any of its usages in Biblical Hebrew; only the verbal form raqa. And even the latter cannot be definitely tied to metals, etc. Rather it is understood as a process in which a substance is ‘thinned’ – this can include pounding, but also includes stretching. The noun raqia is best translated as expanse in all of its usages.”

Randall Younker, The Myth of the Solid Heavenly Dome: Another Look at the Hebrew [raqia], pre-published version, July 2009

If the writer(s) of Genesis believed that the raqi’a was a solid structure, it seems odd to me that God would be quoted as defining it as “sky” – a place within which birds can also fly (Gen. 1:8, 20 and Deut. 4:17). Now, I know that some argue that the description is of birds flying across, not within, the raqi’a (in possible conflict with Deut. 4:17). However, everything seems to fit better, as far as I can tell, if this term is understood as an expanse – similar to the space or raqi’a that contains the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 1:14). Consider also that the psalmist spoke of God’s “sanctuary” as being “in the raqi’a” (Psalm 150:1).

It is difficult to imagine, therefore, that the term raqi’a must always indicate some sort of metallic or solid structure as Bull and Guy argue given the usage of this word in some of these passages. After all, what sense does it make for God to be living in a sanctuary that is within some sort of solid metallic raqi’a? – even from the ancient Hebrew mindset?
.

It seems like the context in which this word is used needs to be taken into account before one automatically assumes that the author(s) were clearly talking about some solid crystalline or metallic dome-shaped structure. In context, this doesn’t seem to me to be conclusive – and was probably why the original NIV translators used the word “expanse” instead of definitively indicating something more solid.  And, even if that was in fact the understanding of the original author and/or readers, it really does nothing to undermine the idea that they were still being shown literal historical events from a limited perspective…  a perspective that may have made it a bit hard for them to understand and describe what they were seeing, but not so limited that very useful information about real historical events could not be understood by the modern reader (As would be the case for a young child trying to describe a television set.  The mistaken description of “little people in a black box” would not take away all useful meaning from the actual empirical reality of what the child was in fact describing from a limited perspective – i.e., the description itself is empirically accurate as far as appearances are concerned.  A television does look like a box with little people inside).

Now, I understand that this is an attempt by many to undermine a literal view of the Genesis account – despite the fact that the author of this account clearly intended it to be taken as describing a literal historical event shown to him by God (possibly from an Earth-bound perspective).  The core problem with the arguments presented in God, Sky & Land is that one does not have to be a modern scientists or understand all knowledge to be a good witness in reasonably describing a real historical event in the language that one understands from one’s own limited perspective. It is very difficult for anyone, even a small child, to misinterpret something as basic and easy to understand and describe as “evenings and mornings”.  In other words, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that it got light, then it got dark, then it got light again, etc. It also wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to understand God if God had said, “By the way, it took me a bit longer than one week to make everything on Earth . . .”

Really, if God doesn’t actually speak to us in a language that we can understand when he is talking about our origins, why even bother? Why say that it took a “week” when it really took hundreds of millions of years? Why even bother describing evenings and mornings in such detail and in such consistency? – so much so that the authors themselves believed in the literal interpretation of their own work? Why would God tell us that death for all sentient animal life began with the moral fall of man when it really began hundreds of millions of years before man arrived on the scene?  It would only hurt the credibility of the metaphysical claims of the Bible to find out that its descriptions of empirical realities that are most difficult to misinterpret regardless of perspective, especially those that are so easily investigated, aren’t remotely true as described.

God has to know the importance of empirical evidence when it comes to establishing the credibility of fantastic claims. In fact, he often used physical evidence to support his metaphysical claims within the Bible – just read the story of the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2:9 – “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?…” Clearly, the falsification of the physical claim says something about the validity of the metaphysical claim as well.  In other words, what would have come of Jesus’ metaphysical claim to be able to forgive sins if the paralyzed man had not actually stood up and walked at Jesus’ command?

Suffice it to say that there are plenty of scholars on both sides of most of these issues. One has to somehow weigh the evidence on a personal basis.  At this point, however, it is no wonder that with such leaders in charge of some of our schools  that our young people are more confused than ever on the topic of origins – and are leaving the SDA Church, and Christian churches in general, in droves over this very issue.

Dr. Guy was once president of La Sierra University and is still a prominent figure and guest lecturer at LSU and in the local SDA community. Dr. Bull is a leader at Loma Linda University Medical Center and is also a popular teacher, lecturer, and author on the topic of origins and mainstream science. And many who are teachers and leaders at LSU and LLU share similar views on Genesis and the eons of evolution of life, death, and untold suffering on this planet… all before humans ever came along.

323 thoughts on “Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

  1. Fritz Guy’s claim that before 1960 Adventists believed that the universe was created about 6000 year ago is false.

    Since 1945 I have preached the Sabbath was made for the created beings of this world. This world was created about 6000 years ago. But I knew from Job, Psalms, and the writings of Ellen White that other worlds in the universe existed long before this world was created.

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  2. Genesis 1 and 2 plainly says the earth and all that’s in [it] was created in 6 literal days–adding up genealogies in Scripture also reveal the earth is about 6000 years old.

    The place for the above mentioned book is the trash can. Perhaps these so-called learned doctors may also want to find another church more in line with their beliefs-or shall we say lack of beliefs? [edit]

    Gen 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

    We have 6 evenings and mornings here for creation not counting the 7th Day Sabbath. How can anyone possibly read anything else into this? So these two men are above and know more than God does? How very, very sad indeed.

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  3. It’s a book I’ll never buy nor read. Why take time to read concoctions of a couple who have apparently rejected Genesis 1 and 2.

    Thanks for making us aware of error.

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    • @GMF:

      I personally think it important to read and address such challenges to fundamental Adventist positions coming from within the church itself – especially when coming from those who are or seem to be in a position of significant authority and responsibility within the church. Otherwise, many who do read these challenges, and find no rational counter arguments, will no doubt be convinced that the historic position of the Adventist Church on origins and other fundamental issues has been effectively falsified and that the Church itself has given up on many of its original foundational principles.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  4. Sean Pitman:
    @GMF:

    I personally think it important to read and address such challenges to fundamental Adventist positions coming from within the church itself – especially when coming from those who are or seem to be in a position of significant authority and responsibility within the church.Otherwise, many who do read these challenges, and find no rational counter arguments, will no doubt be convinced that the historic position of the Adventist Church on origins and other fundamental issues has been effectively falsified and that the Church itself has given up on many of its original foundational principles.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    True, but just how many rabbits do we have time to chase?

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  5. “For example, I do not think that the author of the Genesis account (i.e., Moses) was given privileged information from the modern scientific perspective to understand the nature of the universe or even our own planet or solar system. We actually know things today about the nature of our world and universe that Moses simply did not know or understand. I think most of us would agree on at least this much.” (Sean Pitman, above article quoted)

    Mr. Pitman, usually I agree with you… but on this point we differ. I don’t agree with your above statement, simply because we really “don’t know what we don’t know”, i.e. we really don’t know what Moses did or didn’t know. We know what we wrote, and we can hypothesize what he might have known from that, but we really don’t know what he didn’t know. In fact, maybe he knew more than we know!

    But what we do know is that God has protected and guided His holy word to be a message to us, for OUR time, as well. I take it just as it says, “six days”. I don’t see anything in the Bible about a flat earth theory, either. In fact, I don’t remember the passage, but there is a verse that implies that the earth is round (maybe you know of the verse I am speaking).

    I would also like to add that Moses, although born a Hebrew, was also raised as an Egyptian prince. With all of Egypt’s vast scientific knowledge for such a “primitive” society, he also was privy to what they knew of the universe, of their mathematical and architectural skills, etc. My point being, probably Moses was a whole lot smarter than we give him credit for!

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    • @jdoe:

      We in the Adventist Church have the good fortune to have very detailed access to the life and experiences of a modern prophetess (Mrs. White). She isn’t just “our friend”, as Dr. Guy refers to her. God directly spoke to her and showed her things in a privileged manner far beyond anything most of us have or will ever experience in this life (if in fact she was telling the truth).

      Through her experience we gain insight into the nature of such special forms of Divine inspiration. And, it turns out, that God did not given Mrs. White access to all information regarding the nature of our world, solar system, or universe. She was given very limited “privileged” information on an “as needed” basis – so to speak.

      In other words, there is much that God simply didn’t tell Mrs. White regarding that which modern science has since discovered. And, God usually did not dictate His revelations word-for-word, but showed Mrs. White past, present, and future events as if she were a personal eye witness within a 3D movie of these real events. She was then asked to write down what she saw in her own words – all from her own limited human perspective without access to modern scientific knowledge to interpret what she saw. She was not given the words to speak or the educational background to help her better describe what she was shown. She had to try to describe what she saw from her most limited perspective and background experiences.

      I dare say the same thing was true for Moses and all the other Biblical authors who were so directly inspired by God and given such special revelations of very privileged information. They weren’t told what to say or how, exactly, to describe what they were shown. God left it up the the individual, with his limited background, knowledge, and understanding, to describe what God had shown him.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:

        I get where you’re coming from… thanks for the clarification!

        I concur wholeheartedly on EG White, also… she was truly inspired, and we need her insights now more than ever!

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  6. When I was a student at La Sierra in the 1960s, there was a very different atmosphere on campus. Professors of religion — and of other subjects, such as history, physics, and even biology — all defended the authority of both the Bible and the writings of Ellen White. Dr. Fritz Guy was a professor at the time. I took one class from him — Christian Ethics. I also heard him speak on various occasions. Dr. Guy never gave any impression that he had doubts regarding the Bible. Maybe he had the type of thoughts he has now, but was afraid to state them publicly. I don’t know. However, I am quite disappointed that a man whose scholarship and opinions I respected is now promoting the evolutionary origins of this earth.

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  7. This article well titled “revisiting God” – this edit, revisionism, downsizing is exactly the point of Guy and Bull’s agenda.

    Like the classic tired worn-out methods of the atheist antagonist they strive to wrench and construe any handy detail in the Bible account so that it becomes unreliable and demonstrably false. Thus they build a platform of supposed Bible “falsehoods” as a basis for undermining trust in the details of the text.

    How odd then that we find both OT and NT writers appealing to the “very details” that Guy and Bull (along with our atheist antagonist friends) would argue are the “most to be distrusted”.

    For example in the Ex 20:8-11 summary of the Genesis account – the details of the 7 day timeline and the details of all life on earth created in that time line are placed central to the legal code itself. The imperative given there is based on the reliability of the details it sites for proof and motivation.

    Paul says that it was Adam that was made first.

    Christ said that it is God that performs the first marriage of one man and one woman.

    Paul says that it is by one man that sin entered (not a band of rogue predator hominids killing for food in the wild and wiping out competitors).

    Peter says the entire world was destroyed by Water at the flood.

    Even Guy’s effort to foist the flat earth teaching into the thinking of Moses is not working as he had hoped.

    At every turn it is Guy+Bull against the Word of God.

    Which side is winning at LSU?

    One thing is consistent – no SDA biology sciences department has left the fold without first having the religion department lead and clear the way for them.

    We need more accountability in our religion departments.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  8. @Bill Sorensen, President Gallimore is indeed being attacked viciously for his Bible-based stand on Truth, as have many others who have and are doing the same.

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  9. Part of what is happening in this ongoing discussion on creation/evolution/etc. is also going on within the SDA church on a macro level. It seems that so much of our fellow SDA brethren want the world to like us. We want to be accepted and embraced by not only mainstream Protestantism but the scientific community, as well.

    In short, it seems that many in the Adventist faith want to serve two masters… and this, according to Christ, is impossible! True Christianity means being hated and despised for Christ’s sake. We are asked to be a “peculiar people”.

    As someone who grew up an SDA in California (and an alumni of LLU/LSC, as it was then known), I myself have been guilty as charged of wanting to “fit in”, not stand apart. This, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we cannot do! We will never “fit in” or be “accepted”– our charge given us by Christ is to speak the truth, HIS truth, but always in love.

    So what are we afraid of? Not being liked by the scientific community or the rest of academia? If Christ is for us, who can be against us?

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  10. Since the official church and leaders are not going to actually act on this issue, it seems useless to keep expecting them to do anything about it.

    Bible truth has lost its intensity in the SDA community. The devil knows how to “wear out the saints of the most high” until a generic Christanity is embraced for the sake of convenience and thus avoid confrontation.

    People eventually get tired of the incessant “bickering” in every area of life from politics to religion. This is how the devil won in the early church in changing the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday. And for many, as it is now, the response is “What makes the difference one way or the other?”

    Generation after generation eventually pass away and the young people know less and less the dynamic of the original movement. People embrace a false spirituality little by little and assume they are still on the right road.

    We can be happy that Jay Galimore has actually acted in defense of bible Christanity and we see how the liberal agenda attacks his decisions. We are hopeful more influencial leaders will act in a simular way in defense of the faith.

    Bill Sorensen

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  11. when, in my teens, I first read Genesis, it never occurred to me that the writer could have been limited in scientific knowledge and that he thus believed that the earth was flat or that the sky was a solid bowl. Instead, I saw those terms as poetic descriptions of nature.

    I suppose when Shelley wrote, “In the golden lightning of the sunken sun…” today’s scientists should also conclude that Shelley did not understand that the sun does not go down. Or to a description of crystalline waters one should conclude that the person using that term must actually think that water can never be anything but solid.

    I don’t think there is any need to abandon common sense when reading Scripture. If it reads as history, it is history. If as poetry, it is poetry, and so on. Genesis, to my teenaged mind — and still today — reads as history couched in sometimes poetic terms. The forms of expression do not, to my mind, denigrate the writer’s intelligence.

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  12. Drs. Guy and Bull are to be commended for the thoughtful book they have written. They are entitled to respect.

    Their thesis faces significant headwinds:

    1. It is an open question whether their view of ancient Israelite cosmology is correct. In the 2011 spring edition of the Andrews University Seminar Studies journal, Drs. Richard Davidson and Randall Younker have an essay that elaborates on Dr. Younker’s quote above. A fuller treatment of what they wrote is promised. I anticipate that Hebrew cosmology will be rigorously studied rather than assumed in future scholarship. Future scholarship is necessary, because all of these authors’ writings on this matter are at present thin.

    2. I spoke to Dr. Walton in Texas last fall when he shared with me his scholarly version of his book The Lost World of Genesis 1. I asked him if there were any refinements. He mentioned a couple, including his view of Raquia. In Chicago, he offered that he was not sure whether Raquia was like the air in the balloon or the solid membrane on the perimeter. In Texas, he stated that he now believes that Raquia is the air in the balloon but finds one verse in Job (I don’t have the specific cite off hand) that depicts the solid dome. I find it risky to base one aspect of Hebrew cosmology on one verse in Scripture. But I find it interesting he has abandoned the view that Raquia is a solid dome.

    3. Drs. Guy and Bull were smart to limit their focus to Genesis 1. But the problem remains: how does their thesis accord with the rest of Scripture?

    4. There is a hermeneutical problem as well. The innocent reader may be shocked to learn that how the author and his contemporaries understood the text is not dispositive concerning what the text means. 1 Peter 1:10-12 reflects that the ancient rabbis did not always understand the meaning of what they wrote. We see here that Peter introduces a hermeneutical principle that to ascertain the meaning of the text, original intent is insufficient.

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  13. Ellen White wrote: “Bones of men and animals, as well as instruments of warfare, petrified trees, etcetera, much larger than any that now exist, or that have existed for thousands of years, HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED [emphasis supplied]… In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus PRESERVED AS AN EVIDENCE TO LATER GENERATIONS [emphasis supplied] that the antediluvians perished by a flood.”

    Is there any physical evidence that much larger antediluvian humans once existed and “have been discovered”?

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    • @Eddie:

      Not beyond legends (which were prominent in Mrs. White’s day and which she may have mistakenly taken as referencing true discoveries of antediluvian humans and human artifacts), as far as I’m aware. Of course, Neandertals were larger and stronger and had bigger brains, on average, than modern humans – but not dramatically so. Neandertals were simply an early ethnic variation within the human race right after the Flood. They subsequently merged with other European ethnic groups and eventually lost their own distinctiveness.

      Sean

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  14. Some folks are going to have a lot to answer for…….

    For these guys to (mis)use EGW in the way that they do….when they don’t actually accept what she says unless they think it supports what they think…..makes me cross. And to leave out the contrary evidence isn’t honest.

    Talk about “beating people with the club of EGW”!!

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  15. @Bill Sorensen, Great summary of the problems we face. President Gallimore has indeed stepped up. Where are the others? I don’t see many or even any more “official” (Conference) leaders taking a stand. Have they?

    The ones I see are those unofficial leaders, such as Doug Batchelor, John Lomecang, Stephen Bohr, Dave Assherick, Walter Veith, Lyle Albrecht, John Bradshaw, Gary Gibbs, etc.

    All are taking public stands for God Word, especially in the area of Creation vs. Evolution.

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  16. My Bible teaches me that Moses was not an ignoramus. He was taught by God!
    “He (God) made known His way unto Moses.” Psalms 103:7.
    The idea that Moses believed in a flat earth with a metallic dome is a primordial dream of some confused want-to-be evolutionist.
    The Bible teaches the earth is a sphere: —“Are you so ignorant? Are you so deaf to the words of God…It is God who sits above the circle of the earth.” Isaiah 40:21-22
    Jesus Christ said that if people “hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31. [Please read the next 10 verses which is Jesus’ loving appeal to teachers of every age.]
    It was Jesus who taught Moses how to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses had been a powerful Egyptian Prince but Jesus taught Moses to be a shepherd and a mountain climber. He taught Moses astronomy, history and architecture. It was Jesus who gave Moses good health and civil laws. And above all else it was Jesus that wrote with his finger the Ten Commandments as the great moral rule for all eternity. That law asks us to “REMEMBER…IN SIX DAYS I THE LORD MADE THE EARTH, THE SKY, THE SEAS, AND EVERYTHING IN THEM.”… Ex.20:8 KJ;,11.TEV

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    • @Edward Graves: Did Moses know everything? Did God instruct Moses about DNA, airplanes and automobiles, gunpowder, antibiotics – because there is no evidence in the Bible and it sure would have been a handy advantage for the Jewish nation. Jesus makes clear on the case of divorce that not only did He not instruct Moses about everything, Moses didn’t even perfectly replicate God’s perfect will in the Torah, only God’s permissive will.

      A flat disk doesn’t mean a circular sphere floating in space as we understand today. There are other texts that talk about the earth on an immovable pillar (Psalms 104:5; Psalms 93:1; Job 9:6, Job 38:4) and having four corners (Rev 7:1). Or are you suggesting we not read these texts ‘literally and plainly’ but perhaps figuratively – if so, then why not read Gen 1 the same way?

      Prophets are just human. The vision is from God, but the words spoke and written are from men. God doesn’t tell men everything, but revelation is progressive, as Ellen White noted on several occasions. The ancients no better understood their world than we do of heaven before us.

      Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  17. Deliss Charo:
    There is an interesting article at ADvindicate about Michigan and LSU. I would have posted this on an appropriate thread but it was closed for commenting.

    http://advindicate.com/?p=1125

    I support President Gallimore. He is correct in his assessment that La Sierra is actively supporting a belief that is not only Biblically incorrect, but has been VOTED in the General Conference as such. [edit]

    Why do we even have “votes” at the General Conference if Divisions, Unions, Conferences, and even individual SDA Churches can just ignore the votes and do whatever they want! Does anyone have an answer?

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  18. Phillip Brantley: Drs. Guy and Bull are to be commended for the thoughtful book they have written. They are entitled to respect.

    I agree that they are entitled to respect by virtue of their position.

    I do not agree that they have done something commendable in what they are promoting – including the book.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Well-liked: Thumb up 14

  19. I like Paul Giam’s quote of the book where the authors admit that they are in opposition to the world view that they find in Genesis 1.

    That alone should speak volumes to anyone wishing to credit them with an actual SDA POV.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  20. I know that Brian Bull and Fritz Guy are intelligent, articulate people. I also know that neither of them have any professional experience or special training in old testament theology or Hebrew. Therefore the scholarship of their book is no better than it would be if any lay person had written it. Thus they are trading on their reputations in promoting this as a scholarly work. And as far as the “translation” of Genesis is concerned, please tell me this was done in gest, and was not intended to be taken seriously.

    And as far as Bull and Guy knowing what Moses knew, that stance reveals a whole lot more about their own ignorance, I suspect, than it does about the state of Moses’ knowledge. Had they spent 40 years communing with God in the wilderness, I suspect they might have more than a passing knowledge of the so-called science of today.

    And for that matter, just how good is today’s science, that “Moses didn’t know?” Consider this: during a decade as head of global cancer research at Amgen, C. Glenn Begley identified 53 “landmark” publications — papers in top journals, from reputable labs — for his team to reproduce. Begley sought to double-check the findings before trying to build on them for drug development. Result: 47 of the 53 could not be replicated. Note this is not a random sampling. It represents what the head of Amgen research thought was “the best of the best” in cancer research.

    “….part way through his project to reproduce promising studies, Begley met for breakfast at a cancer conference with the lead scientist of one of the problematic studies. “We went through the paper line by line, figure by figure,” said Begley. “I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they’d done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It’s very disillusioning.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/cancer-science-many-discoveries-dont-hold-174216262.html

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    • @Art Chadwick:

      Hi Art,

      It seems to me that we’re not talking about the subtleties of scientific theories here, especially when it comes to medical science. We’re talking about the observations of modern science that are uncontroversial, even among creationists.

      For example, do you think God revealed to Moses the structure of our universe or solar system in detail? – like the “66 confirmed moons of Jupiter” or the structure of the bacterial rotary flagellum or other sub-cellular structures – like ATPsynthase, etc? I think it very unlikely that God revealed to Moses all the details of empirical knowledge that are actually known to modern scientists.

      Did God reveal certain empirical truths to Moses, some of which are still not known to modern science? – absolutely! This does not mean, however, that God revealed all information or even all of what modern scientists know to Moses. In other words, there are most certainly empirical truths that are currently known to modern science that Moses did not know… despite the fact that Moses had a closer association and walk with God than any other prophet.

      Either way, the argument of “limited perspective” is irrelevant to the fact that God can and often has reveal privileged empirical information to various humans throughout history without revealing to them all empirical truths. In other words, all prophets that we know of were given limited privileged information which they were left to describe from their own limited perspective with their own limited vocabulary and background experiences and understanding. No human, not even among the greatest of human prophets, was made omniscient by God nor was anyone that we know of given access to all of what modern human scientific investigation currently knows or might one day discover about God’s empirical universe.

      This means that access to all knowledge is not a necessary requirement before a particular revelation about empirical reality can be recognized as having been inspired, in a very special way, by God – and therefore become an aid to establishing faith or trust in the associated metaphysical claims of such inspired statements.

      Also, I don’t think one has to be an acknowledged expert in Hebrew before one can form rational opinions about what the original Hebrew authors were trying to get across (let’s give Brian and Fritz the benefit of the doubt to at least this degree when it comes to their potential or theoretical ability to perform valid research outside of their primary fields of formal training). The same thing is true of empirical/scientific concepts. I don’t think one has to be an acknowledged expert in mainstream science before one can be well-read and well-able to form useful opinions, hypotheses, and theories about the validity of the claims of modern scientists. Some pretty spectacular scientific discoveries have been made by laypeople you know. After all, if this were not possible, no lay person would be able to have any rational basis to doubt the validity of neo-Darwinism – a position claimed to be the only rational scientific conclusion on origins by the vast majority of mainstream scientists today.

      Therefore, it seems to me best to base one’s conclusions primary on the argument presented rather than on the formal educational background of the one(s) presenting the argument.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  21. I note Dr. Chadwick’s comments on this topic. He should be very much congratulated for undertaking excavations which uncovered additional scientific evidence for a catastrophic event which seems to have been the major factor which killed off the dinosaurs. His institution, Southwestern Adventist University, has received funds to build a dinosaur museum to display his collections.

    Dr. Chadwick excavations has provided another piece of scientific data explaining what happened at the time paleontologists call the world-wide Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event which occurred about 65.5 million years ago. At this time, an asteroid as large as 10-15 km (6-90 miles) in diameter impacted the earth at a point where the Yucatan peninsula is now located. The impact released massive amounts of dust and ash into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight, and in thereby reducing photosynthesis which in turn eliminated large amounts of biomass required to sustain the dinosaurs.

    There may be other factors involved in the extinction of dinosaurs but there is a general agreement about what would result from an asteroid collision. Such a collision landing in an ocean basin would also perhaps create a wall of water hundreds of feet high which would have caused massive flooding of coastal areas.

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    • @Ervin Taylor:

      The problem here is not with the evidence for impact craters or the concept of large meteors hitting the Earth in the past; so large that they would have caused far more damage than “coastal flooding” – more like flooding over entire continents which were very “flat” and devoid of mountain chains during this time, even according to mainstream geologists. The problem is with the notion that such events happened 65 million years ago. There is strong evidence to suggest that these events occurred in recent history (such as the preservation of elastic soft tissues and sequencable proteins within pretty much all large dinosaur bones – a finding that is markedly inconsistent with long ages according to degeneration experiments based on kinetic chemistry; Link).

      Also, while it is true that the geologic column contains evidence of meteorites or meteorite impacts (Link), it seems like these meteorites are far far more difficult to find than would be expected if the geologic column really had formed over hundreds of millions of years of elapsed time. The current rate of meteoric impacts over the entire globe (for meteorites greater than 100g in size) is about 14 per 10 km^2 per year (link). That’s 1,400 million meteorites per 100 million years (i.e., 140 million kilograms or about 280 million pounds) per 10 km^2. You’d think, therefore, that they’d be a bit more common than they actually are within the geologic record.

      For example, if one considers the layers in the Grand Canyon from the mainstream perspective it would take an average of 100 million years to deposit about 100 feet (~30 meters) of sediment. Sandstone weighs about 2,323 Kg/m^3. There are 3 billion cubic meters in a 30 meter layer of sediment covering 10 km^2. That’s a total weight of almost 7 trillion Kg. Of this, 140 million Kg should be made up of meteoric material ( 0.002%). Another way to look at the same problem is that there should be enough meteoric material to make up about 60,000 cubic meters of sediment in 100 million years (0.002%).

      Now, this might not seem like a significant percentage, but it is quite significant given that only a handful of meteoric rock fragments have ever been found in the layers of the entire geologic column on a global scale. There should be literally tons of them. Yet, geologist Davis Young (1988, p.127) writes that,

      “The chances of finding a fossil meteorite in sedimentary rocks are remote. It is not to be expected.”

      G. J. McCall, in Meteorites and Their Origins (1973, p.270), said,

      “The lack of fossil record of true meteorites is puzzling, but can be explained by the lack of very diagnostic shapes and the chemical nature of meteorites, which allows rapid decay…”

      It seems like rapid decay would have to be very rapid indeed – especially since far more delicate fossils are discovered far more commonly than are meteorites within the geologic column. Ironically, the evidence of meteoric impacts in the geologic column actually favors a catastrophic/rapid depositional model for the formation of the geologic record – i.e., this evidence strongly conflicts with your model for hundreds of millions of years of formation of the geologic record…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  22. It would seem that Dr. Pitman would like us to focus on a few percent of the scientific data and ignore the other 98-99%. I trust that he does not do that in his pathology practice.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 1

    • @Ervin Taylor:

      As I’ve mentioned before, I dare say that I can produce more novel points of evidence for the recent arrival of life on this planet than you can produce in favor of the ancient arrival and evolution of life. Your assertion that “98-99%” of the evidence is on your side is nothing but a baseless bluff to impress the ignorant, nothing but a bunch of hot air. The fact that you share the majority opinion with more than 99% of scientists (certainly the overwhelming majority of scientists do in fact share your opinion on the ancient origin and evolution of life), isn’t the same thing as having the weight of the actual empirical evidence on your side…

      It seems to me like you have little more than tenuous radiometric dating evidence on your side with little else to go on. As far as I’ve been able to tell, the weight of the totality of the spectrum of empirical evidence strongly supports a recent arrival of life on this planet… to include the rapid and inevitable degeneration of genomic quality of slowly reproducing animals due to very high detrimental mutation rates in all individuals in every generation, rapid erosion rates, the relative lack of erosion within the layers of the geologic column, the lack of ocean sediments, pure thick coal beds, minimal bioturbation, worldwide paleocurrents, and on and on and on… (Link).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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    • @Ervin Taylor: Erv “Odds” Taylor is back, this time with 100% on the 99% who Occupy Mainstream Science against the 1% of 1 Genesis. Last time it was a mere 97% +/- 1.6814%, as I recall, allowing for mean accuracy of memory of my age group.

      But darn, I lost my bet: I had given 80.88% odds he’d work the Tea Party into it. That Dr. Pitman’s practice of pathology would be worked in wasn’t even in the running. But seriously, Dr. Taylor would do very well, would be extraordinary lucky, would beat the odds, if Dr. Pitman read out his cervical lymph node biopsy.

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  23. Ervin Taylor: It would seem that Dr. Pitman would like us to focus on a few percent of the scientific data and ignore the other 98-99%. I trust that he does not do that in his pathology practice.

    Sadly for our evolutionist friends — there is “NO” 99% science in favor of single celled animals turning into horses “given enough time”.

    Sadly for our evolutionist friends – there is NO 99% “science” in favor of prokaryote bacteria turning into eukaryotes “given enough time”.

    Sadly for our evolutionist friends – we observe the “creationist mechanism” of a “designer that can design things” every day – while the “everything comes from nothing” model of atheists does not seem to have ever been demonstrated outside of pure storytelling.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 11

  24. Ervin Taylor: Dr. Chadwick excavations has provided another piece of scientific data explaining what happened at the time paleontologists call the world-wide Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event which occurred about 65.5 million years ago. At this time, an asteroid as large as 10-15 km (6-90 miles) in diameter impacted the earth at a point where the Yucatan peninsula is now located. The impact released massive amounts of dust and ash into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight, and in thereby reducing photosynthesis which in turn eliminated large amounts of biomass required to sustain the dinosaurs.

    There may be other factors involved in the extinction of dinosaurs but there is a general agreement about what would result from an asteroid collision. Such a collision landing in an ocean basin would also perhaps create a wall of water hundreds of feet high which would have caused massive flooding of coastal areas.

    Those are stories that our atheist friends like to rehearse — and it is fine for them because they have no other explanation for massive amounts of dust and ash. Whereas Christians have the answer in a global flood with massive geologic activity all taking place rapidly over a very short period of time.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 10

  25. art chadwick: I think it is safe to conclude neither you nor I nor anybody else is in a position to exposit the answer to the question of what Moses did or did not know. To write a whole book on the premise that they can know is nothing short of presumption. Let’s not lose sight of the issue here. Did Moses misinterpret God? I think not.

    Good point. What Guy and Bull are in fact demonstrating is that it is “possible to imagine what Moses knew and then bend that imagination against the written text itself”.

    Certainly we have to agree that they demonstrate that point well.

    But as you point out – their ability to “imagine” is not quite the same thing as proving that Moses was not shown what he claimed. They ignore the summary of the Genesis 1-2:3 event that we find in Ex 20:11 because it totally refutes the story that Guy and Bull would have us believe.

    And what is also interesting is the fact that we have an even more recent claim in 3SG 90 to someone “being shown” that very same thing over again.

    Not a point Guy and Bull are going to want to deal with in their carefully-sifted not-at-all-exhaustive presentation of the subject.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  26. Propaganda methods in the preface reading by Bull.

    1. The Bible is presented as “a hymn” – and science arguments used to undermine the Bible are termed “modern science — created by God”. The idea is that God is the author of both “the hymn” in Genesis 1:2-2:4a and also “modern science” and that this might justify eisegetical bible-bending to edit the hymn to fit the usages of “modern science”.

    2. The mere existence of opposition to the Bible by atheist evolutionists – is sufficient in the preface of the book to justify the claim that “modern science” really does oppose “the hymn” as usually read.

    3. The term “suggests” is used to claim that the reading of the Bible “hymn” merely “suggests” 6 real days of creation — when in fact the Bible states it plainly. What is “suggested” by the text but not stated – is that Moses was somehow given divine revelation of an event that took place before he lived — rather than merely telling a story handed down to him.

