Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith

by Sean Pitman

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The concept of methodological naturalism is foundational for most mainstream scientists.  It is most commonly defined as a philosophical doctrine that claims, a priori, that for any study of the world around us to quality as “scientific”, no reference to God or to any kind of supernatural intervention is allowed.  Of course, it is noted that God is not ruled out by methodological naturalism, that religion can still exist, but that the detection of God’s existence and activity is beyond the realm of what is defined as “science” and beyond what most would define as a “rational” belief (which has led many to conclude that methodologically naturalism rationally leads one to accept philosophical naturalism as well).

In practice, however, the proponents of methodological naturalism go beyond even this fairly limited definition to also define “science” as excluding any appeal to intelligent design of any kind (God-like or otherwise) when it comes to explaining the origin of certain phenomena found in nature – specifically to include the origin of any feature within living things or the origin of the fundamental constants of the universe.

This is most interesting because if, hypothetically, some feature happened to be found within a living thing or within the fundamental constants of the universe, which could not readily be explained by any known mindless natural mechanism and which appeared to be artificial (i.e., intelligently designed), the naturalist would feel forced to appeal to some as yet unknown mindless mechanism in order to avoid admitting that the feature in question may be a true artefact of intelligent design – regardless of if the minimum level of intelligence required to explain the artefact need not require a God or even God-like intelligence to explain.
As Dr. Paul Cameron puts it:

The fact that explanations are unknown or known is largely irrelevant. It is a question of how I practice science. I have accepted a priori to practice science as it should be practiced as a process based on methodological naturalism. It admits there is much that is unknown and not amenable to this process. I do not pretend that all of human experience is amenable to this method but I for sure will continue to practice medicine assuming naturalism and do genetics, virology and molecular and cell biology based on naturalism and not magic. (Link)

Yet, even from a “naturalistic” perspective, Dr. Cameron is being inconsistent.  How so?  Consider that there are many scientific disciplines that are dedicated to detecting intelligent design behind various natural phenomena.  Forensic scientists, for example, go about trying to detect empirical evidence for deliberate design behind the demise of suspected murder victims.  Anthropologist go about trying to sort out naturally-produced fragments of wood and rock (etc.)  from those that were deliberately carved or manufactured by intelligent design (arrowheads or fragments of pottery, etc.).  And SETI scientists, who are searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, go about trying to find various types of phenomena that they claim would be very good scientific evidence of alien intelligence and deliberate creativity that is not of human origin.

It is quite clear then that most scientists consider the ability to detect intelligent design, on at least some level, to be well within the realm of scientific investigation and discovery… just as long as the discovered intelligence isn’t given the title of “God”.

Yet, Dr. Cameron, and many like him, will not allow even the proposal of intelligence, of any kind, not even theoretically, for any feature of living things… or of the origin of the fine-tuned fundamental constants of the universe.  In other words, they go beyond the confines of methodological naturalism to exclude any kind of intelligence, God-like or otherwise, from explaining anything within living things – even if a certain feature cannot be explained by any currently-known mindless natural mechanism and even if this particular feature at least resembles a product of known design – i.e., a true artefact.

As an example, consider a hypothetical situation where Dr. Cameron happened to be studying a sequence of viral DNA when his assistant happened to notice what appears to be a Morse Code sequence in the DNA – a coded sequence that spelled out, “Hello Dr. Cameron.  I just thought I’d send you a little note to see if you’re paying attention.  All the best – God.”

Don’t you think, at the very least, that Dr. Cameron would start to suspect that someone was playing some kind of trick on him? – that this sequence was clearly the result of intelligent design?  He may reasonably question that the message was really created by God just for him, but he would not question the fact that however it was made, it was made by intelligent design. Would anyone really believe that Dr. Cameron would feel forced, at this point, by his “a priori” adherence to methodological naturalism, to try to find some mindless natural mechanism to explain such a coded DNA sequence?

However, when called out on his inconsistency and asked to explain the difference between detecting design behind something as simple as this message sequence coded in DNA or something as simple as a highly symmetrical polished granite cube (if it so happened to be found on an alien planet) or the simple radio signals that SETI scientists are looking for, Dr. Cameron refuses to answer – preferring to dodge the question with responses such as:

Since “Of Pandas and People” defined ID as synonymous with creationism in the second edition of 1993.  (Link)

Why is it all of a sudden difficult to explain how intelligent design is detected behind a clearly artefactual granite cube?  Why this reference to “creationism” in response to a question that isn’t addressing “creationism”?  Because,  it seems to me, Dr. Cameron knows where the question is leading and so he refuses to even take the first step down the suspected “rosy path”.   He must know, deep down inside, the inconsistency of his position – that his position is rationally untenable.  He must also know that his adherence to any position that proposes, as an answer to a question regarding the cause of some empirical phenomenon, that some future discovery will no doubt support his “a priori” philosophical position, is not a testable or potentially falsifiable position – and therefore not a scientific position (it is actually a form of the God of the Gaps argument).  Yet, one’s philosophy, as with one’s religion, requires no rational argument or logical reason for belief – as Dr. Cameron also explains.

I do not need my religion, which I think a right brain activity, to be scientific or logical. This may be incomprehensible to you but fortunately there are Christians and scientists who can appreciate that. (Link)

Fortunately, this fideistic view is not the Bible’s view of faith or of a useful religion that goes beyond warm fuzzies and wishful thinking.  The Bible presents a much more rational and hopeful basis for faith that is evidence-based.  Consider the arguments of Tom Price (Academic Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and an Associate Tutor at Wycliffe Hall) along these lines:

I’ve been trying to avoid using the word ‘faith’ recently. It just doesn’t get the message across. ‘Faith’ is a word that’s now misused and twisted. ‘Faith’ today is what you try to use when the reasons are stacking up against what you think you ought to believe. Greg Koukl sums up the popular view of faith, “It’s religious wishful thinking, in which one squeezes out spiritual hope by intense acts of sheer will. People of ‘faith’ believe the impossible. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to fact. People of ‘faith’ believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of ‘faith’ ignore reality.” It shouldn’t therefore come as a great surprise to us, that people raise their eyebrows when ‘faith’ in Christ is mentioned. Is it strange that they seem to prefer what seems like reason over insanity?

It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t overemphasize the individual elements of the whole picture of faith, like we so often do. But what does the Bible say about faith? Is it what Simon Peter demonstrates when he climbs out of the boat and walks over the water towards Jesus? Or is it what Thomas has after he has put his hand in Jesus’s side? Interestingly, biblical faith isn’t believing against the evidence. Instead, faith is a kind of knowing that results in action.The clearest definition comes from Hebrews 11:1. This verse says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In fact, when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root [pistis], which means ‘to be persuaded.’ In those verses from Hebrews, we find the words, “hope,” “assurance,” “conviction” that is, confidence. Now, what gives us this confidence?

Christian faith is not belief in the absence of evidence. It is the proper response to the evidence . . .

(Read More…)

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308 thoughts on “Science, Methodological Naturalism, and Faith

  1. I am sort of flattered that you would once again dedicate yet another blog to eviscerating my views. But in reality I am just a visible everyman for the vast number of Christians who practice science by contribution to the canonical literature of science, including I am sure many in Adventist institutions. My poorly articulated comments are of course easy game particularly if you neglect intent and are not partial to context and if you do not release my comments until you have constructed your analysis and critique.

    I agree with Ravi’s accolyte with his statement about faith. I agree entirely.

    “So in conclusion, faith is not a kind of religious hoping that you do in spite of the facts. In fact, faith is a kind of knowing that results in doing. A knowing that is so passionately and intelligently faithful to Jesus Christ that it will not submit to fideism, scientism, nor any other secularist attempt to divert and cauterize the human soul by hijacking knowledge.”

    He is restating what informed Christians have been saying for a long time. People like Lewis, Bonhoeffer, McGrath and Polkinghorne.

    We are to live our lives as Christians within the real world a world that is increasingly explained by natural mechanism and not miracles. We acknowledge the realities and facts of life and accept that Christ has meaning in the known and not in the unknown. In the non-miraculous conduct of our lives not in the miraculous and inexplicable.

    In a “..knowing that results in doing”. As both Bonhoeffer and Yoder has written in Cost of Discipleship and Politics of Jesus. Following Christ and living the principles and ethics of the kingdom of heaven here and now is faithfulness to the message of a kenotic incarnate God.

    As Sean himself puts it the “Royal law of love” although I continue to have a hard time imaging Christ as a soldier killing people according to some notion of a Royal law of Love.




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    • I agree with Ravi’s accolyte with his statement about faith. I agree entirely.

      “So in conclusion, faith is not a kind of religious hoping that you do in spite of the facts. In fact, faith is a kind of knowing that results in doing. A knowing that is so passionately and intelligently faithful to Jesus Christ that it will not submit to fideism, scientism, nor any other secularist attempt to divert and cauterize the human soul by hijacking knowledge.”

      The problem, as I understand your position, is that you do not recognize a rational or “logical” platform, to include empirical evidence, as a basis for faith. Your views seem to me to be fidiestic. In this, you are very much opposed to both Ravi Zacharias and Tom Price – and anyone else who thinks to present empirical evidence and rational arguments as a basis for faith. It is because of this evidence and a rational basis for faith that the rational person with then act upon this discovery to put his faith into action accordingly.

      It only makes sense that if there is the weight of evidence suggesting that jumping off a cliff will be bad for one’s health that the rational person will act on this information and avoid jumping off a cliff. Likewise, if the weight of evidence is in had which strongly suggests that a particular stock will skyrocket in price in the very near future, the rational person will no doubt act on this information and buy the stock now to gain the future profit. And, the same thing is, or at least can be, true of the Christian Gospel message.

      He is restating what informed Christians have been saying for a long time. People like Lewis, Bonhoeffer, McGrath and Polkinghorne.

      We are to live our lives as Christians within the real world a world that is increasingly explained by natural mechanism and not miracles. We acknowledge the realities and facts of life and accept that Christ has meaning in the known and not in the unknown. In the non-miraculous conduct of our lives not in the miraculous and inexplicable.

      Again, one cannot recognize Jesus if everything in life can be explained by mindless processes of nature. Without something that requires an explanation beyond these mindless laws, and even beyond our own human abilities, there would be no rational reason to invoke Jesus or God to explain anything within us or around us. And, it is because you do not recognize the evidence for such things that you consider your religious views to be beyond logic – effectively beyond rational argument or understanding (the very definition of fideism). In contrast, the disciples of Jesus didn’t gain significant faith in Him or His message of hope until after they saw the empirical evidence of the Resurrection.

      In a “..knowing that results in doing”. As both Bonhoeffer and Yoder has written in Cost of Discipleship and Politics of Jesus. Following Christ and living the principles and ethics of the kingdom of heaven here and now is faithfulness to the message of a kenotic incarnate God.

      Living the ethics of Christianity isn’t the same thing as having a solid hope in the Gospel message of a new and better world to come beyond this one. Christian ethics can be and often is exhibited by non-Christians – even atheists. While this is good, and while it does form the very basis of salvation, it isn’t the same thing as knowing and understanding the evidence for all of what Jesus claimed and promised (which is also the reason why you don’t believe many of the things that Jesus said and taught). You are a believer in Christian ethics, but not much more than that… which I believe is very unfortunate as there is a great deal of hope and goodness for this life in the Christian message beyond the ethics of Christianity.

      As Sean himself puts it the “Royal law of love” although I continue to have a hard time imaging Christ as a soldier killing people according to some notion of a Royal law of Love.

      The Royal Law of Love is the foundation of Christian ethics – and can be, as already noted, observed by non-Christians since it is written on the hearts of all mankind.

      As far as your reference to my being a medical officer in the US Army, ask yourself what would happen if your own county did away with its police force? – Romans 13:4




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      • As an aside, let’s consider the basis for faith of someone like Polkinghorne. Is Polkinghorne a fideist? It seems not as he cites various empirical evidences for his faith, to include:

        (1) The deep and wonderful order of the world suggestive of a divine Mind.
        (2) The anthropogenic fine-tuning of the universe suggesting divine Purpose in cosmic history.
        (3) The existence of value, both moral and aesthetic, as human participation in the Creator’s joy in creation.

        Such is the basis for Polkinghorne’s “natural theology”.

        However, he also cites additional empirical evidence for the Christian Faith – primarily to include evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus.

        “The evidence for resurrection can be sketched in two directions. (1) The encounters with the risen Lord recorded in scripture and the impact this had on the early church. (2) The empty tomb. Here Dr. Polkinghorne points out that in controversies between Jews and Christians beginning in the first century, the debates do not deny the empty tomb but provide alternative explanations for the empty tomb. There is good reason to believe that Jesus was laid in a tomb and that the tomb was later found empty.” (Link)

        In these arguments Polkinghorne sounds very much like Francis Collins who also cites very similar evidences as at least part of the basis for his faith. In contrast, Dr. Cameron argues that such empirical evidences and logical arguments are not needed as a basis for faith.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Sean

          I would not argue with any of these as evidences and would happily use them but I do not think they have the gravitas of a scientific explanation and are not part of science nor are they core to Christian faith.

          (1) The deep and wonderful order of the world suggestive of a divine Mind.

          This is purely subjective and far from compelling. It was not compelling to Nietsche or Russell. They provide support for a decision already made that as I have articulated already represents embracing meaning beauty and order over nhilism. I have made that leap of faith and action and can see the value of the argument.

          (2) The anthropogenic fine-tuning of the universe suggesting divine Purpose in cosmic history.

          Again this is not compelling or scientific and largely negated by the M-hypothesis.

          (3) The existence of value, both moral and aesthetic, as human participation in the Creator’s joy in creation.

          This is logical and utilitarian but others have simply seen this as the way the individual and collective mind of highly complex humans works. It can be completely derivative of a humanitarian framework. It is not at all a scientific basis for belief in the Divine.

          This may be his natural theology but as you of course will be aware he has a very conventional view of origins of man so I am not sure where you would go with that. He certainly has zero support for literal creationism/ID

          I maintain that all these are post hoc evidences that assume value after you have committed; they play little role in the decision to commit. I am not sure of your Christian experience but I would predict that your Adventist heritage leads you to your arguments not that the arguments lead you to your literalist religious position.

          The ressurection is even less compelling. It is a position we Christian accept by faith. There is no extra-biblical record of such an event. The only record is the Christian tradition. You at best can as Strobel and others do argue from logic based on the structure and practice of the Roman legion and say the absence of contrary information means we accept that it occured. Really? The absence of contrary information from secular sources is the evidence. A negative proof where the absence of evidence is the proof.




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        • I would not argue with any of these as evidences and would happily use them but I do not think they have the gravitas of a scientific explanation and are not part of science nor are they core to Christian faith.

          They are empirically-based evidences that are testable and potentially falsifiable. That, for many people, is a scientific-type argument. Otherwise, such arguments would not be used by scientists such as Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne as part of a rational basis for faith. Without such evidences, religion, as you yourself explain, would not be “logical”. It is for this reason that the Bible, specifically Paul, argues that the empirical evidence the Resurrection is in fact “core” to the Christian faith – without which such faith would be “in vain”, no better than wishful thinking and just-so story telling. (1 Corinthians 15:14)

          (1) The deep and wonderful order of the world suggestive of a divine Mind.

          This is purely subjective and far from compelling. It was not compelling to Nietsche or Russell. They provide support for a decision already made that as I have articulated already represents embracing meaning beauty and order over nhilism. I have made that leap of faith and action and can see the value of the argument.

          This is not a subjective argument once you recognize the clear limits of mindless naturalistic mechanisms to explain higher levels of functional interactive complexity – in both living things and in the non-living features of our world and of our universe that are required to support complex life.

          (2) The anthropogenic fine-tuning of the universe suggesting divine Purpose in cosmic history.

          Again this is not compelling or scientific and largely negated by the M-hypothesis.

          It is compelling for many people, most physicists in fact, and it certainly seems scientific for me – just as scientific as concluding that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube is a true artefact of intelligent design.

          As far as being “negated by the M-hpothesis”, how is that? M-theory has no predictive power since it is currently untestable and beyond the realm of “science”. The same is true of the oft-cited multiverse (or multiple universes) theory. These “theories” are not just unscientific, they are anti-science. As with all other God of the Gaps arguments, these “theories” can be used to explain anything and everything – no matter how improbable.

          For example, let’s say that Arnold Schwarzenegger happened to win the California Lottery 10 times in a row. Most rational people would accuse him of deliberately cheating. Yet, according to the multiverse theory, it is possible that he just happened to be in the right universe.

          It’s a nonsensical anti-scientific counter argument. In fact, it is so brain dead that it amazes me that so many otherwise intelligent people try to use such arguments.

