Comment on Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull by Sean Pitman.
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 Also Commented
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.
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.
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.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…
I agree with Prof Kent. I think you have a few problems
1] You have used an arbitrary statistical limit to define a universal limits of evolutionary development and speciation
The limitation is not arbitrary. It is both observed in real time and can be calculated to show that it (a minimum requirement of 1000 specifically arranged residue positions) is the most likely limitation this side of trillions of years of time – from the perspective of RM/NS.
2] You have conceded that 80-90% of the genetic variation between species has been acquired over 4000 years. (I am surprised that you feel able to extend this to 5000 years given EG White’s writings.
It depends upon what type of variation you’re talking about. Certainly all variation at lower levels of functional complexity could easily be realized in this period of time.
3] You allow for rapid development of phenotype and novel repurposing of proteins in the development of evenomation
DNA can and does rapidly mutate – true.
4] You claim some value for a limit of 1000fsaar but do not seem able to identify concrete examples of this during speciation.
Speciation is not based on producing novel functional complexity beyond very low levels of functional complexity. In fact, speciation can be based on functionally neutral genetic changes. Also, there are no examples of evolving beyond the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues because it is statistically impossible to do so. Only variations at low levels of functional complexity can be or ever have been demonstrated.
5] Indeed comparative genomics between man and apes suggests that the differences between these species is mostly at the single nucleotide level and in gene duplications
and that there seems to be none of the barriers of 1000fsaar complexity that Sean suggests to limit evolution of homo sapiens from an hominid ancestor common with great apes.
Humans and apes are quite different in various respects, to include brain structure and function – which is thought to be based on numerous differences in genetic regions that code for miRNAs (around 8% of which are human specific).
“miRNAs recently have been implicated in synaptic development and in memory formation. As the species specific miRNAs described here are expressed in the brain, which is the most complex tissue in the human body, with an estimated 10,000 different cell types, these miRNAs could have a role in establishing or maintaining cellular diversity and could thereby contribute to the differences in human and chimpanzee brain … function.”
Eugene Berezikov, Fritz Thuemmler, Linda W van Laake, Ivanela Kondova, Ronald Bontrop4, Edwin Cuppen & Ronald H A Plasterk, “Diversity of microRNAs in human and chimpanzee brain”, Nature Genetics, Vol 38 | Number 12 | December 2006 pp. 1375-1377.
The Y-chromosome is even more unique. A study published by Nature in early 2010 showed many striking differences between human and chimp chromosome structure, gene content, and even qualitatively unique genes between the two species. As far as looking at specific genes, the chimp and human Y-chromosomes seem to have a dramatic difference in gene content of up to 53 percent. In other words, the chimp is lacking approximately half of the genes found on a human Y-chromosome. Because genes occur in families or similarity categories, the researchers also sought to determine if there was any difference in actual gene categories. They found a shocking 33 percent difference. The human Y-chromosome contains a third more gene categories, entirely different classes of genes, compared to chimps.
Hughes, J.F. et al. 2010. Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in structure gene content. Nature. 463 (7280): 536-539.
For further discussion see:
6] You define species classification as being arbritary but have some nebulous concept of a barrier of complexity for potential changes induced by the acquired changes which you concedes occurs rapidly and frequently.
This limit to complexity you relate to some theoretic 1000fsaar limit.
Again, this limit is both observable and calculable based on known distributions and densities of viable sequences in sequence spaces at various levels of functional complexity.
You seem to support models of rapid evolution by Darwinian mechanism inside a 1000fsaar limit; if you think them scientific they must be tested by reference to reality and real data. I suggest you look at the genomic data and point out the genetic differences that correspond to your 1000 FSAAR limit.
I’ve given you numerous examples already of systems that require a minimum of far more than 1000 specifically arranged residues. How many more examples do you need?
You might like to also comment on you model of evolution of all Y chromosome variation that exists today from a single Y chromosome 4000 years ago at the time of flood.
In case anyone suggests there were 4 males on the boat and therefore there were 4 Y chromosomes, Noah and his 3 sons would all have the one identical Y chromosome because of transmission from Noah to his sons. Humans in terms of Y chromosomes are equivalent to a breeding pair.
The variation in the Y chromosome in humans today, like all other unclean animals must therefore date to mutations in the last 4000 years.
All this genomic sequence is now freely available so there is no excuse for not testing it except the paucity of value you see in your arguments.
What testing would you want? Low level genetic changes can and do take place very fast – especially in larger populations. There are no examples of higher level changes because, statistically, they are impossible this side of a practical eternity of time.
Both Jeff Kent and I have both offered advice in publication of these experiments in the peer reviewed literature.
Until you give me some real evidence based on experimental data you seem to be simply doing what Bob Ryan abhors; telling just so stories.
Sit down. Do the math for yourself. Then, come back and talk to me about who is telling the just-so stories regarding the creative potential of random mutations and natural selection (RM/NS).