    And so at the outset the bent of these two authors (Guy and Bull) is demonstrated.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 9

    • @BobRyan: I agree the Bible plainly says the world was made in 6 days. But what is a ‘day’ exactly? Who says a day is a 24 hour period? The Hebrew word ‘yom’ can mean different things depending on the context.

      For example, Gen 1:5 suggests ‘day’ is only a 12-hour period. If it is based one day-night period following the rotation of the world on its axis, well there is a problem because there was no sun until ‘day’ 4 (Gen 1:14). If day is based on ‘evening and morning’, there is another problem because the seventh-day has no such phrase (Gen 2:3).

      I agree we should read the BIble literally and plainly – but who says you are actually reading it literally and plainly? You are just reading it based on a tradition that says the word ‘day’ should read as one 24-hour period, when the text doesn’t necessarily say that at all. Who says it is talking about one human-day and not a God-day?

      Besides, I am sure you don’t really read all of Gen literally anyway. For example when God said the serpent would eat dust (Gen 3:14), do you think He literally meant it or was being figuratively? Because serpents don’t literally eat dust they eat mice and other small animals. If you are prepared to read this part figuratively, then how do you pick and choose?

      Hot debate. Thumb up 3

      • @Stephen:

        I agree the Bible plainly says the world was made in 6 days. But what is a ‘day’ exactly? Who says a day is a 24 hour period? The Hebrew word ‘yom’ can mean different things depending on the context.

        For example, Gen 1:5 suggests ‘day’ is only a 12-hour period. If it is based one day-night period following the rotation of the world on its axis, well there is a problem because there was no sun until ‘day’ 4 (Gen 1:14).

        As far as the intent of the author(s) of Genesis, he quite clearly intended to convey a literal historical account of events – to include a literal 6-day creation week. There really is no argument here among even liberal scholars of Hebrew. Take, for example, the comments of well-known Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr:

        “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience. (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

        Letter from Professor James Barr to David C.C. Watson of the UK, dated 23 April 1984.

        Now, consider that Prof. Barr made this statement while personally considering the Genesis narrative to be false. He did not believe that God created life on this planet in just six literal days. He believed that life existed and evolved on this planet over billions of years just like most mainstream scientists do today. Yet, he still was quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to say something about real historical events. They did not intend to be figurative in their language.

        If day is based on ‘evening and morning’, there is another problem because the seventh-day has no such phrase (Gen 2:3).

        It is a natural logical progression as the definition of a “day”, in context, had already been made abundantly clear in the previous passages. None of the Hebrews were confused regarding the length of the Sabbath day or its reference to a literal creation week.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  27. Ervin Taylor:
    It would seem that Dr. Pitman would like us to focus on a few percent of the scientific data and ignore the other 98-99%. I trust that he does not do that in his pathology practice.

    I would hope that Sean actually practices 100% real science, not the pseudoscience of speculation, guesses, and possibilities that are common in evolution. Am I correct, Sean?

    When doing an autopsy, Sean might say, “Gunshot wound to the head.” Instead of, “Gunshot wound, possibly shot by a red-headed young man wearing a plaid jacket and Docker pants. Oh, and I think he was smoking a Marlboro cigarette, which he purchased from the local 7-11 market, from money he stole from his aunt.”

    Hot debate. Thumb up 6

    • @Holly Pham: Who decides what ‘real science is’? One could make a similar analogy, where Ervin might say, ‘Gunshot wound to the head’; whereas, Sean might say, ‘Gunshot, what gunshot?’

      Hot debate. Thumb up 5

  28. “Really, if God doesn’t actually speak to us in a language that we can understand when he is talking about our origins, why even bother? Why say that it took a “week” when it really took hundreds of millions of years?” – Sean Pitman

    Where is the word ‘week’ used in Genesis? I only read about ‘days’, which don’t necessarily mean 1 x 24 hour period in Hebrew. Also, where is the evening and morning for the seventh day?

    Like Comment: Thumb up 2

    • @Stephen:

      You wrote:

      Where is the word ‘week’ used in Genesis? I only read about ‘days’, which don’t necessarily mean 1 x 24 hour period in Hebrew. Also, where is the evening and morning for the seventh day?

      As far as the intent of the author(s) of Genesis, he quite clearly intended to convey a literal historical account of events – to include a literal 6-day creation week. There really is no argument here among even liberal scholars of Hebrew. Take, for example, the comments of well-known Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr:

      “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience. (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

      Letter from Professor James Barr to David C.C. Watson of the UK, dated 23 April 1984.

      Now, consider that Prof. Barr made this statement while personally considering the Genesis narrative to be false. He did not believe that God created life on this planet in just six literal days. He believed that life existed and evolved on this planet over billions of years just like most mainstream scientists do today. Yet, he still was quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to say something about real historical events. They did not intend to be figurative in their language.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Like Comment: Thumb up 5

  29. I don’t really know what to believe about the scientific truth or falsehood of evolution (because I am no scientist). However, can someone please explain to me why if evolution is a bunch of hog wash, some 98% of scientists believe in it, with that number going up further for scientists in an evolution-related field (geology, paleontology, biology, physics etc.)? After some 150-plus years, why has it not been exposed as a hoax if that is what it is?

    What also concerns me, is if you look at the history of the SDA Church’s own Geoscience Research Institute, which the Church has poured millions of dollars into, not only have they not down anything significant to refute evolution, many of its own scientists have gone on to accept evolution!

    Moreover, for those who say it is all a conspiracy or peer pressure from the academic community, why would Christian scientists, especially professors at Adventist universities, risk they jobs, reputations, families and place in the Church by accepting evolution? Surely the strong peer pressure is to keep quiet about evolution and just teach creationism at Adventist universities – not the opposite! Why would someone risk all unless they felt very strongly about it being true?

    I only ask, because again I am not a scientist, so I have to based my own judgments on the best evidence out there. I have never been to the moon but I believe Neil Armstrong walked there (and was not a Hollywood studio) based on the overwhelming number of scientists who say it happened. How then am I meant to consider the issue of evolution if the vast, vast number of scientists say it has merit?

    Hot debate. Thumb up 5

  30. I had a question for Sean that came up on a different thread before I left on an extended vacation, and now the thread seems to be gone.
    So I will ask it here, you can re-direct it to a more appropriate thread if you like.

    You argued on behalf of Intelligent design based on the fact that many non-religious scientists, particularly physicists and astronomers have come see intelligent design in the basic laws and physics of the universe, i.e. things like the gravitational constant, nuclear forces, the expansion rate of the universe etc.

    So, if the laws that govern gravity, nuclear fusion in a star, and basic chemistry are evidence of Intelligent design in physics, then how is it that those same laws are considered “natural” or “random” in the biologic sciences? What exactly is your definition of “Intelligence” in the term “Intelligent design”?

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Ron:

      So, if the laws that govern gravity, nuclear fusion in a star, and basic chemistry are evidence of Intelligent design in physics, then how is it that those same laws are considered “natural” or “random” in the biologic sciences? What exactly is your definition of “Intelligence” in the term “Intelligent design”?

      God created natural laws as mechanical tools to operate in His universe. There is very good evidence that these laws could not have made themselves out of nothing. This is the basis of what is known as the “Anthropic Principle”.

      Now, the tools themselves have known limitations. They are finite. They are not infinite like God. When phenomena go significantly beyond the known limitations of these tools, these natural laws, additional information is required to explain these phenomena which the limitations of the natural laws themselves cannot explain.

      For example, the existence of a chocolate cake on your kitchen table in the morning cannot be rationally explained by the laws of chemistry and physics alone – outside of any additional intelligent manipulation of these laws by some intelligent agent of some kind – like your wife…

      The same thing is true of highly symmetrical polished granite cubes, the mechanical complexity of your wrist watch or the silicon chip in your computer, or the bio-machines in living things (beyond the level of 1000 saaa).

      All these things require intelligent design to explain them over and above the intelligence that is required to explain the basic fundamental constants and laws of the universe, physics, and chemistry.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Like Comment: Thumb up 6

      • One of the problems with this line of reasoning ia that while my wife is very intelligent indeed, she is also completely natural. So any thing she does happens naturally. If I find a cake that she baked, I might consider it unusual, but not unnatural. Nothing about the cake would imply the intervention of God.

        @Sean Pitman:

        Like Comment: Thumb up 0

        • @Ron:

          Where talking about the ability to detect the need to invoke intelligent design to explain various phenomena that exist in nature – regardless of if the intelligent agent is God or your wife or some alien from Zorg.

          The loaves of bread that Jesus made by Divine power were the obvious result of intelligent design. They looked like regular loaves of bread that your wife might make. No one could tell the difference by looking at them if they were placed side-by-side. Yet, one loaf would have been made by God and the other by your wife. The fact is that God can make what humans can make. What would be obvious, however, is that both loaves of bread required intelligence to produce. In other words, they weren’t the product of mindless process of nature or natural laws that had no access to deliberate intelligence.

          In short, just because your wife’s intelligence is “natural” doesn’t mean that all natural processes have access to intelligence or that every natural phenomena requires intelligence to explain beyond the basic non-intelligent laws of nature.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Like Comment: Thumb up 3

  31. BobRyan: Did Moses misinterpret God? I think not.

    @ Bob,
    Moses probably did not misinterpret God, but are we misinterpreting Moses?

    We have a New Testament Biblical precedent, for wholesale rejection of the law and teachings of Moses in Acts 15. The laws and traditions Peter is referring to were developed by a long tradition of careful Bible students, studying diligently to understand God’s true desire and intent for our lives. They came from a good place, from people diligently trying to follow God’s will, and yet, Peter dismisses them out of hand, with no Biblical reference or support, clearly against the express command of God in scripture, simply because “they don’t work for us. They just made our life miserable, and so we should stop following them, and we shouldn’t make the gentiles follow them either”.

    It is possible that the Bible is the Word of God and yet we have misinterpreted how He expected us to use it. If we were to take it’s statements literally, without ever reinterpreting them, then Peter would have been totally out of line. Perhaps the Bible was intended to give us a language so that we could develop our own spirituality.

    I don’t think God ever intended for human spirituality to remain static. I think God’s plan for human spiritual growth is actually working. There are many areas where Biblical morality falls far short of even today’s secular morality.

    Here are a few examples:
    Numbers 15. Killing the man picking up sticks would be considered murder.

    The prologue to Job: In today’s legal environment, God would be considered an instigator, and accomplice to the murder of Job’s children and servants. God is guilty of murder and Jesus, as God, only got what he deserved as an appropriate punishment for a murderer. (In other words, “He became sin for us.” 2 Cor 5:21)

    God, telling the Israelites to commit genocide is a crime against humanity. There is not a wit of difference between what the Israelites were attempting to do and what Hitler was attempting to do. I think part of the lesson from the Bible is not, that we are justified in committing genocide at God’s command, but that genocide doesn’t work. God tried it and it was a failed experiment that we should NOT repeat.

    Far from being an upstanding role model, Abraham would be a horrible criminal. He committed incest in marrying his half sister, and polygamy by marrying two wives. Then he abandoned one wife and child. Anyone who woke up in the morning and believed God had told them to take their son to a mountain top and kill him, would be considered psychotic, and the action would be considered horrible child abuse.

    I don’t accept the notion that scripture is intended to validate these examples as being true to the character of God and that we should go backward to Old Testament morality. I think these examples speak more to the history of human spirituality, and are evidence that God’s efforts, and te efforts of Jesus specifically, on our behalf are in fact effective, and that we truly are morally superior today than we were in Abraham’s day even as a secular society.

    So, if Peter can dismiss centuries of dedicated Biblical scholarship just because “It didn’t work for us”. I think we are justified at taking a second look at other areas of Biblical scholarship where things “aren’t working”. I.e. Genesis 1. And we can do it from the perspective of faith, we don’t have to reject our SDA heritage and belief in God if we revise our views any more than Peter did. And I don’t think we risk God’s displeasure. I think He will guide us just as much as He did the Jerusalem council, and our early SDA church fathers when they revised their beliefs about the Second Coming, the Sabbath, Hell and the State of the Dead, the Investigative Judgement. God isn’t dead, and asking questions isn’t treason.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

  32. (Followup from Walla Walla thread)

    @ David Read
    “Ron, it seems to me that where you’re going with your extraordinarily tedious line of argument is that if creationists acknowledge limited post-creation evolution, then we have no reason not to admit that evolution could account for the entire creation, without the need of a special creation.”

    @ Bob Ryan
    “Changes in phenotype can happen via the epigenome-genome system God designed without ever enabling an amoeba to turn into a horse, nor even half-horse.”

    No, I am actually arguing nearly the opposite, that as a believer in special creation, you do not have to exclude belief in evolution. Those are not mutually exclusive concepts.

    Remember, the epigenome-genome system that Bob references wasn’t known back in Darwin’s time. So it seems to me that when you say, as Bob just said, that the epigenome-genome system explains even a small part of the evolution described by Darwin and it is OK to believe that because God created organisms with the ability to change, you have in essence conceded the issue. Because if God created organisms with the ability to change even a little, why couldn’t he have created them with the ability to change a lot?

    Ok, as Sean has pointed out, we don’t yet have all the mechanisms worked out that can take an “amoeba to a horse”, but back when Darwin did his study we didn’t have any explanations for any of it. Who’s to say we aren’t going to discover more mechanisms as time progresses?

    Even just this week, I heard about the discovery of self aggregating, non-living “cells” without even any DNA that can act in non-random, seemingly goal driven behavior and replicate themselves, and we already know that DNA exists in stellar nebula even before the sun is formed, so it seems like a pretty simple step for the DNA to find it’s way into one of those non-living cells to create a bacterium.

    I also heard they discovered in a lab a single celled yeast that turned itself into a true multi-celled organism with tissue differentiation, multiple differentiated organs even with programmed cell death as part of its development. So how do you incorporate those findings into a creation model?

    It seems to me that creationists are being beaten back, little by little. At what point do you give up the idea of ONLY a special creation and allow that Darwin was correct in his observations and that God may have created organisms with the ability to evolve? It seems to me that even Bob has already crossed that threshold and that the only thing left now is to argue, as Sean is doing, over how much evolution is possible.

    I just want us to be honest with ourselves. Sean and Bob already believe in evolution. They are just afraid to admit it. And I think it is their fear that is driving the attack on the science teachers.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      You wrote:

      Even just this week, I heard about the discovery of self aggregating, non-living “cells” without even any DNA that can act in non-random, seemingly goal driven behavior and replicate themselves, and we already know that DNA exists in stellar nebula even before the sun is formed, so it seems like a pretty simple step for the DNA to find it’s way into one of those non-living cells to create a bacterium.

      Care to provide a reference for self-replicating non-living cells? – without DNA or RNA? There is a limited ability for pre-formed RNA molecules to self-replicate portions of themselves. There is also the ability of certain polar molecules to form little spheres with open central areas. But, this isn’t really self-replication based on coded information.

      Also, while various amino acids have been detected in nebula, neither proteins nor DNA have been detected. It is simply hypothesized that individual amino acid building blocks would have to give rise to proteins and the basic ingredients for DNA would have to give rise to the informational complexity of DNA itself (Link)…

      These imaginative just-so stories do not take into account the statistical odds against the mindless formation of high levels of functional informational complexity. There is no such demonstration known to modern science. Period.

      You ask when creationists will given up and simply accept the reality of neo-Darwinism given that certain abilities for change within living things have in fact been discovered. I ask you the same question: When will you given up on the notion that any mindless mechanism can produce much of anything beyond very very low levels of functional complexity? – given that its never been observed and the statistical odds that it will ever been observed suggest effective impossibility?

      I also heard they discovered in a lab a single celled yeast that turned itself into a true multi-celled organism with tissue differentiation, multiple differentiated organs even with programmed cell death as part of its development. So how do you incorporate those findings into a creation model?

      All that happened here is that yeast that was able to aggregate were positivity selected. No novel genetic information which was not already present within the gene pool was evolved – to include the ability for pre-programmed cell death. There was no new “tissue differentiation” nor where “multiple differentiated organs” evolved.

      http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1595

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Well-liked: Thumb up 14

      • @Sean Pitman:

        Ok, In the first article, it was ribose sugar that was found in the nebulae, not deoxy-ribose, the DNA references as so often happens in these kinds of articles was speculation of potential future findings, I admit to sloppy reading. (Nobody ever accused me of being a good reader.) I stand corrected.

        The second article, I can’t get access to because it is on a protected site, but the abstract strongly implies that there were genomically distinct population groups within the organism. But really you are only arguing over the degree of specialization, not the fact of specialization itself. All that is really beside the point. I think there is a bigger issue here.

        The issue is, that in every scientific discipline, there appears to be a natural progression from simple to complex and random variation with natural selection seems to describe attributes of the process.

        For example: In high energy particle physics we see that out of energy, emerges a myriad of complex sub nuclear particles.

        Out of sub nuclear particles emerge the larger atomic nuclear particles.

        Out of nuclear particles emerges the periodic table of elements. (All those above iron require the explosion of a star)

        Out of the table of elements emerges chemistry, inorganic, then organic.

        Out of organic chemistry emerges a whole host of complex molecules.

        Out of the molecules emerges cellular systems and life forms.

        Out of life forms emerges intelligence.

        Out of higher levels of intelligence emerges social structure and spirituality.
        And most of human history is a description of the development of more complex social structures and more complex spirituality.

        At each emergent stage there is a vast increase in informational complexity. Each stage emerges out of and is dependent on the previous stage. As each stage develops, there is a huge increase in variety which is subsequently decreased as the emergence of the next level uses up resources from the previous level and exerts a selection bias.

        This emergent quality seems to be a pervasive feature of our universe. And aside from his work in biology, Darwin deserves to be recognized as the first to give a scientific description of this feature of the universe. It is probably unfortunate that he happened to be a biologist because his discovery got tangled up in the creation debate. If he had made his description as a nuclear physicist we probably wouldn’t be having this debate.

        So, part of the problem with the debate on evolution in biology is that we haven’t created the intellectual and theological foundation yet for the debate.

        Before you can address the question of evolution in biology, you have to define your terms within the larger context. For example, it makes no sense to use the beauty and complexity of the basic physical laws to show evidence of God, and then, when you are talking in biology to refer to those same physical laws as “natural”. The laws can’t be evidence of intelligent design in physics, and the somehow be a natural cause in biology. Which is it?

        I take the term “creation” to define an activity of God. Where specifically within the process of emergence is God’s creative act? When the Large Hadron Collider creates a new, never before seen particle, was that a creative act of God, or was that a “natural event”?

        At each stage of emergence there is higher, more complex informational coding. You argue that information complexity beyond 1000aa (I am not sure what that means) requires intelligent design. The trouble is that, while I am not sure how you measure informational complexity, I suspect that if you could add up all the informational complexity required to get from pure energy to even the beginning of genetic encoding, that it would require more than the 1000aa worth of information which you use to define the boundary between “natural” and “intelligent” design.

        So when you say that biology can evolve “naturally” with informational encoding of less that 1000aa but that God has to intelligently intervene at anything above 1000aa, what does that mean? How do you account for all the intelligence required even to get to your starting point? Why is it that you have this narrow window from 0-1000aa that doesn’t require God and can happen naturally, but everything before and after does?

        And then again, there seems to be another God gap when it comes to human intelligence. How is it that the product of human intelligence is suddenly outside the pervue of God’s creation? I am sure that the accumulation of all human intelligence developed since the fall requires an informational complexity greater that that of 1000aa. So biochemical information density greater than 1000aa requires a creative act of God, but all of the human intellectual development that has occurred since the fall of Adam somehow doesn’t require God? That doesn’t make sense.

        So, you see, before we can even start an intelligent conversation about evolutionary biology, our theologians have to get busy and help us develop basic scientific definitions of theological terms.

        What exactly do you mean when you say “God created”? Where in this process is his creation required and where is it not?

        What is the difference between natural and supernatural? When a new particle is created, is that the result of God’s creative act, or is that the result of “natural” law? How do you tell the difference?

        When a human creates something that never previously existed in nature. Was the activity of God somehow excluded from that creation event?

        If something happens “naturally”, how do you know God didn’t do it?
        If something happens “supernaturally”, i.e. a miracle, how do you know it is a miracle, and not just a natural event that we don’t understand?

        So see, until we get some basic scientific/theological definitions, we can’t talk intelligently about evolution. When you say that anything below 1000aa is “random genetic variation” how do you know it is really random, maybe it is really directed by God.

        When you say that anything above 1000aa requires direct intelligent creation by God, how do you know that? Maybe God has previously created “natural” mechanisms that we just haven’t discovered yet.

        When someone says, “I prayed and God told me ????” What does that mean? Was that God creating human intelligence? Was that low grade schizophrenia? Is it someone not wanting to take responsibility for their own desires and actions? I don’t know, but the answer to these questions has a direct impact on where and how you see God’s hand in creation, particularly when it comes to what ever might be happening since the special creation event.

        I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. And I will be surprised if anyone does. But I have to think that every biology teacher in the SDA church struggles with these issues everyday, and it is NOT THEIR FAULT. Until the theologians do their work and give us definitions it is impossible. It is morally wrong for theologians to hold biology teachers accountable for explaining science in theological terms when the theologians haven’t provided the relevant theological definitions. I am sure there is plenty of blame to go around if you are looking to blame, but the primary reason for failure at LSU does not lie in the Biology department. It lies in the theology department. This is primarily a failure in theology. You would be on stronger moral ground to fire the theology departments.

        Like Comment: Thumb up 1

        • @Ron:

          DNA never self-assembles in or outside of a Nebula – even when all the basic building blocks are available. Take all the deoxy-ribose sugars you want, put them in the same place and what happens? DNA self-assembly? Nope. No DNA molecules are formed, much less those with any meaning to the sequences of nucleotides.

          The issue is, that in every scientific discipline, there appears to be a natural progression from simple to complex and random variation with natural selection seems to describe attributes of the process.

          Not significantly beyond the originally programming of the system in question – the originally meaningful/functional informational complexity.

          For example: In high energy particle physics we see that out of energy, emerges a myriad of complex sub nuclear particles.

          Or starting with a high energy massless photon and turning it into an electron and a positron. Note, however, that because momentum has to be conserved, a photon can’t turn into an electron and a positron out in empty space. The photon must collide with an atomic nucleus in order to produce the electron and positron.

          In short, raw energy does not turn into particles with mass outside of interaction with pre-existing particles with mass.

          Out of sub nuclear particles emerge the larger atomic nuclear particles.

          Not true. Newly generated particles have never been shown to self-assemble into larger atomic nuclear particles. Such an event is probably very close to impossible outside of very intelligent manipulation. The reason for this lack of self-assembly on this level is partly because there are various ‘conservation laws’ of electric charges, the number of leptons (electron-like particles) etc., which means that one can only create matter / anti-matter pairs out of energy. Anti-matter, however, has the unfortunate tendency to combine with matter and turn itself back into energy.

          Out of nuclear particles emerges the periodic table of elements. (All those above iron require the explosion of a star).

          Certain types of atoms can self-assemble under the appropriate conditions, but the laws and informational complexity needed for this assembly process were already pre-existent in this universe. These “universal constants” that govern the nature and action of energy in this universe, and the ability for a certain degree of self-assembly, do not have to be like they are. Yet, without them being exactly like they are, to within a degree of precision of 1 part in 1e500, complex molecules could not self-assemble.

          Out of the table of elements emerges chemistry, inorganic, then organic.

          Not without the fundamental constants of the universe being precisely defined…

          Out of organic chemistry emerges a whole host of complex molecules.

          Again, there is no “organic chemistry” without the pre-existing structure and functional informational complexity of DNA, RNA, proteins, and overall cellular structure. Without this structural and coded information existing preformed, DNA, proteins, and life itself does not self-assemble. The statistical odds are too far against such a self-assembly process.

          Out of the molecules emerges cellular systems and life forms.

          Nope, not without pre-existing life forms that already have the very high levels of functional complexity pre-established from an outside source of this information. There is no such thing as cellular systems or any kind of life form “emerging” or self-assembling themselves from non-living molecules of any kind in any environment.

          Out of life forms emerges intelligence.

          Nope. Living things that are not already intelligent or don’t already have the pre-programmed genetic information to grow an intelligent brain, do not spontaneously gain or evolve this information. The origin of access to intelligence is always based on pre-existing intelligence passing on the required genetic information.

          Out of higher levels of intelligence emerges social structure and spirituality.
          And most of human history is a description of the development of more complex social structures and more complex spirituality.

          Complex social structures and spirituality are dependent upon the level of underlying intelligence within the community. In other words, they are creations of intelligent design. Intelligence, by definition, can create novel things.

          At each emergent stage there is a vast increase in informational complexity. Each stage emerges out of and is dependent on the previous stage. As each stage develops, there is a huge increase in variety which is subsequently decreased as the emergence of the next level uses up resources from the previous level and exerts a selection bias.

          Yes, but what gets you to the next level? – not spontaneous self-assembly outside of deliberate intelligent design…

          You just don’t understand that emergence does not equate to automatic self assembly outside of pre-existing informational complexity at the same or greater levels to the next higher level of emergence.

          It makes no sense to use the beauty and complexity of the basic physical laws to show evidence of God, and then, when you are talking in biology to refer to those same physical laws as “natural”. The laws can’t be evidence of intelligent design in physics, and the somehow be a natural cause in biology. Which is it?

          It’s both. God designed natural laws – such as the universal constants of nature without which complex molecules and living things could not exist. These laws were designed to function without the evident need of constant conscious intervention. In other words, they appear to function like a mechanical device, like a watch for example, where the watch is able to function independently after the watch maker has put all the parts into their proper place. It is only “natural” for the watch to work by itself as it was designed to work.

          However, the natural laws that govern the function of the watch are limited. They cannot explain the existence of some emergent system of function for which the watch might form a part – like a time bomb. Such a system requires additional assembly instructions outside of those accessible to the watch itself. Therefore, the existence of the bomb would necessitate additional information from an intelligent source.

          In contrast, a broken watch does not require an appeal to an intelligent source to explain since such decay is already “natural” to the system in question.

          I take the term “creation” to define an activity of God. Where specifically within the process of emergence is God’s creative act? When the Large Hadron Collider creates a new, never before seen particle, was that a creative act of God, or was that a “natural event”?

          The underlying universal constants that allowed for the operation and success of such an experiment were created by God. However, the particular observation was not outside of the “natural” programming of the universe acting on its own. In other words, there is no evident need for an additional deliberate act of God or any other form of intelligent design here.

          At each stage of emergence there is higher, more complex informational coding. You argue that information complexity beyond 1000aa (I am not sure what that means) requires intelligent design. The trouble is that, while I am not sure how you measure informational complexity, I suspect that if you could add up all the informational complexity required to get from pure energy to even the beginning of genetic encoding, that it would require more than the 1000aa worth of information which you use to define the boundary between “natural” and “intelligent” design.

          As already noted, different “emergent” stages require the additional input of intelligent design to achieve the next level of functional complexity. When you want to go from low level biological systems to higher level biological systems, beyond those that require a minimum of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues, you won’t be able to do it outside of the input of additional information from a pre-existing source of intelligence.

          So when you say that biology can evolve “naturally” with informational encoding of less that 1000aa but that God has to intelligently intervene at anything above 1000aa, what does that mean?

          It means that additional direct intelligent involvement is not required for lower-level evolution – which is entirely within the realm of the system that was already created at that level. However, when you’re talking about moving up a level, the needed information simply does not exist in the system that God created – outside of additional help from a pre-existing intelligent source of information (which may only require human-level intelligence – which itself was created by God).

          How do you account for all the intelligence required even to get to your starting point? Why is it that you have this narrow window from 0-1000aa that doesn’t require God and can happen naturally, but everything before and after does?

          Not everything else before does, but everything after certainly requires additional intelligent input. That’s simply how the universe in which we live was designed to operate – limitations were built into our universe. These limitations cannot be traversed without intelligent input. Otherwise, there would be nothing special about intelligence – if non-intelligent things could do the same stuff we can do…

          And then again, there seems to be another God gap when it comes to human intelligence. How is it that the product of human intelligence is suddenly outside the pervue of God’s creation?

          Like the watch set up to run by itself, human intelligence was designed, by God, to function independent of God’s direct interaction and manipulation. That is why we can actually have freedom of will and action – why we are actually responsible, morally responsible, for what we do with our intelligence. If we were non-intelligent robots, God would be directly responsible for our actions.

          I am sure that the accumulation of all human intelligence developed since the fall requires an informational complexity greater that that of 1000aa. So biochemical information density greater than 1000aa requires a creative act of God, but all of the human intellectual development that has occurred since the fall of Adam somehow doesn’t require God? That doesn’t make sense.

          Intelligence is creative by its very nature. Non-intelligent mechanisms, like random mutations combined with natural selection, are not intelligent and are therefore far more limited in what they can create at higher levels of functional complexity.

          In other words, human-level intelligence is in fact perfectly capable of creating at levels of functional complexity that go far beyond the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues.

          When a human creates something that never previously existed in nature. Was the activity of God somehow excluded from that creation event?

          That’s correct. No additional act of God was required. God created the human with intelligence enough to produce novel creations of his/her own at will – without the need for the direct involvement of God in the creative act of the human.

          If something happens “naturally”, how do you know God didn’t do it?

          If something happens “supernaturally”, i.e. a miracle, how do you know it is a miracle, and not just a natural event that we don’t understand?

          This requires scientific investigation, which never produces absolute certainty for answers like this… only “predictive value” for the design hypothesis.

          If the phenomenon in question 1) goes significantly beyond anything that mindless nature is known to be able to produce and 2) is well within the range of what at least human-level intelligence can produce, most likely the phenomenon in question required at least human level intelligence to produce.

          Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to tell a deliberately carved arrowhead from the amorphous rock on the ground next to it. You won’t be able to tell the difference between a deliberate murder and an a natural death. You wouldn’t be able to tell a work of Shakespeare from an explosion in a print factory… etc.

          When you say that anything above 1000aa requires direct intelligent creation by God, how do you know that? Maybe God has previously created “natural” mechanisms that we just haven’t discovered yet.

          That’s always possible, but it isn’t science. Science isn’t based on what might one day be known. Science is based on what little is known right now. That is why intelligent design hypotheses are always subject to the theoretical potential of falsification given additional discoveries.

          Again, there is no absolute certainty in science.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 11

    • @Ron:

      Ron,

      It seems to me that creationists are being beaten back, little by little. ”

      I believe it is the other way around, as the Darwinians are forced to outlendish excues when the data does not match their dogma.

      “Disclaimer about limitations of evolutionary research,” the trade secret is explained:

      While we would certainly agree with the statement that “nothing in glycobiology makes sense, except in the light of evolution”, we must also realize that evolution only occurred once and that evolution does not follow well-defined rules.

      There you have it. The obligatory, utterly non scientific, secret handshake (“nothing makes sense except evolution … blah, blah, blah”) is always needed before any disclosure of the embarrassing, contradictory facts.

      Evolution doesn’t make sense, therefore it simply “does not follow well-defined rules.” In other words, anything goes. Evolution must be true, no evolutionist can deny the prime directive. But they haven’t the slightest idea, beyond endless tautologies and speculation, how that could be.

      http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/

      Like Comment: Thumb up 4

      • I don’t really care to defend evolutionists, and I agree they make errors in logic and theology. I think for the most part scientists like everyone else are trying to do the best they can most of the time. I am more interested in developing our own theories. I think there is likely a mixture of truth with error on both sides of the issue and hopefully we can take the truth and leave the rest.

        I happen to think that the PRINCIPLES Darwin illucidated are correct even though I disagree with his conclusion that they somehow exclude God as the creator. I don’t think evolution and creation by fiat are logically incompatible and that is the idea I am exploring here. I know I am in the minority, perhaps even unique. We’ll see where the idea leads. I also think that Darwinian principles are generalizable to nonbiological systems.

        As far as I can tell, Sean and perhaps even Bob agree that the principles of Darwinian evolution are correct, but only in an extremely limited sphere. Bob wants to limit it to Mendelian genetic variability within population groups. Sean wants to allow for some gene development, but not beyond the 1000aa level of complexity. It seems that at least for Sean it is the size of the sphere that is the primary issue.