          (3) The existence of value, both moral and aesthetic, as human participation in the Creator’s joy in creation.

          This is logical and utilitarian but others have simply seen this as the way the individual and collective mind of highly complex humans works. It can be completely derivative of a humanitarian framework. It is not at all a scientific basis for belief in the Divine.

          Universal moral value, or a common sense of right and wrong, is not very consistent with the naturalistic perspective. Belief in universal moral ethics, a basic standard of right and wrong, only makes sense given the existence of a God who make us all this way.

          This may be his natural theology but as you of course will be aware he has a very conventional view of origins of man so I am not sure where you would go with that. He certainly has zero support for literal creationism/ID

          That’s true. I never said that I agree with everything Polkinghorne or Collins believe. What I said is that they were not as fideistic in their beliefs as you seem to be. They at least try to make their positions appear logical, rational, and empirically based to some degree.

          I maintain that all these are post hoc evidences that assume value after you have committed; they play little role in the decision to commit. I am not sure of your Christian experience but I would predict that your Adventist heritage leads you to your arguments not that the arguments lead you to your literalist religious position.

          While it is indeed helpful to be born into a religious background, it is certainly not true that this is necessary before one can recognize the evidence of the Divine hand in nature or in various features of the Bible. Many with no prior religious background have been convinced, some “against their will” and with significant effort to resist, to recognize the Divine Signature in various features of the universe and of living things.

          The ressurection is even less compelling. It is a position we Christian accept by faith. There is no extra-biblical record of such an event. The only record is the Christian tradition. You at best can as Strobel and others do argue from logic based on the structure and practice of the Roman legion and say the absence of contrary information means we accept that it occured. Really? The absence of contrary information from secular sources is the evidence. A negative proof where the absence of evidence is the proof.

          The absence of counter evidence is very important in science – as in the “null hypothesis”. This is especially true given the strong persecution of the early Christian Church, which is recorded extra-Biblical historical documents. Yet, not once do the enemies of the early church cite the body of Jesus still in the tomb as evidence that the story the Christians are spreading is obvious nonsense. Producing the actual body of Jesus would have been a very strong clenching argument that would have dealt a death blow to the Christians. If the Jews and Romans really wanted to stop a movement that they really really hated all they had to do was produce the body of Jesus. That’s it. How easy this would have been if they actually had the body.

          It is very very clear, therefore, by strong historical evidence, that the body of Jesus simply wasn’t there…

          Is this absolute “proof”, as you often seem to require? No. It isn’t. However, not even science is based on absolute demonstration or “proof”. Science, and rational thought in general, is based on the weight of evidence that is currently in hand…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Pauluc: Actually, there is one extrabiblical reference to Jesus’ Resurrection. In his “Antiquities of the Jews,” we have this from Flavius Josephus: “When the principal men among us had condemned Him [Jesus] to the cross, those who loved Him at first did not forsake Him. For He appeared to them alive again the third day. . .” This so-called “Testimonium Flavianum” has provoked fierce debate, with critics calling it an interpolation. However, it is written in the style of Josephus and appears in all the extant Greek manuscripts of “The Antiquities of the Jews.”




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    • ” As Sean himself puts it the “Royal law of love” although I continue to have a hard time imaging Christ as a soldier killing people according to some notion of a Royal law of Love.”

      Pauluc, Jesus may not act like a soldier, because He is not one in the classic sense. He is King, Judge, and Administrator of justice and will certainly “destroy the wicked” at the end of this great controversy.

      “Faith” in the classic Protestant Christian sense is simply “faith in the bible and all it teaches.” This is the only “saving faith” known in the word of God.

      Faith can certainly be used in some generic sense concerning many subjects and many concepts and ideas. Bible faith is unique from other faith applications. There is parallel and contrast concerning bible faith and other faith applications. We need not draw a perfect parallel, neither do we need to show a total contrast. But we do need to recognize the reality of this principle of parallel and contrast.

      This is true of many biblical concepts that have a parallel and contrast even within scriptural ideas and concepts. Such as the two covenants, faith and works, justification and sanctification, the nature of Christ vs classic human nature and a host of other ideas and concepts.

      You probably know I agree and disagree with Sean on this subject of creation, especially how science works in “proving” on some level the biblical narrative. We agree on a six day creation, it is just on how and what basis we can conclude any element of certainty about faith in the biblical revelation.

      I don’t think there can be a concensus and agreement as we view the importance of how we determine what is “evidence” for a conclusion on the highest level.

      I don’t see any conclusion by those who discuss science that can be arrived at in some agreed format. So all you can do is “bicker” on from now on, and never persuade each other. And this forum seldom discusses other subjects and therefore, gleans few followers who look for a more open and comprehensive dialogue on other topics.

      None the less, Sean and others have stirred some important interest in the church that was and is necessary for any viable reform to take place. Some of us are thankful for that. Division is coming in more and more on many issues and will eventually culminate in some clear split in the church by way of these various issues. People will likely be forced to choose between loyalty to “the church” vs. loyalty to Christ and the bible. Something few seem to be able to comprehend and/or envision as even a possibility.

      God will yet create a bible believing community to “reflect the image of Jesus fully.” How may not be so easily discerned at the present time, but the final result is certain.
      Keep the faith




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  2. The term “faith” is being grossly misused in modern culture. In the New Testament sense, faith is not blind. New Testament Faith is certainly based on evidence; it is merely a synonym for trust.




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    • @Bob Helm:
      Nice to see you havent been scared off by Sean attempt to out you. You still havent responded to my previous questions though. Unless of course you agree totally with Seans interjected response.




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    • @Bob Helm:

      Just to remind you the questions were

      Bob I think you seem to have more understanding of the Science than most who comment here. I would like to ask a few specific questions to determine if Sean’s views are really mainstream Adventist.

      1] Do you accept that Christianity can be supported by logic and empirical data such that any scientist will arrive at belief in Christ if he simply follows logic as seems to be Seans main premise in disparaging blind faith.

      2] Do you accept the bible is infallible in its original autograph as is one of the main premises of Fundamentalism.

      3] Do you accept that ID is science and is devoid of religion in its conception as Sean seems to do.

      4] Do you accept that modern science is based on both a method and a repository of knowledge

      5] Do you think the method of science is based on methodological naturalism. Do you think the canonical repository of scientific knowledge is the peer reviewed literature?

      5] Do you accept that the Divinity of Christ is a position that must be ultimately accepted through a leap of Faith after accepting there is at least a logical polemic for Christian belief.




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      • @Pauluc:

        Bob I think you seem to have more understanding of the Science than most who comment here. I would like to ask a few specific questions to determine if Sean’s views are really mainstream Adventist.

        1] Do you accept that Christianity can be supported by logic and empirical data such that any scientist will arrive at belief in Christ if he simply follows logic as seems to be Seans main premise in disparaging blind faith.

        I can’t answer for Bob specifically, but it certainly stands to reason that if God exists and He is the Creator of everything, to include the empirical world in which we live as well as our own brains and rational abilities, that the works of His own hands will tell us something about their Author – and lead one to recognize His Signature in the things that have been made. The Bible itself is very clear on this.

        2] Do you accept the bible is infallible in its original autograph as is one of the main premises of Fundamentalism.

        It depends upon what you mean by “infallible”? Are you suggesting that those who uphold the fundamentals of Christianity in general or Adventism in particular, believe that there are no errors of any kind in the Bible? If so, you are quite mistaken. There are errors in the Bible – regarding the empirical world as well as doctrinal and philosophical errors. That is why the Bible is to be read as a whole and used as it’s own interpreter.

        3] Do you accept that ID is science and is devoid of religion in its conception as Sean seems to do.

        IDists, as with scientists or religious people, are not always scientific in their thinking. This does not mean, however, that the basic concept of intelligent design, or “intelligent creation” if you prefer, cannot be proposed in a scientific manner. It can be presented in an entirely scientific manner – as you yourself have effectively demonstrated.

        4] Do you accept that modern science is based on both a method and a repository of knowledge. Do you think the canonical repository of scientific knowledge is the peer reviewed literature?

        Science, modern or otherwise, has always been based on scientific methodologies that include the potential for testing and falsification. There has never been and is not now a requirement for the scientist to publish his/her findings in any particular journal in order for his/her theories to establish very useful predictive value for the scientist. The fact that learning can be achieved on an individual level is independent of if the scientist decides to share his/her discoveries with anyone else or if anyone else happens to agree with the personal conclusions of the scientist.

        Now, this is not to say that peer reviewed literature isn’t important. It is important. The published observations and interpretations of scientists is valuable. I use published literature all the time in my own practice as a pathologist – with great success. However, this is not to say that the conclusions of scientists are always the most reasonable interpretations of their own observations. The observations themselves are most often faithfully and accurately recorded, but the interpretations of these observations can be colored by personal philosophies that are not always scientific or rational.

        5] Do you think the method of science is based on methodological naturalism.

        Methodological naturalism, when it defines science, a priori, as being unable to detect deliberate intelligence behind any feature of living things or of the fundamental constants of the universe, is taking on a philosophical position and is no longer a true form of science at that point.

        5] Do you accept that the Divinity of Christ is a position that must be ultimately accepted through a leap of Faith after accepting there is at least a logical polemic for Christian belief.

        There is no “logical polemic” for Christian belief in the empirical or historical or futuristic claims of the Bible without at least some basis in empirical evidence. Consider also that there is no science of any kind without an ability to take a leap of faith. Science is based on starting with very limited information and using that information to make an educated leap of faith beyond that which the information in hand can definitively support. That’s what science does. So, of course, any rational acceptance of the Divinity of Christ is also going to involve a leap of faith. However, this leap of faith need not be devoid of any basis in empirical evidence or rational argument. If so, what you have isn’t really a true Biblical-type faith. What you have is wishful thinking (aka: fideism).

        Again, true science and true faith must walk hand-in-hand. They do not rationally exist independent of one another.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Pauluc: I am sorry for taking so long to respond. I had forgotten that I posted these comments last month. Pauluc, here is my response to your numbered questions:

        1) I believe that Christianity can certainly be supported by logic and empirical evidence. However, another factor enters in here – human depravity – which makes people hate God and exercise blind prejudice against Him. This is why the Bible insists that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. As He works faith in us, the Spirit breaks down the prejudice of the sinful heart, but He uses logic and empirical evidence to accomplish this end. So apologetics does play a part in the Spirit’s converting work.

        2) As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I believe that the Bible is infallible, but not inerrant. There is a distinction between these two terms. “Inerrant” means without the slightest error of any kind. “Infallibile” means that the Bible won’t fail you. It is a sure guide in all matters that pertain to salvation. Unlike fundamentalists, Seventh-day Adventists usually affirm the infallibility of scripture, but not strict inerrancy. Look at the first fundamental belief. It mentions infallibility, but not inerrancy.

        3) I believe that ID can be devoid of religion. For example, one leader in the ID movement is Michael Denton, who wrote the book, “Evolution: A theory In Crisis.” Dr. Denton is an agnostic. However, I believe that ID fits very nicely with Christian faith.

        4) I will simply answer “yes” to this question.

        5) I think that when faced with natural phenomena, we should certainly seek natural causes first. However, I am not totally comfortable with the distinction between “natural” and “supernatural.” For me, a miracle is simply an unexplained event that strengthens my faith in God. It seems to me that God often performs miracles by working through nature in unusual ways. For example, the Genesis Flood made have been a very unusual natural event that God used for His purposes. The destruction of Sodom may have been a tectonic eruption that rained burning sulfur and other compounds down on the city. I believe Ellen White suggests as much. Admitting these things does not exclude God; it simply means that God was using nature to His end. However, I also believe that God designed and created natural laws, so He can bypass them if He wishes. But even in such cases, God does not work magic, nor is He capricious. His work is always logical, even if we are too lacking in intelligence to understand it. For these reasons, I am not sure that a strict definition of methodological naturalism is viable. With regard to peer reviewed literature, I think it is quite valuable, but I also think it sometimes excludes genuine scientific data that conflict with reigning scientific paradigms, as they were defined by Thomas Kuhn in his book, “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions.” Furthermore, as scientific research is increasingly published on the internet, traditional peer reviewed journals will probably become obsolete. So no, I do not believe that peer reviewed literature, as it currently exists, constitutes the canon of scientific knowledge, but I do respect for the peer reviewed literature.

        6) That Christ was Yahweh in human flesh must be accepted on faith. But even with regard to this point, there is strong evidence that Christ was an extraordinary individual, including evidence that He rose bodily from the dead. So while a confession of Christ’s Deity does require a leap of faith, it is not a blind leap of faith because it rests on certain logical inferences.




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        • @Bob Helm:
          Thanks for the response.

          I am actually very surprised that you endorse so much of Sean Pitmans cultic positions which I do not see as orthodox within the scientific community or within the Christian communities that engage with the interface between science and faith.

          Your statement
          “I think that when faced with natural phenomena, we should certainly seek natural causes first.” seems to me to setup the basis for a God of the gaps.

          I think it more appropriate to define science as a restricted enterprise based only on methodological naturalism than to try to define God as filling the gaps in a science that brokes no possibility of saying “we do not know but we will explore explanations based on methodological naturalism”.

          Are these the positions that you endorse within your department or your own personal positions?




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        • @pauluc: I understand your concern with “the God of the gaps.” However, to a large extent, this problem arose because many phenomena were attributed to God without the authority of scripture as support. For example, prior to Newton, some people thought that angels pushed the planets around the sun in their orbits. But where do you read about this fanciful notion in the Bible? If the God hypothesis puts a damper on valid scientific research, it certainly presents a problem. But is it really scientific to reject a priori a possible explanation for natural phenomena? To me, that seems like the opposite extreme. I believe that true science should be open to all possibilities. Take, for example, the issue of the origin of life. Why can’t science entertain the hypothesis that an intelligent designer (God or some other entity) designed life, while at the same time continuing to search for a mechanism that would allow life to emerge via abiogenesis. As long as ID does not squelch origin of life research, I fail to see a problem. And the same thing holds for the big bang and the origin of the universe. An ID explanation should not be dismissed a priori, but other explanations should also be entertained.




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  3. Sean I have been doing some introspection and trying to determine why responding to you is so frustrating and brings out the worst in me. It may be the logic that has served me well in science fails in the presence of yours.
    I have concluded that you are simply the most accomplished practitioner of the game of “Yes But” (as per Eric Berne) I have ever experienced.

    You make statements like;

    “..the detection of God’s existence and activity is beyond the realm of what is defined as “science” and beyond what most would define as a “rational” belief (which has led many to conclude that methodologically naturalism rationally leads one to accept philosophical naturalism as well).

    Sounds fine but by “most would define as a “rational” belief” and “many to conclude that methodologically naturalism rationally leads one to accept philosophical naturalism as well” you actually mean you and a few fundamentalists, atheist or Christian. I suspect this is because they either have a very woolly idea of what is the domain of science and assume that every logical thought or hypothetical proposition is science irrespective of whether it is magical or not (Christian fundamentalists) or assume that science actually covers everything anyway and there is no such thing as God or the supernatural (atheistic fundamentalists or philosphic naturalists).

    If you read down a little further you will find what most scientists do not think as articulated by Judge Jones;
    “Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena…. While supernatural explanations may be important and have merit, they are not part of science.” Methodological naturalism is thus “a self-imposed convention of science.” It is a “ground rule” that “requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based upon what we can observe, test, replicate, and verify.”

    You of course would appeal to Popper as a philosopher who articulates his criteria of falsifiability as the demarcating standard of science and who questioned the scientific nature of evolutionary theory at one stage. You may find solace in his views but his demarcation is never independent of natural mechanisms when you actually analyse the repository of knowledge of science.

    You and most literal creationists carefully overlook Poppers later statement
    “I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation” (Dialectica 32:344-346).

    You continually ask for evidence but when given for example a list of original research papers relevant to a topic dismiss that as a lazy approach on my part and want a simple quote as if one particular quote can cover a large body of original work. What happened to the idea of consulting the literature of science as a virtuous task. Which is lazy. Asking someone to distil the information and give it to you or actually looking for yourself. Continually asking for explanation as though you have any concern that you have a view that is divergent from most of science is I confess completely disconcerting because I as a teacher of science I naturally assume evidently erroneously that you are genuinely asking for explanation.

    You critique me for being inconsistent because I do not believe in magic. I in fact do believe in magic. Any Christian does. But I do not accept it as part of science precisely because I have a limited definition of science that is consistent with the Wiki definition.

    “In modern usage, “science” most often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself. It is also often restricted to those branches of study that seek to explain the phenomena of the material universe.[6] In the 17th and 18th centuries scientists increasingly sought to formulate knowledge in terms of laws of nature such as Newton’s laws of motion. And over the course of the 19th century, the word “science” became increasingly associated with the scientific method itself, as a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology.”