Then I have question for you: In Daniel 8:14, the tern “evenings and mornings” are also used for the 2,300 days, that is in the literal Hebrew wording since the Hebrew words “boqer” and “ereb” are used; the very same words used in Genesis. Are the 2,300 evenings and mornings in that particular verse therefore literal days?
I realize you may want to make the claim that in prophesy, a “day” is equal to a “year.” But then we will run into an inconsistency that the “day” with “evening and morning” only means one thing verses another only when it fits into someone’s theology.
Daniel is largely a prophetic book and the passage you reference is clearly a prophetic passage. Prophecies clearly use symbolic language throughout the Bible. Both Daniel and Revelation are filled with symbols that are clearly not intended to be taken literally. Jesus himself often used obvious symbols and parables in this teaching of the people.
In contrast, Genesis is not a book of prophecy and is not written in a style that obviously lends itself to be taken in a non-literal, allegorical, or parabolic manner. It is written in the style of a historical narrative and the same style is used throughout Genesis. If you claim that the first chapters are obviously non-literal, you have to say that the rest of the book, to include the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were intended to be non-literal parables as well…
My point in quoting Davies’ review of Polkinghorne was to show that they base their ideas on God’s existence on evidence, on certain features within the universe, which they think can only be explained by deliberate intelligent design on the level of God-like intelligence. That is an intelligent design hypothesis on at least some level.
Just because those who appeal to intelligent design theories on at least some level may also believe in various aspects of the modern theory of evolution doesn’t mean that an ID theory hasn’t been invoked on at least some level. It has.
After all, even I believe in evolution via RM/NS as being responsible for many features of living things. Many features of living things are very well explained by neutral evolution or by low-level functional evolution. This doesn’t mean that all features of living things can be therefore be explained by RM/NS. It is this leap of logic or extrapolation of low-level evolution to much higher levels of evolution, within mainstream science, which isn’t scientific. Many features of living things go well beyond the creative potential of any known mindless mechanism while being well within the realm of ID. This is the very same argument used by Davies to support his belief in a God as the designer behind certain features of the anthropic universe.
By the way, I do know Norman McNulty. I’m just not familiar with his views on perfectionism – which is, in any case, irrelevant to this purposes of this particular website. Also, my transitional internship was completed at Eisenhower Army Medical Center (not an SDA institution) and my hemepath fellowship was completed at the City of Hope under the world-renown Lawrence Weiss (not SDA either).
I remain as perplexed as ever how you can hold views on the the nature of intelligent design as a natural phenomena and the requirement for faith to be subservient to reason and evidence but deny anyone in church employ any leeway to explore or articulate anything beyond what you consider truth.
It isn’t what I consider truth. It is what the Church as an organization considers to be fundamental “present truth”. All are free to join or to leave the Church at will. This is a free civil society in which we live – thank God. However, the Church, as with any viable organization, must maintain a certain degree of order and discipline within its own organizational structure if it is to survive. The Church simply cannot afford to hire those who are ardently opposed to the basic fundamental goals and ideals of the Church as an organization and who go around teaching and preaching against the fundamental positions of the organized Church.
You may not consider the organization of the Church to be all that important. I think that without organization, and the order and control that goes along with maintaining any organization, that the Church would quickly fragment into a meaningless hodgepodge of isolated groups with widely divergent ideas. The organizational aspect of the Church is what gives it its power to spread a unified Gospel message more effectively.
I appreciate your responses to my questions and the glimpses I have gained into the mind of a person who seems to discern truth and sees the justice in imposing it on others.
What employer doesn’t impose various rules and restrictions on its paid employees? – rules that are known upfront before the employee agrees to take the job? You very well know that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t be paid by an organization for doing whatever you want. You are paid to do what the organization wants you to do. If you don’t like what the organization wants you to do, you don’t have to take the job. Again, it’s as simple as that. This isn’t some deep philosophical mystery here.
It is self-evident, is it not, that when one takes on employment in an organization of one’s own free will, one is obliged to take on the restriction, the rules, of that organization. Is it wrong of Reebok to require its own employees to only promote and even wear Reebok shoes? Would it be wrong of Reebok to fire and employee for publicly promoting Nike as making a superior product?
Come now. If you really believe that Nike makes the better shoe, and you are bound and determined to be honest to yourself and tell everyone about the superiority of Nike, why on Earth would you expect to be paid by Reebok to promote Nike? You’re simply making no sense here. You’re basically an anarchist who thinks you deserve to be paid simply for your honesty. I’m sorry, but no viable organization works that way. An honest Catholic should work for the Catholic organization. An honest Baptist should work for the Baptist organization. And an honest evolutionary scientist should work for those numerous organizations who would be more than glad to pay such an individual for their efforts. Why should the SDA Church pay anyone who doesn’t actually want to promote what the SDA Church, as an organization, wishes to promote?
God bless and give you as much insight into his Grace.
Likewise. God is a God of order and disciplined government – not anarchy. All are free to come and enjoy the gifts of God as given through the inspired organization of the SDA Church. However, not all are free to expect payment from the SDA Church for their services since not all are well suited to be official representatives of the Church as an organization.