        Sean and I appear to disagree in our theology about how or whether God has any ongoing sustaining role in the current creation and that may account for much of our differences at the philosophical level. (Please correct me if I am wrong in representing your views)

        Hot debate. Thumb up 4

  33. Stephen: Who says it is talking about one human-day and not a God-day?

    Who says? The SOP plainly says–as has oft been quoted on this site in many places. This is just an example of how God sent EGW messages to clarify and fortify Bible truth. These were 24 hour days–evening and morning. In the face of the SOP statements, you would have to willfully and actively refuse to believe–which I have noticed happening in several cases on this site.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 4

  34. Stephen: why has it not been exposed as a hoax if that is what it is?

    It has been. Unfortunately, the marjority of scientists have been steeped in this error all their lives and they either don’t have the insight or the courage to question it. But there are some scientists who are publicly denouncing it and that number is growing as the scientific community slowly wakes up to the fact that they have been “led down the primrose path”. Watch the DVD “Unlocking the Mysteries of Life”. It is an eye-opener.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 4

  35. Stephen: @Holly Pham: Who decides what ‘real science is’? One could make a similar analogy, where Ervin might say, ‘Gunshot wound to the head’; whereas, Sean might say, ‘Gunshot, what gunshot?’

    So, are you saying Sean, as a trained Pathologist, would not recognize a gunshot wound to the head? And, Erv Taylor, an academic Anthropologist, would?

    Hot debate. Thumb up 7

  36. Ron: Remember, the epigenome-genome system that Bob references wasn’t known back in Darwin’s time. So it seems to me that when you say, as Bob just said, that the epigenome-genome system explains even a small part of the evolution described by Darwin and it is OK to believe that because God created organisms with the ability to change, you have in essence conceded the issue. Because if God created organisms with the ability to change even a little, why couldn’t he have created them with the ability to change a lot?

    You are inventing links that do not work.

    1. You argue that if any change is possible than ALL transitions are possible. Thus if an amoeba adapts its diet – or based on diet activates the smallest trait in phenotype – then it can also turn into a rabbit.

    2. You assume the salient point of your argument rather than proving it to be valid. You assume the most massive change is valid – simply because any change at all is valid. I can paint my car — but I cannot turn it into a goat.

    3. You ask “What God can do” as if the creationist argument was ever of the form “God cannot create an organism that can evolve into a higher life form”. We never argue that “God cannot create something”. Rather the argument is that God “cannot lie” and that comes from Titus 1.

    The argument is that God said he did the whole thing in 6 real days (see Ex 20:8-11) and we argue that a 6 day creation week for all life on earth – is just as opposed to evolutionism as Darwin said it was.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 7

    • You say that you are not arguing that “God cannot create an organism that can evolve into a higher life form”, but that is in fact exactly what you are arguing, or at least you are arguing that He didn’t.

      I think you are reading into scripture something that isn’t there. Just because God created a fully functioning world 6000 years ago, doesn’t mean that he didn’t create it with the ability to evolve further. There is no logical reason to make that inference, and there is no theological reason to that I can think of either. (I will grant Sean the possibility that there maybe probabilistic reasons, but not logical or theological reasons.) In fact the notion goes against many scriptures that speak of God’s immanence in his creation, (Think Psalms, Job, Paul, Desire of Ages for examples).

      I find it interesting that you bring up the issue of God lying. I asked a friend the other day, if God created the world 6000 years ago, why does it look like it was created millions of years ago? His answer was, “Think of it like the haunted house at Disneyland. It was make to look like it is very old, but it isn’t. It was made recently to look old.”

      There are two ways to lie. One is to make the world millions of years ago and say you made it 6000 years ago, the other way is to make it 6000 years ago and make it look like it was millions of years old. At the moment I don’t see a way out of the dilemma.

      God also says that he is the creator and that He doesn’t change. So when you deny evolution, it seems to me that you are denying that God is still creating. By denying evolution you are calling God a liar when he says he doesn’t change.

      I will anticipate your argument that God took a break from creating for the duration of the history of this world. But if you say that, then you destroy the force of the Sabbath commandment which includes the admonition to work 6 days a week, and you also destroy the argument that the creation days were 24 hrs by making the 7th day of God’s creation week last for the entire duration of human history.

      I think we can probably answer some of these issues with time and more study, but in the mean time you have committed the sin of destroying the reputation of dedicated teachers who have devoted their lives to serving our church, and put at least one of our preeminent schools, and perhaps our whole school system in jeopardy by making premature accusations with incomplete information.

      Your argument from Ex. 20:8-11 does not apply because there is no logical or Biblical reason to say that creation by fiat and Darwinian evolution are mutually exclusive. In fact there are many Biblical and scientific reasons to believe that they in fact are not.

      Your quote from Spiritual Gifts does not apply because I am not using science or geology to argue against God, nor creation by fiat.

      I am also not a theistic evolutionist in the sense that you and Mrs. White are using the term. I am in fact, arguing FOR Mrs. Whites idea that God is imminently involved in his creation even at the level the Brownian motion of individual atoms, and the hairs on your head.

      Yes, I am in fact arguing that massive change is valid. I believe that on the basis of God’s great power to create this whole world by the word of his mouth and by his promise inherent in the Sabbath commandment, to continue to be with us, and to work with us six days a week. And His promise for rebirth and recreation.

      Yes, I believe there will be a special act of recreation in the future, but I believe that God is also active in rebirth and recreation right now, and I think Darwin unwittingly provided a scientific description of God’s current activity. You may not be able to turn your car into a goat, but God can if he so chooses. Who are you to say that he can’t or won’t choose to?

      I am also arguing, as Mrs. White so eloquently states in your famous quote, that Darwin, and anyone else who uses science to deny the creative activity of God is wrong. They are simply looking in the wrong direction. Their thinking is upside down.

      I am also rejecting Sean’s modified deistic notion of a God forsaken wound up watch kind of creation. It seems to me that Mrs. White and the Bible both reject that world view. Sean in his effort to define a God free zone in the present is surely rejecting God as much as Darwin was in trying to define a God free zone in the past.

      Hot debate. Thumb up 1

      • @Ron:

        I am also rejecting Sean’s modified deistic notion of a God forsaken wound up watch kind of creation. It seems to me that Mrs. White and the Bible both reject that world view. Sean in his effort to define a God free zone in the present is surely rejecting God as much as Darwin was in trying to define a God free zone in the past.

        We are the one’s who stepped away from God into a more “God-free zone”… where bad things happen to good people independent of God’s will or action.

        I know you claim that it is God who is personally directing every tornado that rips through the towns and cities of the mid-West. It is God who directly causes the floods and tsunami’s that destroy lives and property. It is God who causes little children to get cancer and die painful deaths.

        Really? You really think your God is that evil? Both Mrs. White and the Bible emphatically reject this view of God and point the blame on our own rebellion against God and our choice to step away from God, as a race, into the cold hard world of a mindless mechanical nature. Even worse, at times we deliberately place ourselves into the very hands of a very intelligent Evil being who was once the Morning Star or Lucifer himself.

        If God didn’t not actually step in and directly intervene to prevent even more evil from taking place on this planet, no one would long survive in this place…

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

        Hot debate. Thumb up 11

        • @Sean Pitman:

          You teach that God caused Noah’s flood. What is a small tornado compared to that? What is a child’s cancer next to the crucifixion of Jesus?

          Like Comment: Thumb up 0

          • @Ron:

            So, you think that if God is directly responsible for the death of anyone that He is therefore the direct cause of all sickness, disease, death, and destruction? Every natural disaster is God’s doing? – a miracle of Divine design and creative power?

            Do you not see the difference between the miracle of something like Lazarus being raised from the dead and a tornado wiping out an entire town the other day in the Midwest?

            Sean Pitman
            http://www.DetectingDesign.com

            Like Comment: Thumb up 4

  37. Yes, I do believe that God foresaw and planned for Satan, the fall, cancer, tornados, starving children, and even the torture and death of His own son, Jesus. I believe that His plan is so wonderful that He chose to proceed with creation anyway. I believe that even now, Satan only exists because God is actively sustaining his existence. If you believe that that somehow makes God guilty of unspeakable atrocities, then maybe that is what is meant when it says that Jesus as made to be sin for us.

    I choose to forgive God His role in sustaining evil because it is that same action which brought me into the world and sustains me and I find life so wonderful that even with the trauma of the death of my father, and all the suffering I have wittnesed as a physician, and all I have heard in books about the Holocaust and Fox’s book of martyrs, and even if the resurection and afterlife turn out to be myths, or I am somehow lost and don’t get an afterlife, I would still chose life and I am thankful to God for every conscious moment, even the painful ones. (Sometimes I am thankful and angry at the same time.)

    I guess, unlike most people, I afirm the choice Eve made. I prefer knowledge and wisdom over ignorance and innocence. I
    believe God was right to warn Eve about the dangers of independence, kind of like a parent warning a teenager about the risk in driving a car, but I believe the consequences of the choice still fell within the bounds of a loving God’s plan, and at the end, when it is all said and done, it will have been worth it.

    I think that is part of the conversation God and Jesus had before they chose to make the world. Maybe that is why they chose to go ahead anyway. Maybe they saw that somewhere down the line, after thousands of years of suffering someone like me would still feel that way.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      I also believe that God knows the future in every detail; that He foresaw Satan and the evil that would follow. However, there is a difference between God knowing the future and causing the future. There is also a difference between sustaining or allowing evil people to exist, or harmful natural events to exist, and directly causing their actions.

      Your arguments appear to make God directly responsible for harmful mutations that cause cancer in children or the direct cause of tornadoes that kill people and destroy property.

      Your arguments appear pantheistic – as in “God is in everything”. That’s simply not true – according to the Bible or Mrs. White.

      God’s creations are not themselves God nor does God personally direct or cause every action that occurs in His universe. Natural events and human actions can and do occur outside of His desire and will. He may know that they will happen before they happen, but He did not desire nor will them or the evil that they produce. He also has the power to prevent all evils, but that would also prevent freedom of choice…

      In short, do you not see the difference between a child getting cancer and a Biblical story where Jesus raised a child from the dead? One is a direct act of God; the other is not. It should be pretty easy to tell which one is a miracle of intelligent design on a Divine level, and which one is simply a result of the natural decay of a mechanical system that isn’t being constantly fixed by its Creator any more…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 12

  38. No, I am no more pantheistic than Mrs. White. It was her idea that God controls every atom, not mine. Pantheism believes that the atoms are of the substance of God, not just controlled be God.

    God is the first cause. If He knew the consequences of his actions before he did them and he chose to do them anyway, then at some point God is responsible for His decision. Someone who enables a crime still has responsibility for their enabling even if they aren’t the one who pulled the trigger. God has ultimate authority and resposibility unless you are willing to say he had no choice. The playground bully has responsibility, but so does the teacher monitor.

    The only way out of this is to say that God had a reason big enough to justify the cost. The long term gain justifies the short term pain. Kind of like going through surgery.

    Actually, evolution isn’t responsible for cancer. Evolution selects against cancer. Evolution is a way to cleanse the genome of the degredation caused by sin.

    Hmmm… I have had hundreds of people ask me to keep the ventilator on because they believed God would work a miracle. In my entire career I have never seen that prayer answered. Or if it was I didn’t recognize it. I am not sure I really can distinguish the difference between a natural healing and a miraculous one. On the other hand, I was hopefully never a party to a healing that didn’t happen by Intelligent design. I like to think that God used me in some way.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 1

    • @Ron:

      God sustains, He does not control the actions of free moral agents. There’s a significant difference. If He did control things as you suggest, God would Himself be evil.

      Actually, evolution isn’t responsible for cancer. Evolution selects against cancer. Evolution is a way to cleanse the genome of the degredation caused by sin.

      Oh really? So, why do people get cancer if not via the evolutionary mechanism of random mutations and function-based selection on a cellular level?

      If Darwinian-style evolution is a way to “cleanse the genome of degradation” as you claim, you would never get old and die as a result of accumulating tens of thousands of detrimental mutations over your lifetime. Evolution would just wipe them all out for you.

      You really don’t seem to draw a distinction between natural processes and those that require active intelligent intervention. Disease and death do not require active intelligent intervention on the part of God or anyone else. They are part of the way the machine naturally decays over time when not constantly repaired by intelligent manipulation.

      Cancer is not the result of intelligent design any more than your car breaking down and wearing out is the result of God deciding to slowly destroy your vehicle. It is just the way things are when when they are not constantly maintained. It’s a form of informational entropy over time. Things naturally wear out and degenerate when God is not constantly involved in maintaining them. That is why Adam and Eve grew old and died after they decided to separate themselves from God’s constant care.

      Let me ask you one more question: Let’s say you had before you an highly symmetrical polished granite cube and an amorphous granite rock. Would you be able to tell which one was most likely the result of deliberate design? If so, upon what basis did you make your deduction?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Well-liked: Thumb up 13

  39. Faith: Who says?The SOP plainly says–as has oft been quoted on this site in many places.This is just an example of how God sent EGW messages to clarify and fortify Bible truth.These were 24 hour days–evening and morning.In the face of the SOP statements, you would have to willfully and actively refuse to believe–which I have noticed happening in several cases on this site.

    The idea that the Genesis “days” were not really the same days as we see has been rehashed several times on this website. One person said, there was no “sun” so no “day.”

    Now we have the idea that the first six days were 24 hours, but the seventh was not. Are there any more rationales to try to explain away the Truth?

    Like Comment: Thumb up 5

  40. Ron: You say that you are not arguing that “God cannot create an organism that can evolve into a higher life form”, but that is in fact exactly what you are arguing, or at least you are arguing that He didn’t.

    I think you are reading into scripture something that isn’t there. Just because God created a fully functioning world 6000 years ago, doesn’t mean that he didn’t create it with the ability to evolve further.

    In the text itself we see everything from every green plant “food for animals and man” made on day 3 and we see fish, birds, cattle, land animals and mankind – all in place by day 6 end of day.

    You say you believe all of that happened in 6 real days, 6000 years ago. That alone kills entirely the Darwin story where higher phyla emerge from single celled lower phyla.

    There is no evolutionist on the planet that would refer to that 6 day “result” as evolution.

    Surely you agree with that point.

    And whatever changes happen to the cattle and to mankind after that perfect, faultless sinless, deathless starting point – do not being to encompass the full scope of darwinian mythologies.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Like Comment: Thumb up 5

    • @BobRyan: “There is no evolutionist on the planet that would refer to that 6 day “result” as evolution.

      Surely you agree with that point.

      And whatever changes happen to the cattle and to mankind after that perfect, faultless sinless, deathless starting point – do not being to encompass the full scope of darwinian mythologies.”

      Yes, we can agree on this point. I never claimed to agree with or to be defending evolutionists. I am, at least for the moment, defending evolution and I reserve the right to change my mind.

      Evolution can begin operating from whatever starting point you choose to start. My guess it probably started on Creation day 8. Some evolutionists think it started Creation day T-1×10^14. What day do you think it started on?

      Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  41. Ron: There are two ways to lie. One is to make the world millions of years ago and say you made it 6000 years ago, the other way is to make it 6000 years ago and make it look like it was millions of years old. At the moment I don’t see a way out of the dilemma.

    God makes Adam and Eve fully formed on Day 6 – capable of walking around, talking and eating food as adults – left on their own.

    You argue that if God did not make them as “zygotes” then God is lying.

    God made mature plants, animals and mankind on their first day of life so that the entire ecosystem would “work”.

    You argue that this is somehow deceptive of God since they do not appear to be “1 day old”.

    I find your argument difficult to support.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 8

    • @BobRyan:
      Hmm. . . How did you get THAT out of what I said??? Never mind. I am talking about stars that are calculated to burn for millions of years, exploding only 10000 yrs after their creation, within yours and my lifetime, and human’s living in North America with centuries long histories, and fossils that appear to be hundreds of thousands of years old, and continents that have moved thousands of miles, on, and on, and on. Evidence that even Adventist Scientists PAID to find evidence to the contrary find convincing. It seems to me that it would take deliberate intent to create evidence that would convince so many very clever people of a false hood.

      Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  42. Ron: Your argument from Ex. 20:8-11 does not apply because there is no logical or Biblical reason to say that creation by fiat and Darwinian evolution are mutually exclusive. In fact there are many Biblical and scientific reasons to believe that they in fact are not.

    That is quite a claim on your part – please show us 1 darwinian evolutionist that frames evolutionism in the words “in Six (literal 24 hour) days (less than 10,000 years ago) God created the heavens and the earth the seas and all that is in them”.

    That language does not fit anything Darwin, Dawkins, William Provine, P.Z Meyers or our own Erv Taylor insider ever proclaimed as evolution.

    Your quote from Spiritual Gifts does not apply because I am not using science or geology to argue against God, nor creation by fiat.

    If you read 3SG 90-91 you will find that at no point does the text say “evolution is a great idea that fits perfectly with the Bible and is only a problem if one happens to imagine that it contradicts the Word of God, creation or the Sabbath”.

    In fact – the opposite point is made on that page.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Like Comment: Thumb up 7

  43. Ron: I guess, unlike most people, I afirm the choice Eve made. I prefer knowledge and wisdom over ignorance and innocence. I
    believe God was right to warn Eve about the dangers of independence, kind of like a parent warning a teenager about the risk in driving a car, but I believe the consequences of the choice still fell within the bounds of a loving God’s plan, and at the end, when it is all said and done, it will have been worth it.

    That speaks volumes my friend.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 11

  44. BobRyan: please show us 1 darwinian evolutionist

    See, Bob, you are missing the whole point (at least mine). The point isn’t to attack other people’s beliefs, it is to clarify my own belief. What other evolutionists believe is totally irrelevant except as to be informative and to provide a broader perspective on the question of origins. I can use their ideas, I am not bound by them. Their theory explains some, but not all of the data. Likewise creationism explains some, but not all the data. My goal is to come up with something that is not simply dismissive, but deals seriously with all the data, both theological and scientific. It is not an easy task, and I probably am not doing a very good job of it myself. I would appreciate it if instead of being antagonistic, you would help. I honor and appreciate your conservative position, help me understand how you interpret the scientific data within your paradigm.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 3

  45. Here is something that has been bothering me for awhile.

    We believe the world was created by Intelligent Design right?
    And then we claim to be able to distinguish between something “natural”, and something “intelligently designed”.
    But we just got done claiming that the thing we are calling natural was intelligently designed.
    So by defining it as natural we are implicitly denying that it was Intelligently designed.
    Any Ideas?

    Like Comment: Thumb up 3

    • @Ron:

      Take a mechanical wrist watch… clearly designed. However, it cannot do beyond what it was designed to do – beyond what is “natural” to it by design.

      A robot with a supercomputer brain might be designed to be able to do quite a few more things than a simple wrist watch. It other words, it would be “natural”, by design, for such a robot to be able to do more informationally complex tasks than a wrist watch.

      The same thing is true of this universe. It cannot do beyond what it was designed to do – beyond what is “natural” to it by design.

      Given what we know about the nature of the universe we happen to live in, we know that intelligent minds are able to do things that mindless natural processes were not designed to do. No known mindless natural process was designed to be creative or “intelligent” or to be goal-oriented in a consciously deliberate manner – as in the ability to make a jetliner, a sky scrapper, or a mechanical wrist watch – - or a living thing. No known mindless mechanism was given access to the needed informational complexity.

      That is how we can tell the difference between what mindless nature has been designed to do and what intelligent minds have been designed to be able to achieve. We know the designed limits of one (mindless nature) and designed the potential of the other (intelligent minds).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Well-liked: Thumb up 11

      • Sean Pitman: We know the designed limits of one (mindless nature) and designed the potential of the other (intelligent minds).

        So, If I am understanding you right, your definition of whether something is “natural” or “intelligent” depends on knowing the design limits, which with regard to nature can only be determined by experimentation and experience. Correct?

        The trouble with that definition is that a small tree in a sunny field, a watch, and a supercomputer can all do the same thing, tell time. The tree has a small design cost, but is very difficult to obtain accuracy with, the supercomputer has a large design cost, but it is easier to obtain accuracy with, the watch is somewhere in between. All three were designed by intelligent design. The tree was designed primarily by God with a small input from man, mostly measuring the length of the tree and the position of the shadow. The watch and supercomputer were still designed by both God and humans, but with more human involvement. All three are operational withing their design limits, so I don’t think I can categorize them accurately using your definition. In fact I am curious to see how you will define them.

        I think you are going to define the tree as natural and the supercomputer as intelligently designed. But the tree in many ways is far more complex than the supercomputer in its basic design. Infact it is alive and the supercomputer is not.

        Also, the supercomputer can act very intelligently, even besting humans at Chess and Jeopardy. But it does that “naturally” within its design limits. It’s output is responsive to the input and is not random.

        I can say the same thing about an Evolutionary process. It was intelligently designed by God to respond to complex environmental conditions. It is responsive to it’s environment, and the output is not random and highly adaptive.

        In fact, the issue of randomness is one of the concerns I have about your theory of genetic evolution. I don’t think the process is at all random. Almost by definition evolution is not random. It highly goal driven to provide the best adaptation to the current environment.

        As I said before, I am not enough of a statistician to second guess your paper on the 1000aa principle, but the premise seems shaky to me. I guess I am not convinced we know enough to know if the system is truly random. I doubt that it is.

        Hot debate. Thumb up 1

        • @Ron:

          Yes. It is impossible to know what mindless nature has or has not been designed to do without some actual study and investigation of nature – or, as you put it, “by experimentation and experience.”

          The trouble with that definition is that a small tree in a sunny field, a watch, and a supercomputer can all do the same thing, tell time… All three were designed by intelligent design. The tree was designed primarily by God with a small input from man, mostly measuring the length of the tree and the position of the shadow. The watch and supercomputer were still designed by both God and humans, but with more human involvement. All three are operational withing their design limits, so I don’t think I can categorize them accurately using your definition. In fact I am curious to see how you will define them.

          You seem to forget that we’re asking if any apparently mindless process of nature can produce a functionally complex machine like a watch, a supercomputer, or a living thing like a tree. That’s the question here. Given our experience with mindless natural processes, the answer to that question is no. It’s never been observed at such levels of functional complexity…

          I think you are going to define the tree as natural and the supercomputer as intelligently designed. But the tree in many ways is far more complex than the supercomputer in its basic design. Infact it is alive and the supercomputer is not.

          Of course a living thing, like a tree, is vastly more functionally complex than the best supercomputer in existence. That is why a tree is even more difficult to explain via any mindless mechanism than a supercomputer. Yet, for some strange reason, when people see a supercomputer than automatically know that it was produced by deliberate high-level intelligence and technological know-how. They should come to the very same conclusion when they’re considering the origin of the functional complexity of a tree… something that is vastly more functionally complex and beyond the abilities of any mindless natural process to produce.

          Also, the supercomputer can act very intelligently, even besting humans at Chess and Jeopardy. But it does that “naturally” within its design limits. It’s output is responsive to the input and is not random.

          That’s right. A computer can only act “naturally” according to its programming…

          I can say the same thing about an Evolutionary process. It was intelligently designed by God to respond to complex environmental conditions. It is responsive to it’s environment, and the output is not random and highly adaptive.

          That’s true, but not without limit. While God evidently did design living things with a fantastic ability to adapt to new environments, this ability is not without clearly detectable limitations… limitations that are much more restrictive than what God gave to intelligent human beings.

          In fact, the issue of randomness is one of the concerns I have about your theory of genetic evolution. I don’t think the process is at all random. Almost by definition evolution is not random. It highly goal driven to provide the best adaptation to the current environment.

          Evolution is based on truly random genetic mutations that are not goal driven. And, natural selection, while a real biasing force of nature, does not actually have the power to preferentially select between random mutations, in a positive manner, until a random mutation happens to hit upon a novel genetic sequence that actually produces some new functionally beneficial reproductive advantage for the organism…

          This is a significant limitation vs. what intelligence offers. Intelligence can imagine goals that are not yet realized and consciously work toward them with the use of a memory that actually remembers past mistakes, insight, intuition, induction, abduction, etc… all of which the evolutionary mechanism cannot do.

          This is how you can tell that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube must have been deliberately designed while the amorphous rock next to it did not require the direct input of intelligence to produce – beyond the mindless abilities that have already been given to natural processes.

          As I said before, I am not enough of a statistician to second guess your paper on the 1000aa principle, but the premise seems shaky to me. I guess I am not convinced we know enough to know if the system is truly random. I doubt that it is.

          That means that God directly causes cancer and the like… because cancer is also based on the very same kinds of apparently random genetic mutations and function-based natural selection on a cellular level. It’s the very same mechanism. You simply can’t have your cake and eat it too…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Like Comment: Thumb up 7

          • Sean Pitman: You seem to forget that we’re asking if any apparently mindless process of nature can produce a functionally complex machine like a watch, a supercomputer, or a living thing like a tree. That’s the question here.

            Well, this might be part of our communication problem, because I am actually asking a different question. I am asking, “Can I find Darwinian principles of variation and natural selection function in any legitimate natural way that still leaves room for creation by fiat”.

            So far my answer has been yes, when I look around, I see it happening all over the place in every kind of setting. Another example I just though of last night. My wife likes to watch Dancing with the Stars. That whole program is built on an evolutionary process with the contestants providing the variability and the judges providing the selection criteria.

            Here is another example. We are in an election year. Most of the presidential candidates don’t just start by running for president. They start out as local politicians with a huge variation in issues and abilities, which are gradually selected for or against based on how well they meed the needs of the electorate.

            Here is an example of a natural process that produces high level intelligence. I live in Washington where the presence of wet lands is a huge issue for developers. There are certain plants that seek out and identify wet lands with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity.

            Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.

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            • @Ron:

              Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.

              The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.

              God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.

              The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.

              For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”

              That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.

              Sean Pitman
              http://www.DetectingDesign.com

              Like Comment: Thumb up 6

  46. Ron: Your argument from Ex. 20:8-11 does not apply because there is no logical or Biblical reason to say that creation by fiat and Darwinian evolution are mutually exclusive. In fact there are many Biblical and scientific reasons to believe that they in fact are not.

    Totally wrong. The fact that Darwinism excludes the Creator makes Creation and evolution opposed to one another.[] The fact that Darwin started out believing in God but then ended by not believing in His existence is a pretty good indication which spirit was his guide…and it wasn’t God. No matter how hard you try, Ron, you cannot make evolution and Creation compatible. I really don’t understand why you would even want to.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 6

    • @Faith:
      Well, there are some Darwinist’s who exclude God as the creator. There is nothing about Darwinian principles that requires the exclusion of a creator. I know, Darwin didn’t see it that way, but we have had 100+ years to think about it differently and I do.

      “No matter how hard you try, Ron, you cannot make evolution and Creation compatible”

      Actually, I just did, and so far no one has given a cogent reason as to why they are incompatible. In fact, as Sean pointed out with regard to cancer, sin causes cancer, but evolution selects against the cancer genes and thereby provides a mechanism to purge those defects from the genome. I have every reason to believe that the evolutionary processes are a loving response by God to minimize the burden of sin.

      “I really don’t understand why you would even want to.”

      There are many reasons I will list only a few.
      1. As I have said before, I see evolutionary principles operating around me all the time every day. Trying to prove evolution seems a little like trying to prove that the sky is blue, the grass is green (or brown), and that gravity holds things down. How can you deny it? If you can’t see it, then I have to assume that you are blind to how things work. How do you describe colors to a man born blind?

      2. I probably wouldn’t enter the discussion except that I have seen many people in the SDA church over the years hurt by religious bigotry and fanaticism and I just felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to speak out. I couldn’t not speak out. I think that the attack on La Sierra is morally wrong, and extremely damaging on many levels.

      3. I believe what Sean is doing to engage in the origins discussion is good. I think the attack on the church is wrong.

      Hot debate. Thumb up 1

  47. BobRyan: God makes Adam and Eve fully formed on Day 6 – capable of walking around, talking and eating food as adults – left on their own.

    You argue that if God did not make them as “zygotes” then God is lying.

    God made mature plants, animals and mankind on their first day of life so that the entire ecosystem would “work”.

    You argue that this is somehow deceptive of God since they do not appear to be “1 day old”.

    I find your argument difficult to support.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    You are so right, Bob. When Jesus brought Lazarua back to life, did Lazarus “stink” or have any deterioration? The idea that God has to gradually let material “evolve” to form life or to change life is a direct insult to Him.

    If He did, Lazarus would have had to slowly “heal” back from all the cellular deterioration that would have taken place. How long would that take? Well, maybe Sean would know.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 4

  48. Sean Pitman: Cancer is not the result of intelligent design any more than your car breaking down and wearing out is the result of God deciding to slowly destroy your vehicle. It is just the way things are when when they are not constantly maintained. It’s a form of informational entropy over time. Things naturally wear out and degenerate when God is not constantly involved in maintaining them. That is why Adam and Eve grew old and died after they decided to separate themselves from God’s constant care.

    Perfect example, Sean. One of the most obvious reasons the evolutionary theory does not work is that, as as whole, everything on earth is degenerating. That is opposite of what the evolutionary theory proposes. It says that everything is getting better…the one-celled amoeba is growing into something better than itself. This, in itself, blows the doors off evolution, as far as I am concerned.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  49. Faith: It is just the way things are when when they are not constantly maintained.

    Well, you can view evolution as God’s way of doing maintenance. Evolution selects against defective genes and would thereby minimize the pain inflicted by sin.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      Sin, Evolution, and Cancer

      The “maintenance” of a system in its original functional state would mean that it is not changing or “evolving” beyond its original genetic programming. Natural selection is actually a pretty good “preserving” force of nature. You are correct in noting that NS is in fact able to reduce the rate of degeneration and decay in living things. However, the force of natural selection is not a very good creative force. It doesn’t make anything new that wasn’t already there before…

      Of course, evolutionists argue that the new stuff is created by random genetic mutations which create novel genetic options for natural selection to pick from. However, these new genetic options are almost always functionally detrimental to one degree or another. Natural selection primarily selects to get rid of all the new options it can in favor of the original starting point.

      Very rarely, of course, random mutations will actually hit upon something that is both new and beneficial. The problem is that these rare beneficial discoveries are always at a very low level of functional complexity (well below the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues).

      The other problem is that natural selection isn’t perfect at weeding out all detrimental mutations as they enter the gene pools of all individuals in all slowly reproducing species (like all mammals for instance). In every generation every single individual sustains dozens of detrimental mutations that were not present in the parental generation. Natural selection simply cannot get rid of all of these detrimental mutations as fast as they are entering the gene pool. So, all mammals are headed for an eventual genetic meltdown and extinction…

      Another problem with the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS is that it doesn’t have the big picture in mind… since it hasn’t been given a mind. This mindless evolutionary mechanism gives an advantage to the individual that sustains a reproductive advantage regardless of what this advantage might do to the overall system or environment within which the individual lives. In other words, this evolutionary mechanism is what is responsible for various forms of cancer which end up destabilizing the higher level environment, causing eventual death to the system as well as all of the offspring of the individual that originally sustained a personally “beneficial” mutation… a mutation which is actually very detrimental from the perspective of the host. After all, the host now has a rogue population of cancer cells with improved survival and reproductive fitness… which will end up taking over the entire system and kill the host – and themselves as well.

      So, your evolutionary mechanism is actually part of the sin problem. It causes cancers. It is responsible for parasites and viruses and bacterial diseases and carnivores that plague humanity… all of which are based on random mutations that enhance the survivability of the individual cell or bug or virus or animal that sustained the mutation – at the expense and suffering of humans…

      I’d say that these are some pretty big problems for your evolutionary perspective – don’t you think?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 10

      • @Sean Pitman:
        “Natural selection is actually a pretty good “preserving” force of nature.”

        OK, so why can’t we accept this as a valid example of Darwinism? This does not seem to threaten creationism or justify the wholesale rejection of Darwinism, or teachers of Darwinism.

        Hot debate. Thumb up 3

        • @Ron:

          I don’t know how many times I have to explain to you that we all believe in a limited form of neo-Darwinism. As I’ve explained to you before, Darwinian evolution does happen. It is a real force of nature. However, it is a very very limited force of nature – limited to very very low levels of functional complexity.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Like Comment: Thumb up 6

      • @Sean Pitman:

        “You are correct in noting that NS is in fact able to reduce the rate of degeneration and decay in living things.”

        So wouldn’t this be a good reason for a loving God to use Darwinistic principles?