    I am completely conventional in accepting this definition of science based on naturalism. I am also completely consistent in that I only accept as scientific hypotheses those that can be tested and explained by natural law or mechanism. Other hypotheses that cannot be tested or do not propose natural cause I accept as real but not part of science.

    You are being completely obscurant in suggesting that I have not responded to your endlessly repeated questions on a granite cube. I have answered in detail several times before with comments about artefacts and big brains. What is objectionable is your use of the term intelligent design without at all recognizing or acknowledging that this is simply rebadged literal creationism and is not by definition part of science. It is not a matter of where the question is leading but you have already blatantly advertised that you think ID is the best hope for creationism as science. But what does wiki say

    “Intelligent design (ID) is a form of creationism presented by its proponents as the theory that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” It is a version of the theological argument from design for the existence of God that proponents present as “an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins” rather than “a religious-based idea”

    Sorry as a scientist any discussion of intelligent design is not in my toolbox. I am happy however from a religious perspective to argue about the relative value of ID compared to YLC or YEC or theistic evolution but even here your position is idiosyncratic in that you seem to embrace ID but uncomfortably shoehorn it all into a YLC fundamentalism that is at odds with most at the DI.

    As for logic and rationality of belief I admit mine lacks a completely logical trail from science to acceptance of Christ as the revelation of God. This has vexed theologians long before me and I am happy to profit from their thought as I have said several times before. In this alogic I believe we are in the same boat. I think it illogical that you should think that you alone should understand vast amounts of human knowledge to a sufficient level to dismiss the practitioners as all wrong and that you alone should understand science, human history and biblical exegesis to arrive at a YLC position as the only reading of a text bearing remarkable similarity to an antecedent sumerian text.

    I appeal to the scriptures and Jesus Himself when he talked about the new birth. Is that logical and scientific? His audience didn’t think so. But of course it is real. Can it be tested as a naturalistic hypothesis? Possibly some part of it by fMRI.

    I prefer the religion of Jesus and Paul to your appeal to some “science” or empiricism as the sole basis of faith.

    For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Cor 1:18
    For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 1 Cor 1:20
    but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 1 Cor 1:23
    Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor 1:25
    But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Cor 2:14
    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 1Cor 3:19

    Really doesnt sound to me like Paul was trying to make Christian belief part of the logic of Greek thought. Christianity is always other-worldy. Why do we want to make it derivative of some scientific or empirical process. Something that is “rationally tenable” if you will.




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    • You make statements like;

      “..the detection of God’s existence and activity is beyond the realm of what is defined as “science” and beyond what most would define as a “rational” belief (which has led many to conclude that methodologically naturalism rationally leads one to accept philosophical naturalism as well).

      I was referencing your argument. Clearly, this isn’t my argument. I believe that God has made His activity detectable on many occasions. The argument that God cannot make Himself detectable, by definition, is not a rational argument for any God worth His salt. It makes God out to be less capable of making Himself rationally known that a pet dog…

      Sounds fine but by “most would define as a “rational” belief” and “many to conclude that methodologically naturalism rationally leads one to accept philosophical naturalism as well” you actually mean you and a few fundamentalists, atheist or Christian. I suspect this is because they either have a very woolly idea of what is the domain of science and assume that every logical thought or hypothetical proposition is science irrespective of whether it is magical or not (Christian fundamentalists) or assume that science actually covers everything anyway and there is no such thing as God or the supernatural (atheistic fundamentalists or philosphic naturalists).

      No. It’s because you yourself define everything outside of what you call “science” as being irrational. Few people can go with what they themselves consider to be irrational and/or nonsensical. I’m surprised that you can – that you can believe in God and in Jesus for reasons that would appear to be completely irrational to anyone else beyond yourself.

      If you read down a little further you will find what most scientists do not think as articulated by Judge Jones;

      “Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena…. While supernatural explanations may be important and have merit, they are not part of science.” Methodological naturalism is thus “a self-imposed convention of science.” It is a “ground rule” that “requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based upon what we can observe, test, replicate, and verify.”

      The problem, of course, is that your own claims to belief in God are, according to you, irrational. The do not have “merit” in the rational sense of the term – according to you.

      Also, your position on methodological naturalism is itself non-testable or falsifiable. You position that some future discovery will always be found to support your position is a faith position that simply cannot be put to the test and is based on historical assumptions that are also in error.

      You of course would appeal to Popper as a philosopher who articulates his criteria of falsifiability as the demarcating standard of science and who questioned the scientific nature of evolutionary theory at one stage. You may find solace in his views but his demarcation is never independent of natural mechanisms when you actually analyse the repository of knowledge of science.

      You and most literal creationists carefully overlook Poppers later statement

      “I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation” (Dialectica 32:344-346).

      I never said that the theory of natural selection isn’t based on real science. It is based on real science. I think the scientific evidence is very very clear that natural selection is a real force of nature and that it is responsible for many changes over time – just not beyond very very low levels of functional complexity.

      The notion that natural selection is a creative force that can explain novel functionality beyond low levels of functional complexity is not demonstrable or testable or falsifiable. It is just-so story telling that goes against very clear statistical odds that show that it simply cannot work beyond low-levels of functional complexity. And, your theory that “life enzymes” will be discovered in the future to solve this problem isn’t testable either.

      And, as you know, Popper never recanted his position on the need for testability for a theory to be classified as “scientific”. Your position on methodological naturalism simply isn’t testable – and neither is your position on the Darwinian mechanism or its support by future discoveries. This argument of yours goes completely against Popper’s definition of a valid science.

      You continually ask for evidence but when given for example a list of original research papers relevant to a topic dismiss that as a lazy approach on my part and want a simple quote as if one particular quote can cover a large body of original work. What happened to the idea of consulting the literature of science as a virtuous task. Which is lazy. Asking someone to distil the information and give it to you or actually looking for yourself. Continually asking for explanation as though you have any concern that you have a view that is divergent from most of science is I confess completely disconcerting because I as a teacher of science I naturally assume evidently erroneously that you are genuinely asking for explanation.

      I have consulted the literature extensively on the topic at hand. When you simply list off a Pub-Med search and claim that there are 600+ articles discussing my question, that’s completely useless to me. I’m not asking you for a one liner here. I’m asking you for a full argument that you yourself understand and can present in a forum such as this one. Or, at the very least, quote the relevant part of a single paper and explain to me the significance of what you’re quoting relative to the question I’m asking…

      You critique me for being inconsistent because I do not believe in magic. I in fact do believe in magic. Any Christian does. But I do not accept it as part of science precisely because I have a limited definition of science that is consistent with the Wiki definition.

      I don’t fault you for believing in God. I fault you for claiming that belief in God cannot be based on logical empirically-based reasons. You claim that faith in God and His existence is inherently beyond logical argument or appeal and is therefore beyond any rational appeal to anyone beyond yourself.

      “In modern usage, “science” most often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself. It is also often restricted to those branches of study that seek to explain the phenomena of the material universe.[6] In the 17th and 18th centuries scientists increasingly sought to formulate knowledge in terms of laws of nature such as Newton’s laws of motion. And over the course of the 19th century, the word “science” became increasingly associated with the scientific method itself, as a disciplined way to study the natural world, including physics, chemistry, geology and biology.”

      I am completely conventional in accepting this definition of science based on naturalism. I am also completely consistent in that I only accept as scientific hypotheses those that can be tested and explained by natural law or mechanism. Other hypotheses that cannot be tested or do not propose natural cause I accept as real but not part of science.

      And, you claim that these other hypotheses simply aren’t what you would call “logical”. You are also inconsistent in your position on methodological naturalism, as I’ve already explained, because you selectively exclude hypotheses of intelligent design (or “intelligent creation” if you prefer) in certain cases, but not in others. You are not consistent in how you think intelligence can be detected or true artefacts identified by scientific methodologies.

      You are being completely obscurant in suggesting that I have not responded to your endlessly repeated questions on a granite cube. I have answered in detail several times before with comments about artefacts and big brains. What is objectionable is your use of the term intelligent design without at all recognizing or acknowledging that this is simply rebadged literal creationism and is not by definition part of science. It is not a matter of where the question is leading but you have already blatantly advertised that you think ID is the best hope for creationism as science. But what does wiki say

      “Intelligent design (ID) is a form of creationism presented by its proponents as the theory that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” It is a version of the theological argument from design for the existence of God that proponents present as “an evidence-based scientific theory about life’s origins” rather than “a religious-based idea”

      Sorry as a scientist any discussion of intelligent design is not in my toolbox. I am happy however from a religious perspective to argue about the relative value of ID compared to YLC or YEC or theistic evolution but even here your position is idiosyncratic in that you seem to embrace ID but uncomfortably shoehorn it all into a YLC fundamentalism that is at odds with most at the DI.

      I know you don’t like the term “intelligent design” as it has taken on political meaning for you. Instead, when talking about artefacts like granite cubes and the like, you prefer to use some other term, like “intelligent creation” or the like. Clearly, this is just using a different term to describe the very same thing. Don’t be so obtuse about the obvious question in play. The basic idea is that intelligence was clearly responsible for the granite cube – as you yourself would admit. It matters not what you call this process of discovering a true artefact of intelligent design. The fact of the matter is that such discoveries are clearly within the realm of scientific methodologies.

      As for logic and rationality of belief I admit mine lacks a completely logical trail from science to acceptance of Christ as the revelation of God. This has vexed theologians long before me and I am happy to profit from their thought as I have said several times before. In this alogic I believe we are in the same boat. I think it illogical that you should think that you alone should understand vast amounts of human knowledge to a sufficient level to dismiss the practitioners as all wrong and that you alone should understand science, human history and biblical exegesis to arrive at a YLC position as the only reading of a text bearing remarkable similarity to an antecedent sumerian text.

      I’m not alone. In fact, my position is right in line with what most Hebrew scholars, to include secular scholars of Hebrew, believe was the author’s actual intent in writing the Genesis account. Consider, for example the thoughts of James Barr (Professor of Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University and former Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University in England) along these lines:

      “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; . . . 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.”

      James Barr, letter to David Watson, 1984.

      So, if you want to re-interpret what the author himself was trying to say, fine. However, if you’re going to take what the author was really trying to say seriously, it is quite clear that the Bible is in fact trying to tell us that all life arrived on this planet recently and within a literal week of time.

      I appeal to the scriptures and Jesus Himself when he talked about the new birth. Is that logical and scientific? His audience didn’t think so. But of course it is real. Can it be tested as a naturalistic hypothesis? Possibly some part of it by fMRI.

      His audience did think so – especially after His Resurrection. The Resurrection, for the disciples of Jesus, was the greatest empirical basis for their faith that they could ever have hoped for. It gave them confidence and courage and fearlessness under extraordinarily difficult times. The same can be said for those of us in modern times who recognize the solid empirical evidence supporting the claims of the Bible.

      I prefer the religion of Jesus and Paul to your appeal to some “science” or empiricism as the sole basis of faith.

      For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1Cor 1:18
      For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 1 Cor 1:20
      but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 1 Cor 1:23
      Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor 1:25
      But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Cor 2:14
      For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; 1Cor 3:19

      Really doesnt sound to me like Paul was trying to make Christian belief part of the logic of Greek thought. Christianity is always other-worldy. Why do we want to make it derivative of some scientific or empirical process. Something that is “rationally tenable” if you will.

      You forget where Paul cites the Resurrection of Jesus as incontrovertible empirical evidence for His claims – without which one’s hope and faith would all be in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:14

      You see, the cross is “foolishness” to those who maintain their own selfish desires – which are natural to them. However, the cross is not foolishness at all for those who recognize the evidence for the Divinity of Jesus and for the beauty of the Gospel message of hope that he presented to the world – a message that is backed up by the weight of empirical evidence to give a rational basis for convincing others as to why they should also have hope for a better life to come.




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  4. Sean Pitman: No. It’s because you yourself define everything outside of what you call “science” as being irrational.

    URL for that please. I do not believe I have ever said that.

    That is not my belief and I apologize if I have conveyed that impression.

    I differ from you in closely defining science as process and repository. I do not think that logical or rational thought is equivalent to science. That seems to be closer to your construction.

    I accept the wiki definition of reason

    “Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.[1] It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature.[2] The concept of reason is sometimes referred to as rationality and sometimes as discursive reason, in opposition to intuitive reason.[3]

    Reason or “reasoning” is associated with thinking, cognition, and intellect. Reason, like habit or intuition, is one of the ways by which thinking comes from one idea to a related idea. For example, it is the means by which rational beings understand themselves to think about cause and effect, truth and falsehood, and what is good or bad.”

    Science is rational but it is only a subset of rational thought not the entirity of human reason and rationality.




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    • @Pauluc:

      Do you think it is possible to be “rational” without needing to be, at the same time, “logical”?

      After all, didn’t you say that, “I do not need my religion… to be scientific or logical”?

      Please do explain that concept as it does seem confusing to me…




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  5. “Science is rational but it is only a subset of rational thought not the entirity (sic) of human reason and rationality.”

    That’s right and that is why philosophy which examines and defines the meaning of concepts such as science, god(s), existence, epistomology is so important.

    Essentially what you and Dr. Pitman are having is a philosophical argument as to the limits and purpose of Science. Both of you have set out the respective positions very well which is a great service and credit to the readership.

    In my humble estimation, what Dr. Pitman is failing to either recognize or concede is the detection of human like design cannot be extrapolated to God like design, because such types of design might be entirely different. How does one design matter, energy and universal laws to govern same?

    Finding the hypothetical granite cubes on Mars or radio signals from aliens has nothing to do with the ID of the universe or carbon based life on earth. But Dr. Pitman and the ID movement has got to start somewhere; unfortunately they are falling down and hitting their ontological heads on non existent granite cubes. 🙂




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    • In my humble estimation, what Dr. Pitman is failing to either recognize or concede is the detection of human like design cannot be extrapolated to God like design, because such types of design might be entirely different. How does one design matter, energy and universal laws to govern same?

      Where did I ever say that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube had to have been designed by God? I never said that. Could God create such a cube? Certainly. Is God required to explain such a cube? Not at all. However, intelligence is required to explain it.

      You guys keep getting hung up on this idea that I’m trying to prove that God was responsible for everything that is clearly designed. That’s not the argument I’m presenting for the science of ID.

      Finding the hypothetical granite cubes on Mars or radio signals from aliens has nothing to do with the ID of the universe or carbon based life on earth. But Dr. Pitman and the ID movement has got to start somewhere; unfortunately they are falling down and hitting their ontological heads on non existent granite cubes.

      Such examples have everything to do with the ID of the universe and of various features of living things – since the very same scientific arguments are being applied.




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  6. Sean Pitman: I can’t answer for Bob specifically

    But of course I will.

    I think there may be a tad of a conflict of interest here that you may not have recognized since my question to Bob is of the orthodoxy of your views.




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  7. “Such examples have everything to do with the ID of the universe and of various features of living things – since the very same scientific arguments are being applied”

    Just saying so does not make it so. Prove it. Why would human design equate to divine design ? You are effectively reducing god, the ultimate creator, to a human like intelligence.




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    • Suggesting that God can create stuff that humans can create is not reducing God to a human level. Also, noting that features of extremely high-level design can be detected by the very same methods used to detect human-level design is quite clear. Most physicists, for example, argue that the fine tuned features of the universe required to allow complex life to exist strongly suggest that these features were intelligently designed.

      Now, one could argue, I suppose, that such a level of design does not necessarily require a God to explain – i.e., some super smart and very powerful alien intelligence could have done the job. Certainly that is a theoretical possibility, but the level of intelligence and creative power is so great in this case that neither you nor I could tell the difference between this and what we would ascribe to God-like intelligence and creative power. And, this is the conclusion most physicists come to as well…




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  8. So, let’s extrapolate a bit on the ID hypothesis of the universe shall we? Just to add a bit more flair to the discussion and not sink into the black hole of redundancy.

    Would you not agree that in order for design to be intelligent there has to be an intelligent motive behind the design, a detectable reason to the design? If no such reason can be detected, it is not intelligent in a human sense is it?

    What is the ID behind colliding galaxies? Apply your granite cube criteria to that please and advise?




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    • You don’t have to know why someone made the granite cube before you can tell that it is a true artefact of intelligent design. Knowing the actual motive for design is not required to detect design.

      The same is true for detecting that a dead person was deliberately killed. One does not need to know the actual motive for the murder to know that whatever the motive was, the murder victim was deliberately and intelligently killed.