        Hot debate. Thumb up 3

        • @Ron:

          Natural selection works both ways. It can reduce the speed of decay and it can also increase the speed of decay. It is a mindless process that is dependent upon death and suffering. Natural selection does in fact cause cancer and contributes to numerous other degenerative features (such as the TTSS toxin injector system described elsewhere in this thread).

          Again, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have God using natural selection to both protect us and kill us… right? The whole concept of the “survival of the fittest” is antithetical to how the Bible pictures God – as someone who suffers when even a little sparrow falls wounded to the ground.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 9

      • @Sean Pitman:
        “Another problem with the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS is that it doesn’t have the big picture in mind… since it hasn’t been given a mind.”

        No, but you are arguing that nature was created by an Intelligent Designer are you not? God certainly has the big picture in mind.

        If I (the royal I representing all humans) can make a supercomputer out of very simple inorganic mater that is capable of calculating solutions to questions with greater than 1000aa specificity, then why can’t God do the same thing with organic chemistry that allows for far more complexity than inorganic chemistry. My super computer doesn’t have the big picture in mind, and it can generate answers with greater that 1000aa specificity.

        It seems to me that you are arguing that God either CAN’T, which is a theological assertion, or HASN’T, which is at least in my opinion an unproven scientific assertion, created an ecosystem capable of generating genetic solutions to ecological questions requiring genetic specificity greater than 1000aa. You may turn out to be right. But it seems like a long stretch. I am very leery of underestimating the power and cleverness of God.

        Hot debate. Thumb up 2

        • @Ron:

          God could have made things however He wanted. However, it is indeed my argument that He did not make things able to evolve as neo-Darwinists envision. Evolution beyond very low levels of functional complexity (i.e., 1000saaa) has never been observed in real time and statistically is very unlikely to happen this side of trillions of years of time.

          You say that this is an “unproven scientific assertion”, but it seems like you’re asking for absolute proof here – something that is not part of science. As I’ve pointed out to you before, nothing is absolutely provable in science. However, my theory has very very high predictive value.

          If you think I’m more likely wrong, well, go ahead and present the falsifying evidence. After all, my position, like any valid scientific hypothesis, can be definitively falsified quite easily. All you have to do is find an example of RM/NS producing anything that requires a minimum of at least 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues to work. If you can do this, my ID hypothesis will be falsified.

          You may turn out to be right. But it seems like a long stretch. I am very leery of underestimating the power and cleverness of God.

          I do not underestimate the power and/or cleverness of God. However, this does not mean that I cannot therefore figure out the difference between an amorphous rock and a highly symmetrical polished granite cube – that one was most likely the direct result of deliberate design while the other was not.

          From your position, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference because God could always have been clever enough to program some mindless natural process that produces highly symmetrical polished granite cubes, or jetliners, or the works of Shakespeare, etc. From your perspective there would be no basis for anthropology, forensic pathology, or SETI. You simply would not be able to detect deliberate design behind someone carving the letters “Hi there” into the paint on your car vs. God programming the tree beside your car to do it…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 8

      • @Sean Pitman:

        “This mindless evolutionary mechanism gives an advantage to the individual that sustains a reproductive advantage regardless of what this advantage might do to the overall system or environment within which the individual lives. In other words, this evolutionary mechanism is what is responsible for various forms of cancer which end up destabilizing the higher level environment,”

        This statement seems illogical to me. Evolution doesn’t cause cancer, things like radiation damage cause cancer. I don’t see how a population that gets cancer has a selection bias over a population that does not get cancer. It seems to me that the population that doesn’t get cancer will very soon out perform the population that gets cancer and those with cancer will very shortly become a small percentage of the overall population.

        PS. I know the phrase “Survival of the fittest” has a bad connotation and I don’t like it, but here is a good example of it in a positive context. Let’s say we have an environment that is subject to high radiation exposure. The off spring of those individuals that are more resistant to getting cancer from radiation are going to survive better than those who are more susceptible to radiation damage. To me this represents a positive adaptive response that a loving creator would be likely to build into his creation.

        Hot debate. Thumb up 1

        • @Ron:

          This statement seems illogical to me. Evolution doesn’t cause cancer, things like radiation damage cause cancer.

          Things like radiation cause increased numbers of mutations. Mutations are part of the evolutionary mechanism of random mutations and function-based natural selection. Cancer is the result of random mutations. Random mutations occur spontaneously for any number of reasons – to include the DNA copy error rate when cells undergo mitotic or meiotic division (not just as a result of external factors such as radiation exposure).

          In any case, if there are no random mutations, there is no genetic evolution. On a cellular level, cancer is the result of random mutations that cause the cell in question to experience unsuppressed reproductive potential. In other words, the mutation(s) allow to cell to produces far more “offspring” than its peers. It’s offspring, in turn, produced more and more offspring, very rapidly. These offspring eventually take over the entire environment via “survival of the fittest”.

          And, there you have it, cancer via random mutations and function-based natural selection – i.e., evolution. Cancer is caused by the very same evolutionary mechanism.

          I don’t see how a population that gets cancer has a selection bias over a population that does not get cancer.

          It depends upon what population you’re talking about. If you’re talking about the cellular population, its quite clear (as explained above).

          If you’re talking about the human population, then there is a selective advantage for those who don’t get cancer – of course. But, this selective advantage is not based on genetic change or “evolution” but upon working against genetic change – i.e., working against evolution.

          When you’re talking about actual changes over time, these changes tend toward degeneration – of which cancer is just one example.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  50. Sean Pitman: It is responsible for parasites and viruses and bacterial diseases and carnivores that plague humanity…

    Wait a minute. I am pretty sure viruses, parasites, and carnivores have genes that are greater than 1000aa. If God didn’t create them, and evolution can’t create them, how did they come to exist? You either have to find a reason for a loving God to even allow, let alone create such things, or find a way for them to develop “naturally” whatever that means. You are blaming evolution for something you have spent a lot of energy trying to prove it can’t do.

    And the fact that you acknowledge the existence of these organisms and blame evolution for their existence proves that you infact do believe in evolution despite your denials.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      Wait a minute. I am pretty sure viruses, parasites, and carnivores have genes that are greater than 1000aa.

      That’s right.

      If God didn’t create them, and evolution can’t create them, how did they come to exist?

      If the maker of your car didn’t create the hole in your radiator, how did it get there?

      God’s original creation was perfect. There were no parasites or harmful viruses or carnivores. However, as with any complex mechanical system that is not constantly maintained, degenerative, or devolutionary changes, takes place over time.

      For example, the bacteria that is responsible for Bubonic Plague (or the Black Death) is Yersinia pestis. The cause of its virulence is a toxin injector known as the Type III Secretory System (TTSS). Did God make the TTSS? Nope. It has recently been discovered that the TTSS system devolved from the fully formed rotary bacterial flagellar motility system. The TTSS system requires only 10 of the 40 or so parts used by the bacterial flagellum.

      It is very easy to loose parts via RM/NS. It is another thing entirely to produce parts that were not there to begin with…

      You either have to find a reason for a loving God to even allow, let alone create such things, or find a way for them to develop “naturally” whatever that means. You are blaming evolution for something you have spent a lot of energy trying to prove it can’t do.

      Not at all. It’s called devolution – a loss of informational complexity from the original idealic state created by God.

      And the fact that you acknowledge the existence of these organisms and blame evolution for their existence proves that you infact do believe in evolution despite your denials.

      Good try, but de-evolution isn’t quite the same thing as evolution. Devolution is based on the loss of pre-existing functional complexity as originally designed in its perfectly functional state by God. Evolution is based on the gain of novel functional complexity that was never there to begin with.

      Devolution is very very common. It is the reason why we all grown old and die. It is the reason why cancer is so common… etc.

      Evolution, on the other hand, is relatively uncommon and is limited, when it does occasionally happen, to very very low levels of novel functional complexity.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Like Comment: Thumb up 8

  51. Sean Pitman: natural selection isn’t perfect at weeding out all detrimental mutations

    Nobody ever said evolution had to be perfect. To be compatible with the action of a loving God, it only has to be beneficial. The Bible does point to a future re-creation does it not?

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      That’s the problem. Most of the time when the genome changes or “evolves” as the result of the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS the changes are detrimental – i.e., devolutionary changes resulting in cancers, parasites, carnivores, and the like. The rare times when it actually does something good do not remotely overcome all the bad stuff that this mechanism produces. A few grains of sugar doesn’t reverse the fact that you just swallowed a gallon of lethal poison…

      This is why God, when He created life the first time on this planet (and when He will recreate it again as it was originally intended to be), does not rely on a very slow and very painful mechanism that is dependent upon suffering and death. God uses His power and intelligence to create the final product in one fell swoop. There is no need for trial and error when God creates. He does it right the first time…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  52. In fact, it seems to me that your argument that nature cannot produce genetic material with a specificity of greater than 1000aa is really a back handed denial of God as a creator. That is a pretty severe limitation to put on the creative power of God when you stop to think about it. That using the power of organic chemistry He can’t create something as powerful as humans easily create with simple inorganic chemistry. You are in essence saying that whatever god created our current biology was less intelligent than humans.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      I’m not the one putting limitations on what God can do any more than you are putting limits on what God can create with detectable limitations. As far as I am able to tell, God has evidently created very clear limitations on what mindless mechanisms can produce. We are simply able to discover these limitations is all – with the use of our God-given intelligence.

      If you think there are no such limitations, well, then show me. Prove me wrong. And, explain to me how you can tell the difference between the origin of your car and an amorphous rock…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  53. Sean Pitman: we all believe in a limited form of neo-Darwinism

    So then why are you censoring teachers that teach what you infact believe? That makes me sooo angry. That is so hypocritical and destructive.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Ron:

      They aren’t teaching the limits of the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS. They are teaching the standard neo-Darwinian perspective on origins which claims that life and all of its diversity was created via the mindless mechanism of RM/NS over eons of time. They do not show their students where high level intelligent design is required to explain various features of living things beyond what God has given any mindless mechanism to be able to explain. They do not show their students how to detect the signature of God in nature. They also tell their students that life has existed and evolved on this planet for hundreds of millions of years when in reality life was created in just six literal days within recent history.

      That’s the problem here…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectignDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  54. Sean Pitman: Darwinian evolution does happen. It is a real force of nature. However, it is a very very limited force of nature – limited to very very low levels of functional complexity.

    Faith and Bob, Are you willing to accept this statement as true?

    Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  55. Sean Pitman: raw energy does not turn into particles with mass outside of interaction with pre-existing particles with mass

    That’s not my understanding. I understand that due to quantum mechanics, energy is being turned into transient particles all the time in space, kind of like rouge waves developing in the ocean. It is called dark energy and dark mass and accounts for more energy and mass than what we actually see.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 4

    • @Ron:

      When it comes to dark matter, this is a non-testable theory, outside of the realm of science. It has never been observed as far as I’m aware. No one really knows what “dark matter” really is…

      There have been some interesting experiments regarding quantum mass. But, as far as I’m aware, no actual particles have ever been identified, subatomic or otherwise.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 9

    • ref=”#comment-38408″>Holly Pham:
      The comment about Adam and Eve by Bob was non-resonsive to the discussion because we had already stipulated in our ground rules the six day creation week. I don’t see how your comment about Lazarus says anything about evolution, and no one here is questioning God’s ability to work miracles. So it seemed to me that you were just mocking the discussion . I apologize if I misinterpreted your comment.

      Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  56. Ron: 5. The principle of natural selection would have the effect of selecting against detrimental genes, and would help in removing defective genes from the gene pool.
    As such I believe Darwinian process is consistent with the action of a loving God that wants to prolong the viability of His creation in the face of sin.

    Then how do you account for the fact that disease is increasing and getting harder and harder to combat because of resistant strains? Not exactly a positive change, in my opinion. How do you reconcile what SOP said about every generation becoming weaker as we get progressively further from the Tree of Life with this theory of yours?

    Ron: think it is morally wrong to censor teachers because they are not teaching concepts that
    1. are not accepted by the main stream

    Do you hear yourself, Ron? You don’t argue that the teachers shouldn’t be censored because they are teaching SDA truth, you are all up in arms because they shouldn’t be censored for teaching what mainstream (worldly) scientists are teaching. You set your standard of truth on the shifting sand of man’s theories instead of the Rock of Truth. You accept man’s theories and reject God’s Word that clearly states God created the world in 6 days. The SDA church is founded on the Bible and takes her doctrine from it. You apparently don’t believe the Bible; that is inconsistant with the SDA church.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand anyone who questions the Bible and/or SOP. To me, God said it, and it is so. Period. Full stop.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  57. Here is a summary of our discussion so far.

    I think we have agreement

    1. that Seventh-day Adventist’s can, and that most in fact do believe that the processes that Darwin described are true, and valid, and demonstrable in our world today.

    2. Darwinian processes do not have to preclude the presence of God or the existence of a six day creation week.

    (I am going to coin a new term. For me, Darwinian processes are pretty much the same as evolution, but evolution to most people has the connotation of a process that excludes God. So when I use the term Darwinian process, I am specifically referring to a process that was described by Darwin, but does not assume that God is absent from the process. I am hoping we can leave the historic baggage behind.)

    3. The outcome of Darwinian process may be positive or negative. It is possible that it is positive at one level and negative at a higher lever such as in cancer. It may also be negative at one level and positive at a higher level such as with programmed cell death. (Actually, I am not sure programmed cell death is a good example, but you get the idea. Maybe you can think of a better example.)

    4. Darwinian processes are generalizable to disciplines other than biology.

    5. The principle of natural selection would have the effect of selecting against detrimental genes, and would help in removing defective genes from the gene pool.

    As such I believe Darwinian process is consistent with the action of a loving God that wants to prolong the viability of His creation in the face of sin.

    Sean is concerned that Darwinian processes may create more problems than they solve and may contribute to the burden of sin.

    Issues remaining:

    1. How immanent is God in his creation? Is his direct action required, as Mrs. White seems to indicate, for the continued existence of every atom, or is that really a poetic statement, and once God created, he left the universe to operate independently?

    My position is that what we call natural law is only a scientific description of God’s ongoing activity.

    I understand Sean’s position to be that the natural law functions independently of God.

    2. When we talk about Intelligent Design, what exactly do we mean by intelligence and how do we distinguish it from natural processes.

    Examples:
    an amorphous rock: We claim that it was intelligently designed by God, but where is the stamp of intelligence that is somehow distinct from a natural process?

    A watch: has a level of design and informational complexity that we generally accept as requiring intelligent design, and the out put from the watch is intelligent, i.e. it tells the time. But if we define natural as anything operating within its design limits, then the intelligent output from the watch becomes defined as natural, not intelligent. How can we clarify the boundaries between an intelligent process and a natural process?

    Humans: Sean has defined as “natural”, the output of any intelligently designed object operating within it’s design limits, then presumably human’s are intelligently designed objects working within their design limits (for the purposes of this discussion we will ignore any effects of sin). Does that mean that their output is natural, and not intelligent?

    Complex biologic systems: If we consider the output of humans as being intelligent, then why not consider the output of other complex biologic systems as intelligent?

    Supercomputers? Are supercomputers intelligent? They beat humans an Jeopardy and Chess.

    3. What is the significance of intermediaries? God created humans, human’s created supercomputers. Does that imply that God had NO role in creating supercomputers, or did God create supercomputers, using humans as an intermediary step in the process?

    4. What are the operational parameters for Darwinian processes?

    Sean’s position is that Darwinian processes are incapable of generating a new gene greater than 1000aa.

    My position is that this is outside the disciplines of theology/philosophy, and that while I have some knowledge, and I am willing to discuss it, I don’t think that I am a strong enough opponent to really bring the level of clarity to the issue that is needed.

    I think Sean needs to prove his case in the peer reviewed literature, and that until he does, and his view is generally accepted by the larger scientific community, it is premature for the Seventh-day Adventist church to sanction science teachers for not teaching it. I don’t mind them promoting the ideas, and encouraging science teachers to teach them, but sanctions for not teaching it are something else. That goes too far.

    I also do not think that any church committee, even the General Conference can define what is or isn’t scientific truth. They can define theology. And while I don’t think it is wise, I guess it is OK for them to enforce their theology on theology teachers, but they cannot define scientific truth, and it is immoral for them to censor science teachers for teaching science just because the current science seems to contradict their theology.

    Having said that, I have my doubts about the 1000aa limit. We know a lot about genetics and biology, but I am not sure we know enough to safely say that biology can’t do something. And just like the supercomputer, I am pretty sure God could, and perhaps did build a super smart biology that can develop genes with greater than 1000aa limits.

    I am concerned that anytime you say something can’t happen, you run the risk of simply being ignorant. Kind of like at the beginning of the evolutionary argument. Traditionalists argued that everything from creation was fixed, or limited to Mendelian variation, and then Watson and Crick discovered DNA, and we now know that there are incredibly complex systems that seem to be designed specifically to control and modify DNA. It’s like DNA was designed to change.

    So I am not saying I necessarily disagree with Sean, but I am not really convinced either. I am anxious to hear arguments on both sides of this issue.

    5. I would be interested in exploring the boundary between nature and supernatural. Sometimes the difference is obvious, sometimes it isn’t. For example, someone is in the Intensive Care Unit. The doctor believes that they are at high risk of dying. The whole church prays for them, maybe they are even anointed. If they continue to struggle for several weeks, but eventually survive, is that a miracle, or is that natural?

    Is it possible for us to have any expectation of a supernatural intervention?

    When I was nine, my father died of a broken neck. When he was in surgery I prayed for him, and as a child, I had perfect faith that God would answer my prayers. In fact, I went out and played with my friends, because I knew God would heal him.

    In 30 plus years of medial practice I have never, even once seen any prayer from any family of any faith answered in what appeared to me to be a miraculous way. It seems obvious to me that our faith is completely irrelevant to whether God will chose to perform a miracle. Perhaps it is a necessary prerequisite to a miracle, but it surely isn’t sufficient to establish an expectation.

    We often pray for safety, but we recently had one of the young leaders in our church killed by a drunk running a stop sign. Only a fraction of a second in either direction would have saved his life. What does it mean when we pray? When we pray for safety, should we have an expectation that something will be different?

    Now I will hasten to say, I have seen spiritual healing in the sense that the patient and family is more reconciled to death, and sometimes when I pray for wisdom, God will direct my thoughts to a solution, and perhaps praying for safety reminds us to be careful. These are all in the spiritual realm, but I have never seen anything that looked like a supernatural intervention in the physical realm.

    Does prayer only function in the spiritual realm, or can we have some expectation of results in the physical realm as well?

    Like Comment: Thumb up 1

    • @Ron:

      I think we have agreement

      1. that Seventh-day Adventist’s can, and that most in fact do believe that the processes that Darwin described are true, and valid, and demonstrable in our world today.

      2. Darwinian processes do not have to preclude the presence of God or the existence of a six day creation week.

      We do not have agreement. The neo-Darwinian perspective is fundamentally at odds with Adventism in that it draws no limits between so-called “micro” and “macro” evolution. Only “Darwinian processes” on the micro-level, below the 1000saaa threshold level of functional complexity, are consistent with Adventism.

      Also, the claims of macro-evolutionists (most mainstream scientists), are diametrically opposed to the idea of all life on Earth being produced during a truly literal six-day creation week. These ideas cannot rationally co-exist. One of them is clearly wrong. If there was in fact a literal six-day creation week, neo-Darwinism is a fantastic hoax. If the neo-Darwinian story of macro-evolution is true, the story of all life being created during just six literal days is a nothing more than a silly fairytale for children…

      Both stories cannot be true. There is no way to rationally merge them either because of the fact that they are so very diametrically opposed to each other. One of them is very very very wrong – dead wrong.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 9

      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean, Here is a direct quote from you:
        “I don’t know how many times I have to explain to you that we all believe in a limited form of neo-Darwinism. As I’ve explained to you before, Darwinian evolution does happen. It is a real force of nature. However, it is a very very limited force of nature – limited to very very low levels of functional complexity.

        Sean Pitman”

        I am trying to AGREE with you. So, I guess you have to explain it to me as many times as you change you mind. Do you, or do you not believe in the evolutionary principles of variation (random or otherwise), and natural selection?

        How is it that all Adventists believe in Neo-Darwinism, but you still can’t agree with statement 1? What is it you dont’ agree with?

        Like Comment: Thumb up 0

  58. Sean Pitman: They aren’t teaching the limits of the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS.

    I for one am not sure there are any limits. You think you can define limits, and I am not second guessing you, but your ideas have not become main stream, and they really don’t seem to hold water from a philosophical/theological perspective.

    I think it is morally wrong to censor teachers because they are not teaching concepts that
    1. are not accepted by the main stream, and 2. are so recent or obscure that they might not even be aware of them.
    3. especially when you yourself agree with the principles that they are teaching, you just disagree on the extent to which those principles are operationalized.

    @Sean Pitman:

    I am not sure I always can, when it comes to design intelligence. Certain rocks contain a lot of very complicated information about their history, chemistry, and some of them, like fossils, for instance, can be pretty complicated, and certain rocks, like my supercomputer processor are highly designed. And unfortunately, my car is often poorly designed.

    But you are missing the point. You are the one claiming that God created the earth, as opposed to it developing naturally. You are trying to use Intelligent Design as proof of God’s creation. So you tell me. How does the amorphous rock show enough intelligent design to prove that it was created by God? The burden of proof is really with you.

    @Sean Pitman:

    I am doubtful of the quality of these websites, but they at least talk about particles spontaneously forming in space. If I had more time and access to academic web sites, I could probably find the supporting articles. But this is really beside the point when discussing evolution, so I am going to drop it.

    http://www.supraconsciousnessnetwork.org/DPSpacetimesuperstring.htm
    “Atomic particles such as electrons can spontaneously form within space and then dissolve back into space being annihilated by anti electrons (positrons).”

    http://harunyahya.com/en/Makaleler/5357/Quantum_physics:_The_Discovery_that_scientifically_demolished_materialism
    “In quantum physics, it is to be observed that subatomic particles appear and disappear spontaneously in a vacuum.”

    @Sean Pitman:
    “God uses His power and intelligence to create the final product in one fell swoop. There is no need for trial and error when God creates. He does it right the first time”

    For living organisms, doing it right the first time would include the ability to change in response to changing environments.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      I for one am not sure there are any limits. You think you can define limits, and I am not second guessing you, but your ideas have not become main stream, and they really don’t seem to hold water from a philosophical/theological perspective.

      Of course the Adventist perspective on many different concepts isn’t “mainstream”. That’s why we have our own schools instead of just sending our kids to much cheaper public schools. You are also mistaken to suggest that creationists have not long accepted various forms of “micro-evolution” while rejecting “macro-evolution”.

      Very limited forms of genetic “change over time” or evolution do happen. However, these changes are very limited to very low levels of functional complexity. If you or someone else does not recognize the creative limitations to the evolutionary mechanism, then you simply cannot adequately represent the Adventist perspective on origins… and shouldn’t be hired to teach contrary to the Adventist perspective in our own schools…

      I think it is morally wrong to censor teachers because they are not teaching concepts that
      1. are not accepted by the main stream, and 2. are so recent or obscure that they might not even be aware of them.
      3. especially when you yourself agree with the principles that they are teaching, you just disagree on the extent to which those principles are operationalized.

      Again, this has always been an issue over the “extent to which evolutionary principles are operational”. It has never been an all or nothing issue – never. Everyone involved with this debate over the creative potential of evolutionary mechanisms recognizes the reality of limited forms of evolution. The only difference is over degree – i.e., over the question of if there are or are not limitations to the degree of functional complexity that can be produced by the evolutionary mechanism of random mutations and functional-based natural selection.

      The Adventist position is that there are very clear limits along these lines. The position of secular scientists is that there are no such limits – that given enough time the statistically improbable becomes inevitable.

      The problem, of course, is that mainstream scientists just don’t do the math…

      [Regarding the origin of highly symmetrical polished granite cubes vs. amorphous rocks vs. automobiles] I am not sure I always can [tell the origin], when it comes to design intelligence. Certain rocks contain a lot of very complicated information about their history, chemistry, and some of them, like fossils, for instance, can be pretty complicated, and certain rocks, like my supercomputer processor are highly designed. And unfortunately, my car is often poorly designed.

      There you go, you can tell the difference between your computer processor and an amorphous rock. You know that your processor required intelligent design over and above that of the shape of an amorphous rock. I dare say that even mainstream scientists would be able to tell the difference between a highly symmetrical granite cube, if found on an alien planet like Mars, and an amorphous rock. Such a find, say of a 2 x 2 x 2 meter highly symmetrical polished granite cube on the surface of Mars, would hit the front pages of every news paper in the world as clear evidence of intelligent design at work.

      But you are missing the point. You are the one claiming that God created the earth, as opposed to it developing naturally. You are trying to use Intelligent Design as proof of God’s creation. So you tell me. How does the amorphous rock show enough intelligent design to prove that it was created by God? The burden of proof is really with you.

      I’ve been very clear in explaining that I do not think something like an amorphous rock requires the input of intelligent design. I do not think that God intentionally sits down and consciously carves out out each amorphous rock that exists on this planet or in the universe at large. God created the natural laws that then created the amorphous rocks, and snow flakes, and weather patterns, etc. God is not directly manipulating these things on our planet.

      I’m not sure how many more times I have to explain this concept to you? Natural laws, created by God, work independent of God’s need for direct deliberate action. That’s why He created these natural laws instead of doing everything directly by Himself all the time. These laws are tools that He has made. The have their detectable limits as tools. While God is not limited in His creative ability, the natural laws that He has made, the tools, are limited. They are not themselves God.

      For example, let’s say I make a hammer. This hammer is a tool that is made for a specific job. The hammer is not me. It has limitations that I do not have. These limitations can be investigated and defined. The very same thing is true of the tools that God has made – the natural laws of the universe.

      As another example, God made you. Yet, you are not God. You have limitations that God does not have. You are just a tool of God’s creation. Your limitations can be investigated and defined…

      I am doubtful of the quality of these websites, but they at least talk about particles spontaneously forming in space.

      As far as I’m aware, the claims of these websites are mistaken. No one has actually observed electrons or any other subatomic particle popping into existence from nothing… never.

      “God uses His power and intelligence to create the final product in one fell swoop. There is no need for trial and error when God creates. He does it right the first time” – Sean Pitman

      For living organisms, doing it right the first time would include the ability to change in response to changing environments.

      Yes, but like with my hammer, there are limitations to how much change can be realized via mindless mechanisms – like random mutations and natural selection. Nature is not God nor is it intelligent like God. Nature is not infinite. It is finite. Nature’s limitations can be investigated and determined to a very useful degree of predictive value.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectignDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 8

      • @Sean Pitman:

        “I’ve been very clear in explaining that I do not think something like [the shape of] an amorphous rock requires the input of intelligent design.” – Sean Pitman

        That is true, but then you, well maybe it was Bob who claimed that the entire earth was created in 6 days about 6000 years ago, and you were using astronomers, and physicists admiration for the order of the basic laws of nature as proof that the earth was Intelligently designed by God 6000 years ago, but then when it comes to biology, you define those same laws as being “natural”. So pardon my confusion.

        When I look at the amorphous rock am I supposed to see in the physical laws that created it an intelligence that would compel me to believe its existence requires the presence of a supernatural creation 6000 years ago or not? If I am supposed to, I don’t.

        With the possible exception that if you believe the natural laws are a manifestation of the ongoing activity of God, then I see evidence of God’s creation in the rock. But if the natural laws operate independent of God, then I don’t.

        Another problem I have with this line of reasoning is that you use the admiration of the physicists to prove the existence of God, but then when it comes to scientifically dating the rock, you dismiss them as insane.

        Like Comment: Thumb up 3

        • @Ron:

          As I’ve mentioned several times before, I’m a young life creationist, not a young Earth creationist. The material of the Earth, and the universe itself, may be very old indeed. However, life on Earth, to include the fossil record of life, is very young.

          With the possible exception that if you believe the natural laws are a manifestation of the ongoing activity of God, then I see evidence of God’s creation in the rock. But if the natural laws operate independent of God, then I don’t.

          Again, I’m not talking about the fundamental laws of nature that make it possible for an amorphous rock to exist and to develop its amorphous shape. I’m talking about the origin of the shape itself. Is the shape of an amorphous piece of granite a sign of deliberate intelligence? as compared to the shape of a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring 2 meters on each side?

          In short, why do you think such a granite cube, if discovered on the surface of Mars by one of our rovers, would cause a news story sensation around the world, while an amorphous granite rock would not?

          Another problem I have with this line of reasoning is that you use the admiration of the physicists to prove the existence of God, but then when it comes to scientifically dating the rock, you dismiss them as insane.

          Not everything scientists say is true, and not everything they say is false. You have to do some thinking for yourself to know when they are drifting off base because of their own philosophical biases or misconceptions. Scientists are people too, prone to personal and even collective bias, and able to make glaring mistakes because of it…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 7

          • ref=”#comment-38438″>Sean Pitman:
            OK, but your argument that non-believing scientists see evidence of intelligent design in the basic laws of the universe carries force only if you give credence to the non-believing scientists. I think if you dismiss their dating methods and all of the rest of their work, then the fact that they see intelligent design doesn’t have much credibility either.

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            • @Ron:

              Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.

              Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.

              Sean Pitman
              http://www.DetectingDesign.com

              Hot debate. Thumb up 9

          • @Sean Pitman:

            “I’m not sure how many more times I have to explain this concept to you? Natural laws, created by God, work independent of God’s need for direct deliberate action.”

            Sean, where do you get this idea that there is a natural law apart from God’s action? I don’t see that being taught in the Bible anywhere.

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            • @Ron:

              Sean, where do you get this idea that there is a natural law apart from God’s action? I don’t see that being taught in the Bible anywhere.

              That’s why you think that God is directly causing cancer in children and tornadoes that destroy lives and property. You don’t recognize the concept that while God sustains all of nature and natural law, He is not the direct cause of everything that nature does on this planet as a result of natural laws.

              Tornadoes and cancer are generally not “miracles” of God’s design or creative power… according to the Bible. When we see the destruction that nature often causes, we don’t jump up and down and clap our hands and say, “Thank God for His miraculous tornadoes and the cancer aunt Minni found out about today!” Why not? – don’t you think?

              Consider the following comments from the E.G.. White Estate regarding the origin of disease, suffering and death:

              Suffering, other than sickness due to neglect of physical laws, is also caused by Satan and not the deliberate intervention of God. On many occasions she reinforced the teaching of Jesus on this point…

              Her teachings regarding the cause of death, as well as suffering, flowed from the big picture of the great controversy between God and Satan:

              “It is true that all suffering results from the transgression of God’s law, but this truth had become perverted. Satan, the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin.”

              Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 471.

              http://www.whiteestate.org/books/mol/Chapt7.html

              So, again, neither the Bible nor Mrs. White see diseases, like childhood leukemia, as being the result of a deliberate act or intervention of God…

              Sean Pitman
              http://www.DetectingDesign.com

              Like Comment: Thumb up 3

      • @Sean Pitman:
        “Such a find, say of a 2 x 2 x 2 meter highly symmetrical polished granite cube on the surface of Mars, would hit the front pages of every news paper in the world as clear evidence of intelligent design at work.”

        Actually, life on Mars has already made the front page news. Remember the intelligently made canals, and the carved face on Mars? Both of those were confused with signs of intelligent life and turned out to be only amorphous rocks.

        If the difference is so clear, then why the confusion. You have not yet defined the specific characteristics that distinguish intelligent design from natural. You are basically saying it is an “aunt Minnie”, i.e.”I know it when I see it”. And I agree, that most of the time, it probably is obvious, but some times it isn’t, so we need a definition.

        I just read today of a study done on children, with robots where most children thought it wasn’t fair to interrupt the robot’s game and put it into the closet. Here children are assigning moral value to an electronic object. If the output from a computer can be intelligent enough to make people think it is a moral being, then tell me how I am supposed to distinguish the intelligent output from God’s creation from the intelligent output from God himself? I believe the genetic output from God’s creation is far more intelligent than the computer that fooled the children. This gets back to distinguishing natural vs. supernatural outcomes.

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  59. Sean said…….

    “I’ve been very clear in explaining that I do not think something like an amorphous rock requires the input of intelligent design. I do not think that God intentionally sits down and consciously carves out out each amorphous rock that exists on this planet or in the universe at large. God created the natural laws that then created the amorphous rocks, and snow flakes, and weather patterns, etc. God is not directly manipulating these things on our planet.”

    Let me say Sean, that God is active in every process of every detail of every created thing. There is not a blade of grass that grows that God is not active in causing it to develop and grow.

    Nature is not self sustaining by some inherent power, nor does it reproduce with out the active work of God in every detail.

    Some of your statements are why some doubt whether you actually support the real biblical position on how God created and continues to sustain the universe.

    God has an awareness that transcends human comprehension. Meaning, He is aware continually of every detail of all He has created all the time. And He is actively preserving its ongoing existence momentarily.

    Bill Sorensen

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Bill Sorensen:

      God has an awareness that transcends human comprehension. Meaning, He is aware continually of every detail of all He has created all the time. And He is actively preserving its ongoing existence momentarily.

      So, why do innocent children get leukemia and other forms of cancer and die painful deaths? Why do innocent families get hit by tornadoes and die? Acts of God? Hardly. These are the acts of nature acting blindly according to basic laws that govern matter without any personal concern for humanity – without the direct involvement of God.

      As I’ve already explained in this thread, awareness isn’t the same thing as direct causation. Of course God is at all times aware of everything – past, present, and future. He is all knowing. Yet, this omniscience isn’t the same thing as being directly responsible for every event that takes place. God is not the cause of sin or the actions of the sinner – or the results of such actions that naturally follow. Such are the result of the free-will actions of free moral agents. God created free moral agents with the ability to act independent of His own will.

      It is for this reason that children get cancer and die painful deaths. Such events are the result of God stepping back from as much personal and direct involvement with His creation as He would like. He allows the basic natural laws, that He has created, to act independent of His will on this planet because of the choice of the human race. He has knowledge of their painful results. He personally feels the pain of these things. He tells us that He feels pain even when a little sparrow falls wounded to the ground! That’s pretty amazing for the God of the Universe to take notice of the suffering of the little sparrows. Surely, then, he notices when each one of us gets sick or suffers for any reason.

      So, while God does indeed sustain His natural laws (nothing can exist independent of His sustaining power and knowledge), He is also able to step back from these laws to some degree and let them function on their own without His own intelligent intervention when they might cause suffering and pain – as in the case of this sinful planet.

      When anyone asks God to step back from direct involvement with nature, with his/her life, what is the natural result? What is the result of mindless nature working according to the basic mindless laws of nature? – independent of God’s direct guidance? This is what the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan is all about – a demonstration of what happens when God is not involved, in a direct manner, with our lives or with the laws of nature that govern our world. The result is an increase in entropy/decay on every level – thermodynamic, genetic/informational, and moral. Everything starts to decay and die without God’s active involvement above and beyond the mindless natural laws that He has set in place to govern the repetitive mechanistic processes of the universe.

      As you get older, you suffer more and more random genetic mutations, around 60,000 of them by the time you’re 60. This is why we humans age and eventually die. Our genome wears out like old clothes. Is God directly causing each one of these mutations? Does God say to Himself, “Which areas of Sean’s genome am I going to mutate today – in an apparently random way”? Surely not! These degenerative random genetic mutations are simply the result of God stepping back from nature and allowing natural laws of entropy to act independent of His sustaining creative power… because of the moral fall of humanity.

      Of course, even when Adam and Eve stepped away from God during their moral fall, God did not step completely away from them. If He had, they would have instantly ceased to exist – and we would never have been born. However, God did step far enough away, as requested, to give the universe an example of what naturally happens when God steps away from anything in nature and allows basic mindless natural laws to act on their own… decay, suffering and death.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 9

      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean said…..

        “God is not the cause of sin or the actions of the sinner – or the results of such actions that naturally follow. Such are the result of the free-will actions of free moral agents. God created free moral agents with the ability to act independent of His own will.”

        Your explanation affirms that there is a sense in which God is responsible for sin. He did not have to create free moral agents.

        But it also explains why God is not responsible for sin. As long as He gives every moral being the ability to comprehend the results of their actions, and the information to make the right choice, then God is not responsible for the choice.

        And this is the whole issue of the Great Controversy, isn’t it? Who is responsible for sin?

        Lucifer’s argument is this, if God has made us correctly and given us all the right information to make a correct determination, it would be impossible to sin. So, either we were not make correctly, or, we do not have enough information to make the right decision.

        More than a few of the angels followed his reasoning and agreed with him. And by far the majority of humanity agrees with Lucifer as well. Sinner always impute sin to God and God alone.

        Those of us who believe the bible take a biblical view. God created us and has given us enough viable information in the word and by His Spirit to agree with God that He is not ultimately responsible for sin.

        While we don’t know everything there is to know about God or anything else for that matter, we do know enough to be held accountable for our decisions and actions.

        And thus the Great Controversy is being played out on this earth and will be culminated in the end with everyone who agrees with God inside the city and everyone who agrees with Lucifer outside.

        Let’s not charge God with being responsible for sin by continuing in rebellion against His kingdom and will for His created beings. We have enough information to make the right decision and the Holy Spirit to confirm and affirm us in doing it.

        Keep the faith

        Bill Sorensen

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        • @Bill Sorensen:

          Your explanation affirms that there is a sense in which God is responsible for sin. He did not have to create free moral agents.

          The creation of free moral agents in no way means that God is at all responsible for sin. Just because God created the potential for sin does not mean He is therefore responsible for it in any way, shape, or form. The very definition of sin suggests this truth – that sin is in fact the result of a free-will choice of a free moral agent choosing to act against the will of God. Such a choice was/is completely irrational and mysterious – beyond any and all attempts to explain or provide any rational reason for its existence.

          Consider the words of Mrs. White in this regard:

          Nothing is more plainly taught in Scripture than that God was in no wise responsible for the entrance of sin; that there was no arbitrary withdrawal of divine grace, no deficiency in the divine government, that gave occasion for the uprising of rebellion. Sin is an intruder, for whose presence no reason can be given. It is mysterious, unaccountable; to excuse it is to defend it. Could excuse for it be found, or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin.

          – EGW, GC, p. 493

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 7

          • @Sean Pitman:

            Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.

            Paul says, “Sold in in.” and “Children of wrath just like everyone else.”

            You may not like this biblical reality, but it is true none the less.

            And yes, God has also provided a way of escape so that all who He has created “in sin” can be “born again” spiritually and escape their heritage of sin and shame.

            I know a lot of people don’t like this idea, but it is true anyway. We are born lost with the potential to be saved if we accept Jesus and His atonement that is provisional for “whosoever will may come.”

            Cain didn’t like it either and resisted the exhortation of his brother, Abel, to offer a sin offering because he was a sinner. Cain says, “No, I’ll bring a thank offering, but no sin offering. Sin is not my fault. God created me this way.”

            Most people will be outside looking in because they agree with Cain but a few will be inside looking out because they agree with Abel.

            Bill Sorensen

            Hot debate. Thumb up 2

            • @Bill Sorensen:

              Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.

              God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.

              “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’” Matthew 13:27-28

              Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.

              Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.

              This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…

              Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.

              Sean Pitman
              http://www.DetectingDesign.com

              Like Comment: Thumb up 7

      • @Sean Pitman:
        “So, why do innocent children get leukemia and other forms of cancer and die painful deaths?”

        To answer this question, I think you have to go back to the beginning and ask, “what was so wonderful that it would entice God to go ahead with creation even knowing what it would do to Jesus? Once you answer that question, then the problem of sin really ceases to be a problem, and it doesn’t really matter where you draw the line of responsibility, because in the end when it is all said and done, God has already been reconciled to the evil. Whatever it is, it makes children having leukemia OK, otherwise He would never have created in the first place.

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  60. I found an interesting quote:
    “Unlike Lamarck, Darwin did not believe that evolution inevitably produces more complex life forms and that the ultimate result of this process is humans.”
    http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_2.htm

    If this is true, Darwin is getting a bad rap for something he didn’t believe. Perhaps we should refer to the evolution that Adventist’s object to as “Lamarckian Evolution”, and the evolution that Adventist’s accept, historically called “micro-evolution” in Adventist circles, as “Darwinian evolution”

    Hot debate. Thumb up 1

    • @Ron:

      This isn’t true. Darwin did in fact believe that the mindless naturalistic mechanisms of slight random variations and natural selection was in fact responsible for the origin and diversity of all features of all living things.

      This is why he became an atheist altogether – and a rather depressed atheist at that. He gave up on the idea of God as the Creator because he thought mindless natural processes could explain all that he saw.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 11

      • @Sean Pitman:
        Well, I am looking forward to heaven, where I can explain to him how his principles are still compatible with a belief in God. I can imagine Jesus telling Darwin, “I know you couldn’t see it at the time, and it shook your faith, but I knew your heart. I am sorry it was so hard for you. Go talk to Ron, he can explain it to you.”

        Like Comment: Thumb up 1

      • @Sean Pitman:
        “This is why he became an atheist altogether – and a rather depressed atheist at that.”

        Depression is usually caused by something you don’t like, but which you can’t change. The fact that Darwin had such a hard time publishing his findings, and the fact that he was a “depressed atheist at that” implies that he had a good heart and really wanted to believe in God, but he just couldn’t see through the fog that Lamark created.

        “He gave up on the idea of God as the Creator because he thought mindless natural processes could explain all that he saw.”

        So this is a logical error that we can reject. But that doesn’t mean that everything he said was wrong. We don’t have to throw out the baby with the bath water. When you are dealing with a mixture of truth and error, it is important not to deny the truth in the process of denying the error.

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  61. Sean said…….

    “God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being.”

    It is true Sean, that God did not create the broken condition as you have affirmed and I agree.

    None the less, it is God who creates human beings in this broken condition.

    And because of the broken condition, they are under the wrath of God. You may not like the enigma, but it is still true.

    Sinful parents have sinful children. But not without God’s participation in the process. And of course, from God’s perspective, it is with the intent that such children of wrath should be “born again” into God’s spiritual kingdom by way of the cross.

    And so at birth, the Holy Spirit begins by every means of grace available to prepare and persuade every baby to accept Jesus and be saved from the wrath to come.

    And thus, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman” is a super natural act of God’s grace in behalf of fallen man and not simply a natural part of human birth that would have taken place had Adam not sinned in the first place.

    “I Will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” [Genesis 3:15.] The divine sentence pronounced against Satan after the fall of man, was also a prophecy, embracing all the ages to the close of time, and foreshadowing the great conflict to engage all the races of men who should live upon the earth. {GC88 505.1}

    God declares, “I will put enmity.” This enmity is not naturally entertained. When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan. There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin. Both became evil through apostasy. The apostate is never at rest, except as he obtains sympathy and support by inducing others to follow his example. For this reason, fallen angels and wicked men unite in desperate companionship. Had not God specially interposed, Satan and man would have entered into an alliance against Heaven; and instead of cherishing enmity against Satan, the whole human family would have been united in opposition to God.” {GC88 505.2}

    And notice especially…..”This enmity is not naturally entertained. When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan. There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin. Both became evil through apostasy.”

    God creates babies in a state of sin but not without the possibility of changing that reality.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      It is true Sean, that God did not create the broken condition as you have affirmed and I agree.

      None the less, it is God who creates human beings in this broken condition.

      You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth Bill. You’re saying that God both did and did not create our broken condition?

      Allowing basic laws of nature to function on this planet, independent of His will, is not the same thing as actively creating the broken condition of a baby born with leukemia… or any other defect that is the natural result of our separation from God.

      And because of the broken condition, they are under the wrath of God. You may not like the enigma, but it is still true.

      There is no enigma here. God is only responsible for the good things that still exist in this life. He is responsible for the creation of the breath of life, but not the painful defects of life. Childhood leukemia is simply not an “act of God”. It is the result of mindless natural mechanisms that act independent of God’s desire or will for us on this planet.

      Sinful parents have sinful children. But not without God’s participation in the process.

      God’s only participation in the process is in creating that which is good. Again, all things broken and evil are “of the enemy” – Matthew 13:27-28.

      You make God out to be directly responsible, to one degree or another, for childhood leukemia and other such evils. It seems like you would call such evils, “acts of God”. I’m sorry, but you have a warped view of God and His will for us. He never desires that any child, or any adult for that matter, would suffer any form of harm or injury to mind, body, or soul. And, He does not aid in the process of random genetic mutations that do end up causing great pain and death to those that He dearly loves… or any other form of injury for that matter.

      And thus, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman” is a super natural act of God’s grace in behalf of fallen man and not simply a natural part of human birth that would have taken place had Adam not sinned in the first place.

      Indeed this is a very good supernatural gift on the part of God – the creation of our ability to recognize and hate evil. However, this is a good gift. It is not the same thing as a child getting leukemia – which would be a very very bad “gift”. The fact is that leukemia is the “natural” result of random genetic mutations that occur independent of God’s will or action for any child…

      God declares, “I will put enmity.” This enmity is not naturally entertained.

      That’s right, but leukemia is “naturally entertained”… as are all other injuries to the human race which are a natural consequence of our separation from God’s direct care and will for us.

      You confuse the supernatural gifts of God, which are always good gifts, with the natural consequences of our separation from God, which are not “gifts” of God at all.

      God creates babies in a state of sin but not without the possibility of changing that reality.

      Can you even hear what you are saying? I can’t believe you just said that it is God who creates babies in a state of brokenness. Leukemia? This is an act of God? Really?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 7

      • @Sean Pitman:
        “Indeed this is a very good supernatural gift on the part of God – the creation of our ability to recognize and hate evil.”

        Sean, it seems to me that it is you who is talking out of both sides of his mouth. How can you say that the ability to recognize and hate evil is a good gift, and then not also affirm the prerequisites to recieving the gift?

        God was responsible for the creation in the beginning, and he set up the test, so if either if the choices he gave Adam and Eve were outside his plan, then He would be and evil God.

        The only way that God can allow Eve the choice without being evil himself, it to have a remedy in place. i.e. Christ was the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. And even though Eve’s choice resulted in a period of pain, in the long run, after God’s plan has run it’s course, Man will be actually on the throne with God, a place he never would have attained if Eve had not made the choice that she did. So, Eve’s choice was between innocence and life without pain, or to pursue wisdom through a life of pain and death, to eventually wind up on the throne knowing good from evil. I think I am OK with that. I would rather experience evil and have wisdom, and to ultimately be placed on the throne of God, than to take the easy way, and never know the truth about God’s character.

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  62. I agree with Sean in this, to a large extent. To put it another way, God is allowing sin to take its natural course. God allows Satan to stir up tornadoes resulting in a large number of deaths, loss and suffering; to tempt people to drink and drive, causing accidents that sometimes wipe out whole, innocent families, etc. God doesn’t cause the storms or the crashes, but if He interfered with the results of sin, how would it ever be demonstrated to earthlings or the beings in the universe what sin was really about. Of course it hurts God to see His creation so perverted and His people suffering. But He agreed to let Satan show how his way was better than God’s, and if He doesn’t allow suffering to take place, that won’t ever be seen. By Adam and Eve’s downfall, we became the experimental planet; we became the battleground for the Great Controversy. I look forward to the day when God comes and puts an end to it all. But until that day, we are suffering from Satan’s actions, not God’s.

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  63. Here is another comment apropos the “rock” discussion:

    “Boucher de Perthes tried to publish his findings in 1838. They were rejected by all important scientists and scientific journals. The prehistoric stone tools usually were dismissed as being only “lightning stones” (i.e., the remnants of lightning bolts). ”
    “http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_2.htm”

    So it is not always possible to identify intelligent design. Here is a case where intelligent design was attributed to natural causes.

    Also, here is a natural stone that meets your definition of one that would require intelligent design to exist. i.e. a polished cube.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2309/1933848366_b2886e9029.jpg

    And here is one that is even more complex, more polished, and more perfect.

    http://www.crystalquarry.com/templatebase/crystalquarry/current/mycontent/Natural%20Crystals.jpg

    And, just in case those aren’t big enough: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/04/photogalleries/giant-crystals-cave/images/primary/crystal-cave-2b.jpg

    The only point I am trying to make here is that it can be difficult to define intelligence in the term intelligent design.

    Using the supercomputer analogy. If the supercomputer represents nature. Does nature appear to operate intelligently because God designed to to provide intelligent output like a watch, or does it provide intelligent appearing output because God is still providing intelligent input through the keyboard?

    It seems to you are arguing that God does not have access, (or chooses not to use) the keyboard. It also seems to me your world view runs afoul of Bob’s quote where Mrs. White condemns scientists who use scientific findings to exclude God as the creator. It seems that is what you are doing. You are saying that just because genetics account for small changes naturally, God as the creator is not involved in the process for these small changes.

    (Isn’t it a little weird that in the process of arguing for evolution, I wind up arguing for God functioning as a creator, and when you argue against evolution, you wind up arguing against God functioning as a creator? I’m not sure I saw that coming.)

    Hot debate. Thumb up 2

    • @Ron:

      Why do you think I specified the material as a granite cube? – when I talk about a highly symmetrical polished granite cube requiring the input of intelligent design to explain?

      Many different types of highly symmetrical crystals (pyrite, salt, quartz snow flakes, etc) can be produced by mindless natural mechanisms without the need for intelligent manipulation over and above what these natural laws can achieve all by themselves. However, this is not true for the material of granite.

      In short, you have to have at least some experience with the material in question as it relates to various known mindless forces of nature before you will be able to detect true artifactual manipulation of this material via intelligent design over and above mindless natural mechanisms.

      The only point I am trying to make here is that it can be difficult to define intelligence in the term intelligent design.

      For some phenomena, yes. For others, no. There is no question as to the intelligent origin of a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring 2 meters on each side – even if found on the surface of an alien planet like Mars. This is because anyone with any prior experience with the material of granite knows that granite does not spontaneously form such highly symmetrical structures.

      Again, the detection of a deliberately designed artifact requires some scientific investigation and development of predictive value. Such determinations are not intuitive without such background experience and investigation.

      Using the supercomputer analogy. If the supercomputer represents nature. Does nature appear to operate intelligently because God designed to to provide intelligent output like a watch, or does it provide intelligent appearing output because God is still providing intelligent input through the keyboard?

      If God were still providing intelligent input through the keyboard above and beyond the detectable limits of the laws of nature that He has already set in place, then we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the actions of mindless laws of nature and those of deliberate design. Such a situation would make forensic science, anthropology, and SETI theoretically impossible. The fact that these sciences are at all feasible means that your theory that God is still manipulating everything behind the scenes outside of the limitations of His natural laws is not valid. Generally speaking, God does not appear to work above and beyond the natural laws, and their limitations, that He has created. On the rare occasions when He does do so, we call these events “Miracles” of intelligent design.

      It’s like the basic programming for the operating system of your computer. This operating system can do some amazing things, but it is still limited in what it can do. It cannot create the software to do word processing or photo editing, etc. These software packages have to be independently created, by intelligent design, and uploaded onto your computer system.

      In the same way, the operating system for the universe is limited. Additional software programs, like the genetic programming necessary for a novel highly complex biosystem in a living organism, requires additional intelligent programming that goes well beyond the known limitations of the general operating system for the mindless universe…

      It seems to you are arguing that God does not have access, (or chooses not to use) the keyboard… You are saying that just because genetics account for small changes naturally, God as the creator is not involved in the process for these small changes.

      That’s right. God chooses not to block the natural results of our choice to separate ourselves from Him – to step away from His direct and constant care into the realm of mindless natural laws that do not personally care about us. This is why God allows random mutations to produce diseases in the human genome – such as cancers, sickle cell anemia, Down syndrome, cru-de-chat syndrome, etc., all of which are the result of random genetic mutations which God did not directly type into the universal supercomputer. These are simply the natural results of the decay of any mechanical system that does not undergo regular repairs by the Mechanic… all such complex functional systems experience various forms of entropy, or degeneration, over time.

      (Isn’t it a little weird that in the process of arguing for evolution, I wind up arguing for God functioning as a creator, and when you argue against evolution, you wind up arguing against God functioning as a creator? I’m not sure I saw that coming.)

      You are arguing for a type of creator who cannot be recognized as doing anything above and beyond the basic natural laws that he has created. My argument is different in that I am arguing for a Creator who can be recognized as creating above and beyond the basic laws of mindless nature… creating stuff that these laws, that the basic operating system of the universe, simply cannot explain without the additional input of very very high levels of intelligence and creative power (as in the production of additional software programs for your computer). It is for this reason that we can actually detect the Signature of God, not only behind the basic laws of nature, behind the origin of the basic operating system, but behind various features of nature that go well beyond the known limits that these basic laws have been programmed to achieve… to include the origin of living things and the origin of the written Word – the Bible (i.e., additional programs within the operating system).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 10

      • @Sean Pitman:

        “The fact that these sciences are at all feasible means that your theory that God is still manipulating everything behind the scenes outside of the limitations of His natural laws is not valid.”

        It is not my theory that God still manipulates anything behind the scenes outside of natural law.
        It is my theory that natural law describes God’s actions and that he works within natural law.

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  64. I said…..

    “Sinful parents have sinful children. But not without God’s participation in the process…. It is God who creates human beings in this broken condition. ”

    And Sean replied…..

    “God’s only participation in the process is in creating that which is good [and allowing evil people to exist, which includes all of us, to demonstrate the natural consequences of evil].”

    I don’t think anyone who takes the bible seriously could agree with your conclusion, Sean.

    As I said earlier, God sustains evil men and women and to deny it would be difficult to do in light of the biblical information on this subject.

    I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that [there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things]. – Isaiah 45:5-7

    Bill Sorensen

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Bill Sorensen:

      I don’t think anyone who takes the bible seriously could agree with your conclusion, Sean.

      What? that something like childhood leukemia is not an “act of God”? contrary to your claim that, “It is God who creates human beings in this broken condition”?

      I don’t think anyone who reads about the how God is grieved when He sees the suffering of even a little sparrow would be able to conclude that something like childhood leukemia is really an “act of God”. Such a conclusion is opposed to the Biblical view of God – and Mrs. White also speaks strongly against this view (as noted above).

      As I said earlier, God sustains evil men and women and to deny it would be difficult to do in light of the biblical information on this subject.

      You mean God makes it possible for evil, and therefore freedom of choice, to exist? Of course He does. It does not follow, however, that God is therefore responsible for evil in any way. He does not cause people to rebel against His will nor does He cause the natural consequences that result when people separate themselves from His own will and desire for their lives.

      God also does not “sustain” evil over and above the natural laws that He originally set up to govern the basic features of the universe. Evil people suffer random mutations and degenerative changes over time just like everyone else. They get old and die. They get cancer and suffer with disease and sickness – as do the righteous on this planet… all according to natural law consequences.

      As a general rule of thumb, God does not interfere with the natural law consequences of cause and effect in this world. On special occasions He can and does step in an intervene above and beyond that which natural law would otherwise allow. However, by in large, we are all subject to the degenerative consequences of natural law – both the righteous and wicked. This will be the case until, “The old order of things is done away with.” – Revelation 21:4

      God is not responsible for the choice of humanity to step away from Him and His will into the hands of cold, hard, mindless, natural law without a Divine mechanic on hand to fix all of the degenerative changes that hurt us on a daily basis. Just because He allows those who have made this choice to exist doesn’t mean He directly causes the degenerative effects that naturally follow…

      Let me ask you one more time. Is something like childhood leukemia an “act of God”? Did God cause such a child to get leukemia? Did God, in your words, “create this broken condition”? Or, did He simply allow natural law to produce such degenerative changes against His will? – because of the evil choices of free moral agents?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 5

  65. Let me ask you one more time. Is something like childhood leukemia an “act of God”? Did God cause such a child to get leukemia? Did God, in your words, “create this broken condition”? Or, did He simply allow natural law to produce such degenerative changes against His will? – because of the evil choices of free moral agents?

    Sean Pitman

    For one thing, Sean, you are mixing natural law with moral law. There is a natural law degeneracy and a moral law degeneracy. And while they are closely related, they are not one and the same thing.

    As far as natural law degeneracy is concerned, yes, God ordained it, for He said, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.”

    This is not some natural consequence of sin. God could have easily sustained the physical being of man even while he was a moral degenerate. But to illustrate by way of nature some parallel of the two laws, God cursed the ground.

    And yes, in some cases, God actually caused physical sickness and even death as in the case of Uzzah who touched the Ark. Uzzah did not die from some natural law degeneracy.

    This is not to deny that there is a natural law degeneracy that is followed by sickness and physical afflictions. If a person smokes, they may get cancer. And cancer is part of the physical natural law punishment that follows disobedience to the laws of nature.

    But if you consider a number of biblical examples of how God acted against sin by a physical curse you will see a different scenario. Elisha’s servant was cursed with leprosy, as was Mariam, and others who were punished by God. God specifically caused these afflictions.

    All the plagues of Egypt God ordained. As well as many other instances where God not only allowed sin by way of natural law to take its course, but acted directly to bring about the curse.

    Parallel and contrast is how we best see and understand the bible. Jesus had no moral degeneracy. His moral (spiritual) nature was free from every and any taint of sin. But Jesus did suffer the physical degeneracy that we all share in.

    The physical degeneracy is not what makes us sinners. It is the spiritual corruption of the mind.

    God did not create moral corruption. But He did create us in it. If a baby is born with cancer, wasn’t God active in the creation process? We see two parts in the creation of a new human life. The parents, the human part, and God, the divine part.

    God does not cease to create just because sin is present. So babies are born in sin. Not just physically degenerate, but morally corrupt as well.

    Jesus took the physical degeneracy of humanity, but not the moral corruption. This distinction is imperative to maintain a true understanding of the parallel and contrast between us and Christ. So, Jesus was not born in sin nor did He have a sinful nature. He had no “carnal mind that was at enmity with God.”

    So, yes, God does bring sickness at times that goes beyond the natural law curse of sin.

    Bill Sorensen

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Bill Sorensen:

      In response to my question about God’s role in childhood leukemia, you said:

      So, yes, God does bring sickness at times that goes beyond the natural law curse of sin.

      I’m not asking about an additional supernatural act of God above and beyond natural law. This isn’t a question of if God may, at times, work beyond the basic laws of nature. As I explained above, these special acts of God are called “miracles” in that they go well beyond what mindless natural laws of nature can produce.

      What I’m asking is if you are charging God with responsibility for all evil in this world? such as all the thousands of cases of childhood leukemia that strike every year? or the hundreds of tornadoes that destroy lives and property every year? Are these tragedies all “acts of God”? – above and beyond natural law? Do you stick by your claim that, “It is God who creates human beings in this broken condition.”

      For one thing, Sean, you are mixing natural law with moral law. There is a natural law degeneracy and a moral law degeneracy. And while they are closely related, they are not one and the same thing.

      I’m not mixing these concepts beyond their natural relationship. The fact is that there would be no physical degeneracy on this planet if it were not for the moral Fall of mankind. There would be no separation from God on either the physical or moral levels.

      As far as natural law degeneracy is concerned, yes, God ordained it, for He said, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.”

      You’re confusing the natural consequence of stepping farther away from God into natural law with a deliberate act of God against the choice of a free moral agent. God simply allowed Cain to experience the natural consequences of his choices. He didn’t intervene and protect Cain from the physical results of his moral choice to move even farther away from God’s will…

      This is not some natural consequence of sin. God could have easily sustained the physical being of man even while he was a moral degenerate.

      Physical decay and ultimate death is a natural consequence of sin… of a choice to separate one’s self from God on any level. Certainly God could have prevented the physical degeneracy of mankind (as He has done so far with Satan and his evil angels), but this would not be a true reflection of the natural consequences of sin. After all, we are told that, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) – not just moral death, but physical death as well. It is only natural that if one chooses to separate one’s self from the Source of Life that the physical life of the individual will decay and eventually die.

      Is it possible for God to prevent the natural decline and eventual death of the wicked? Could He force the wicked to live on forever? Absolutely. But, would this be in line with natural law and the free moral choice of the wicked? No. Not at all.

      And yes, in some cases, God actually caused physical sickness and even death as in the case of Uzzah who touched the Ark. Uzzah did not die from some natural law degeneracy.

      These examples of yours where God acts beyond natural law are Red Herrings in this discussion. We aren’t talking about miraculous acts of God that clearly go above and beyond His natural laws…

      This is not to deny that there is a natural law degeneracy that is followed by sickness and physical afflictions. If a person smokes, they may get cancer. And cancer is part of the physical natural law punishment that follows disobedience to the laws of nature.

      Young children who get leukemia didn’t smoke or do anything themselves that would merit “punishment”. Why then do they get leukemia? – sometimes before they are even born? “Acts of God”? – please…

      God did not create moral corruption. But He did create us in it. If a baby is born with cancer, wasn’t God active in the creation process? We see two parts in the creation of a new human life. The parents, the human part, and God, the divine part.

      As I’ve explained before, God is active in providing the breath of life and in sustaining His natural laws. However, He is not active in producing the broken condition of the child on any level. He is only directly responsible for that which is good within the child. He is not responsible in any way shape or form for that which is broken within the child. God does not create that which He is actually working to fix. Such would be counterproductive on the part of God – not to mention evil.

      God does not cease to create just because sin is present. So babies are born in sin. Not just physically degenerate, but morally corrupt as well.

      You mean God does not cease to create good things just because evil is present. However, just because God makes good things to appear within Satan’s realm does not therefore mean that God is the one who created all the bad things as well. He simply allows them to exist for a time, to function according to the basic laws of nature, while He works to resolve the sin problem once and for all.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 7

  66. Sean said…..

    “You mean God does not cease to create good things just because evil is present.”

    That’s what I said, Sean. “God does not cease to create just because sin is present. So babies are born in sin.”

    But the final point is this, if you know something can happen or will happen when you do something, there is accountability on some level.

    On the other hand, since what God created were free moral agents, the only question is whether what He created had enough understanding and ability to make the right choice and not sin.

    As Christians, we believe they did. And in this conclusion, each being is held responsible for their own actions. Even if God knew they would sin before He created them.

    This enigma is not resolved by human reasoning but by divine revelation. For human reasoning alone must necessarily conclude that since God knew they would sin, He is in some way responsible for their doing it. By virtue of the fact that He did not have to create them.

    But we see that God’s foreknowledge can not be considered a factor, and only the element of their ability to make a right choice can be considered in the end.

    So, we conclude that God is not responsible for sin when there was no viable reason for any to do so. In fact, we must conclude that apart from God’s foreknowledge, He has no way of discerning that any would ever sin, since as you agree, sin is a kind of spiritual insanity.

    In which case, sin can not and will not happen because there is no viable cause. Even the possibility of sin is not a viable cause since their is no legitimate motivation for its existence.

    Thus, the plan of salvation was formulated by God before sin was a fact based solely on His foreknowledge. He had no reason to assume it would ever exist. There was no fault in the way He had created moral beings. And there was no viable cause for sin and rebellion.

    None the less, the wicked still accuse God of sin since He created the possibility of it. We see that God created moral beings in the framework of responsible freedom. As long as they continue to act accordingly, in harmony with God’s will, they will continue in responsible freedom.

    The wicked opted for irresponsible freedom like the “entitlement” society in our world today. Such a concept is impossible and have people remain what God created them to be. Ultimately, they want no quality of life based on the responsible freedom God has ordained. And God grants them their wish by their final destruction.

    Bill Sorensen

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Bill Sorensen:

      One last comment on this off-topic diversion we’ve created:

      When the woman was asked, “What is this that thou hast done?” she answered, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” “Why didst Thou create the serpent? Why didst Thou suffer him to enter Eden?”–these were the questions implied in her excuse for her sin. Thus, like Adam, she charged God with the responsibility of their fall. The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies; it was indulged by our first parents as soon as they yielded to the influence of Satan, and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam. Instead of humbly confessing their sins, they try to shield themselves by casting the blame upon others, upon circumstances, or upon God–making even His blessings an occasion of murmuring against Him.

      - EGW, PP, p. 58

      In any case, though, this is really off from the main topic. The question that is really in play here is if it is possible to detect God’s signature in nature over and above the activities of the basic laws of nature that God created?

      I’ve been arguing that it is possible to detect phenomena that go well beyond the known limits of what the mindless laws of nature can achieve… phenomena which can only be rationally explained by high level intelligence and creative power.

      On the other hand, Ron has been arguing that there are no recognizable “miracles” of design in nature since everything in nature is equally designed by God. In other words, Ron doesn’t seem to recognize the concept of levels of design… that each higher level requires the additional input of intelligent design since lower-level systems cannot, by themselves, explain the existence of higher level systems.