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  9. A sincere thank you for answering the question 🙂

    Of course this now raises the interesting question as to how you determine what features of the universe are designed and not designed. I am genuinely interested in your response here, not just playing cat and mouse. For example, how do you weigh the weak and strong anthropic principles, against intelligent design of certain features of the universe?

    I am guessing, but not sure, that based on your theology, you think destructive aspects of the universe – eg. colliding galaxies- did not exist before the Fall of Man?

    Looking forward to the continuing dialogue. 🙂




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    • Of course this now raises the interesting question as to how you determine what features of the universe are designed and not designed. I am genuinely interested in your response here, not just playing cat and mouse. For example, how do you weigh the weak and strong anthropic principles, against intelligent design of certain features of the universe?

      I am guessing, but not sure, that based on your theology, you think destructive aspects of the universe – eg. colliding galaxies- did not exist before the Fall of Man?

      I think the universe and galaxies pre-existed the creation of life on this planet during the Genesis “creation week”. Also, I don’t view colliding galaxies as necessarily “destructive”. There is a whole lot of space between the stars in a galaxy you know. It is likely for two galaxies to “collide” without any of the stars hitting each other. And, just in case there were some danger to those living in such colliding galaxies, they could simply move elsewhere.

      As far as the strong vs. weak forms of the anthropic principle, they are both based on the same basic argument. As Carter originally explained, the WAP argues that we exist at this particular point in time and place because no other point in time, at this particular place, would have allowed for our existence. The SAP, although it presents a similar argument, suggests that we could live in no other universe besides the one we’re in because only our universe is fine tuned enough, in its fundamental constants, to allow complex life to exist.

      Of course, as with the WAP, the argument against the suggestion that our universe was therefore specifically designed, intelligently, for our specific existence, is that there must be multiple universes and ours just happened to get very lucky.

      The problem with this “multiverse” hypothesis is that it isn’t scientific. In fact, it is anti-science. It isn’t testable or falsifiable and can be used to explain anything and everything – no matter how unlikely it may be. All one has to do is say, “Well, given enough universes this phenomenon is bound to have happened by random luck in at least one of them.” For example, if Arnold Schwarzenegger happened to win the California Lottery 10 times in a row – “Well, he just happened to be in the right universe.” You see, you’d never be able to accuse him of deliberate cheating by design because of this argument. In fact, you’d never be able to make any scientific conclusion because one could always argue that the odds against the null hypothesis could be explained by the multiverse hypothesis.

      Therefore, the most empirically rational conclusion is that things that look designed, that are beyond any and all known mindless natural mechanisms, really are designed by deliberate intelligence. This is true regardless of if one is analyzing a highly symmetrical polished granite cube, a narrow-band radio signal from outer space, or the fundamental constants of the universe. All can be determined to be true artefacts of intelligent design according to the very same scientific arguments.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  10. For our gentle readers erudition

    “http://en.wikipedia.org

    And, for proponents of ID, one could always argue that even if one accepts WAP or SAP, or the possibility of a multiverse with universes of different properties exists, the possibility for a Creator/God exists. i.e. Who created the multiverse?

    That is why, philosophically, I do not treat faith with contempt. But it does behoove the modern mind to try to understand God – or understand what God is likely not through the tool of Science – as part of the human condition.

    That is why Dr. Pitman does a great service to allow diverse minds to debate matters on this site. It is the debate that matters, not so much the conclusions, because present truth – no matter how one conceives it- is a moving target as Mankind gains more knowledge.




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    • The conclusions also matter, to a significant degree, in that they affect one’s ability to recognize the reality of a bright future vs. a dark future – which can affect one’s whole outlook on life.

      That is why a form of empirical evidence, a form of science, is useful as a rational basis for a type of faith and solid hope that goes beyond religious “wishful thinking”.




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      • ” That is why a form of empirical evidence, a form of science, is useful as a rational basis for a type of faith and solid hope that goes beyond religious “wishful thinking”.”

        It may not be helpful, Sean, to call Christian faith “wishful thinking” because it is based on spiritual revelations instead of science.

        Of course, there is a false spiritual faith based on spirit revelations not supported by the bible. And this may well be “wishful thinking”. But the phrase does not apply in a wholesale application as you seem to imply.

        If you “over-credit” some evidence for support of bible truth, and “under-credit” evidence that is more sure and reliable, you undermine your own desire to support any given truth and/or concept.

        We are talking about faith and motive. So what motivates true bible faith? If that is our goal, we must find the strongest basis for a faith motive that can be found. While I think science is certainly helpful, it is still not the most important nor convincing “evidence” for creation as described in the bible.

        In fact, I am not sure you are convincing anyone of your theory of how to stimulate faith in creation with the God of the bible as being the creator. So, even if you can convince some people of ID, you still have not affirmed it is the God of the bible who is this intelligent being. They may even accept ID, and still reject the God of the bible.

        So, where do you go from there? I suggest you must go to the bible itself where prophecy is declared and fulfilled, and thus we “have a more sure word of prophecy…..” that can and will stimulate faith in the bible and its declarations of creation and other important information concerning sin and redemption. Science is a “weak crutch” to convince and/or prove faith in the God of scriptures.




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        • If you “over-credit” some evidence for support of bible truth, and “under-credit” evidence that is more sure and reliable, you undermine your own desire to support any given truth and/or concept.

          I don’t “under-credit” the role of Biblical prophecy as you suggest. I believe prophecies to be very good evidence of Biblical credibility. However, I actually admit that the credibility of Biblical prophecy is also based on a form of scientific evidence – i.e., evidence that is made available by the historical sciences. While you claim that prophecies make the Bible “self validating”, that isn’t really true. Prophecies are validated by the external evidence of real history as it is discovered by scientific methodologies.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @george: With regard to the concept of a multiverse, any possible scientific inference for its existence seems to be dying along with SUSY and string theory, as data come in from the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. String theory could have provided possible evidence for a multiverse, but without any evidence for the existence of supersymetrical particles, string theory seems dead Of course, one can still posit the existence of a multiverse, but such a hypothesis is not based on any scientific data and is therefore outside the domain of science. Also, with regard to the matter of colliding galaxies, I think it can be assumed that a benevolent intelligent designer such as the Judeo-Christian God would design intelligent life forms in stable areas of the universe where these life forms would be safe. Most likely, that would be on hospitable planets, orbiting stable, mid-sized yellow stars and orange dwarf stars, in the outskirts of the galaxies. It is extremely unlikely that such solar systems would be affected in any way by the collision of galaxies.




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  11. “So, even if you can convince some people of ID, you still have not affirmed it is the God of the bible who is this intelligent being.”

    Our friend Bill makes a very intelligent point. Because, as Dr. Pitman has acknowledged, determining the universe was designed does not determine the ‘motive’ of the designer.




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    • Our friend Bill makes a very intelligent point. Because, as Dr. Pitman has acknowledged, determining the universe was designed does not determine the ‘motive’ of the designer.

      It is true that the detection of design does not require one to know the motives of the designer. However, determining the existence of an intelligent designer is an important step. Without first taking this step, it is pointless to even try to take additional steps. However, once this step is taken, one can look for additional information to see if one can discover the likely identity and even the motives of the designer.

      Of course, the determination of the identity and/or motives of a designer requires additional information. This is where the Bible comes into play… and the evidence it reveals for its Divine origin and the credibility of its claims regarding the origin of the universe, life on this planet, suffering and death on this planet, and God’s plan and motive for the creation and re-creation of this world.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  12. “Of course, the determination of the identity and/or motives of a designer requires additional information. This is where the Bible comes into play… and the evidence it reveals for its Divine origin and the credibility of its claims regarding the origin of the universe, life on this planet, suffering and death on this planet, and God’s plan and motive for the creation and re-creation of this world.” – Sean Pitman

    But not just the Bible, but all creation stories from all cultures that attempt to make sense out of existence, correct? Of course, which one, if any, can be shown empirically to be correct? This is where a certain degree of faith and acculturation plays a road as ID is a modern form of Deism.




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    • The Bible is unique in that its prophecies actually match historical reality and its statements about historical events and situations are the most accurate descriptions of any historical text that is available to us. It also explains the human condition in a much more reasonable manner than does any other religious text, as well as its solution. And, it describes the origin and meaning of Jesus and his life and death for our salvation – giving us a very solid basis for hope in the “Good News” of the Gospel preached by Jesus. No other text or religious or historical document of any kind comes close to all of this.




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    • Evolutionary ideas, as well as Deistic ideas, have been around for a very very long time – even before the Christian era.

      Deistic thinking has existed since ancient times. Among the Ancient Greeks, Heraclitus conceived of a logos, a supreme rational principle, and said the wisdom “by which all things are steered through all things” was “both willing and unwilling to be called Zeus (God)”. Plato envisaged God as a Demiurge or ‘craftsman’. Outside ancient Greece many other cultures have expressed views that resemble deism in some respects. (Link)

      Contrary to many assumptions, evolutionary theory did not begin in 1859 with Charles Darwin and The Origin of Species. Rather, evolution-like ideas had existed since the times of the Greeks, and had been in and out of favor in the periods between ancient Greece and Victorian England. Indeed, by Darwin’s time the idea of evolution – called “descent with modification” – was not especially controversial, and several other evolutionary theories had already been proposed. Darwin may stand at the beginning of a modern tradition, but he is also the final culmination of an ancient speculation. (Link)




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    • While there remains debate over if evidence for other universes is even theorectically detectable, the argument that multiple universes explains the odds against our universe being so precisely anthropic is anti-scientific. Why? Because, as I’ve already explained, this argument can be used to explain anything and everything – and therefore nothing.




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    • @george: George – I am not a physicist, and I could certainly be wrong. Furthermore, a multiverse need not imply atheism, although it is often used to argue against intelligent design in the universe. However, I am not sure why you are citing Peter Woit’s “Not Even Wrong” blog as evidence for a multiverse. If you read his blog closely, you will see that he is arguing against a multiverse and saying that this so-called evidence is basically rubbish. With that said, I overstated my case when I said “any possible scientific inference.” I should restate that as – without string theory, there is very little credible evidence for a multiverse.




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  13. Bob Helm: 2) As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I believe that the Bible is infallible, but not inerrant. There is a distinction between these two terms. “Inerrant” means without the slightest error of any kind. “Infallibile” means that the Bible won’t fail you. It is a sure guide in all matters that pertain to salvation.

    I presume then that you are quite comfortable in accepting that the writer/s of Genesis may have erred in accepting the prevailing view of instantaneous fiat creation. If you accept as you state that the Bible is infallible in matters of salvation but reject the Fundamentalist position that the bible in inerrant in issue of history and science then you should equally accept the validity of the position that those who accept precisely your premises but believe in an old age for the earth as does Sean and old age for life as do those who accept a evolutionary creation.




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    • @pauluc: Read again what I said – “infallible means that the Bible won’t fail you. It is a sure guide in all matters that pertain to salvation.” The creation account is part of the history of salvation. When I state that the Bible is not inerrant, I am thinking of issues like – did Peter deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed (Matthew, Luke, John) or three times before the rooster crowed twice (Mark)? My position is the same as Sean’s – YLC.




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      • @@Bob Helm: Bob Helm:

        This seems bizarre logic to me. The bible is not inerrant but is infallible for salvation. Salvation depends on all details described in the Bible and therefore Genesis accounts presumably both those in 1 and 2 are effectively inerrant.

        The claytons Biblical inerrancy.




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        • @pauluc: No, you have greatly and seriously misunderstood me! Not once have I stated that “salvation depends on all the details described in the Bible.” Salvation is God’s work and was accomplished 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross. This act of pure grace is received by faith alone, and even faith is something that the Holy Spirit works in us through His word. Salvation resides in Jesus, and if you put your trust in Him, you have it as a free gift. It certainly does not depend on all the details in the Bible. I merely stated that “the creation account is part of the history of salvation.” To use a German term that is common among theologians, it is “Heilsgeschichte.” Paul, I state my true conviction: A Darwinian who truly embraces Jesus Christ by faith is just as saved as any creationist. In fact, a creationist who is a legalist or who has not accepted Jesus is not saved. I actually expect to see some Darwinians in heaven, and I also think there will be some creationists who will not be not there! Salvation does not depend on head knowledge; it depends on Jesus Christ! So why is the creation account important? It is important because it reveals the fact that God designed a good world – not a world that is ruled by claw and fang and survival of the fittest (although these things are sad realities in our fallen world). Even more importantly, it reveals that human beings were created morally perfect and immortal, and that they lost paradise through sin. If Adam and Eve were not real people, and if they did not lose immortality through falling into sin, why is a Savior from sin and death necessary? Why would Jesus want to save us from suffering and death if He used suffering and death to create us in the first place? If there was no fall into sin, and if death is simply part of nature and not an intruder, then there is nothing for Jesus to save us from! As one of Mrs. O’Hair’s sons put it, “if you tear down the Genesis creation account, you will find the dead body of the Son of God in the rubble!” Yes, you can be a Darwinian and a Christian, and I am thankful that there are theistic evolutionists who love Jesus. But Darwinian Christians are only a reality because the human brain has an interesting capacity to believe mutually contradictory ideas. Educated people who really desire intellectual honesty (especially young people) see through the facade of theistic evolution. Darwinism is probably compatible with Pantheism and even Deism, but it is not logically compatible with Biblical Christianity. Again – I am not a Biblical inerrantist, and I do not believe in the verbal inspiration of scripture. I believe in thought inspiration, which puts me outside the fundamentalist camp. But I do consider myself to be a conservative evangelical, and I believe the Bible gives us an accurate picture of salvation history. And the creation account is an important part of salvation history!




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    • @pauluc: There is subjectivity that enters into how one weighs evidence, but I simply do not see very much convincing evidence for the Neo-darwinian paradigm. My problem with this paradigm is not merely scriptural; it is scientific. Several months ago, I read Richard Dawkins’ latest book, “The Greatest Show On Earth,” which was written to demonstrate how overwhelming the evidence for evolution is. But I didn’t find overwhelming evidence in that book. I found many valid examples of micro-evolution, coupled with old, weak arguments for macro-evolution that have been refuted. It is quite easy to repeat the formula, mantra-like – “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” But that statement means very little unless it is stated what that evidence is. So far, I see mostly smoke and very little light.




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  14. Bob Helm: I believe that ID can be devoid of religion. For example, one leader in the ID movement is Michael Denton, who wrote the book, “Evolution: A theory In Crisis.” Dr. Denton is an agnostic. However, I believe that ID fits very nicely with Christian faith.

    It seems you have not actually spoken to Michael Denton about his beliefs. Religiously he comes from a Brethren background but later accepted an agnostic position but was clearly critical of Darwinian evolution. Her remains an evolutionist in accepting conventional ages and universal common ancestory. As Wiki says;

    “Thus his second book Nature’s Destiny (1998) is his biological contribution on the Anthropic Principle debate which is dominated by physicists. He argues for a law-like evolutionary unfolding of life.”

    Essentially he is a theistic evolutionist. He does not at all identify with the IDC movement.




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    • @pauluc: No, I have not spoken with Michael Denton, but I have read his firt book in entirety and parts of his second book. However, I fail to see how he can be called a theistic evolutionist when he calls himself an agnostic. With that said, the ID movement often claims his books as their basis. Furthermore, the parameters of the ID movement are broad, and some ID theorists do accept a form of theistic evolution, but with the original form of life being intelligently designed.




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  15. Bob Helm: 5) I think that when faced with natural phenomena, we should certainly seek natural causes first. However, I am not totally comfortable with the distinction between “natural” and “supernatural.” For me, a miracle is simply an unexplained event that strengthens my faith in God. It seems to me that God often performs miracles by working through nature in unusual ways. For example, the Genesis Flood made have been a very unusual natural event that God used for His purposes. The destruction of Sodom may have been a tectonic eruption that rained burning sulfur and other compounds down on the city. I believe Ellen White suggests as much. Admitting these things does not exclude God; it simply means that God was using nature to His end. However, I also believe that God designed and created natural laws, so He can bypass them if He wishes. But even in such cases, God does not work magic, nor is He capricious. His work is always logical, even if we are too lacking in intelligence to understand it. For these reasons, I am not sure that a strict definition of methodological naturalism is viable. With regard to peer reviewed literature, I think it is quite valuable, but I also think it sometimes excludes genuine scientific data that conflict with reigning scientific paradigms, as they were defined by Thomas Kuhn in his book, “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions.” Furthermore, as scientific research is increasingly published on the internet, traditional peer reviewed journals will probably become obsolete. So no, I do not believe that peer reviewed literature, as it currently exists, constitutes the canon of scientific knowledge, but I do respect for the peer reviewed literature.