      Ron thinks that lower-level systems can evolve into higher level systems without the need to invoke any additional “miracle” of design – beyond what God originally created. In other words, Ron believes that neo-Darwinism is compatible with Christianity because evolutionary mechanisms where simply designed by God as tools in the creative process. Ron, as with all neo-Darwinists, sees no clear limits to the creative potential of the Darwinian mechanisms – given enough time. Therefore, he sees no special “miracle” for the origin or diversity of life at any level of functional complexity…

      So, the question is, do you agree with Ron, that no “miracles” are evident in nature today? beyond the basic laws of nature to which we are all daily subjected?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 11

  67. Ron: It seems to you are arguing that God does not have access, (or chooses not to use) the keyboard. It also seems to me your world view runs afoul of Bob’s quote where Mrs. White condemns scientists who use scientific findings to exclude God as the creator. It seems that is what you are doing. You are saying that just because genetics account for small changes naturally, God as the creator is not involved in the process for these small changes.

    Your summation of 3SG 90-91 is totally without support in the text itself.

    Ellen White never argued anything of the form ” life came about on this planet over billions of years – but how dare anyone try to use that fact to discredit the Gospel”. No such 3SG, no such Ellen White and no such 3SG 90-91.

    You are misrepresenting the position that we find in 3SG 90-91 when we take the text at face value.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Like Comment: Thumb up 4

    • Bob, you are being purposfully obtuse and irrelivant. We stipulated the 6 days of cretion in the ground rules. No one here is arguing agaist creation. We are talking about Gods current involvement with his creation.

      Like Comment: Thumb up 2

  68. Sean Pitman: You confuse the supernatural gifts of God, which are always good gifts, with the natural consequences of our separation from God, which are not “gifts” of God at all.

    So, can you define the difference between natural and supernatural? If God is doing anything supernatural in the world to day, I can’t see it.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

  69. Sean Pitman: These examples of yours (Uzzah) where God acts beyond natural law are Red Herrings in this discussion. We aren’t talking about miraculous acts of God that clearly go above and beyond His natural laws…

    Actually, they aren’t red herrings. They go to the question of God’s relationship to sin. They show that what happens under “natural” law is not inconsistent with the character of God. Allowing a child to get leukemia is of the same character as killing Uzzah.

    You are claiming that God must be able to separate Himself from the laws He established, because if He can’t, then He is somehow guilty of the evil events caused by sin. But defining something “natural” apart from God, doesn’t help. He knew sin was going to occur, (that is why Christ is the Lamb that was slain BEFORE the foundation of the world) therefore He is responsible for any act which enabled sin. At a minimum, in today’s legal environment, God is guilty of aiding and abetting sin just by His act of creating this world.

    Beyond that, God is guilty of many “sins” by our standards. Killing Uzzah was 1st degree murder. The flood was genocide on a massive scale. As Israel’s ruler, He is guilty of crimes against humanity by instigating genocide, with many examples of His personal involvement. In Job He is responsible for inciting, Satan to kill Job’s children and servants, and He didn’t even apologize! At least after the flood, He had the decency to say He was sorry and that He would never do that again, but then He DID do it again, albeit on a smaller scale with the Egyptian army during the exodus. But “never mind, that is only a small lie, a minimization of the truth at worst. He didn’t really destroy the whole world again.”

    The most horrible thing to me actually, is what he did to Issac when God told Abraham to go sacrifice Issac on the mountain top. That is just unimaginable child abuse. I am horrified to even think about it. It used to give me nightmares as a kid. The second most horrible thing that He did, was to consent to the murder of His own son. What kind of a father. . . . . ?

    Mrs. White’s answer to all of this is that even though it appears evil to us, in reality God was acting in love and she wrote the Conflict of the Ages series in an attempt to explain it. The answer to this dilemma is not to deny God’s responsibility, it is to find out what it is in His creation that was so wonderful, that it justified these actions.

    I my opinion, what was so wonderful, was life itself. In other words, God wanted to live life with us. He wanted to vicariously experience our lives as a friend, partner, counselor, God, you name it. He left the choice of what kind of life, to Eve. There was a choice between a safe, sheltered, innocent life, or a life of spiritual exploration. A search for the true nature of God, and an answer to the question posed by Satan, “What is God’s true character?”

    God was right to warn Adam and Eve that the path of exploration would lead to pain and death, but He was also right to allow the choice because a. He would be there with us, experiencing it Himself right along with us, and b. He knew that in the end, when sin is finally eradicated, that humanity will achieve an even higher spiritual state than they could ever have attained if they had taken the safer path.

    In the end, God will not just meet with us and walk through the garden with us at the end of the day, but even now, since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God actually dwells within us, and He is there with us throughout the day, every day, experiencing everything, even the death a child with Leukemia, with us. The cost of Eve’s decision is that a child dies with Leukemia. The benefit of Eve’s decision is the intimacy with God that we have as we go through that experience with Him.

    And when all is said and done and sin has been eradicated, Man will have attained a higher spiritual state than would have been possible if we had taken the safer path. We will have answered the question raised by Satan that has plagued the universe. “What is the true character of God?”

    We will be the only race of creatures in the Universe who will have wisdom. We will be the only ones to truly, from personal experience, understand the difference between Good and Evil. We will share an intimacy with God that no other creature shares, God indwelling us. And as a result, we will sit with God and Jesus on the throne (Revelation). And everyone will bow down and praise God because everyone will agree that the burden was small compared to the “eternal weight of Glory” (Paul).

    As I said before. I love God, and I affirm the decision Eve made. If she had made the other one, I am sure I would have enjoyed that too, but I would rather know than to not know so I am glad she made the one she did. By God’s grace, I am up for the adventure.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Ron:

      You accuse God of genocide and murder and praise Eve for her rebellion against God? This is like accusing those who fought Hitler and the Nazi’s during WWII of murder. You have the thing flipped on its head.

      Say you have an entire race of evil cutthroat murderers who only find joy it is to causing and witnessing the suffering of others. To remove such a group of people from existence is not murder or genocide, but a gesture of mercy on the part of anyone involved with such an effort. The execution of murderers is not itself murder…

      Also, to rebel against the goodness of God is not noble, but evil – an act of selfishness without regard to the injury caused to one’s Father and Friend. Eve’s act, and Adam’s as well, opened the flood gates of evil. All Hell broke lose, literally. The universe suffered irreparable damage as a result of the rebellion of both Lucifer and Adam/Eve. Souls will be permanently lost because of their rebellion. Friends and family will be gone forever from all of us. God will lose sons and daughters for all time.

      Just because God was able, through the infinite sacrifice of His Son, to salvage some good from this horrible rebellion, does not mean that it was somehow good or “worth it” or that the rebels were in any way heroes for allowing God to reveal His goodness on an even deeper level.

      Perhaps you’ve yet to see evil up close and personal or recognize the permanent loss that will be realized because of it. It would have been far far better had the universe remained in its innocence – ignorant of any personal experience with the horrible tragedy of evil. That is why God tried to shield the universe from having to go through this experience. God constantly worked against it – desperately warning Lucifer and his followers, to include Adam and Eve, not to take the path of evil. The permanent loss that would be theirs, and His, simply would not be worth it.

      It is for this reason, for the reason that evil will in fact prove itself so utterly horrible and completely repulsive, that the unfallen universe and the redeemed will forever realize that it is never good or “worth it”, not even in the long run, to rebel against God or to choose a path of our own making contrary to His express will for us.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 10

      • @Sean Pitman:

        I have seen evil up close and personal. My father was killed when I was 9 and I have worked as a hospice physician.

        I agree with you that evil is truly evil, and never worth it, but you missunerstand me. I am not saying evil is worth it. I am saying that life is worth it

        Hot debate. Thumb up 4

        • @Ron:

          If you’re not saying, “evil is worth it” (I’m very sorry to hear about your father; my dad also lost his father when he was just six years old and it still affects him deeply), why then have you seemed to be be suggesting that Eve’s rebellion against God was some kind of heroic act? – a good decision that you “affirm”? You wrote:

          I affirm the decision Eve made. If she had made the other one, I am sure I would have enjoyed that too, but I would rather know than to not know so I am glad she made the one she did.

          You’re “glad” she made the decision she made? – despite the eternal loss of family and friends and the children of God who will not be saved? Certainly God would very much have had it the other way. He never wanted this experience for us.

          I’m with God on this one. I would much rather have had it where the human race never rebelled against God. I’m very glad God was able to make something good out of this horrible mess, but that doesn’t mean that this experiment was therefore a “good move” on the part of Adam and Eve.

          Of course, I do agree that the existence of life itself is worth the cost of the rebellion (vs. God never having created intelligent beings with true freedom of will). However, it would have been far far better if we, as a human race, had actually chosen to stay true to God.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Like Comment: Thumb up 8

      • ref=”#comment-38518″>Sean Pitman:

        For the most part , I agree with you, except that when the state kills a murderer, you don’t absolve the state of murder by denying that the state is responsible for its actions, as most people seem to want to do with God. You absolve the state of murder by putting the action of the state in the larger context of its duty to protect the innocent. Infact, that is the only way to truly explain the states actions. If you try to deny that the state is responsible for it’s own actions, then you wind up with Bill’s enigma.

        Like Comment: Thumb up 1

        • @Ron:

          Not all forms of killing a human being are defined as “murder” because the definition of murder includes motive – the selfish deliberate taking of a life for personal gain. A state execution of a murderer is therefore not itself a “murder”.

          It’s an important distinction…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Like Comment: Thumb up 7

    • @Ron: If God reached down and smote Uzzah, he thus with leukemia smites little girls. Good-N-E-S-S! I cannot but be awestruck by the rhetorical symmetry, the syntactical balance of it, the syllogistic zing. Good show, if totally, and whimsically, and pathetically, and fatally, missing the point and off the subject, not even tangential to it, dancing around it as around the maypole until it spins and collapses in dust.

      Christ bore our sins, and by familiar figure of speech became sin for us, therefore he is our sin, therefore he is sin, but create it? Watch it! — those are successive figures of speech, nor progressive logic to put Satan off the hook if even still in the book. Satan off the hook is not the story of the Great Controversy.

      Hot debate. Thumb up 9

  70. Is this another enigma, or what? No use trying to resolve these biblical enigmas and riddles.

    Bill, Given some of your previous positions, I am surprised to find that I agree with pretty much everything you said here, except for the part about it being an enigma. It is an enigma if you ony consider the history of this world linearly from creation to second coming, but if you consider the whole, as God would do from an eternal perspective, with the assumptions that God is 1. Good, and 2. Responsible for his own free will just as we are responsible for our own free will, then it makes perfect sence. The paradox and the enigma are resolved.

    Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  71. Ron:

    He knew sin was going to occur, (that is why Christ is the Lamb that was slain BEFORE the foundation of the world) therefore He is responsible for any act which enabled sin. At a minimum, in today’s legal environment, God is guilty of aiding and abetting sin just by His act of creating this world.

    The model you seem to be recommending is “robots” — your objection seems to be an objection to “free will”.

    God sovereignly chose “free will”. He did not have to create that kind of universe. There is a huge difference between God warning Adam and Eve of danger – and then their decision to “jump off the cliff anyway”. The fact that Adam and Eve got to float in the air a few minutes like a bird before going “splat” on the rocks below – is not really enough to justify their less-than-wise choice at that point. The “blame god for it all” solution is not all that compelling.

    In the end God removes the “cancer of sin” in the Lake of Fire. And, had he not pressed the “reset button” at the flood mankind would have corrupted itself beyond repair – not making it much father beyond the life of Noah.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hot debate. Thumb up 7

    • @BobRyan:

      The model you seem to be recommending is “robots” — your objection seems to be an objection to “free will”.

      Indeed. Ron and Bill would have a very good point if God had created robots rather than free moral agents. In that case He, rather than they, would have been responsible for evil and the resulting decay, suffering and pain that we all experience in this world. However, the creation of free will removes the moral responsibility from God.

      Also, the existence of God’s foreknowledge does not change this situation. If God had chosen to act differently than He otherwise would, based on His foreknowledge, that would have removed the possibility of true freedom from the universe. In other words, if God had not made Lucifer simply because He knew that Lucifer would one day rebel against Him, that would have artificially blocked what He knew would otherwise be a free moral choice that would have taken place had His foreknowledge not existed. Therefore, if He wished to create truly free moral agents, He could not use His power of foreknowledge to preemptively block the actions of free moral agents that may happen to be contrary to His will for them.

      Therefore, the only responsibility that is God’s is the act of creating a free universe where free moral agents are truly free to act – even if they happen to choose to act against the will of God.

      Therefore, if God has in fact succeeded in creating truly free moral agents, He is not in any way responsible for the origin of any rebellion against His own will, nor is He responsible for the natural consequences of such a rebellion – as long as no valid reason for rebellion also exists. Given such a scenario, God is only responsible for whatever good continues to exist, for the blessings that are still given, in abundance, to the rebels – to us. He is not responsible for the cancer that exists. While He is responsible for that which is still good in us, to include the Divine spark of life within each one of us, He does not create evils such as childhood leukemia and the like.

      Such things are not an “act of God”, but are simply the natural result of living in a world that has separated itself from God to a certain degree. The choice to finally separate one’s self completely from God will result, of course, in eternal death. God is the source of all life. If a free moral agent deliberately chooses to leave God, despite all efforts of God to win the heart of the rebel, God is eventually left with no further option than to honor the request of the free moral agent – to give the oblivion that is requested.

      It is a very strange request, is it not? Why would any free moral agent request death when life is offered? It is because death is preferable to life when one hates the very Source of Life – when one hates all that is truly Good. This is why, ultimately, sin, when deliberately and persistently engaged without ultimate surrender to God, always leads to eternal death – upon the freewill request of the rebel. Very strange… a bit scary to even think about on a personal level.

      Could I ever get to such a point? Yes indeed! If I do not daily choose to walk with God, I will most certainly end up in this final state of insanity. Very sobering.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 9

        • @Sean Pitman:

          Agreed. God is responsible for His actions the same as we are responsible for ours. If he isn’t, the story doesn’t make any sense. You wind up with Bill’s enigma.

          Like Comment: Thumb up 1

          • @Ron:

            The problem with your arguments, as presented so far, is that you’re trying to make God responsible for our actions as well as His own actions…

            The fact is that our actions are not also His actions. He simply is not responsible for the things that we do contrary to His own will for us. We are truly free moral agents…

            Sean Pitman
            http://www.DetectingDesign.com

            Like Comment: Thumb up 8

            • @Sean Pitman:
              Can you think of any metafore for God in the Bible where God would not in some way be responsible for our actions? The ones that come to mind for me are: sovereign, Lord, father, shepherd, a male lover. In all of these metafores God is responsible for either instigating the relationship as in the Song of Songs, or being an advocate, protector, or supervisor. I can’t think of anywhere in the Bible where God denies responsibility. I can think of lots of places where he claims responsibility and oundard explanation is, “Oh, he didn’t really mean that, He really just allowed some one else to do it,” Satan, Pharaoh, evil king etc.

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  72. @Sean Pitman: I basically agree with your description of my position except for one issue that I think is important. I don’t think nature can do ANYTHING without God’s direct action, even little things.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 1

    • @Ron:

      Yes, I know. You believe that God is directly involved in producing all events of nature, to include the mutations that result in various diseases like childhood leukemia. You don’t recognize the possibility of God creating this universe in such a way that it is possible for events to occur outside of His own will or direct action…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Like Comment: Thumb up 7

  73. Sean said……

    “Indeed. Ron and Bill would have a very good point if God had created robots rather than free moral agents. In that case He, rather than they, would have been responsible for evil and the resulting decay, suffering and pain that we all experience in this world. However, the creation of free will removes the moral responsibility from God.

    Also, the existence of God’s foreknowledge does not change this situation. If God had chosen to act differently than He otherwise would, based on His foreknowledge, that would have removed the possibility of true freedom from the universe. In other words, if God had not made Lucifer simply because He knew that Lucifer would one day rebel against Him, that would have artificially blocked what He knew would otherwise be a free moral choice that would have taken place had His foreknowledge not existed. Therefore, if He wished to create truly free moral agents, He could not use His power of foreknowledge to preemptively block the actions of free moral agents that may happen to be contrary to His will for them.

    Therefore, the only responsibility that is God’s is the act of creating a free universe where free moral agents are truly free to act – even if they happen to choose to act against the will of God.”

    Let me say up front that I don’t necessarily agree with Ron or all his conclusions. But this response by Sean is typical.

    You are suggesting that if God used His foreknowledge and did not choose to create, then all we have are robots.

    Wrong.

    In conclusion, we can not resolve this paradox anymore than we can resolve law and grace. Luther once said this, “When I comprehend the full extent and application of the law, I don’t see how anyone can be saved.”

    But he went on to say, “And when I comprehend the full extent and meaning of grace, I don’t see how anyone can be lost.”

    Like free will and the sovereignty of God, we can not fully comprehend nor resolve the paradox.

    We must necessarily accept the biblical revelation that God created free moral agents with the possibility of sin, and yet, He is not ultimately responsible for sin if such beings do it. This paradox can not be resolved by human reason.

    Certain aspects can be understood like law and grace. But a pure flowing concept based on reason alone will always come to a faulty conclusion.

    Like our acceptance of law and grace, a Christian also accepts the biblical explanation of sin and accountability as ultimately placed on each individual.

    Thus, we can not blame Satan, a friend, an enemy, circumstances, or any other reason if we are lost. Even though all these influences may have been a factor in our final and ultimate decision.

    If I am lost, it is nobody’s fault but my own. None the less, God charges all of us with some responsibility in the salvation of those around us and reminds us of our accountability in such cases.

    So, if we warn the wicked, and they don’t repent, we are free from their blood. But if we don’t warn the wicked, God will require their blood at our hand.

    Is this another enigma, or what? No use trying to resolve these biblical enigmas and riddles. Just accept them and gain lessons about God and His kingdom and how each one can be saved by faith in His word.

    Let’s not speculate like the medival theologians who debated whether God could create a rock so big that He couldn’t lift it.

    Some of this, Sean, is because it seems you want to claim we can “prove” God is the creator by science and nature. I accept, as do others, that nature and science are “evidence” to help support the biblical revelation. But in the end, the biblical revelation must necessarily trump any and all scientific evidence.

    Bill Sorensen

    Hot debate. Thumb up 3

    • @Bill Sorensen:

      I don’t see this issue as a paradox. While I freely admit that I don’t understand how God could make a truly free moral agent (I certainly can’t do it nor can I imagine how it even might be done), the basic concept of a free moral agent seems quite clear to me. Such an agent, by definition, is able to act against the will of God. If someone is acting against God’s will, and there is no rational reason to be found for this action, how can God be held responsible in any way, shape, or form?

      Your appeal to God’s foreknowledge as a basis for your accusation that God is in fact ultimately responsible for evil makes no sense to me… as I’ve already explained. Knowing what will happen is not the same thing as causing it to happen. I know what happened in the past. That doesn’t mean I’m responsible for it. For example, if I were somehow transported back in time to the Battle of Waterloo, my knowledge that Napoleon is about the lose would not be the cause of the outcome.

      Oh, but you will not doubt argue that if I had the opportunity to change events for the better, but decided not to, then I would be responsible for the outcome – to at least some degree. This is not necessarily true if by choosing to change events I would also remove the potential for true freedom of choice for the players involved. If I am responsible for freedom of choice, I’m not responsible for the actions of the free agents. If I do take on responsibility for the free agents, they are no longer free.

      Sound like a paradox? Well, it’s not. It only means that God has to pick His poison. Does He want truly free moral agents? – in which case He takes on the risk of their rebellion against Him. Does He want responsibility for their actions? – in which case He has robots.

      What this means is that there was no moral obligation for God to send Jesus to die to save us. It would not have been morally wrong of God to leave us to our own demise without any hope of a future. The only reason this is true is because God was in no way responsible for the origin or subsequent consequences of evil action on the part of human beings – not even a little bit. If He had been at all responsible, in the eyes of anyone (even His own), He would have been morally obligated to help us.

      This is part of the reason why God’s choice to actually help us is so amazing – primarily because He was in no way obliged to do so… outside of His amazing love for us.

      As far as your “the Bible trumps empirical evidence” arguments, I’m sorry, but God gave us brains to use – not to put on a shelf. He does not expect us to believe in Him and love Him based on fundamentally irrational or paradoxical “faith” arguments that make no sense to the candid mind searching for truth. It is impossible for “biblical revelation” to rationally “trump” anything without at least some basis in empirical reality. And, I’m not talking about absolute “proof” here (which is impossible as I’ve explained many times). I’m just talking about the rational need for empirical evidence of some kind. Again, your own appeal to the evidence of Biblical prophecy is rooted in empirical evidence – i.e., the historical sciences.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Like Comment: Thumb up 6

      • @Sean Pitman
        I agree with most of your Napoleon analogy, but God was in the position of deciding whether to create Napoleon in the first place. Knowing what Napoleon would do, He had to have decided that something about Napolean’s existence was worth creating. Something that outweighed the bad things Napoleon did. Find what that was, and I think you begin to understand the meaning of life.

        Like Comment: Thumb up 1

        • @Ron:

          The only reason why God made Lucifer (and Napoleon), knowing the pain and suffering he would eventually inflict on the universe, is because there was no other way to create true freedom, independent of His own direct will being imposed.

          The most important thing to God is that we really love Him. True love is not possible without true freedom of choice – without at lest the potential to choose not to love Him.

          On the other side of the coin, the fact that God was able to create truly free moral agents does not therefore mean that He is still responsible if they happen to choose to act against His will. He is not responsible – by the very definition of what it means to be a truly free moral agent. Such freedom means that the agent, not God, is responsible for his/her own actions.

          That’s the mystery of freedom – that God could and did actually create something with the power to act in a truly independent manner from His own will and actions.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Like Comment: Thumb up 7

          • ref=”#comment-38545″>Sean Pitman:

            I am having a little trouble with your definition of “truly independent freedom “. Perhaps it is freedom, but it doesn’t seem to be truly independent if the exercise of it results in death. There has to be a better way to interpret the story.

            Like Comment: Thumb up 1

      • @Sean Pitman:
        I agree with you about empirical evidence. For me science and revelation are equally validating. If they disagree, then it is a sign we don’t understand something. I don’t think it is safe to assume that we understand revelation better than science.

        Like Comment: Thumb up 6

  74. Ron:
    @Sean Pitman:
    “Such a find, say of a 2 x 2 x 2 meter highly symmetrical polished granite cube on the surface of Mars, would hit the front pages of every news paper in the world as clear evidence of intelligent design at work.”

    Actually, life on Mars has already made the front page news.Remember the intelligently made canals, and the carved face on Mars?Both of those were confused with signs of intelligent life and turned out to be only amorphous rocks.

    If the difference is so clear, then why the confusion.You have not yet defined the specific characteristics that distinguish intelligent design from natural. You are basically saying it is an “aunt Minnie”, i.e.”I know it when I see it”. And I agree, that most of the time, it probably is obvious, but some times it isn’t, so we need a definition.

    One of the major reasons these scientist discover these possible signs of life or intelligent design is that they WANT to think that Mars, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, etc. have or had some type of life, either in the past or presently.

    Look at all the work going into the search for “ice” “water vapor” “canals” etc. on Mars or anywhere else. The scientist already WANT to “see” something, even though it may not be there. The search for some type of “life” on other planets, worlds and galaxies goes on and on.

    SETI was a typical example of this type of constant,chronic, endless searching. However, try as they might, they were honest enough (so far) to say, “Nope, nothing out there. YET!”

    Like Comment: Thumb up 3

    • @Holly Pham:

      Holly, I agree with you about motivation influencing perseption, that is why I think it is always safer to take an opponent’s outlook seriously, and maybe even argue the side you don’t believe in for awhile, because you may see something you were previously blind to.

      Like Comment: Thumb up 1

  75. Here is what you said, Sean….

    “This is part of the reason why God’s choice to actually help us is so amazing – primarily because He was in no way obliged to do so… outside of His amazing love for us.”

    Notice, you added this rider…..”outside of His amazing love for us.”

    So, once again, I agree. God was under no “legal” obligation to save mankind, nor even to offer a way out of our dilemma.

    None the less, love has its own reasons and obligations that goes beyond what is “legal”.

    So, we may say to a mis-guided apartment owner who is about to evict a poor widow lady who is late on her rent.

    “You can’t do that.”

    Meaning, it would be immoral and less than ethical to do such a thing, especially if she could pay her rent in a few days.

    But the fact is, legally he can do that and still be within the law if it is in her lease.

    So, my final point is this, don’t try to over simplify a paradoxical problem with a limited application of some aspect of truth and then deny the paradox.

    I am not suggesting that truth is so complicated it is beyond all comprehension. I am suggesting that truth must be carefully examined and studied for the clearest meaning and application possible.

    And finally, most, if not all error, comes by way of limiting some biblical concept for the sake of trying to simplify so there is no possibility of mis-understanding. This is not possible. For no matter what is said or stated, there is always a counter-point that would seem to deny the original proposition.

    Only those who come with an open mind and willing heart will see the flowing continuity of bible truth. All the rest will always see contridiction that they feel can not be harmonized and thus deny the bible. Parallel and contrast is the secret of understanding most biblical concepts.

    By the way, the OT generally attributes everything to God both positive and negative. And this is not a false perception. But it must also be understood in light of God ordaining freedom in human choices and accountability.

    Thus, we are only as free, as God chooses for us to be. He is sovereign in the ultimate sense, and we are as sovereign as God ordains and controls the boundries.

    Bill Sorensen

    Hot debate. Thumb up 1

    • @Bill Sorensen:

      I agree. God was under no “legal” obligation to save mankind, nor even to offer a way out of our dilemma.

      He was under no moral obligation to save us either. And, this is only possible if God is not at all responsible for our actions. If He were found to be responsible in any way for our actions, morally or legally, He would then be bound to “fix” them or in some other way make restoration.

      This wasn’t the case. God was not legally or morally obliged to save us. He only did it because He wanted to save us of His own free will – independent of any legal or moral obligation to us. He just loved and still loves us with a crazy sort of love.

      None the less, love has its own reasons and obligations that goes beyond what is “legal”.

      The very definition of love means that it is not obligated to do what it does. Love is often irrational from any other perspective. The same can be said for what God did to save us – completely irrational and way way over the top outside of the perspective of crazy love.

      So, we may say to a mis-guided apartment owner who is about to evict a poor widow lady who is late on her rent.

      “You can’t do that.”

      Meaning, it would be immoral and less than ethical to do such a thing, especially if she could pay her rent in a few days. But the fact is, legally he can do that and still be within the law if it is in her lease.

      You forget that this situation is not the situation that God was in. God was under no obligation of any kind to save us – not even a moral obligation.

      The situation is more like the parable that Jesus told where the people who had rented God’s land tried to steal God’s property. They abused the land and the people on it. They abused the rent collectors and messengers sent by God. Then, they even killed God’s only Son in an effort to steal the land from God. – Matthew 21:37

      Where is the moral obligation on the part of God here? God is not faced with evicting some poor innocent widow who is a bit behind on her rent. God is faced with sacrificing Himself for rebels who are out to steal and murder for what is rightfully His.

      What is amazing here is that, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. – Romans 5:8.

      So, my final point is this, don’t try to over simplify a paradoxical problem with a limited application of some aspect of truth and then deny the paradox.

      The only possible paradox here is God’s love for us scoundrels. That’s it. The rest of it is straightforward and logical – perfectly rational.

      By the way, the OT generally attributes everything to God both positive and negative. And this is not a false perception. But it must also be understood in light of God ordaining freedom in human choices and accountability.

      It is a false perception. To understand God in the best light possible, you must take the Bible as a whole – especially to include the New Testament view of God once God was more directly revealed to us in the life of Jesus.

      For example, consider the following account written in the Bible:

      But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses. – Exodus 9:12

      Then, in apparent contradiction, here’s a different perspective of the same event:

      Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way? – 1 Samuel 6:6

      This passage suggest that Pharaoh hardened his own heart while the first passage suggests that it was God who was actually responsible. Which one is correct?

      Here’s another similar example:

      Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” – 2 Samuel 24:1

      It seems like God is the one who incited David to number his people. However, compare this with a different perspective of the very same event:

      Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. – 1 Chronicles 21:1

      So, who did the inciting? – Satan or God?

      Consider a few possibilities here. One possible solution is suggested by Bullinger, a Hebrew scholar, in his fourth list of idiomatic verbs dealing with active verbs that “were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (p. 823, emp. in orig.).

      To illustrate, in commenting on Exodus 4:21, Bullinger stated: “ ‘I will harden his heart (i.e., I will permit or suffer his heart to be hardened), that he shall not let the people go.’ So in all the passages which speak of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. As is clear from the common use of the same Idiom in the following passages” (1968, p. 823). He then listed Jeremiah 4:10, “ ‘Lord God, surely thou hast greatly deceived this people’: i.e., thou hast suffered this People to be greatly deceived, by the false prophets….’ ” Ezekiel 14:9 is also given as an example of this type of usage: “ ‘If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet’: i.e., I have permitted him to deceive himself.”

      James MacKnight, in a lengthy section on biblical idioms, agrees with Bullinger’s assessment that in Hebrew active verbs can express permission and not direct action. This explanation unquestionably clarifies the question of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. When the text says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God would permit or allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.

      Of course, in the case of Pharaoh, it could reasonably be argued that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply. Of course, God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude. If God had not sent Moses, Pharaoh would not have been faced with the dilemma of whether to release the Israelites. So God was certainly the instigator and initiator. But He was not the author of Pharaoh’s defiance.

      http://www.apologeticspress.org

      Yet, you go on to write:

      Thus, we are only as free, as God chooses for us to be. He is sovereign in the ultimate sense, and we are as sovereign as God ordains and controls the boundries.

      The boundaries are indeed God’s responsibility. However, those actions that we are given liberty to freely choose are in fact our own responsibility. God has removed all responsibility for these actions from Himself to us. We are actually truly free to make certain kinds of decisions – choices and decisions that are completely our own to make. We cannot therefore blame God, in any sense, when we deliberately choose to go against Him and His express will for us.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 7

    • @Bill Sorensen:
      Bill, you spoke of ordaining and controlling the boundaries, and I agree with you on that. If that is true, then is it really possible for Man to leave the boundary of God’s will? If so, then it would seem that God is no longer truly in control, and the he is no longer truly God.

      The second question, thinking of the boundaries of God’s will like the fence around a playground, can God really be a good God if the choices available within the fence are not all good?

      If the choices are not all good, then either God is evil or he is an incompetent guardian.

      Without Christ’s atonement, I don’t see how God could be considered good, or man’s choice to be free. With Christ’s atonement, then it seem like in the end, both choices turn out to have OK endings.

      Like Comment: Thumb up 0

      • @Ron:

        Again, your definition of a “good God” as someone who prevents anyone from acting contrary to His will is not the picture of God presented in the Bible. Your picture of God would do away with freedom in this universe – and the potential for true love.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

        Like Comment: Thumb up 4

  76. Ron: God created free will. Are you saying god is not responsible for His own decisions?

    I am saying that there is a level of indirection created by free will. The idea that God cannot come up with anything above a biochemical robot is very close to Calvinism but it is not the Arminian model that Adventists follow.

    The more robot the person – the more direct responsibility God has for what they do.

    The more “free will” the agent – (and correspondingly the more “free will” God intends to promote in His universe) the LESS direct control God can dictate.

    In a Godless free will universe – all bad choices would simply “play themselves out over time” no matter how slow and agonizing the demise of the system.

    Thank God – that is not the one we live in either.

    God has instead chosen to create and maintain a free will system “that has limits” — checks and balances on bad decisions, where He does not allow those bad decisions to ultimately ruin the peace and harmony in His Creation, but He DOES let them play themselves out for a very long time before amputating them.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Like Comment: Thumb up 4

    • BobRyan:

      I don’t think the free choice of a subject absolves a sovereign of guilt if the subject does something wrong. The best the free will of a subject can do is turn the guilt of the sovereign into incompetece. The sovereign may not be guilty of the act done by the subject, but the sovereign becomes incompetent do to his lack of control, and is therefore no longer a good sovereign.

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      • @Ron:

        According to this definition, a “competent” God would be one who maintained absolute control. While this would indeed make it impossible for anyone to act contrary to the will of such a God, it would also make it impossible for true freedom, and therefore true love, to exist.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  77. A free will system thrives to the extent that those in it are not “all knowing”.

    Imagine for a minute you are walking from one room to the next in your home and your pathway is lined by red-hot stove eyes all along the path and the walls so that you only have one very narrow path in which to walk. You would complain that you “have no choice” in the path that you choose to take – because every deviation from the narrow path brings you instant pain.

    The only reason you do not see your choices in life that way – is because you are not all-knowing and so you do not know the true consequence of every decision you might make. So it “appears” to you that you can make a great many decisions with no ill-consequences at all.

    You can’t see far enough in the future nor follow the chain of cause-and-effect carefully enough to even be aware of all the choices/options that are in fact non-options.

    Those who suggest that God should jump in and chop off someone’s finger each time they make a wrong move – are not thinking it through. He is working on a free will system – and willing to pay a high price for it.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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    • @BobRyan:

      Free will is not dependent upon limited knowledge. God is omniscient, yet He also has free will.

      What is strange about the rebellion of Lucifer is that he rebelled in the full light and knowledge that he was in fact wrong. He knew that he was wrong. He knew the eternal consequences to himself and others. Yet, he chose to continue in his rebellion anyway.

      His disaffection was proved to be without cause, and he was made to see what would be the result of persisting in revolt. Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong. He saw that “the Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works” (Psalm 145:17); that the divine statutes are just, and that he ought to acknowledge them as such before all heaven. Had he done this, he might have saved himself and many angels. He had not at that time fully cast off his allegiance to God. Though he had left his position as covering cherub, yet if he had been willing to return to God, acknowledging the Creator’s wisdom, and satisfied to fill the place appointed him in God’s great plan, he would have been reinstated in his office. The time had come for a final decision; he must fully yield to the divine sovereignty or place himself in open rebellion. He nearly reached the decision to return, but pride forbade him. It was too great a sacrifice for one who had been so highly honored to confess that he had been in error, that his imaginings were false, and to yield to the authority which he had been working to prove unjust.

      EGW, PP, p. 39

      You see, sin is a form of insanity based on selfishness and personal pride. Don’t try to make it rational. Why would someone who knew better deliberately walk away from the path of truth? – knowing for a fact that their choice will cause terrible pain to themselves and others? There simply is no rational explanation for this sort of action. It makes no sense. It’s insane.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean , this view of free will seems to make god an incompetent Creator since His creation is insane, or an incompetent physician /psychiatrist because he can’t administer the correct dose of Haldol, or an incompetent policeman who can’t protect innocent civilians from the crazy person. There has to be a better explanation somewhere.

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        • @Ron:

          For free will to exist, there has to be at least the potential for the created free will agent to choose that which is contrary to the Will of God – that which is actually insane. If you limited the actions of the free will agent to only those things which are “sane” that would make sin an impossible decision. That would remove both freedom and the potential for true love…

          True freedom is risky… it caries with it the risk of those given freedom will misuse it. They may actually chose to be insane.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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    • @BobRyan:

      Bob, it seems like this view of free will only turns God into an incompetent teacher at best, and an evil, malicious teacher at worst. How can you trust either a God, or a teacher that would put an innocent in such a dangerous situation ?

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      • @Ron:

        Giving someone the potential to choose against God’s will is in fact very risky. However, it is the only possible way in which to allow for true love to exist. If there is no potential to freely make choices against God’s will, then there is also no potential to truly love God. True love is based on the potential for rejection.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Ron:

        Free will by definition has to be able to incur risk – or you simply are stalled at “glorified robot level”.

        Are you upset that they were given the free will to make a choice that had risk – or are you thinking that the command “eat from these trees – and not from that tree” was too complex at that early stage?

        Are you thinking that they did not have the skills – not to eat from the wrong tree?

        in Christ,

        Bob

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  78. You see, sin is a form of insanity based on selfishness and personal pride. Don’t try to make it rational. Why would someone who knew better deliberately walk away from the path of truth? – knowing for a fact that their choice will cause terrible pain to themselves and others? There simply is no rational explanation for this sort of action. It makes no sense. It’s insane.

    Sean Pitman

    I don’t see all sin as a type of insanity at all. Many people commit sinful acts because they receive some type of personal pleasure, at least temporarily, from it.

    Pleasure, in the present, may be very “sane” if you’re really not sure of the future “reward” (pleasure) for not sinning. Sinning NOW may be very “rational” for many people.

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    • @Holly Pham:

      It is true that sin is not without its short term rewards – which often appear very attractive indeed. However, this does not mean that sin is perfectly rational either. If any rational excuse could be found for it, it would cease to be sin:

      Sin is an intruder, for whose presence no reason can be given. It is mysterious, unaccountable; to excuse it is to defend it. Could excuse for it be found, or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin.

      – EGW, GC, p. 493

      Also, there is no “sin” where there is true and complete ignorance that the act in question is “wrong”. The act may in fact be wrong, but the person committing the act is not sinning if in a state of honest ignorance regarding the harmful consequences of the act. Personal sin is defined as an conscious rebellion against that which is known to be right, true, and good.

      Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. – John 9:41

      While there is certainly “the pleasure of sin for season”, the insanity of sin is in knowing, ahead of time, that the act is wrong and ultimately harmful to one’s self and to others – yet doing it anyway.

      Baalam’s life is a good example of this sort of insanity. He wrote:

      Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs! – Numbers 23:10

      He was shown in vision the Second Coming of Jesus and the reward of the righteous. He knew for a fact that what he was doing what wrong, but he chose to act contrary to what he knew was right for what he knew would be a very short-term gain in acting against the interests of God. This is insanity.

      This is the same thing that happened to Satan. He knew for a fact that what he was doing was wrong and what would be the final result. All of it was shown to him in detail. Yet, because of his pride, he chose what he knew was wrong and what would be the end result…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:

        “or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin.”

        And herein lies the hope for fallen man. There IS a cause for Man’s sin that originates outside of man. Namely fear and confusion engendered by Satan’s lies. As a result, man has hope. Through Christ’s death on the cross, man is taught about the true nature of God, and his fears are allayed, and through the path of repentance and forgiveness, his sin changes from an act of rebellion to only an act of ignorance and fear.

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        • @Ron:

          Yes, the hope for man is that additional revelations of the nature and character of God will be attractive to man and the offer of salvation will then be accepted.

          This is not the case for Satan, the fallen angels, and the wicked at the end of time, however. No additional evidence of the goodness of God would bring them to their senses. They reject the light in the full knowledge that God’s way is the only right and good way. There is nothing further that God can do to save them…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  79. All the wicked are at some point convicted of their wrong at least on some points. Adam and Eve also were confronted with conviction – but they also “imagine” that they can get away with it. It is one thing to be convicted that having that extra piece of cake “is wrong” it is another thing to add “yes – but this one slice won’t kill me”.

    The “free will” aspect comes in to the degree that it “appears” you can make the choice without having a gun to your head telling you “oh no you can’t”.

    God is all knowing – that means He knows every decision , ever action He will take in the future. If I handed you a script for even ONE day and said you cannot do anything but what is on this page, you can not stray in the smallest detail from what is written here — you would argue that for that day – you had no free will.

    I agree that God has free will – but HOW He manages it in the context of “knowing it all ahead of time” is impossible to imagine, because that context allows for the least free will of all.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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    • @BobRyan:

      I agree that there are certain forms of force that would make rebellion against the will of God impossible. If sin were made completely repulsive, if it in no way appeared pleasurable to commit acts of rebellion (i.e., there were always immediate painful reprisals without any experience of pleasure), no one would sin.

      However, what is very strange about sin is that, eventually, the sinner comes to a point in sin where death seems more attractive than life. It is like the drug addict who desires another hit from the drug – even at the expense of family, fortune, personal health, and life itself. Ultimate self-destruction is consciously chosen rather than to accept God and the good life that God offers…

      The wicked will, ultimately, choose to remain wicked with a “gun to their head”. Knowing that the result of their choice is eminent death, at the end of time, they will still get up off of their knees, after just having acknowledged the righteousness of God, and choose death rather than life.

      The insanity of it all is that one will end up hating God, despite knowing that He is in the right, hating life, and loving death. They will choose to pull the trigger of the God and end it all rather than to keep on living…

      Satan also knew, ahead of time, in great detail, just where he was wrong. He knew the outcome of his actions. He knew for a fact that he would not “get away with it.” yet, because of his pride, he chose the path of sin anyway… knowing the final outcome.

      To argue that sin would only exist in ignorance is to try to excuse sin – to make it less insane than it really is. Sin is possible in the full light of the knowledge that it will result in great injury to one’s self and to others. That is was makes it so insane.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  80. As a reminder this is relevant to the discussion because our differing views on evolution seem to arise out of our differing understanding of God’s immanence in sustaining His creation, and our differing views of God’s immanence inform how we view freedom of choice.

    Sean sees the universe functioning by natural law independent of God’s ongoing support. Therefore any significant evolution is unacceptable because it would discredit God as the Creator. God’s distance from His creation allows for Man to be freely evil without God having any responsibility.

    I on the other hand see God as being immanent in upholding His creation. As a result, for me evolution is OK, because it is the logical observation one would expect to see if God is still actively creating. Evolution for me is a way of affirming God as the creator whereas Sean’s position seems to deny God’s creative activity in our current world.

    The immanence of God in upholding His creation seems to place a greater moral and ethical burden on God by the presence of sin. I resolve this dilema through the atonement of Christ. God remains good even though he gives man a choice that causes pain and death in the short run because the burden of the choice ultimately falls on Christ, while to speak crudely, man is in a sense compensated for the pain God allows by ultimately attaining a higher status, and a closer union with God than would have been otherwise possible. Within this framework both choices remain valid choices given by a good and loving God from which Man can truly an honestly and freely chose. Both choices are within the boundaries and will of a good and loving God. Evil is truly evil, sin is truly sin, man is truly responsible for his choices, his choices are real choices, with real consequences, either good or bad, and God remains truly good, and truly sovereign.

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    • @Ron:

      Sean sees the universe functioning by natural law independent of God’s ongoing support. Therefore any significant evolution is unacceptable because it would discredit God as the Creator. God’s distance from His creation allows for Man to be freely evil without God having any responsibility.

      God is not “distant” from His creation just because He allows humans and other free will agents to choose to act contrary to His will. All of nature is dependent upon Him for existence. This does not mean, however, that everything that happens in nature is God’s will or under God’s direction.

      I on the other hand see God as being immanent in upholding His creation. As a result, for me evolution is OK, because it is the logical observation one would expect to see if God is still actively creating. Evolution for me is a way of affirming God as the creator whereas Sean’s position seems to deny God’s creative activity in our current world.

      Theistic evolution would be perfectly fine if it were not for certain facts of reality. One is that, as previously discussed, evolution produces far more harm than good. Even the very rare “good” mutations are limited in effect to very very low levels of functional complexity.

      Your perspective means that God is directly responsible for and actually causes all the bad “evolutionary” changes – like the mutations that result in cancer in children and the like. It is God who is the ultimate cause of evil itself.

      The immanence of God in upholding His creation seems to place a greater moral and ethical burden on God by the presence of sin.

      It makes God out to be a sort of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde character – completely schizophrenic. God simply does not work at odds with Himself like you’re suggesting.

      I resolve this dilema through the atonement of Christ. God remains good even though he gives man a choice that causes pain and death in the short run because the burden of the choice ultimately falls on Christ, while to speak crudely, man is in a sense compensated for the pain God allows by ultimately attaining a higher status, and a closer union with God than would have been otherwise possible. Within this framework both choices remain valid choices given by a good and loving God from which Man can truly an honestly and freely chose. Both choices are within the boundaries and will of a good and loving God. Evil is truly evil, sin is truly sin, man is truly responsible for his choices, his choices are real choices, with real consequences, either good or bad, and God remains truly good, and truly sovereign.

      Evil choices are never “within the boundary and will” of God. God never wills for anyone to do evil – never. It is always the will of God that we do that which is just and right. Those who choose an evil path are always walking outside of God’s desire and will for them. God allows for this because He has created us free moral agents with the ability to actually choose to reject Him and His will for us.

      Also, Jesus was not morally or legally bound to save humanity. He was in no way responsible for our moral Fall and therefore did not have to come and die for our sins in order to maintain His own goodness and moral standing.

      God also is not in any way required to “compensate” us for the pain we inflicted upon ourselves. We gain the gift of a closer walk with God, not because we deserve it or because somehow God is trying to compensate us for something that He did to us, but because of His completely unmerited grace and love for us…

      Such love is a mystery. That God would love those who in no way deserve His love, who are in active rebellion against Him and His will, is absolutely amazing. Not even the angels quite understand it. Yet, we are in fact beneficiaries of His crazy love for us, however mysterious, and for that I am deeply grateful…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  81. Sean Pitman: You mean God does not cease to create good things just because evil is present. However, just because God makes good things to appear within Satan’s realm does not therefore mean that God is the one who created all the bad things as well. He simply allows them to exist for a time, to function according to the basic laws of nature, while He works to resolve the sin problem once and for all.

    I agree with you here, Sean. EGW talks about how God is blamed for natural disasters as well as personal ones, but it is really Satan who is behind it all. As I have stated before, God allows the fruits of sin to show themselves, otherwise the universe (and especially earthlings) would not be able to see what sin is really all about.

    In my opinion, babies born with leukemia, as well as other cancers, are not specifically targeted by God. The reality is that the sinful habits of the parents are often passed on to the children (how many mothers smoke and drink and do pot and other drugs–even prescription drugs–while pregnant?)–not to mention that even before birth children are exposed to environmental toxins.

    For example, I have relatives that own large farms (11.5 sections with each section being 640 acres)on the prairies. There seems to be a higher than average incidence of leukemia and other cancers in that area. I would be willing to bet that it is due to exposure to the sprays they are putting on the fields–the fields that provide our food as well.

    Then there are all the chemicals that go into the production of things we use everyday. Look at the BPA that was present in a lot of plastics–including baby products like baby bottles. These tiny little beings can’t absorb the amount of toxins an adult can without serious problems. When the pregnant mom ingests BPA in her food, the baby gets it as well.

    Coffee, a commonly used drug, especially effects infants. There was a time about 30 years ago when women were going on a coffee diet to lose weight after the birth of their children, which meant they pretty well ate nothing but drank lots of coffee. Many of these moms were nursing their infants on this diet. Since it takes a baby about 3 days to get rid of the caffeine from it’s system, while it takes adults a few hours, babies died of apparent crib death, when in actual fact I think you will find they died of caffeine poisoning. Not God’s fault–just the sad consequences of sin.

    And, too, there is a certain amount of inherited weakness that gets greater as the generations go on, which, I believe, is what Bill is referring to.

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    • @Faith:

      I am perplexed that in the same paragraph you try to absolve God of responsibility for evil events, and in the same paragraph, as part of your explanation you say that “God allowed”. Don’t you see that in order someone to “allow ” anything, that person first has to have the ability, as well as the authority to stop it. You even gave a reason for God to allow evil, “so we could see the evil consequences and be convinced”. How is that different than what I have been saying? We are describing the same proverbial elephant from just slightly different perspectives, useing slightly different words.

      Hot debate. Thumb up 2

      • @Ron:

        There is a big difference between God allowing people to rebel against His will and God causing people to rebel against His will.

        Allowing rebellion is the only way to allow for freedom of choice. Preventing all rebellion would be equivalent to the removal of the option for free will.

        If God were responsible for directly causing the act(s) of rebellion against Himself, that would simply be schizophrenic on the part of God – like making His toys fight against each other for personal entertainment. That’s not a view of human freedom. That’s a perverted view of God’s nature and character.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

        Hot debate. Thumb up 9

      • @Ron:

        Sorry, Ron, I don’t see our positions as even close.

        You align yourself with Satan, who is an accuser of the brethren, and go one step further in accusing God of evil actions. I would never do that. I know God as a just and merciful parent.

        Sometimes a parent will stand back and allow his child to take the natural consequences of their actions to teach them that the wrong choice leads to unpleasant results. That is precisely the same as God is doing right now. He is not interfering because if He did the lesson would not be learned.

        The point is, if God had played interference every time Satan wanted to destroy, hurt, or injure, we would never see the natural consequences of sin or the wicked nature of Satan.

        As much as it hurts God to see His creation suffer, He has to step back and let sin come to maturity, so that no one will ever want it to arise again. That is His chosen solution to the sin problem because He knows infinitely more than we do, and He knows that it is the best possible solution. He tenderly deals with all Creation, in that He allows us to see for ourselves the revolting results of sin. This will be a lesson for the entire Universe forever and ever.

        I long for the time that sin will be purged from the Universe. I long for heaven with its perfect peace. I have no desire to know sin and I know that God will not let it arise again, once this horrible experiment is over. Praise His name.

        Frankly, Ron, I don’t understand your way of thinking. You affirm Eve’s choice–yet it led to the very thing that you hold against God–the death of your father. Without Eve’s disobedience that never would have happened; we would not be subject to death at all on this planet. Do you think the knowledge of sin was worth that?

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  82. Ron: As I said before. I love God,

    Really?

    Ron: At a minimum, in today’s legal environment, God is guilty of aiding and abetting sin just by His act of creating this world.
    Beyond that, God is guilty of many “sins” by our standards. Killing Uzzah was 1st degree murder. The flood was genocide on a massive scale. As Israel’s ruler, He is guilty of crimes against humanity by instigating genocide, with many examples of His personal involvement. In Job He is responsible for inciting, Satan to kill Job’s children and servants, and He didn’t even apologize! At least after the flood, He had the decency to say He was sorry and that He would never do that again, but then He DID do it again, albeit on a smaller scale with the Egyptian army during the exodus. But “never mind, that is only a small lie, a minimization of the truth at worst. He didn’t really destroy the whole world again.”
    The most horrible thing to me actually, is what he did to Issac when God told Abraham to go sacrifice Issac on the mountain top. That is just unimaginable child abuse. I am horrified to even think about it. It used to give me nightmares as a kid. The second most horrible thing that He did, was to consent to the murder of His own son. What kind of a father. . . . . ?

    Here you accuse God of murder and child abuse etc.–that’s love?

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    • @Faith:

      Yes. Perhaps I am as insane as most children are who still love an abusive parent. But I don’t think so. If you consider everything I wrote, you will see that it is in the context of a God who is responding constructively to our human condition. I think that the fact that the people of the Old Testament accepted this behavior as acceptable, and we consider it criminal to be evidence that Christ has been successful in putting enmity against evil into our hearts, that Jesus did in fact overcome the devil at the cross, and that his continued ministry in heaven on our behalf, and the instruction of the Holy Spirit is in fact being effective. Here is the evidence.

      Hot debate. Thumb up 2

      • @Ron:

        If God were in fact guilty of the things you accuse Him of, there would be no rational justification. If God directly caused cancer in children, or the murder of untold millions of innocent victims at the wave of His hand; if God where the bloodthirsty villain that you describe, He would be, by His very nature, irredeemably schizophrenic and evil. How can it be remotely “good” to directly cause such evil and then to place hatred against such evil in our hearts? This would be the height of evil manipulation and game playing by a very twisted mind…

        If such were in fact the case, you would indeed be like an abused child or spouse who refuses the leave the abuser.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Ron:

        Again, Ron, you see things as getting progressively better instead of progressively worse–the same as with evolution. How is that possible? Can’t you see how everything is going from bad to worse in this planet? Don’t you see the polution, crime, violence, and evil growing? If we were not going to be rescued from all this by the Second Coming, we would eventually destroy all life on this planet. That is just the natural consequence of sin.

        Business men (whether knowingly or not) kill thousands of people every year (not to mention the earth itself) by producing toxic products. The military is constantly plotting death and destruction to its enemies. Rulers routinely make decisions that negatively affect their subjects. These are the results of sinful, selfish man making decisions that produce baleful results. Nothing is getting better.

        And just to point out, yet again, that you consider God an “abusive parent” yet you claim to love Him? It just doesn’t add up.

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  83. Sean Pitman: It is for this reason, for the reason that evil will in fact prove itself so utterly horrible and completely repulsive, that the unfallen universe and the redeemed will forever realize that it is never good or “worth it”, not even in the long run, to rebel against God or to choose a path of our own making contrary to His express will for us.

    Amen, Sean. This entire post is right on.

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    • @Faith:
      So explain to me how we have ever had free will, if there is no legitimate choice?
      To have only one choice that is considered good, and only one choice where the consequence is utter annihilation seems to me to be a lot like an election in a corrupt dictatorial country. There really is no free choice.

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      • @Ron:

        There are lots of choices that are good. Just because the option also exist for making choices that are in fact bad, that would result in eventual self-annihilation, does not therefore mean that true freedom does not exist. The option to actually choose to do bad things is what makes freedom possible and very real. One is free to choose the path of death if one so desires. Without freedom to act against the will of God, such a choice would be impossible since God’s will is that we always choose the path of life.

        But, because God loves freedom above all things, He sets out before us the path to life and glory as well as the path to pain, suffering and death. He then counsels us to “choose life”. – Deuteronomy 30:19

        Yet, you again accuse God of evil by actually opening up the potential for evil choices and self destruction. You blame God when people actually choose this insane path. You accuse God of evil by allowing for evil – by allowing for choices that result in self-annihilation. You compare such a situation to a corrupt government where there is only one real choice – God’s way or death.

        Just because God’s way is the only rational way doesn’t mean that it’s the only real choice. One can really choose to be irrational and act against God’s will… That’s called true freedom.

        While it is true that God’s way encompasses all the ways of life and that anything outside of God’s way results in ultimate self-destruction and death, it is not true that this reality limits freedom. God only wants us to take the ways that are for our own eternal good. He wants us to always choose the paths of life, never of death. But, He leaves us free to choose to be insane…

        If God did not allow for paths of death to exist as viable options, we would not be truly free to truly love Him. We would be robots without any option but to obey His will… which would make true love impossible.

        That is why we have and will always have two paths to choose from… the way of Life or God’s way vs. the way of self destruction.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

        Hot debate. Thumb up 6

        • @Sean Pitman:

          Speaking of Gen. 1-3 now, I only see 2 choices being offered.
          There is only free choice if Christ’s atonement makes the second non-lethal.

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          • @Ron:

            The choice to drink poison is still a free will choice even if it is lethal. And, the choice of Adam and Eve would have been permanently lethal if Jesus had not intervened (which He did not have to do in order to preserve freedom).

            Again, just because one is free to make a lethal decision does not therefore mean that the individual wasn’t really free.

            Sean Pitman
            http://www.DetectingDesign.com

            Hot debate. Thumb up 11

      • @Ron:

        Well, Ron, as far as I can see, many people have tried to explain this principle to you, yet you somehow fail to grasp it.

        We have a legitimate choice. There is evil and there is good. Just because there is only one right choice, doesn’t mean that it is no choice.

        If you go to get fuel for your car, you can choose between gas and diesel. If you choose diesel for a gas engine, you will surely suffer the consequences. Does that mean you don’t have a choice? No. You can still choose to do the wrong thing or the right thing. God gave you the intelligence to pick the right one. But He won’t force you to do so.

        Do you understand now?

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  84. Sean comment on my post……


    But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses. – Exodus 9:12

    Then, in apparent contradiction, here’s a different perspective of the same event:

    Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way? – 1 Samuel 6:6

    This passage suggest that Pharaoh hardened his own heart while the first passage suggests that it was God who was actually responsible. Which one is correct?”

    They are both correct, Sean. And because you choose not to understand the paradox, you will never see scripture clearly.

    There are so many paradoxes in bible truth, I am somewhat amazed and even shocked you do not recognize them.

    Let me ask you….

    How is Jesus both God and man?

    God can’t sin. But man can. How then can we define Jesus from both perspectives?

    We can’t. We simply acknowledge the paradox by saying, “As a man, Jesus could sin, but as God, He could not.”

    Luther was converted when he grasped the paradox of truth and concluded, “We are both righteous and sinful at one and the same time.”

    How do you explain this concept Luther articualted? I understand it clearly. For EGW has well said, “In ourselves we are sinners, but in Christ we are righteous.”

    So, while God is responsible for sin in a secondary sense, all created beings are responsible for sin in the final sense.

    So, did God harden Pharoah’s heart? Absolutely. And how did He do this? By continually revealing the truth that Pharoah was rejecting. The more God revealed, the more Pharoah rejected it.

    Did God harden Pharoahs heart, or did Pharoah harden his own heart? The answer is both. None the less, Pharoah will be ultimately responsible for rejecting truth because he had no reason to reject it.

    And then you suggest the bible writers of the OT did not have a correct preception of God when they attributed everything to God both good and bad.

    You are backing yourself into a corner that you will find difficult to get out of.

    I suggest you take your time and re-think what you are saying and defending.

    God is ultimately sovereign and responsible for everything. Man is relatively sovereign and responsible for what God ordains man to be responsible for. And man is accountable for his own sin because God has created him in such a way that he can be held accountable. This Lucifer denied and still denies as well as all the lost who side with him.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      I’m sorry Bill, but God is not both good and evil. There is no paradox here. The Bible, taken as a whole, could not be more clear in explaining that God is in no way responsible for the origin or current activity of evil within those who have rebelled against His will. I don’t know why you reject very clear statements from both the Bible and Mrs. White in this regard?

      When Pharaoh hardened his heart on the first exhibition of God’s power, he made himself more capable of a second rejection of God’s power…

      In simplicity and truth we would speak to the impenitent in regard to the way in which men destroy their own souls. You are not to say that God is to blame, that he has made a decree against you. No, he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth, and to the haven of eternal bliss. No soul is ever finally deserted of God, given up to his own ways, so long as there is any hope of his salvation. God follows men with appeals and warnings and assurances of compassion, until further opportunities and privileges would be wholly in vain. The responsibility rests upon the sinner.

      Ellen White, R&H, February 1891 (Link)

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  85. @Sean Pitman: Certainly there is a difference between allowing a rebellion and causing one. Causing one would imply direct moral culpability. Allowing one only implies indirect culpability. Kind of like the difference between 1st degree murder and negligent homicide.

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  86. Sean, I need you to be very careful in how you use words in order for me to understand you.
    You said that everything is dependent on God, but that not everything is within His will. That is nonsensical. Something can’t be dependent on God and be outside His will. Only those things that are not dependent on God could be outside His will. Even the existence of Satan is within God’s will.

    If free choice is within God’s will, then everything that results from free choice must find a place somewhere within God’s will as well. The burden on you is to define how the results of freewill are ultimately OK with God.

    If free will isGod’s highest value and death is the result of free will, then death must be OK with God. If death is not within the will of God, then what is the meaning of Christ’s prayer, “Thy will be done? “

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    • @Ron:

      The existence of true freedom of choice is indeed God’s will for us. However, it is not God’s will that we use our freedom to choose contrary to His will for us. We have this freedom, but it is not God’s will if we choose to act in a way that is ultimately harmful to us.

      Satan has and will ultimately choose to reject God in favor of eternal annihilation. This choice was not the will of God. It is entirely Satan’s choice for himself – outside of the will of God. God did not force Satan to make this choice. Satan is simply a free moral agent who is able to choose and act contrary to God’s will.

      It is strange to me that you can’t seem to recognize the difference. Jesus prayed that God’s will be done when it came to His own sacrifice for humanity, to His own death on the cross, because only through the death of Jesus could God be merciful to mankind.

      It is not, however, the will of God that we should choose to rebel against Him and His will for us. The wicked, at the end of time, will make a final decision against God’s will and God will have no choice but to give them what they want as free moral agents – eternal separation from Himself.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Again,Sean I think it comes down to being careful with semantics. Of course it is not Gos’s will that we choose sin, but our choosing sin does not take us outside the boundaries of His will. His will encompases any contngency our sin creates. It is not like God doesn’t know what to do when we sin. He still has a plan.

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        • @Ron:

          If it is God’s will that we not sin, how does our choice to sin anyway keep us within the will of God for us not to sin?

          You see, you’re statement is not logically consistent…

          You’re confusing God’s knowledge with His will. They aren’t the same thing. God always knew that sin would come, and made plans to deal with it. However, this does not mean that it was ever His will for sin to exist – for anyone to actually choose to rebel against His will. Also, making plans to deal with the eventuality of sin isn’t the same thing as willing sin to exist.

          Again, it is not God’s will that anyone rebel against His will – that would be insane. The fact that He allows for such freedom of choice is not evidence that it is actually His will that we are where we are.

          Also, the fact that He puts limitations on the freedom of rebels does not mean that He therefore wills the level of rebellion that He allows – - not at all. Allowing a certain degree of evil to exist is not at all the same thing as causing that evil to exist. It is also not the same thing has “negligent homicide” – as you described it earlier. It is simply God allowing free will agents to be free – even if that means allowing them to rebel against Him and His will for them…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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          • @Sean Pitman:

            I think it comes down to semantics and perspective.

            I think that you are still looking at the problem from a human perspective rather than God’s perspective. Move your point of reference up one level.

            It is not God’s will that we sin, but the fact that we sin is not outside God’s will.

            It is much like when my teenagers started driving. It was not my will that they have an accident, but I knew that it was almost certain that they eventually would, so I got them an older SUV to drive instead of my Lexus, and I bought insurance, sent them to driver’s school, and did my best to make them defensive drivers. My will and desire that they learn to drive, included the possibility that they would have an accident, so when they had an accident, it was not outside my will, or you might say, planning. I was prepared for it.

            I think, this is an important perspective to have, because it takes a huge burden off of people when they sin. They know that they are still within God’s will, that he has a plan and can take care of it, that he still loves them, and that it is OK. They don’t have to go away and hide from God, because it is OK. God still loves them. They are still OK with God. He has a plan. He can take care of it. They are still within His will.

            I don’t want my kids to run away and stop talking to me when they have an accident, because they are afraid of me. In fact, when they have their accident is exactly when I want them to talk to me the most. There isn’t any kind of accident that they can have, that I can’t deal with.

            And I don’t want them to be afraid of driving, just because there is a risk of death, either. Yes, if they were killed, that would be tragic, but to be afraid of dying would be even more tragic. So, yes, I warn them, and I nag them about their defensive driving, and if they are killed, I will grieve terribly, but even their death is within my will. I would rather them live life to the fullest, and take the risk of death, than to not live, or to live fearful, timid, “safe” lives.

            In the same way, the problem in the Garden of Eden wan’t so much eating the apple, God already had an insurance plan in place. Christ was the “Lamb That Was Slain From The Foundation Of The World”. God could fix it. They were still within His will.

            Notice in the quote you quoted above about Satan. God could have restored Satan to his ORIGINAL position if, when he understood the nature of his action, he had been just willing to accept God’s forgiveness and take his position back again. There was no death penalty at that point, and Christ would NOT have had to die. It wasn’t until Satan completely understood the true consequences of his action and STILL refused to return to his original position, that his position was finally removed from him.

            So, applying the same principles to Adam and Eve’s case shows us that it wasn’t the eating of the apple, or sin, per se’ that necessitated Christ’s death, it was their fear that caused them to run away and to try to justify themselves that necessitated Christ’s death.

            Just like with Satan, the only reason God couldn’t restore them to their original position is the fear that made them run away from Him. It was their FEAR of His judgement. That is what made it impossible for God to fix it. That is what truly resulted in the death penalty. It was just as if my kid’s had runaway from home after their first accident. I would not have been able to help them.

            Truthfully, when my kid’s had their accidents, I wasn’t even that upset. I pretty much expected it, and I was prepared. In the same way, I believe God pretty much expected it and was prepared.

            God knew the fear that Satan had raised in the minds of the universe. He knew that the fear is the primary motivator for rebellion, and that it would eventually bear fruit in rebellion. But what could He do? This isn’t something you can resolve with words, and coercion or punishment would only make things worse. (Back to the main topic, Coercion is EVIL). Only a demonstration of God’s loving self sacrifice in response to sin could resolve the fear. (It is really hard to rebel against someone you believe truly has your best interest at heart. Think about it.)

            So what did He do? He put the trees on all of the worlds and waited. He gave a warning of the consequences of eating of the tree, which is really the consequence of the fear that generated the rebellious act.