    I had thought from your initial comments that you had some intimate knowledge of science but from these comments I believe I am mistaken.
    You appear way to too deferential to Sean to be his scientific peer. You clearly have a better than average lay understanding of science so I assume you have an undergraduate degree that inlcuded some science. You appear not to be at all familiar with the process of publication in science only with the critique offered by those with a vested interest in denigrating the process of science. It would be helpful if I had a better understanding of your provenance so I can respond at the level of your expertise.

    Have you a higher degree in science or in research?
    Have you published in a peer reviewed journal that is indexed in pubmed?
    Do you live in Indiana?




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    • @pauluc: You are correct. I have some undergraduate training in science, but I am not a professional scientist, nor have I published research. I have only read it. But I find science interesting, and I have the right to engage in discussion. After all, we can only learn and grow by discussing. However, I find your comment that I “appear way too deferential to Sean to be his scientific peer” insulting. First, Sean has extensive scientific training, and he also has scientific peers who share his basic convictions and who have published in peer reviewed journals. Secondly, Sean and I both hold to the YLC position, but that doesn’t mean that I am copying him or being deferential to him. It doesn’t even mean that we agree on everything. I am saying this kindly, but rather than insulting people, I would suggest that you affirm their positions when you believe they are correct and point out their errors when you think they are making flawed arguments. Insults never accomplish anything positive and are often used to mask weak arguments. Lastly, I do live in Indiana, although I am unsure why this pertains to our discussion.




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  16. Bob Helm: With regard to peer reviewed literature, I think it is quite valuable, but I also think it sometimes excludes genuine scientific data that conflict with reigning scientific paradigms, as they were defined by Thomas Kuhn in his book, “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions.” Furthermore, as scientific research is increasingly published on the internet, traditional peer reviewed journals will probably become obsolete. So no, I do not believe that peer reviewed literature, as it currently exists, constitutes the canon of scientific knowledge, but I do respect for the peer reviewed literature.

    If the peer reviewed literature is not the canon of scientific knowledge then what is? You tube videos? The popular press?

    What is the genuine scientific data that is excluded from the peer reviewed literature? I would like you to cite 5 examples from the last 50 years for this position to be considered at all credible. If you do not or cannot provide that then I think your comments hearsay and specious.

    Which of the paradigm shifts that Kuhn cites did not come from data presented in the peer reviewed literature or before learned societies?

    As for publication on the internet obsoleting peer reviewed literature I think you do not adequately appreciate the nature of open access publication of scientific information that is currently expanding rapidly. You do of course realise that all papers coming from NIH funding must be published as open access papers. All the conventional and traditional journals now have online publication including open access publications and most scientist would now rarely consult paper journal or use reprints. For online publication peer review remains the cornerstone of the definition of what should be regarded as legitimate scientific publication whether you personally think that is desirable or not.

    The results of fuzziness in what is the literature of science is clearly demonstrated in the way Stephen Meyers used citations in his controversial paper in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington as I have explained previously.

    http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/walla-wall-university-evolution-survey/#comment-37018

    85% of the literature he cited was from reviews or non peer-reviewed literature. This is not scholarship.

    As to the modus operandi of scientific journal I have written of this before in response to Sean’s protestations of bias.

    http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/the-full-history-of-la-sierra-university-vs-louie-bishop/#comment-40904

    Read this and then come back with more cogent argument about what is rather than what you imagine.




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  17. We can’t seem to achieve closure on the polished granite cube. So may I submit something else to ponder? How about synthetic Astroturf? By wishing hard enough, our pard and our prof manage to see real grass as of thought-free origin. Can that work for Astroturf?




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  18. Bob Helm: Would Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity have passed today’s type of peer review process in the early 1900s?

    Did you even do something as simple as consulting wiki on this before proclaiming what you think ought to be?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientific_publications_by_Albert_Einstein

    Surprise surprise. There it all is peer reviewed publications in the Annalen Der Physik. Peer reviewed publications that describe in detail his paradigm shifting ideas for which he had to fight in the forum of science ie the peer reviewed literature not in the popular press. I suggest you read Kuhn again without the blinkers that are imposed by obsequious devotion to the ID sites.




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    • What Bob is trying to explain to you is that it was easier to publish controversial ideas 100 years ago than it is today. And, if it were not for some powerful backing, even Einstein may not have received a hearing in broader peer review. At first Einstein’s 1905 papers were ignored by the physics community. This began to change when he received the attention of Max Planck, perhaps the most influential physicist of his generation and founder of quantum theory. With Planck’s complimentary comments, Einstein was invited to lecture at international meetings and he rose rapidly in the academic world. In short, Einstein owed much to the support of Max Planck and a few others…

      This is because, in his first 1905 paper, Einstein published his argument, including his now famous conclusion that E=MC^2, in a very short three-page paper, in an obscure journal, entitled “Does The Inertia Of A Body Depend On It’s Energy Content?” The paper had no footnotes and not one single reference to support it.

      The scientific establishment went a bit bonkers.

      “Who does this Einstein think he is? How dare he contradict the fundamental principles of Newtonian physics. Where is his scientific evidence? What are his credentials for making such an assertion? This is preposterous….we can’t allow people just to say things like this without proof! How dare he…this idea should be given no credence at all!”

      One Hundred Authors Against Einstein” was published in 1931. When asked to comment on this denunciation of relativity by so many scientists, Einstein replied that to defeat relativity one did not need the word of 100 scientists, just one fact.

      The same is true today. In order to falsify the ID or CI hypothesis for certain molecular machines, one doesn’t need to look to the opinion of the majority of scientists, but to the factual evidence that is currently in hand (not evidence that might be discovered in the future)…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman: Thank you Sean. Contra Pauluc, I never remotely suggested that Einstein and Wegener failed to present their theories to their peers for evaluation. It is obvious that they did. But peer review 100 years ago was not the same as it is today. I wish Pauluc would stop attacking a straw man. And I would add that a so-called “scientific consensus” is worthless if it does not accord with the facts of nature. Given enough time (it can be a very long time), science is usually self-correcting (as was the case with the theories of Einstein and Wegener), but it is certainly not infallible.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        There is no argument that scientists are conservative nor that a new idea takes time to establish. The argument is that great new ideas do not even get into the forum of science the peer reviewed literature. This I reject. As Nature cell biology says in defining what it asks of referees;

        “High quality refereeing is vital for a robust peer review process. So, what constitutes an ideal report? Most importantly, the report should provide an objective and thorough evaluation of the study’s potential impact, judged in the context of the published literature, and its technical aspects. Careful scrutiny of the data to determine whether they substantiate the main conclusions of the work, accompanied by specific recommendations to fill gaps is essential. Other key issues to highlight in the report include the data quality and presentation, methodology, statistical analysis, strength of the conclusions, clarity of the text and appropriate citation of the literature.”

        http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v13/n2/full/ncb0211-109.html

        This ideal of peer review is not something that has changed in the last 100 years whatever you may imagine.




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        • There’s a difference between the ideal and real life practice. In practice peer review has tended more and more to publish papers that are in line with the status quo, without very much critical review, while suppressing papers that challenge the status quo – especially papers presenting ideas that seem to undermine certain closely cherished philosophies of popular scientists. Such bias in peer review was not as great 100 years ago… as Bob has already explained.




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    • @pauluc: I encourage you to read the wikipedia article on peer review if you have not already done so – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review

      Here are some pertinent excerpts: “Other than in medicine, it is only since the middle of the 20th century that peer review has been a touchstone of scientific method. In earlier periods and in other scientific fields, its application was lax. . . An editorial in “Nature” in 2003 stated that ‘in journals of those days, the burden of proof was generally on opponents rather than proponents of new ideas.'”

      “The interposition of editors and reviewers between authors and readers always raises the possibility that the intermediaries may serve as gatekeepers. The peer review process may suppress dissent against mainstream theories. . . As a result, ideas that harmonize with the established experts’ are more likely to see the light of day and to appear in premier journals than are iconoclastic or revolutionary ones, which accords with Thomas Kuhn’s well-known observations regarding scientific revolutions.”




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      • @Bob Helm:

        Thank you for the response. You are correct in that there are potential problems identified in the peer review. No-one with any experience of the rejection of submitted publications which is the common experience of those that seek inclusion of their work in the canon of science or in reviewing for scholarly journals would deny this. Like democracy it is a poor system but the alternatives are worse. Indeed you have not suggested an alternative nor indicated what is the alternative canonical scientific literature.

        It seems you are also correct in that journal editors did not rely on external peer reviewers in the 1900’s as much as they do now. You should however also be aware that reviewers decisions are merely aids to the editor who still makes the final decision.

        Of course editors and reviewers take their jobs seriously and are concerned about the issues you raise. For real examples of review of the reviewing process see these papers.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16734897

        http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0022475

        http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=187753

        Unfortunately as indicated by the statement you cite “..it is only since the middle of the 20th century that peer review has been a touchstone of scientific method.” the conventional view I have been articulating here seems verified. Publication in the peer reviewed literature is absolutely now an essential part of the scientific method. I would still contend that it was in the 1900 but in simpler times the sole peer may have been the journal editor.




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        • @pauluc: You seem to think that I am opposed to the peer review process and want to replace it with something that I deem better. I never suggested this. I respect the peer review process and see its value. However, as wikipedia points out, it was easier to get controversial findings published in the past than it is today. Like any human enterprise, peer review has its weaknesses, which is why I do not limit the canon of scientific knowledge strictly to peer reviewed literature. And no I am not talking about the popular press or youtube videos.




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  19. ” How about synthetic Astroturf? ”

    Excellent. No more need for SETI. By its very definition it is conceded that it is made off world by synthesized aliens. Soon Tiger Woods will be taking one of Richard Branson’s space flights to put on synthetic greens on Mars.

    I don’t think ID is quite out of the ontological woods yet. 🙂




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  20. @ Bob

    “Woit’s “Not Even Wrong” blog as evidence for a multiverse. If you read his blog closely, you will see that he is arguing against a multiverse and saying that this so-called evidence is basically rubbish”

    Yep, it is important to read closely and extensively. Did you see the reference to Laura Mersini Houghton in Woit’s blog? From what I have read she predicted that no evidence of super symmetry would be found at the Hadron Collider, but she thinks she has found evidence of another universe pulling on ours. That was the point I was alluding to but I apologize if I was being obtuse by merely referring you to Woit’s blog. Credit to him for mentioning her research, notwithstanding his opinion.

    And I agree with you wholeheartedly: a multiverse does not prove atheism:

    Quantum Genesis:

    In the beginning God waved his hand and quantum fluctuations did occur in the dark matter creating an infinite number of universes with different properties,multidimentionally interacting with each other. And it came to pass that due to infinite possibilities, theoretical physicists did evolve and were able to theorize- and possibly detect?- such other universes tugging on their own….. 🙂

    Bob, theological question for you: If God is infinite why would he limit Him/Her/Itself to just one universe with one set of properties or rules?




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    • @george: Yes, I read the reference to Dr. Houghton’s hypotheis. But the question is – how credible is her hypothesis? Maybe she is on to something, but I would like to see a critique of it before giving it any serious thought. Obviously, Peter Woit is not impressed. Of course it is conceivable that God has designed a multiverse, although God’s infinity does not require this. I don’t think God has limited Himself to one universe or even to a multiverse. As I understand God, He resides outside of any space-time manifold that we can conceive of. In fact, the sacred name YHWH implies this. Of course, God could have designed other universes, but I don’t see any hard evidence for that. And in the absence of evidence, it seems like speculation squared to use the multiverse hypothesis to explain away the anthropic principle. Like Sean, I think this is a huge cop out.




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  21. @ Dr. Pitman

    “While there remains debate over if evidence for other universes is even theorectically detectable, the argument that multiple universes explains the odds against our universe being so precisely anthropic is anti-scientific. Why? Because, as I’ve already explained, this argument can be used to explain anything and everything – and therefore nothing.”

    Point taken. But of course if other universes are detected that have different properties that do not support organic life, discussion about anthropic principles is far from anti scientific. With respect, don’t you think Mersini- Houghton’s work is scientific – perhaps more so than as to speculation of hypothetical extraterrestrial granite cubes? 🙂




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  22. @ Dr. Pitman

    Is the investigation of infinity anti scientific? Do you think time started with our universe?

    If there was no time before our universe how would you go about detecting a universe designer that had no time? 🙂




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  23. @ Dr. Kime

    Read your blog and greatly enjoyed it! A polymath thou ‘art’ !

    I’d say you are more avuncular than curmudgeonly but the paintbrush mightier than evoean sword 🙂




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  24. wesley kime:
    We can’t seem to achieve closure on the polished granite cube.So may I submit something else to ponder?How about synthetic Astroturf? By wishing hard enough, our pard and our prof manage to see real grass as of thought-free origin.Can that work for Astroturf?

    Lets see. You seem to be equating objects in 2 different categories. On one hand we have a sexually reproductively active biological life form that can grow respond and adapt to its environment.
    On the other hand a plastic replica that has neither life nor self replication. It has no ability to “survive” in the wild and would not at all change the argument that it is a blindingly obvious artefact nor discussion of its provenance if it was found on Mars.

    I suspect that as Gene has indicated a 10 year old untrained in the sciences could tell the difference. That one was made by human intervention is blindingly obvious.

    To then say that biological structures must because of human intelligent (although I would be uncertain of that) creation of astroturf then grass must also be a product of intelligent creation.

    This postulate flies in the face of 150 years of study of biology and Seans admission and oft repeated mantra that natural selection can effect purposeful appearing change albeit at very very very low levels of complexity.




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      • @wesley kime:

        No I was planning on spraying it with a nylonase producing bacteria. Does it have immunity? Nylonase resistant astroturf. Now that is indeed an intelligent design. Perhaps Monsanto already have the patent.




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    • This postulate flies in the face of 150 years of study of biology and Seans admission and oft repeated mantra that natural selection can effect purposeful appearing change albeit at very very very low levels of complexity.

      Since when is a mutation between 3-letter words “purposeful appearing change”? It’s no such thing.

      You argue that because AstroTurf and granite cubes are not self-replicating that this is why they are “blindingly obvious artefacts of intelligent design”? Is self-replication the key factor here? – that no self-replicating phenomenon could be reasonably identified as a true artefact?

      If this is true, why then do you continually avoid responding to my illustration of a hypothetical situation in which you discovered a DNA sequence within a bacterial or viral genome with a Morse Code pattern that spelled out, “Hello Dr. Cameron. Just seeing if you’re paying attention. – God.”

      Such a sequence is “self-replicating”, yet it would still be recognized as a “blindingly obvious artefact” of intelligent design – even by a 10 year old. Sure, one could reasonably argue that God was probably not the most likely culprit. However, one could not reasonably argue that some as yet undiscovered mindless natural mechanism did the job.

      The same could be said for robots (or computer code), programmed by humans, to self-replicate. Would a self-replicating robot, built of metal, plastic, silicone, etc., somehow be unrecognizable as a true artefact of intelligent design? – simply because the robot is capable of self-replication? Really? What is so magical about self-replication that it removes all self-replicating systems from being detectable as true artefacts of “creative intelligence”?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @pauluc: But biological life is far more complex than a piece of plastic. If the plastic bears obvious evidence of design, why should we close our eyes to design in something far more complex? And why would the ability to replicate and adapt be an argument against design? Again – these abilities suggest a higher, not a lower level of complexity when compared with human designed artifacts. I utterly fail to understand your argument!




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      • @Bob Helm:

        I will try once again.
        Did you read the papers on teological thought in children adults and scientists?

        Is this correct?
        The sun produced sunlight so that plants can grow.
        Which of these is true?
        1] Nylonase producing bacteria produce nylonase so they can use nylon as a carbon source.

        2] Nylonase producing bacteria resulted from a gene duplication and mutation that resulted in an enzyme able to efficiently digest nylon and the selective expansion of this bacteria in a pond containing nylon products in the waste water from a nylon factory.

        If you chose the first option you will accept intelligent design as a useful paradigm. If you chose the second you accept a scientific explanation.

        As soon as you ask how you are within the realm of science. When you ask why you are not. Why is a question of meaning and the metaphysical. Science is never interested in why unless it is perverted by a desire for philosophical naturalism. ID is primarily about why not how.




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        • What’s the scientific explanation for a highly symmetrical polished granite cube? – which you yoursef claim is a blindingly obvious artefact of intelligent design?

          You see, your teleological arguments quickly break down beyond very low levels of functional complexity and/or the clear limits of mindless natural production.

          For example, the very same question could be asked regarding the origin of a car’s motor. Did the car’s motor result from some random mindless process, or was the car’s motor produced so that the car could function as a motility system?

          As soon as you ask how you are within the realm of science. When you ask why you are not. Why is a question of meaning and the metaphysical. Science is never interested in why unless it is perverted by a desire for philosophical naturalism. ID is primarily about why not how.

          This isn’t true. One doesn’t have to know why or exactly how a highly symmetrical granite cube was produced in order to know that, for whatever reason or by whatever means, it was intelligently designed. Now, after making this discvery some people will naturally ask the questions “how?” and “why?” If some people happen to conclude that such a cube offers some kind of religious significance, so what? What does this have to do with the basic conclusion of a true artefact? The scientific conclusion of a true artefact remains regardless of what someone may or may not conclude regarding the metaphysical meaning or religious implications of this discovery.




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        • @pauluc: Bacteria did have the digestive function before nylon was invented. The fact that they could not digest nylon before nylon was invented is simply because there wasn’t any nylon to digest.
          New evidence shows that the ability was due to plasmids [e.g. K. Kato, et al., ‘A plasmid encoding enzymes for nylon oligomer degradation: Nucleotide sequence analysis of pOAD2’, Microbiology (Reading) 141(10):2585–2590, 1995.] In fact, more than one species of bacteria have the ability, residing on plasmids. This suggests that the information probably already existed, and was just passed between different types of bacteria.
          All that would be needed to enable an enzyme to digest nylon is a mutation causing loss of specificity in a proteolytic (protein-degrading) enzyme. This may seem surprising—how would a loss of information create a new ability? Answer: enzymes are usually tuned very precisely to only one type of molecule (the substrate). Loss of information would reduce the effectiveness of its primary function, but would enable it to degrade other substrates, too. Since both nylon and proteins are broken down by breaking amide linkages, a change in a proteolytic enzyme could also allow it to work on nylon. If this process were continued, the result would be a general enzyme with a weakly catalytic effect on the hydrolysis of too many chemicals to be useful where much selectivity is required. To put it into perspective, acids and alkalis also catalyze many hydrolysis reactions, but they also lack specificity. Indeed, an inhibitor of a protein degrading enzyme also inhibits the action of the nylon degrading enzyme.




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  25. Sean Pitman: What Bob is trying to explain to you is that it was easier to publish controversial ideas 100 years ago than it is today.

    Indeed you may be correct he may have been suggesting that peer review has become much more biased now than in the last 100 years but without some evidence it is simply conjecture from a position of ignorance. I would like some evidence before I would accept his (or your?) proposition.
    Some evidence beyond your anecdote of peer review and Pastor Bobs conjecture and non-experience.

    If the question is does top and middle tier science journals such Nature, Science, J Ex Med, PNAS reject more than they did 100 years ago I suspect you are right but the number of submission is incomparably higher and the differentiation across the peer reviewed journals is much more marked than it was even 50 years ago since the rise of indexing and formalization of citation indices. But there are vastly more peer reviewed journals than there were 100 years ago and the output of publications is still rising rapidly as you can see from a simple pubmed search.




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  26. Bob Helm: Contra Pauluc, I never remotely suggested that Einstein and Wegener failed to present their theories to their peers for evaluation. It is obvious that they did. But peer review 100 years ago was not the same as it is today. I wish Pauluc would stop attacking a straw man

    I am sorry if you think I am attacking a straw man. Perhaps I am a little confused in thinking that your responses were actually responsive to my questions rather than only tangential references.

    You now say;

    “I never remotely suggested that Einstein and Wegener failed to present their theories to their peers for evaluation.”

    As far as I can see the Q&A went something like this.

    PUC “5] Do you think the method of science is based on methodological naturalism. Do you think the canonical repository of scientific knowledge is the peer reviewed literature?”

    BH “5] ….With regard to peer reviewed literature, I think it is quite valuable, but I also think it sometimes excludes genuine scientific data that conflict with reigning scientific paradigms, as they were defined by Thomas Kuhn in his book, “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions……..So no, I do not believe that peer reviewed literature, as it currently exists, constitutes the canon of scientific knowledge, but I do respect for the peer reviewed literature.”

    PUC “If the peer reviewed literature is not the canon of scientific knowledge then what is? You tube videos? The popular press?
    What is the genuine scientific data that is excluded from the peer reviewed literature? I would like you to cite 5 examples from the last 50 years for this position to be considered at all credible. If you do not or cannot provide that then I think your comments hearsay and specious.
    Which of the paradigm shifts that Kuhn cites did not come from data presented in the peer reviewed literature or before learned societies?”

    BH “Would Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity have passed today’s type of peer review process in the early 1900s? How about Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift? I doubt it. Would J Harlen Bretz’ theory of an ice age flood or floods in eastern Washington have passed peer review? Not a ghost of a chance! But the theories proposed by Einstein, Wegener, and Bretz were, for the most part, correct.”

    If Einstein, Wegener and Bretz are not examples of “paradigm shifts” ourside the peer reviewed literature then I have to conclude as I said that your suggestions that such events happen outside the peer reviewed literature is specious. If they are meant to be examples responsive to my question then you are clearly incorrect. If your response was totally unrelated and meant to change the subject to discuss evolution of the quality of peer review over the last 100 years then fair enough the Chewbacca defence is perfectly legitimate but does not engender much confidence in your position about science not being restricted to the peer reviewed literature.

    The central question remains what if not the peer reviewed literature is the canon of scientific literature?




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    • @pauluc: Kindly go back and read carefully what I said. And did you read the wikipedia article on “Peer Review” that I posted to you? Note my words again: “today’s type of peer review process.” Clearly, today’s type of peer review process has only been in existence since about 1950. If you doubt what I am saying about this, please read the wikipedia article. Furthermore, the contributions of Einstein and Wegener, and to a lesser extent, Bretz, must be regarded as paradigm shifts. When these shifts occur, their proponents may have to publish their research in more obscure journals, as Einstein did. No, youtube videos and the popular press do not constitute the canon of scientific knowledge, but that canon is larger than “Nature,” “Science,” “Geology,” “Plos One,” etc.




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  27. Sean Pitman: The same is true today. In order to falsify the ID or CI hypothesis for certain molecular machines, one doesn’t need to look to the opinion of the majority of scientists, but to the factual evidence that is currently in hand (not evidence that might be discovered in the future)…

    You are correct but where do you find that evidence with any sort of fidelity?

    My answer is the peer reviewed literature the canonical literature of scientific knowledge not on blogs or missives from the DI.

    As for peer review I simply suggest that what nature today asks of reviewers is not much different than in 1900.

    “High quality refereeing is vital for a robust peer review process. So, what constitutes an ideal report? Most importantly, the report should provide an objective and thorough evaluation of the study’s potential impact, judged in the context of the published literature, and its technical aspects. Careful scrutiny of the data to determine whether they substantiate the main conclusions of the work, accompanied by specific recommendations to fill gaps is essential. Other key issues to highlight in the report include the data quality and presentation, methodology, statistical analysis, strength of the conclusions, clarity of the text and appropriate citation of the literature.”

    They further suggest in contrast to your assumption that review is much more robust and biased now;

    “There are growing concerns that the quality of the peer review process is being eroded as referees are stretched thin by other professional commitments. This can also lead to challenges in finding reviewers in a timely manner, particularly before busy grant deadlines or during conference seasons. How can we continue to ensure that refereeing remains robust in the face of these challenges? At this journal, we are always seeking to expand our referee pool to avoid referee fatigue. Reviewers can co-review manuscripts with senior members of their laboratory; the principle reviewer must inform the editors of the co-reviewer’s identity and co-reviewers are obviously held to the same standards of confidentiality. Editors also assess the strength of revisions before contacting referees for re-review. Once again, this practice is intended to eliminate futile cycles of review and to save both reviewers’ and authors’ time.”

    http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v13/n2/full/ncb0211-109.html




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    • You are correct but where do you find that evidence with any sort of fidelity?

      How can I be correct given your own argument that some future discovery will always be found to support your position?

      My answer is the peer reviewed literature the canonical literature of scientific knowledge not on blogs or missives from the DI.

      As for peer review I simply suggest that what nature today asks of reviewers is not much different than in 1900.

      “High quality refereeing is vital for a robust peer review process. So, what constitutes an ideal report? Most importantly, the report should provide an objective and thorough evaluation of the study’s potential impact, judged in the context of the published literature, and its technical aspects. Careful scrutiny of the data to determine whether they substantiate the main conclusions of the work, accompanied by specific recommendations to fill gaps is essential. Other key issues to highlight in the report include the data quality and presentation, methodology, statistical analysis, strength of the conclusions, clarity of the text and appropriate citation of the literature.”

      We’re only talking about how to rationally, scientifically, recognize true artefacts of design. You yourself claim that some of the examples listed are “blindingly obvious” – so much so that it would be pointless even publishing a paper on why they are actually artificial rather than natural. The problem is that the detection of a true artefact does in fact require the use of scientific methodologies and the artefact hypothesis is always open to potential falsification – as is any truly scientific hypothesis.

      The fact that you wouldn’t publish any argument regarding the potentially artificial nature of anything within any living thing highlights your own bias – and the bias of your peers who simply dismiss, out of hand, any and all arguments for the artificial nature of any aspect of living things. The fear is that living things are more special than granite cubes and/or radio signals and that if any aspect of a living thing is accepted as being a “blindingly obvious artefact” that people will simply assume that God was the designer – even if the level of intelligence required is no greater than that needed to explain a simple polished granite cube.

      That is why publishing today on issues that fundamentally challenge the philosophical beliefs of most scientists simply isn’t going to happen – as you yourself confirm. Einstein got a pass because of the support of Max Planck and a few others…




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    • @pauluc:
      “As for peer review I simply suggest that what nature today asks of reviewers is not much different than in 1900.”

      What is your basis for making this statement? The article in wikipedia on peer review claims the opposite.




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  28. Bob Helm: I believe that true science should be open to all possibilities. Take, for example, the issue of the origin of life. Why can’t science entertain the hypothesis that an intelligent designer (God or some other entity) designed life, while at the same time continuing to search for a mechanism that would allow life to emerge via abiogenesis. As long as ID does not squelch origin of life research, I fail to see a problem. And the same thing holds for the big bang and the origin of the universe. An ID explanation should not be dismissed a priori, but other explanations should also be entertained.

    Sorry but this is where your definition of science is different to the operational definition of science which is of methodological naturalism. In science we do not search for really tiny angels to explain subatomic properties in quantum physics. Science admits it does not know but it does not change its methodology with every encountered with a question. It defines a method for answering that question. Really tiny angels or intelligent design creation are not within the realm of science and scientist whatever their religious persuasion will happily admit that.

    If you want to include magic in your definition of True science you certainly can but you have to accept the reality that your True science is different to the ways science has been done up to now. Dont expect that to change because a few religious outsiders say it should.

    I highly recommend Jonathon Sack “The great partnership” for a very sensible view on science and religion. It comes as no surprise to me that a disproportionate number of Nobel prize winners have come from the Jewish tradition.




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    • Sorry but this is where your definition of science is different to the operational definition of science which is of methodological naturalism. In science we do not search for really tiny angels to explain subatomic properties in quantum physics. Science admits it does not know but it does not change its methodology with every encountered with a question. It defines a method for answering that question. Really tiny angels or intelligent design creation are not within the realm of science and scientist whatever their religious persuasion will happily admit that.

      This is where you’re mistaken. Using only the assumption of methodological naturalism (MN) as you apply it, real scientists do in fact look for and think to detect true artefacts of intelligent design behind various natural phenomena. Anthropologists look for rock fragments with certain artefactual features. Forensic scientists look for features within dead bodies that are artefactual. And SETI scientists look for radio signals that are artefactual. While they don’t propose that God or angels were responsible, they do propose that whoever was responsible was intelligent.

      This very same identical argument could be used to detect design behind all manner of phenomena – to include various features within living things. There is absolutely no inherent reason why certain types of DNA sequences or molecular machines cannot be recognizes as showing artificial features – no reason at all. Your argument that self-replication and emergence and future discoveries eliminates this ability simply do not hold water when carefully considered. You even seem to argue for some magical, yet natural, property of life that, though mysterious, removes all life and any part of any living thing from the realm of “blindingly obvious artefacts”.

      How is this a form of scientific thinking?




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    • @pauluc: Once again, you didn’t listen to what I said. First of all, I told you that Christians do not regard God as magic, but only more intelligent than we are. So why are you claiming that I include magic in my definition of science? Secondly, where do you read anything in the Bible about tiny angels that explain subatomic properties? The Bible says nothing about tiny angels that run nature. All of this is nonsense! Scripture pictures God’s creation as orderly and quite able to function on its own. But methodological naturalism is a fairly recent addition to science that is largely post-Darwinian. In contrast,most of the founders of the various branches of science were devout Christians who claimed they were thinking God’s thoughts after Him. In fact, philosophers of science have pointed out that modern science arose in Christian Europe precisely because the Christian view of God is rational and orderly, rather than magical and capricious. For example, see Jaki, S.L., “The Road of Science and the Ways to God,” The Gifford Lectures 1974-1975 and 1975-1975-1976. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1978.
      Klaaren, E.M. “Religious Origins of Modern Science: Belief in Creation in Seventeenth-century Thought, Lanham, NY and London: University Press of America, 1985.




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  29. @ Dr.Kime

    Nothing wrong with your Mind’s Eye.

    Last night I poured agnostic water on the Astroturf and it started to grow!
    No doubt due to the amount of cyber fertilzer it has been receiving.




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  30. @Bob

    ” As I understand God, He resides outside of any space-time manifold that we can conceive of. ”

    Conceive of and likely detect, right? So ID as a science could never detect God, right?




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    • @george: God could appear to us here on earth, but if He did, it would kill us. That’s why He told Moses that He doesn’t do this. But this means that God can only be detected by an evidence trail. There are several lines of evidence that God has given us: 1) He has revealed Himself through design in nature, which can be studied by science. 2) He has revealed Himself in His word, particularly in prophecy. 3) He has revealed Himself supremely in Jesus Christ. These last two lines of evidence cannot be researched by natural science, but they can be discerned through logic and a careful study of history. So again – while we cannot put God in a test tube and observe Him, we can observe the evidence for Him. It’s rather like when Robinson Crusoe was on the island and he found a human footprint in the sand, he knew there was another man on the island, even though he had not seen that man.




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  31. Bob Helm:
    @pauluc: Once again, you didn’t listen to what I said.First of all, I told you that Christians do not regard God as magic, but only more intelligent than we are.So why are you claiming that I include magic in my definition of science.

    From Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking

    “Magical thinking is the identification of causal relationships between actions and events where scientific consensus says that there are none. In religion, folk religion and superstition the correlation posited is between religious ritual, prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or recompense. In clinical psychology, magical thinking can cause a patient to experience fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because of an assumed correlation between doing so and threatening calamities. Magical thinking may lead people to believe that their thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.[1] It is a type of causal reasoning or causal fallacy that looks for meaningful relationships of grouped phenomena between acts and events.”

    Sorry I may well be obtuse but I would have thought that it is magical thinking to discard the perfectly naturalistic explanation of purposeful goal directed change in biological systems based on random changes and selection for fit to an environmental condition for a belief in such changes as reflecting the acts of an invisible intelligent designer.

    Similarly many would think that using miracles as an explanator of everyday natural events is using magical thought.

    Am I mistaken in thinking that you want to discard methodological naturalism which looks for natural causation for a science that includes study of miracles with supernatural causation?




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    • Sorry I may well be obtuse but I would have thought that it is magical thinking to discard the perfectly naturalistic explanation of purposeful goal directed change in biological systems based on random changes and selection for fit to an environmental condition for a belief in such changes as reflecting the acts of an invisible intelligent designer.

      Aren’t SETI scientists looking for the works of an invisible intelligent designer? If they find the radio signals that they’re looking for, will they not conclude the existence of an intelligent designer behind their formation even though the designer remains invisible to them? – detectable only by the works of his/her/its hands?

      Why then would you accept, a priori an explanation which invokes some as yet unknown mindless natural mechanism to explain complex biomachines within living things? – even if you were to concede that Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS is incapable of explaining such high levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time? How is this notion of yours remotely scientific or rational? – especially in the light of your claims that such things would otherwise be classified as “blindingly obvious artefacts”? What is your position based on besides magic and hopeful appeals to future discoveries?

      Similarly many would think that using miracles as an explanator of everyday natural events is using magical thought.

      Who is invoking miracles of any kind, or even intelligent design of any kind, to explain everyday natural events?

      Am I mistaken in thinking that you want to discard methodological naturalism which looks for natural causation for a science that includes study of miracles with supernatural causation?

      You are mistaken to suggest that supernatural miracles are required to explain artefactual features within living things. The features under discussion here (granite cubes, radio signals, flagellar motors) do not require a Godlike level of intelligence to explain. They do, however, require intelligence to explain.