            He was right to give the warning, but it was impossible for the warning to be effective. The word “death” has no meaning to someone who has never seen it. It would be like naming colors to a person born blind.

            So was it God’s will that Adam and Eve be afraid of Him? No, of course not. But, being afraid, because of Satan’s deception, was it God’s will that they live forever in fear and doubt? No, of course not. So, what alternative is there?

            The ONLY alternative that affirms a full and vibrant life without fear, is to confront the fear itself. At some point, someone in the Universe has to have the courage (remember courage can not exist without fear) to act on, or in spite of, their fear. And at some point God has to demonstrate that even in the face of rebellion, He loves us, forgives us, and invites us back to His heart and home. The only way for Him to abolish fear is to demonstrate that He has OUR best interest at heart, even above His own. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” That is the true healing power of the cross. It abolishes fear.

            So that is why I affirm Eve’s action. It confronts the fear, and affirms that life is worth living in spite of the risk and pain of death, in the same way that I affirm my child’s learning to drive in spite of the risk of pain and death. I affirm it because a full life, free from fear is worth it. It was through Eve’s action that God was able to remove fear from the heart of the Universe forever. It was also through Eve’s action, that God came to dwell within the heart of man. 2 Peter 1:3,4. A far more exalted position, and intimate relationship than is possible for any other being in the Universe.

            It is only when we remain afraid of God, after all He has sacrificed for us that we are outside His will. What more can He do?

            It is only when we are afraid to embrace life for fear of pain and death that we are outside his will. What more can He do?

            So it is for these reasons that being punitive toward member’s and employee’s who are embracing all of the challenges of a vigorous, lively discussion of religion and science, especially evolution is wrong. The punitive action arises out of fear, and misrepresents God to the Universe as a God of fear and coercion.

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            • @Ron:

              It is much like when my teenagers started driving. It was not my will that they have an accident, but I knew that it was almost certain that they eventually would, so I got them an older SUV to drive instead of my Lexus, and I bought insurance, sent them to driver’s school, and did my best to make them defensive drivers. My will and desire that they learn to drive, included the possibility that they would have an accident, so when they had an accident, it was not outside my will, or you might say, planning. I was prepared for it.

              Again, knowing something will happen or having a plan prepared for an eventuality isn’t the same thing as willing or causing an event to happen.

              There is a key element here that you’re missing. You’re arguing as if God causes all events in His universe to happen – that they are the direct result of His action and will. This simply isn’t true. God does not cause little girls to get leukemia an die. This is not God’s will. God did not cause Lucifer to rebel and cause Himself and many who follow his example to be permanently lost. God does not cause the wicked to be wicked nor does He cause or will or desire their self-destructive behavior.

              I think, this is an important perspective to have, because it takes a huge burden off of people when they sin. They know that they are still within God’s will, that he has a plan and can take care of it, that he still loves them, and that it is OK. They don’t have to go away and hide from God, because it is OK. God still loves them. They are still OK with God. He has a plan. He can take care of it. They are still within His will.

              While God most certainly loves the sinner and has set up a plan of salvation, it is not true that sin is therefore “Ok” or that God will us to keep on sinning when we continue to sin. It is God’s will the we “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

              God never tempts anyone or wills anyone to sin (James 1:13). That is never His will or desire. Sin isn’t something to be trifled with. It is very serious when we continue in deliberate rebellion against God. Many of those that go down this path will never return to God and will suffer eternal death. This is not God’s will for them.

              Again, having a plan or knowing the future isn’t the same thing as causing or being responsible for the action of the free will agent who rebels against the will of God.

              So, applying the same principles to Adam and Eve’s case shows us that it wasn’t the eating of the apple, or sin, per se’ that necessitated Christ’s death, it was their fear that caused them to run away and to try to justify themselves that necessitated Christ’s death.

              You’ve got to be kiddin me! The Bible couldn’t be more clear here. Are you telling me that God was lying when He told Adam and Eve that, “In the day you eat thereof, you will surely die”? (Genesis 3:3) It was the actual act of going against the Word of God that was in violation against the Royal Law that put Adam and Eve in rebellion against God. They would have self-destructed at that point, beyond all hope, if it had not been for Jesus stepping into the breach and offering His life for theirs.

              There is good reason to be fearful of rebelling against God. Such rebellion always leads toward self-destruction and death. If it did not, sin would not be so bad…

              Sean Pitman
              http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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              • @Sean Pitman:

                “It was the actual act of going against the Word of God that was in violation against the Royal Law that put Adam and Eve in rebellion against God.”

                Certainly it was the act that manifest what was in the heart, and triggered the penalty, but the real problem is what triggered the act? What was the motivation in the heart? I think the subsequent actions by Adam and Eve reveal their true motivation when they hid from God. Hiding was a choice, motivated by fear. They did not have to hide. There were other options available to them that could have been motivated by different feelings and issues.

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                • @Ron:

                  Again, you’re accusing God of being responsible for the rebellion of Adam and Eve. You’re basically arguing that God was too scary – so Adam and Eve rebelled.

                  That’s not true. God gave no occasion for Adam and Eve to rebel. There is no rational reason for them to have rebelled.

                  The reason why they hid from God is the same reason why any child who knows he/she is doing something wrong tries to hide this fact. The fear of getting caught doing that which is known to be wrong is perfectly natural… and does not have anything to do with any fault on God’s account.

                  The consequences of sin are fearful – they should be feared. If, after we are all safe in Heaven one day someone chooses to sin again (which will never happen we are told), that individual would still be fearful of the consequences of his/her act – for very very good reason.

                  God is not someone to be feared if one is looking for the best path to walk. However, choosing to act against His will is something to be feared. Why? Because, the natural consequences of separating one’s self from God, from the source of all life and goodness, results in self-destruction and death – - outside of any direct act of God. Also, God happens to be the defender of the innocent. Those who would heartlessly attack the fatherless and destroy the helpless widow have a great deal to fear from their Defender – if they do not repent of their evil ways and seek God’s forgiveness.

                  Sean Pitman
                  http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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          • @Sean Pitman:

            “If it is God’s will that we not sin, how does our choice to sin anyway keep us within the will of God for us not to sin?”

            Christ is the Lamb that was slain from before the foundation of the world. When we sin, we are still within God’s plan to save us.

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  87. Sean Pitman:
    @Ron:

    There is a big difference between God allowing people to rebel against His will and God causing people to rebel against His will.

    Allowing rebellion is the only way to allow for freedom of choice.

    So then… if we bring this back around to the subject of this thread – God “allows” Guy and Bull to choose whatever they like. But God also holds the denomination responsible for how it spends its tithe dollars and who it chooses to employ.

    Do we really want to promote evolutionism as a denomination – and pay for it?

    Based on the GC2010 vote – I would say the answer is a resounding “no”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  88. Guy and Bull are responsibility discussing an issue that many people both in and out of the church have concerns about. I think our church wants to support efforts to understand how to. reconcile the Bible and science. I don’t think we should support a church that tries to suppress the search for truth. I believe what is happening here is wrong, and immoral to the point that I can not in good conscience pay tithe to the regular tithe fund. I recommend sending your tithe to the local church only, or to other charities in protest.

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    • @Ron:

      The SDA Church does support the search for truth – just not the denial of truth once it is revealed to us by God.

      Again, the Church simply cannot afford to pay everyone for every idea that may become popular outside of the Church’s primary goals and ideals. As with any viable organization, the SDA Church has certain basic organizational goals and ideals that it hopes to share with the world. If you are not in line with this basic ideals, that’s Ok… just don’t expect to get a paycheck from the Church when you go about trying to undermine these ideals.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  89. BobRyan: Do we really want to promote evolutionism as a denomination – and pay for it?

    No, but we do want to promote the DISCUSSION of evolution, and that is what they are doing. Discussing evolution and promoting evolution are not necessarily the same thing.

    You can’t have a discussion under threat of coercion, so threatening discussion participants is against the church’s primary interest.

    Besides, it is morally wrong.

    Hot debate. Thumb up 1

    • @Ron:

      This isn’t about the discussion of evolution. Neo-Darwinism should be discussed in our schools. The problem is that the neo-Darwinian perspective is being promoted as “true” in our schools while the Adventist perspective is being actively undermined…

      No organization can long withstand such active subversive activity from paid representatives…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  90. Sean Pitman: As with any viable organization, the SDA Church has certain basic organizational goals and ideals that it hopes to share with the world.

    Why would anyone want to join an organization that enforces it’s ideals through coercion rather than persuasion?

    If your ideals are not persuasive, then coercion only undermines your ideals further. If your ideals are persuasive, you have no need for coercion.

    Besides, what you are proposing is morally wrong.

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    • @Ron:

      No one is being “coerced” to join the SDA Church or be hired as a paid representative. All are free to leave at will. However, not all are free to expect a paycheck from the SDA Church for teaching or preaching whatever they want.

      What about the rights of the employer who wishes to hire only those who accurately and effectively uphold the employer’s primary goals and ideals? You think it “immoral” for an employer to be selective? – not hiring those who do not support the employer’s goals and ideals?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Of course not, I am arguing that in this case the employer’s response to the problem is doing far more damage to the employer’s primary goals and ideals than the employee is.

        The church can’t uphold the ideals of freedom and intellectual honesty while at the same time sanctioning those within the church who are engaged in the process.

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        • @Ron:

          The SDA Church upholds ideals of civil freedoms for society at large – i.e., the Separation of Church and State. However, the Church does not uphold the idea that a paid representative of the Church is therefore free to preach or teach anything one wants and continue to expect a paycheck from the Church. That’s an untenable idea. All are free to leave the Church without any fear of civil reprisals of any kind. However, not all are free or qualified to be a paid representative of the Church organization.

          Paychecks are given to those who actively support the primary goals and ideals of the organizations that hire them. Viable organizations simply cannot afford to pay people who go around attacking the primary goals and ideals of the organization…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  91. Sean Pitman: The SDA Church does support the search for truth – just not the denial of truth once it is revealed to us by God.

    Amen, Sean, Amen.

    To Ron:

    If I was searching for my black handbag and I found it, how dumb would I be to continue to search for it? Anything else I found after that would be an error. Just be satisfied with the truth as revealed by God and don’t keep looking for you will not find truth, but lies.

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    • @Faith:
      I am not sure how to respond using your analogy. I just wish it were that easy. The problem is the confusion. Maybe it is like you finding your purse and someone else claiming it was theirs. It would take some investigation to prove your point.

      A wise man once told me if you are confused, it is most likely that someone is lying.

      So maybe you are satisfied with the simple Bible description of creation, and that is OK. Nobody wants to unsettle your faith. In that case the evolution discussion isn’t addressing your needs.

      But there are others, particularly those who examine nature closely, who have questions. They are confused, and it takes some investigation to figure out who is lying.

      I wish it were as simple as saying, just take the Bible at it’s word. It obviously means ____________. But the problem with that is that the Bible is often, and easily misunderstood. The very existence of the Seventh-day Adventist church is predicated on the idea that we have a new understanding of Bible truth that either hadn’t been discovered before, or had been previously misunderstood.

      You can’t go around preaching that people have misunderstood the Bible for hundreds of years, and then all of a sudden say, just believe the Bible the way it reads. The very fact that you claim many people have misunderstood the Bible in other areas, raises suspicion that we might not understand the Bible in this area also.

      So it takes investigation to figure it out. Do we really understand the Bible properly?
      Do we really understand Science properly?
      Is there some third way to harmonize what appears to be discrepancies that we have just not discovered yet?

      In order to have that discussion, we need people to take various positions and argue them out so that everyone can eventually be convinced. It is a necessity that a believer will argue an opposing side, just to clarify their reasoning and strengthen the argument for Truth. But if you sanction anyone who tries to do that, then it is impossible to have the discussion and confusion and doubt remain.

      You may say, “Well, the church already had these Creation Conferences, and we already have a consensus, so now it is OK to enforce our beliefs.” But this actually reinforces the points I am making.

      There is a widely held opinion among the participants and observers of the Creation Conferences that it was not a free and open discussion, but that the outcome was pre-determined and enforced by the church clergy. The result is that people remain unconvinced.

      This is a problem as I see it. To the extent that the discussion is contaminated by prejudice, fear, and coercion, or lacks transparency, the outcome is suspect and unconvincing. The outcome could be absolutely true, and it could be exactly the same as what would result from a free and transparent process, but the fact that the process is contaminated, makes it impossible to have faith in the outcome.
      You will never achieve the desired result of having a group of people who are truly convinced and convincing.

      That is why we are losing the battle over evolution in the minds of our young people. It isn’t because teachers teach evolution, it is because they see that the church is afraid to allow the discussion. The natural conclusion is that if the church is afraid to allow the discussion, the church’s arguments must be weak. Because a strong argument, doesn’t need outside coercion. It can stand on it’s own. Truth always outs in the end.

      So, again, going back to the idea that if you are confused, someone must be lying, one of the ways you detect lying, is by an effort to hide. To restrict discussion. To enforce belief through threat or coercion. So when the students see that the church is afraid to engage in discussion and is using force or intimidation to enforce belief, then the natural conclusion is that the church must be lying.

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      • @Ron: The problem is confusion, Ron, but you’re the only one who is confused. The church isn’t afraid of the discussion; to the contrary, the church would love it if the professors at La Sierra would have a discussion of creation vs. evolution, or the strengths and weaknesses of both theories. But that isn’t happening. In fact, when Lee Greer agreed with the creationist Trustees and Larry Blackmer at AAA that the LSU biology faculty would teach creationism not as science but as the Adventist faith position, he was commended by LSU and praised, and offered tenure.

        . . . oh, wait a minute. That’s not what happened. When Lee Greer agreed to teach creation (even though he personally is not a creationist) he was fired for it. Yup, that’s right. For moving just a little bit in the direction of compromise with the SDA Church, Lee Greer was fired. That’s how entrenched is LSU’s rebellion against, and hatred for, the SDA Church.

        Frankly, at this point I’m more in favor of LSU being cut off from the SDA Church than in favor of continued efforts to redeem it. Cut off the tithe subsidy, take the (largely useless) church officials off the board, and make it clear to the SDA world that LSU is no longer affiliated with the Adventist Church. That’s what Fritz Guy and Larry Garity and Randal Wisbey and many other conspirators have been working for all these years (and decades) and it is long past time for them to have their way. Ichabod.

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  92. Ron is attempting to reason with generally unreasonable individuals. He is to be lauded for his attempts despite the likelyhood to essential certainty that his efforts will be disregarded. His comments would be well received at Adventist Today and Spectrum.

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    • @Ervin Taylor:

      Ervin Taylor: Ron is attempting to reason with generally unreasonable individuals.

      Ahh the “tolerant liberal” is seen once again in the level of his discourse.

      How “unexpected”.

      Ervin Taylor:
      His (Ron’s) comments would be well received at Adventist Today and Spectrum.

      And at Pharyngula.

      Well finally Erv says something that Nobody questions.

      Ron’s idea represent some segment within the church today. On this board that does not amount to the most popular one – but this is a good place to have that view presented.

      This board is not going to ban conservatives simply because their posts are too effective at exposing the weakness in the liberal methods, agenda and argument.

      in Christ,

      Bob

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    • @Ervin Taylor: Thanks Ervin for the encouragement. But what would be the point of arguing at Spectrum? If they all agreed with me I wouldn’t learn anything. As it turns out, this has done quite a lot to help my ideas to mature. To quote my very insightful wife after reading a recent post, “You’re making progress”. (In reference to my spiritual growth, not that I am convincing anybody here.)

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    • Erwin, I haven’t seen any viable response from either you or Ron to Sean’s arguments. I am an open-minded graduate student, but I’m having a really hard time buying your approach.

      Would you expect Bill Gates to promote Apple products? Or Steve Jobs, before his death, to promote the MacBook Pro? Ought Zuckerburg to promote Google+? or Sergey and Larry (the founders of Google) to promote Facebook? Should Romney PACs fund ads promoting Obama, or Obama PACs promote Romney?

      Isn’t yours the unreasonable position?

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  93. You may not like the paradox but you can not deny it or its implications.

    We agree that God gives His moral beings free will. He also expresses by way of commandments how the free will must choose if on going eternal life is to be maintained.

    If you choose to rebel and be lost, then it is God’s will that you will be lost. God honors your freedom to choose and will not over turn it.

    Yet, the bible says, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

    Is God willing that any should perish? Yes, those who refuse to repent will surely perish and God is not only willing that they should perish, but participates in the execution of the sinner.

    So, God’s “will” must be understood from more than one perspective. God’s best and desired will is that a sinner would repent. None the less, if the sinner does not repent, it is God’s will that they should perish. Because God has willed that the sinner’s will can trump God’s desired will and in such a case, God wills that they should perish. Even though, He could keep them alive forever.

    This is not so difficult to comprehend if you are “willing” to carefully consider the issue and its implications.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      You may not like the paradox but you can not deny it or its implications.

      But I do deny your artificial paradox where God is somehow responsible for causing both good and evil. That God caused the rebellion of Lucifer and Pharaoh, and all others who follow the path of evil.

      We agree that God gives His moral beings free will. He also expresses by way of commandments how the free will must choose if on going eternal life is to be maintained.

      That’s right. But this does not mean that God causes or is in any other way responsible for the actual choice of the freewill agent.

      If you choose to rebel and be lost, then it is God’s will that you will be lost. God honors your freedom to choose and will not over turn it.

      Yes, but it was not God’s will that anyone would actually choose to be lost or to rebel against His will in the first place.

      Yet, the bible says, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

      That’s right. God wills that all should choose the path of life, not death. The fact that there are those who will freely choose to walk the path of death is contrary to God’s will for them. The fact that He also wills to uphold the choices that free will agents choose, even if they deliberately choose self-destruction, does not change the fact that He never willed anyone to make this choice.

      Is God willing that any should perish? Yes, those who refuse to repent will surely perish and God is not only willing that they should perish, but participates in the execution of the sinner.

      You’re confused. God is not willing that anyone should choose to perish. However, there are those who choose contrary to God’s will – who actually choose to perish. In honoring their choice, in letting the wicked choose death instead of life, God is not somehow happy about their choice. He is never willing that anyone should make such a choice… though He is, ultimately, willing to honor the free will choices that are made – even those that go against His will.

      So, God’s “will” must be understood from more than one perspective. God’s best and desired will is that a sinner would repent.

      That’s right. That is always His will.

      None the less, if the sinner does not repent, it is God’s will that they should perish. Because God has willed that the sinner’s will can trump God’s desired will and in such a case, God wills that they should perish. Even though, He could keep them alive forever.

      Just because God wills to uphold the final will and decision of the wicked does not mean that God also willed them to have rebelled to begin with or to have refused His repeated offers for pardon. God never wills nor is He in any way responsible for the rebellion of the sinner or any of the acts of those who are acting contrary to His desire for all to turn to the path of light and life.

      Also, ironically, it is the sinner’s will to perish rather than continue on in a life of suffering and pain – a life that is borrowed from the one he/she hates. It is an act of mercy, on the part of God, to allow the sinner to die. It is not a willful act for God. He does not desire or take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Again, He never willed their rebellion or the final condition to which such rebellion will eventually lead.

      This is not so difficult to comprehend if you are “willing” to carefully consider the issue and its implications.

      I have considered this issue long and hard for many years. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’re understanding the implications of what you’re saying – of a God who is both good and evil, of a God who causes rebellion and then punishes people for doing what He caused them to do. That’s evil Bill. There is no getting around this conclusion by claiming that a “paradox” somehow makes it Ok…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 8

      • @Sean Pitman:
        Sean, I don’t think Bill is saying that God causes evil, and I certainly am not saying that. What I am trying to say, I think can be encapsulated in your phrase: “Just because God wills to uphold the final will and decision of the wicked. . . . ”

        Again, it is a matter of perspective. Take the perspective you have just expressed up one notch. You have to ask, “Why did God choose to uphold the final will of the wicked?” Presumably God had a choice, He didn’t have to do that. My contention is that He did it for a very good reason. That, that outcome, the result of the decisions of the wicked, was one, only one of the many contingencies included in God’s overall plan to deal with sin.

        When I say that Adam’s sin was within the bounds of God’s will, I am not trying to excuse Adam, or blame God. I am trying to say that, sin, or no sin, Adam is still in a relationship with God. God did not abandon Adam when Adam sinned. Instead God became “Emmanuel”, God with us. God had a plan for dealing with Adam’s sin, and it was a good plan, not an evil plan, and that THIS life, the one you and I are living now, is still a GOOD life that has meaning and value.

        It does not only have value as a stepping stone to the next life. It has meaning and value NOW, as it is.

        And here is where I think I am going to stretch your beliefs a little; I think life would have meaning and value even if there were no after life. In fact, I believe even the worst sinner’s life has meaning and value. If for no other reason than to provide a negative example of what not to do.

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        • @Ron:

          Sean, I don’t think Bill is saying that God causes evil, and I certainly am not saying that.

          Why then do you seem to argue that God is the one who is responsible for all forms of evolution? – to include genetic mutations that cause childhood leukemia? That’s evil Ron. Yet, God is the one who came up with it? Hmmmm?

          You see, we’re back to square one. You claim that Darwinian evolution is simply a tool that God created that allows for change over time so that animals could adapt to new environments. While Mendelian variation is certainly based on a pre-programmed ability to change over time (without the underlying gene pool changing), Darwinian evolution is based on novel genetic mutations to the genome – the vast majority of which are harmful to the gene pool. Yet, God is responsible for it all?

          Again, it is a matter of perspective. Take the perspective you have just expressed up one notch. You have to ask, “Why did God choose to uphold the final will of the wicked?” Presumably God had a choice, He didn’t have to do that. My contention is that He did it for a very good reason. That, that outcome, the result of the decisions of the wicked, was one, only one of the many contingencies included in God’s overall plan to deal with sin.

          Again, as I’ve explained many many times now, just because God has a plan does not mean that He caused or is in any other way responsible for the existence of sin. Foreknowledge of sin is not the same thing as causing or willing sin to exist… like leukemia in children.

          Also, Eve was not some brave heroin stepping out to explore the unknown according to the will of God. Her act was an act of selfishness; an attack on God. Sure, God had a plan to save both Adam and Eve all ready to go. However, this does not mean that God wanted to have to use His plan. He did not want to have to use His plan.

          When I say that Adam’s sin was within the bounds of God’s will, I am not trying to excuse Adam, or blame God.

          Again, you should not say that the rebellion of Adam and Eve was “within the bounds of God’s will”. This gives the impression that God wanted it to happen. While it is true that God does in fact will freedom to exist, it is not true that God wills or desires anyone to rebel against His will. That’s not true at all.

          Also, if you’re not trying to blame God for the existence of evil, why do you claim that God is responsible for the evolution of life over billions of years on this planet via a very painful mechanism of “survival of the fittest”? – that God deliberately and directly creates all genetic mutations and uses natural selection to produce untold suffering and death for countless sentient creatures? How is this not blaming God for the evil that exists on this planet?

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          Hot debate. Thumb up 8

  94. Ervin Taylor:
    Ron is attempting to reason with generally unreasonable individuals.He is to be lauded for his attempts despite the likelyhood to essential certainty that his efforts will be disregarded. His comments would be well received at Adventist Today and Spectrum.

    I agree. Ron would fit in very well over on Spectrum and AT and he would be very well received.

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  95. Ron:
    @Faith:

    I am perplexed thatin the same paragraphyou try to absolveGod of responsibility for evil events,and in the sameparagraph, as part of your explanationyou say that “God allowed”.Don’t you see that in order someoneto “allow ” anything, that person first has to have the ability,as well as the authority to stop it.You even gave a reason for God to allow evil,“so we could see the evil consequences and be convinced”.How is that differentthan what I have been saying?We are describing the same proverbial elephantfrom just slightly different perspectives,useing slightly different words.

    It sounds like, from your reasoning, that Jesus SHOULD have been killed on the Cross, since He “allowed” us to sin. It was really HIS fault, and He deserved all the suffering and death. Maybe we don’t really “need” Him at all?

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    • @Holly Pham:
      Yes, Holly, I believe Jesus was compelled to make the sacrifice He did by His love for us. In fact that His decision to proceed with creation in light of His full knowledge of the sin that would happen morally obligated Him to rescue us. But the compelling and obligation arose from within His own nature and the nature of love. For example, I don’t see how a loving person could choose to create a situation that they absolutely knew with absolute certainty would result in innocent people being thrown into the Holocaust and still remain loving if they did not have a way to rescue the holocaust victims.

      The fact that Jesus did create, and that He did find a way to rescue the holocaust victims (and I mean at the time of, and during the holocaust, not in some abstract future heavenly life, see Betsy’s testimony just before she died in “The Hiding Place”, and Dr. Fankl’s book) proves that He is loving. If He had not done so, I think humanity would have concluded rightly that God was not loving. Had Jesus not come to die, Satan would have won his argument, but Jesus DID come and die.

      But those statements I just made only refer to God and His nature, and His responsibility. It says nothing about the responsibility of Adam and Eve, Hitler, or you and I.

      Everyone, Satan, Adam and Eve, Hitler, you and I, are all individually responsible for our own decisions. It is OUR decisions that define our character and it is OUR decisions for which we are responsible. So, the only way to hold sinners accountable, and say that Sin is truly sinful, is to uphold the meaning of the word “responsible” by affirming that God Himself is responsible.

      You can’t hold sinner’s or Satan responsible if you gut the meaning of “responsible” by denying that God is responsible. God IS responsible, and it is the cross that proves that He is in fact, responsible. (If you can find a text in the Bible where God denies responsibility for anything, please let me know.)

      See Job 42:8. Note that God claims responsibility for Satan’s work in Job’s life. Job’s whole argument in the preceding book was that God was treating Him unfairly, while Job’s friend’s were defending God. Here God confesses that Job was infact treated unfairly, and God claims responsibility for it. If God, by His own confession is guilty of treating Job unfairly, or even as a sovereign allowing Job to be treated unfairly by Satan, then God IS guilty, and deserves the same punishment that is inflicted on any other guilty person. But note that God incurred guilt in the process of trying to save us, and the rest of the universe, from the lies of Satan. God had to do some unseemly things in order to unmask Satan. So that is the meaning of the phrase, “He became sin for us”. In order to save us, He had to take our sin upon Himself, and He had to suffer our death.

      If He did not take responsibility for our sin, then His death had no meaning. You cannot satisfy the demands of justice by punishing an innocent victim, even if that victim is God. Punishing an innocent victim only adds more guilt to the crime. The only way we can be Justified through Christ, is if Christ takes responsibility for us.

      In effect, Jesus is saying to the rest of the universe, “Yes, I know they sinned, and yes, that makes them truly evil, but they sinned ignorantly, with incomplete knowledge. Don’t worry about it. I will take responsibility for them. If they do any harm to anyone else in the universe, credit it to my account, I pledge myself to make it right.” And He does. And that I think is the essence of the Investigative Judgement. The Universe is asking the question, did He do it? Did He live up to His promise and “make it right”? Have all claims against God and humanity been satisfied?

      To use the scientific analogy we have used previously, Satan made a claim about God’s character. Basically He asked the question, “If someone sins, how will God react? Will God still act in Love with the best interest of the OTHER at heart, or will He act against the SELFish-interest of the OTHER by removing or destroying the freedom of the OTHER in order to maintain His own integrity?” You see how this sets a trap for God? In order to answer the question SOMEONE has to chose to sin which means that SOMEONE would suffer the consequences of sin, something that God’s love would find intolerable. So, rather than letting His creatures do the experiment and suffer the consequences, God, in love, decided to spring the trap Himself. He gave man freedom. He allowed man and the rest of creation to ask the question, which Eve did when she took the apple, but then He took the responsibility for it Himself, and He, Himself paid the penalty. The only way Justice and Mercy can kiss, is if God takes responsibility and bears the punishment Himself.

      Now what about what Mrs. White says about Eve denying responsibility for her actions? Yes denial of her sin is itself evil. I won’t argue that. But there is another way to interpret that transaction.

      By looking at what motivates Eve’s denial, you can see fear. In essence she is saying “I am afraid. This punishment is too great for me, I can’t bear it.” And in unjustified hope, she says, “You take it.”

      And God, recognizing the fear that motivates the denial says, “Yes, my dear, of course I will. I will take the responsibility for it myself. I will be the one to bear the eternal consequences. You must only bear the temporary consequences.

      In this life, you will have to bear temporary pain and sorrow and death. But these will only be temporary, like the pain of childbirth. The pain and sorrow of this life will give birth to a new, eternal life with me. Don’t be afraid. I will be with you. Always. We will do this together.”

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  96. Sean, what ever God allows is God’s permissive will. It is what He permits.

    God allows sin. This is His permissive will.

    If mother tells Johnny he can play with any and all of his toys but not to throw them out the window, he may throw them out the window anyway. She permitted him to do it by giving him the opportunity.

    Her will was to permit him to do it. Even though she instructed him not to. As soon as you give a self governing agent freedom to act, you also will for them to choose.

    Now your personal will may be that they will follow your instruction. But, since you gave them the power of choice, your permissive will stands above your desired will.

    So God willed that Adam should choose good or evil. And God’s will to give Adam free choice stands above what ever Adam may do one way or the other.

    So Adam chose sin. It was God’s will that Adam had a free choice. And God permitted Adam to choose evil. It was God’s permissive will. He could have stopped him. But He did not. In fact, He could not and still will for Adam to have his own free will. And in this sense, God is responsible for sin because He did not have to make free moral agents.

    None the less, the free moral agent is ultimately responsible for sin since he had not reason to sin.

    Is mother responsible for Johnny throwing his toys out the window? Yes and no.

    If Johnny understands the implications of his decision, then somewhere, mother’s responsibility ends and Johnny’s responsibility is the final one.

    So God is responsible for creating the possibility of sin. But God’s responsibility for sin ceases where man’s responsibility begins.

    God shifts the responsibility of good and evil on those who can discern and make a viable decision in favor with what God desires and even demands.

    So, sins of ignorance are forgiven by way of the cross and Jesus accepts the responsibility for the sins of His people until the are sufficiently enlightened.

    At some point, if they do not repent, sins of ignorance become sins of rebellion. And then the responsiblity rests solely on the rebel.

    Believe it or not.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • @Bill Sorensen:

      Sean, what ever God allows is God’s permissive will. It is what He permits. God allows sin. This is His permissive will.

      Allowing or permitting something to occur does not mean that God caused it or willed it or is in any other way responsible for its existence.

      What God wills is that freedom of choice exist – which means that free moral agents are free to act against the will of God for their lives. God desires freedom more than He desires obedience. Only in this manner is it possible for true love to exist.

      Again, however, this does not mean that God therefore willed Lucifer or Pharaoh or any other wicked person to rebel. That’s simply not true. God does not tempt or will anyone to rebel (James 1:13).

      So Adam chose sin. It was God’s will that Adam had a free choice. And God permitted Adam to choose evil. It was God’s permissive will. He could have stopped him. But He did not. In fact, He could not and still will for Adam to have his own free will. And in this sense, God is responsible for sin because He did not have to make free moral agents.

      You’re logic doesn’t follow. Just because God is responsible for creating freedom of will and for allowing free choices to be made does not mean that God is therefore responsible for the choices of the freewill agents that go contrary to His own will for them. This is like Adam blaming God for making Eve or Eve blaming God for making the snake.

      Again, the choice to rebel against God is not of God’s making or responsibility. It is entirely the responsibility of the one who made the choice to rebel. God is only responsible for the good things – for the existence of free will, the option to actually choose between good and evil. God is not therefore responsible for the evil.

      So God is responsible for creating the possibility of sin. But God’s responsibility for sin ceases where man’s responsibility begins.

      Now you’re making my argument! God is responsible for making it possible for freedom to exist, for people to choose to rebel against His will. But, God is not responsible for the actual choice to rebel. Such a choice is entirely the responsibility of the free moral agent.

      In short, I entirely agree with this statement of yours: “But God’s responsibility for sin ceases where man’s responsibility begins.”

      This means that God did not “harden Pharaoh’s heart” or cause him to rebel. Pharaoh hardened his own heart and chose, of his own free will, to rebel against the will of God.

      There is no paradox here. God is not both good and evil. God is only good. He is not responsible for the origin or action of the evil that He allows, for a time, to exist for the purposes of demonstrating exactly what evil is and does…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      Hot debate. Thumb up 10

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