      Why are you so worried that some may extrapolate beyond what can be scientifically supported to conclude that God was the likely designer of these machines? – that God can create things that humans could also create? Why do you care so much if some people may form religious conclusions based on the design inference? Regardless of if you do or do not find religious significance in the detection of design behind true artefacts of nature, the fact that they remain true artefacts of intelligent design, by scientific determination, should not be affected.




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    • @pauluc: With the exception of the validity of prayer, I can affirm everything you wrote in your first paragraph, and I do not subscribe to that kind of thinking either. Secondly, perhaps this will surprise you, but I fully affirm directed change in biological systems that is based random mutations and natural selection. I simply question, as do Sean and and many others, whether this process can account for all the biology we observe in our world.

      You seem to have a problem with an intelligent designer that is invisible, but why? Most of the electro-magnetic spectrum is invisible, but we believe in its existence because we observe see its effects. The same is true of the invisible agent of design. Plus, if that agent is identified with the Judea-Christian God, He has plainly told us why He remains invisible.

      With regard to your last two paragraphs, I cannot comment on them until you define “miracle” and “supernatural,” because I suspect we may attach different meanings to these terms.




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  32. Bob Helm: Secondly, where do you read anything in the Bible about tiny angels that explain subatomic properties? The Bible says nothing about tiny angels that run nature

    Since you had already cited disparagingly the idea that angels pushed the globes about the heavens I thought you may appreciate the implication and historical relevance and context. Sorry. .




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    • @pauluc: No need to apologize. I wasn’t crediting you with nonsense. I simply regard the idea of angels pushing the planets or being responsible for subatomic properties as nonsense, and I was trying to point out that the purveyers of such nonsense did not get it from scripture. I would consider it equally nonsensical if someone claimed that intelligent alien beings from a planet 4.5 light years away in the Centauri star system were responsible for these physical phenomena.




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  33. Bob Helm: All of this is nonsense! Scripture pictures God’s creation as orderly and quite able to function on its own. But methodological naturalism is a fairly recent addition to science that is largely post-Darwinian. In contrast,most of the founders of the various branches of science were devout Christians who claimed they were thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

    Finally something we can agree on. The Monotheistic Abrahamic traditions gave us a God of order who could be argued with and asks us to be in relationship.

    I do have issue with the timing of methodological naturalism. Though the words may be new the idea of natural law without capricious divine intervention was and is foundational to all science. Newton, Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin all believed in orderly natural process for science




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  34. Bob Helm: In contrast,most of the founders of the various branches of science were devout Christians who claimed they were thinking God’s thoughts after Him. In fact, philosophers of science have pointed out that modern science arose in Christian Europe precisely because the Christian view of God is rational and orderly, rather than magical and capricious.

    Indeed on this I would certainly agree entirely without reservation. But I would see the current fundamentalist push for literal creationists perspective and its child ID with its teleological underpinning to be a retreat from these positions almost all scientist hold foundational to modern science.




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    • Again, how is the detection of true artefacts of intelligent design within various features of living thing a “retreat” from rational and orderly concepts? – if this determination is based on the very same assumptions used to detect artefacts of design, by scientists, behind other natural phenomena? – like narrow spectrum radio signals or radio signals carrying mathematical tags, highly symmetrical polished granite cubes, shards of pottery, arrowheads, murder victims, etc?

      Again, your appeal to vague arguments like “emergence” or “non-reductionnism” or “future discoveries” sound a whole lot more like a retreat into the mystical or magical than do argument commonly used to support the artefact hypothesis within science…




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    • @pauluc: I have no problem with orderly natural process. And as I have said before, I do not consider myself to be a fundamentalist. But considering that Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, von Braun, Agassiz, Owen, etc., all believed in ID, and considering that probably 15% of the scientific community still believes in some form of ID, including well-known scientists like John Sanford and Arno Penzias, I fail to understand your extreme hostility to it. (And yes, I will stand by roughly 15%. I have talked to enough practicing scientists who believe in ID to affirm that number. The problem is – unless they are world-class scientists, they are often like the geologist I met on the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon. He gladly told me that he believed the Genesis Flood was responsible for the formation of the Grand Canyon, but he didn’t mention a word of it to his employer for fear it would put his career in jeopardy.)




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  35. Bob Helm:
    @pauluc: Kindly go back and read carefully what I said.And did you read the wikipedia article on “Peer Review” that I posted to you?Note my words again:“today’s type of peer review process.”Clearly, today’s type of peer review process has only been in existence since about 1950.If you doubt what I am saying about this, please read the wikipedia article.Furthermore, the contributions of Einstein and Wegener, and to a lesser extent, Bretz, must be regarded as paradigm shifts.When these shifts occur, their proponents may have to publish their research in more obscure journals, as Einstein did.No, youtube videos and the popular press do not constitute the canon of scientific knowledge, but that canon is larger than “Nature,” “Science,” “Geology,” “Plos One,” etc.

    It now seems we are not so far apart. Indeed I have read the wiki on peer review and it does in the entire context of the entry rather than your selective reading agree with my experience as a reviewer, a member of an editorial board and a scientist submitting manuscripts for review.

    I suggested that paradigm shifting scientific observations have been invariably published in the canonical peer reviewed literature of science or presented in scientific forums before peers.

    It appears you agree with this, but for some reason now add a caveat
    “…but that canon is larger than “Nature,” “Science,” “Geology,” “Plos One,” etc.”

    I have never ever suggested that top tier journals are the only canonical sources for science. I would suggest however that effectively the canon of scientific literature is restricted to what is indeed in the indexed repositories in the same way as Christians have defined their canon to exclude the gospels of Thomas, Peter etc. Pubmed is one example of a repository biased to the biomedical science and includes a few thousand journals. For me that is canonical enough that I can consider anything outside that of minimal value and not worth considering.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/num_titles.html

    You introduce a red herring and suggest that somehow it is now impossible to publish novel ground breaking observations in one of the thousands of journals and cite Einsteins publication in an “obscure” journal as nostalgic reference to gentler and more open times.

    I do not at all disagree that there has been evolution of peer review and a tightening of understanding of the process of science. Along with this there has been an evolution and refinement of criteria for acceptance for publication. These changes over time have been responsive to the rapid expansion of journals and content. As scientist we live with it and get on with publication instead of like spoilt children protesting the unfairness.

    If you would care to look at the first edition of Science:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/os-1/2/6.extract

    And see what the Editor envisaged I think you will see that even in 1880 expert peer review was essential to the process of acceptance for publication.

    “Salutatory

    In presenting to the the pubic the first number of “Science” we would briefly define its aim and scope, so that its position in the periodical literature of the country may be clearly understood.
    While Literature proper and Art both ornamental and useful nay almost every distincitve social and economic interest in the United States have their several organs for the interchange of views of the diffusion of information Science still remains without any weekly journal exclusively devoted to the chronicling of the progress and the discussion of the problems. This may be stated without disrespect to the many excellent weekly journals resticted to special branches of sceince, or allied to trade interests. The field being thus open, after consultation with many of the leading scientists in this country, it has been decided to publish “Science” in its present form. Its aim will be to afford scientific workers in the United States the opportunity of promptly recording the fruits of their researches and facilities for communication between one another and the world, as are now enjoyed by the scientific men of Europe.
    A distinctive feature in the conduct of this Journal will be that each department of science will be supervised by some recognised authority in that field of research, and it is believed that names of these Associate Editors will be a guarantee that accuracy be maintained as far as possible.
    There will be a department of “Notes and Queries” which cannot fail to be of benefit to those engaged in original research. By this means many may attain the speedly solutions of difficulties which otherwise might cost them much unprofitable labor.
    It is the desire of the Editor that “Science” may in the United States take the position which “Nature” so ably occupies in England, in presenting immediate information of scientific events; The Smithsonian Institution and other scientific bodies have promised their co-operation in this respect and represenative men of all branches of science have cordially volunteered their aid toward making “Science” as useful as it foreign contemporary.”




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    • @pauluc: I’m glad that you don’t think we are so far apart. And after our lengthy discussion and really listening to each other, I agree with you! If you are willing to broaden your definition of the canon of science beyond the top tier journals, we can agree. I fully understand why you would not include the popular press within the canon of science, and I wouldn’t either. Yes, I have read some good reports on science in the popular press, but I have also read a lot of trash. Plus, the popular press lacks proper documentation of sources. While my master’s thesis was not in the natural sciences, it was certainly required to be a scholarly document, so I have a good grasp of the difference between scholarship and popular writing. I hope we can agree to lay this matter to rest because I think we are finally understanding one another!




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  36. Bob Helm: When these shifts occur, their proponents may have to publish their research in more obscure journals, as Einstein did.

    I am not sure where you are getting your information from but I am not sure that a journal published from 1790

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annalen_der_Physik

    could be considered obscure. That it was published in German is of little consequence since in those more civilized times scientists recognized that if they wanted to read the best physics and science they would need to move beyond a parochial anglocentric perspective on life.




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    • @pauluc: Perhaps the word “obscure” is overstating it. I simply had in mind that it wasn’t “Nature.” However, good scholarship in any field requires a reading knowledge of some foreign languages. Being semi-fluent in German, I could read “Annalen der Physik” with the help of a dictionary. So you are right; German is of little consequence. I am coming to realize that we have been talking past each other. Believe me, I have the utmost respect for good scholarship in science (as well as in other fields), and I sincerely apologize if I suggested otherwise.




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    • @pauluc: Paul, I hope that you will scroll up to the earlier part of this thread and read the lengthy post I recently made to you. I never suggested that we are saved by our knowledge of portions of the Bible, including the creation account. Nor did I suggest that a Darwinist cannot be a true Christian. However, I find theistic evolution to be a logical contradiction, and I fear that many intelligent people regard it as intellectually dishonest. But when you get a chance, read my entire post.




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    • Before Einstein was famous, he was a nobody with nothing but an undergraduate degree. His very controversial paper probably would not have been published by anyone. So, Einstein first sent his paper to Prof. Max Planck. Surprisingly, Planck was intrigued by Einstein’s theories and he thought that they deserved to be published in the scientific journals. Planck then persuaded the editors of a local German physics journal, Annalen der Physik, to publish Einstein’s work – and so they did.

      So, content is what counts – obviously. It also seems that one’s reputation plays a big part in what does and does not get published in science journals – then and now. For example, let’s say Richard Dawkins, for some unexplicable reason, become convinced that some aspect of living things strongly suggested deliberate design. It would be much much easier for him to publish this conclusion than it would be for someone like Stephen Meyer to publish the very same observation within any mainstream journal.




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  37. @Bob

    “God could appear to us here on earth, but if He did, it would kill us”

    All righty then, on one hand you are disparaging the work of a astrophysicist regarding evidence of another universe as rubbish, but on the other hand stating why God can’t come to earth. However you say God can and does intervene in earthly affairs. Glad that someone knows the mind of the One outside the space/time manifold 🙂

    Do you understand why it is so important to divorce Science from religious speculation to avoid the bias you are obviously demonstrating?

    The defection of extraterrestial radio signals or hypothetical granite cubes has got nothing to do with the origins of the universe or life on earth. Dr. Kime, with his extraordinary wit, saw the ironic Astroturfed humour in this. Deism has been around for a long time, of which ID is a modern iteration.

    You and Dr. Pitman appear to be very worried about any scientific evidence of another universe. Why? Because you have no theological explanation for same. Strange how Dr. Pitman is keen on using ID to detect design of life but not of other universes. Why is that anti scientific?




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    • I’m fine with the existence of other universes or the potential evidence of such. What I’m not fine with is arguments that invoke multiple universes, which have yet to even be discovered, to try to explain away the statistical evidence for design in our universe. Such argument explain anything and everything and are therefore anti-science. That’s the problem.




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    • @george: George, it is Dr. Peter Woit who calls it rubbish, not me. I honestly don’t know. Furthermore, God is utterly incomprehensible to us humans, except as He reveals Himself to us. And He stepped into space-time and was incarnated in Jesus Christ. Jesus was God’s supreme revelation to us, and because of that revelation, we can know His mind – IT IS LOVE!

      Please understand – I have never claimed that nature can reveal the Christian gospel. The best evidence from nature can do is reveal an intelligent designer, which is close to Deism. But as I said, God has given us further revelation than this.

      I am not worried about evidence for other universes. Perhaps they do exist, but I fail to understand why you seem so certain they exist on the basis of such meager evidence. I’m not calling that evidence rubbish, but so far, it is meager. But I am not worried about them. However, I will state again – invoking hypothetical other universes to explain away design is a cop out. That is not scientific.




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  38. Bob Helm: Educated people who really desire intellectual honesty (especially young people) see through the facade of theistic evolution. Darwinism is probably compatible with Pantheism and even Deism, but it is not logically compatible with Biblical Christianity. Again – I am not a Biblical inerrantist, and I do not believe in the verbal inspiration of scripture.

    I appreciate that you hold strongly to views that I personally think antithetical to intellectual honesty. I do not at all condemn you for that. I am absolutely certain you hold these positions with conviction and certainty and can clearly mount a logical defence given your presuppositions. This approach obviously reflects your heritage and personal history. That you cannot see that to many of us Genesis is an extended monotheistic rewrite of the ancient creation account is not as you indicate a salvational issue and is no reason to condemn your literalist position.

    I do have issues with your implication that those that differ from you but remain within their faith tradition are intellectually dishonest a position that Clifford Goldstein also champions. The statement “Educated people who really desire intellectual honesty will see through the facade of theistic evolution” to me smacks of hubris and is not at all what I find in reality when literalists actually encounter real data. How many fundamentalist pursing graduate studies do you know who have remained fundamentalists in the face of data? Unfortunately the monolithic structure of fundamentalism with its attitude that we know it all and you cannot change anything in our platform or you must be intellectually honest and reject all faith leads naturally to Sean’s statement;

    “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” (http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-18717).




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    • @pauluc: Paul, I want to assure you that I do not know everything. I am sure I am mistaken about certain things, and I have changed my mind on over the years, when I have seen good reason to do so. However, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water either, and I truly see what I consider very good evidence for an ID/creationist position. However, you are correct – our positions are often determined by our presuppositions. And yet I can honestly say that I have tried to develop my presuppositions on the basis of valid evidence. I honestly believe that Jesus Christ was and is who He said He was, and I believe that all reality in the universe finds its focus in Him.

      I didn’t mean to show hubris in the statement I made about intellectual dishonesty. Sorry if I came across that way! Actually, that thought did not originate with me. It originated with Richard Dawkins! Richard Dawkins has real disdain for theistic evolutionists because he believes that evolution logically requires atheism, and therefore, theistic evolutionists are being dishonest.

      I am not condemning you in what I am about to say, but with Clifford Goldstein, I must say that I have a hard time understanding a desire to embrace both Seventh-day Adventism and Darwinian evolution, because I consider them completely antithetical. Historically, Seventh-day Adventists have held that they were raised up by the Holy Spirit to combat Darwinism. In fact, Seventh-day Adventists believe they have a divine mandate to combat Darwinism. I guess I fail to understand the desire to be a part of a denomination that champions creationism so strongly when there are other denominations out there that are open to Darwinism. Please understand, I’m not telling you what to do with your church membership, and I am not judging you. If you truly love Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you are my brother in Christ, despite our differences! But trying to embrace both Darwinism and Adventism sort of strikes me like a Jew wanting to be a member of the Nazi Party. It doesn’t make sense to me. Furthermore, I left a liberal, Darwinian denomination to become an Adventist because I wanted to get away from it. And there are many other Adventists who feel the same way. We don’t want to be driven out of our church again!

      You ask me, “how many fundamentalists pursuing graduate studies do you know who have remained fundamentalists in the face of data?” Well as I already told you, as an Adventist, I prefer to call myself evangelical rather than fundamentalist, because I do not believe in Biblical inerrancy. But I have two masters degrees myself – one from an Adventist institution and another from a non-Adventist institution, and I have remained a conservative, Bible-believing Christian. Furthermore, I know many others who have done the same. There are many highly educated Seventh-day Adventist Christians who are convinced creationists, and that includes those who are educated in the sciences. For example, consider Dr. Ben Carson. He went through undergraduate studies at Yale and also through medical school, and he is a convinced creationist. The same holds true for Dr. Ariel Roth. And outside of Adventism, there is Dr. John Sanford, who for many years was a renowned biology professor at Cornell University. He is a convinced creationist. Paul, a lot of us have gone through graduate school, and our faith (which is based on evidence) has grown stronger, not weaker. That was certainly my experience. And there are more highly educated creationists out there than you seem to realize.




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  39. Bob Helm: I respect the peer review process and see its value. However, as wikipedia points out, it was easier to get controversial findings published in the past than it is today

    Interesting the way we read the same wiki text. It is not specifically stated that controversial finding were easier to publish in the past and gives one anecdote on which to base that conclusion. It is perhaps at best implied but the peer review process is described and is fairly critiqued and like any wiki includes pros and cons for the process. You are correct in that it is low on pros but certainly does not give any alternative except to indicate some of the processes that are being tried in the evolution of this process.

    I am happy for you to go outside the peer reviewed literature if you also allow me the latitude to consider the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, Maccabees , Enoch and Bel and the dragon as useful or canonical for understanding and arguing Christianity.




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    • A scientific idea is based on a method of evaluation of new ideas – regardless of who else may or may not agree. It is for this reason that Einstein dismissed the published argments of over 100 scientists with the argument that it doesn’t matter what the majority of scientists may think. All that matters if if they have just one fact that undermines the theory. If you cannot evaluate an idea on its own merits, regardless of who else may or may not agree with you, or where it has or hasn’t been published, you’re simply not capable of thinking critically, scientifically, on your own – independent of the opinions of others.




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    • @pauluc: I’m not sure why you are posting this because I thought we were finally understanding each other in regard to the peer reviewed literature and were pretty much in agreement.




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      • It may be because you said that peer review, while it may be important, does not define science. Paul’s point is that if its not published in some mainstream peer-reviewed journal, its not science – as he defines science. In other words, Paul is arguing that real science cannot be done on an individual level.




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        • @Sean Pitman: Yes, I think science can be done on an individual level, and I don’t think a person must necessarily have advanced degrees to be a genuine scientist. Michael Faraday never attended college; he was self taught. The same holds true for the present-day evolutionist and paleo-anthropologist, Richard Leakey. However, I do understand Paul’s concern with so-called science that is reported on youtube and in the popular press. Some of it is certainly valid, but a lot of it is also fake, and there is no scholarly way to verify it. I have seen some things on youtube that claim to be science, but they are on the level of National Enquirer articles. The popular press and youtube may be interesting, but they are not where we should seek out serious scholarship in natural science or in any other field of knowledge.




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        • In general this is true, but it is also possible that someone presents very compelling evidence, in a youtube video or even the popular press, that is testable and potentially falsifiable and is in fact a real scientific discovery.

          There’s was a popular TV show called “Myth Busters” where many of these YouTube myths were put to the test. While many of them turned out to be fabrications or myths, a few of them turned out to be valid.

          Again, the hypothesis or theory should stand on its own – regardless of where it happens to be published.




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  40. Sean, I think I’m beginning to grasp why we have a hard time understanding the position of people like Paul Cameron. He defines his faith as a right brain activity. In contrast, for most Seventh-day Adventists, faith is primarily a left brain activity. Yes, we recognize that there are true mysteries in Christianity, but historically, we have put a premium on correct doctrine and discerning truth – which involve the left brain. Not everyone approaches Christianity this way. There are those who approach Christianity purely from the standpoint of warm feelings and a subjective sense of beauty. These people tend toward existentialism. They don’t care whether there is obective evidence for Christianity, as long as they have that sense of a present, subjective encounter. Perhaps I am not describing Paul’s faith in the correct way, and if so, I apologize. But that’s the sense I get. In contrast, most Seventh-day Adventists appreciate warm feelings, but we want something more. We also want objective truth.




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    • Yes, I think that’s a big part of it. Paul has himself described my position as a “left-brained” reductionist position and that his position on faith is more “right brained”. I also think that this difference in our understading if faith is largely resonsible for our differences in our understanding of science. I think Paul approaches science in a very similar way to how he defines his faith. The evidence doesn’t have to be there for him to accept certain claims of popular science – which explains his appeal to future discoveries to support what may currently be lacking in neo-Darwinism and the creative powers of mindless natural mechanisms in general.




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  41. Bob Helm: In contrast, for most Seventh-day Adventists, faith is primarily a left brain activity. Yes, we recognize that there are true mysteries in Christianity, but historically, we have put a premium on correct doctrine and discerning truth – which involve the left brain. Not everyone approaches Christianity this way. There are those who approach Christianity purely from the standpoint of warm feelings and a subjective sense of beauty. These people tend toward existentialism. They don’t care whether there is obective evidence for Christianity, as long as they have that sense of a present, subjective encounter. Perhaps I am not describing Paul’s faith in the correct way, and if so, I apologize. But that’s the sense I get. In contrast, most Seventh-day Adventists appreciate warm feelings, but we want something more. We also want objective truth.

    I am happy to have you disagree with me since without diversity there is no ability to change. I do however feel compelled against my better judgement to offer a couple of parting comments.

    1] I have read every word you have written here and have tried to understand how and why you and Sean think as you do. I appreciate that you are educated in theology to masters level I suspect at Andrews and now have a pastoral role in Indiana.

    2] If you had read what I have written here in the past you will know that my concern are not that there is diversity of opinion or that some people have fundamentalist perspective but that militant actions flows from a dualism that sees self as entirely and absolutely right and the other as the devil incarnate. This site is harmless as long as it restricts itself to intercine argument on the esoteric. As I have said before this site is dedicated to rabble rousing to attacking heretical science at La Sierra and beyond. I still do not know if you support this. Do you?

    3] For more than 35 years I have been funded mostly through peer reviewed grants to pursue various aspects of medical science including research and teaching. I am clearly committed to the proper conduct of science and have formed some opinions of what science is and is not. Having that commitment unfortunately I find it difficult to not respond to what I think is misinformation and denigration of a process I see as both utilitarian and intellectually stimulating.

    4] I have no issues with my Christianity and science precisely because I understand science as a very restricted process of understanding the natural world by natural process or methodological naturalism, what in earlier times was considered natural law. I do not accept that there is nothing beyond the natural precisely because I do not accept that science is defined simply as a process of logical thought and a scientific hypothesis testing approach to life. To reiterate yet again it is method that accepts only natural process, that accepts hypothesis driven experimentation and accept that it must be documented in the literature of science. My 3 criteria of science are articulated precisely to avoid the drift into philosophical naturalism which Sean accepts as inevitable and attempts to avoid by redefining cause and expanding the method to include even logical problem solving by children and accepting that there is no need to build any defined body of knowledge whatever you subjectively think based on logic is science. This fuzziness in definition allows the divine to be part of science but it also allows it, nay almost compels it to be defined, judged and rejected by science.

    But where does this empirical “scientific” approach to religion and everything lead? Sean is absolutely logically sound in working from his premise of science to the inevitably Provine rejection of any God worth having and his own declaration;

    “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” (http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/comment-page-1/#comment-18717).

    Are you really happy to preach this message to your parishioners?

    5] What actually happens when this empiricism is honestly applied to religion? You will know that the late 19th century saw an objective “scientific” analysis of scripture in the form of higher criticism or historical criticism. Whatever you my think of it, it has changed the way sacred texts are viewed. Christianity responded with fundamentalism which tried to stuff the genie back in the bottle by simply assuming a priori that the bible was the word of God and was inerrant in its original autograph. One alternative which I find much more compelling was the neo-orthodox tradition that admitted that historical and textual criticism were quite valid but that God had revealed Himself in the person of the incarnate Jesus who we can understand through the community of faith and the scripture the word of God delivered by human hands and revealing the prejudices and understandings of the original writers. Adventism as you know has rejected historical criticism but has not been comfortable with either fundamentalism or neo-orthodoxy. One denies reality the other is too woolly and lacking in scientific precision to clearly define truth. Adventism together with evangelicals is somewhere in the middle denying the validity of higher criticism and uncomfortably asserting a very utilitarian position that admits the scripture contains a few errors but is infallible for salvation without admitting its vulnerability to a robust scientific criticism.

    6] Where does intelligent design creationism fall into this landscape. I like most scientists do not see it as having any value in contemporary science. Ignorance is an important driver to science which is quite happy to admit we do not have a scientific explanation either because there are questions that cannot be addressed by science or for which the experiments have not been done. Science says this is our method which includes methodological naturalism. It has given us the basis for all the goods we enjoy. if this method cannot be applied it is not part of science. It says we will continue to use this method to explore the vast areas of ignorance. Contrary to Sean’s assertion neither I nor science assert that it will solve everything in the future but I would certainly assert I will continue to apply this method.

    ID wants to answer every question with an assertion that if we dont have natural mechanism or if we can construct based on our incomplete models and knowledge a statistical improbability then there must a designer be.
    It is simply the teleological thinking of Paley and does not have any impact on the conduct of science. At worst it muddies the waters and denies the accepted basis of science which is methodical naturalism or natural law. As a religious movement it places undue scientific and logical constraints on the performance of religion. Introducing science to religion as I have said before is a bad thing.

    I can do no better in defending a sensible science and religion than quoting Jonathon Sacks.

    “Science fulfils three functions that I see as central to the Abrahamic faith. It diminishes human ignorance. It increases human power. And it exemplifies that we are in God’s image. God wants us to know and understand. And he want us to exercise responsible freedom. And wants us to use the intellectual gifts he gave us. These are not reasons why scientists should become religious. They are reasons why religious people should respect scientists”

    “I have tried simply to show you that religious faith is not absurd, that it does not involve suspension of our critical facilities, that it does not and should not seek to inhibit the free pursuit of science, that it does not rest on contradiction and paradox, that it does not force us to accept suffering as God’s will for the world, and that it does not ask us to believe six impossible things before breakfast. It involves a mode of engagement with the world significantly different from that of science, but not incompatible with it. Least of all it does not presume to tell scientists when they are right and when they are wrong. That is a scientific enterprise to be performed by scientific methodologies.”
    “I do not regard atheism as an untenable stance toward the world. I have known some of the great atheists of our time, admired them deeply and – as I hope I have shown in one or two places in this book- learned much from them, not least about religion itself. We disagreed, but I would not wish to live in a world in which people did not disagree. Disagreement is how knowledge grows. Living with disagreement is how we grow.”
    The great partnership pg 292-293

    We need both religion and science. As he says Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.

    Thanks for responding

    Grace to your

    Paul




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    • Where does intelligent design creationism fall into this landscape. I like most scientists do not see it as having any value in contemporary science. Ignorance is an important driver to science which is quite happy to admit we do not have a scientific explanation either because there are questions that cannot be addressed by science or for which the experiments have not been done. Science says this is our method which includes methodological naturalism. It has given us the basis for all the goods we enjoy. if this method cannot be applied it is not part of science. It says we will continue to use this method to explore the vast areas of ignorance. Contrary to Sean’s assertion neither I nor science assert that it will solve everything in the future but I would certainly assert I will continue to apply this method.

      You did in fact say that, based on the past, you believe that future discoveries will continue to support your position that some mindless mechanism produced the diversity of all life on this planet – even if the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS proved to be limited to very low levels of functional complexity as I claim. You therefore reject a key element of science – i.e., the potential for falsifiability of your primary position. Your position is effectively immune from testing or even the potential of falsification because of your appeal to some as yet unknown future discovery.

      Also, how is it that children are able to learn about the world in which they live? Do they not form testable hypotheses? How would you describe their learning process? – if not by a form of scientific reasoning with which we all are born?

      ID wants to answer every question with an assertion that if we dont have natural mechanism or if we can construct based on our incomplete models and knowledge a statistical improbability then there must a designer be.

      If this is not the basis of SETI, what is? I ask you again, upon what basis do you yourself argue that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube is a “blindingly obvious artefact”? You’ve argued that this conclusion is based on “pattern recognition” – which is obviously not the case since other materials can produce the very same pattern via mindless mechanisms alone. How then do you know that the material of granite cannot produce this sort of pattern by a mindless natural mechanism? Certainly you weren’t born with this understanding – right?

      It is simply the teleological thinking of Paley and does not have any impact on the conduct of science.

      How is Peley’s argument any more teleologocal than SETI’s argument or your own argument that a highly symmetrical granite cube is a “blindingly obvious artefact”? You simply refuse to respond to such questions no matter how many times they are presented to you. Yet, you’re clearly being inconsistent here.

      We need both religion and science. As he says Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.

      Again, you’re not being consistent here. On the one hand you claim that certain things, like highly symmetrical granite cubes, are “blindingly obvious artefacts” of intelligent design while other things, like any biomachine within a living thing, is clearly the result of some mindless natural mechanism – even if that mechanism has yet to be disocovered. This seems to me to be a philosophical position that is far beyond even methodological naturalism as it is applied in other fields of science. At the very least, try to be consistent in your application of your own scientific arguments.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • Scientific Naturalism
      Scientific Naturalism is the view that the universe, its characteristics, and its behaviors are to be investigated and understood in purely naturalistic terms. Everything that exists and everything that occurs is part of the natural universe and is subject to examination. Scientific Naturalism assumes that the universe is a closed system where all events occur for naturalistic reasons, and that there cannot be anything or anyone from outside that system which acts upon it. Therefore, Scientific Naturalism excludes the possibility of the supernatural and God as an explanation for any phenomena.

      Scientific naturalism is really an ideology over the entire intellectual framework of inquiry. It actively tries to suppress any opposing POV and in this sense it is a sin against the intellect.

      John Angus Campbell

      In a recent court case involving the right of the ICR Graduate School to teach science from a Biblical perspective, a physics professor from California State University at Long Beach testified that if Isaac Newton were on the school’s faculty today, his position on creation would prevent the school from being recognized by the State of California. This professor objected to statements such as the following in Mathematica Principia where Newton said:

      “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all, and on account of His dominion He is wont to be called Lord God, Universal Ruler.”.1
      When questioned how this professor could make such a statement about one who is recognized as possibly the greatest scientist who ever lived, he replied that if Isaac Newton persisted in maintaining a creationist position as he did in Mathematica Principia, knowing what we know today, he would not be recognized as a credible scientist.2
      http://www.icr.org/article/422/




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    • @pauluc: Thank you for your kindly worded and thoughtful post. Thanks also for reading what I have written and trying to understand it. I’m not one talk a lot about my education, but I have two master’s degrees and have completed most of the class work for the Ph.D. I never finished it because my wife was very much wanting to settle down and start raising a family. But honestly, gaining knowledge counts a lot more with me than having letters behind my name.

      Regarding the controversy at La Sierra University, I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm. Traditionally, this is how natural science, especially biology, has been treated in Adventist institutions of higher learning. It is a serious concern to me that certain professors at LSU have refused to present both sides of this issue and have strictly advocated evolution. I hope changing the department head for biology is a first step toward a more balanced position on origins. I understand that the new department head is a creationist.

      With regard to neo-orthodoxy, I like its grace-centered approach, at least as it was formulated by Barth. However, I believe that neo-orthodoxy has a deficient view of scripture. In accepting the modernistic view of scripture, it pulls the rug out from under biblical inspiration and evidence for Christianity, especially as it is revealed in the prophecies. Consequently, neo-orthodoxy posits a blind leap of faith. I’m glad Barth and his disciples were willing to make this leap of faith, but once again, neo-orthodoxy brings us back to the problem of blind faith and fideism, which is not the New Testament position. With that said, I am willing to make a very cautious use of the techniques of higher criticism, while rejecting its naturalistic presuppositions. For example, discussion of the synoptic problem certainly involves source criticism. Regarding the Pentateuch, I believe the bulk of it was written by Moses, but I also believe that it was subsequently redacted. I hope you notice what I have just written, because my cautious use of higher criticism is another indicator that I am not a fundamentalist. In summary, my view of scripture is more conservative than neo-orthodoxy, but not as conservative as fundamentalism.

      You asked me about my take on Sean’s statement that he would completely leave Christianity if he became convinced that life had been on earth for hundreds of millions of years. Were I to come to that conclusion, I’m not sure what direction I would take because I find Bible prophecy, especially messianic prophecy, to be an extremely powerful argument in favor of Christianity. About 23 years ago, I embarked on a serious study of scientific evidence, particularly geological evidence,to try to determine where I stood on issues related to origins. This included taking a number of college geology courses, quite a bit of independent reading, and actually getting out in nature and looking at the evidence, as Louis Agassiz suggested when he said, “Study nature, not books.” My study of field evidence has taken me to the Grand Canyon, to Petrified Forest National Park, to the Grand Coulee, to the Two Creeks Formation on the shore of Lake Michigan, and to a number of other North American geological sites. Early on, I actually gave some consideration to affirming progressive creationism if I felt the data pointed strongly to long ages for life on earth. However, as I read progressive creationist authors, I concluded that their paradigm was not carefully thought through. For example, progressive creationism has no real explanation for the the order in the fossil record from invertebrates up to mammals and birds. Also, I was not very attracted to a strict young earth form of creationism (YEC) because there does seem to be considerable evidence for an ancient universe and solar system. Eventually, I settled on young life creationism (YLC) because it does a good job of explaining the scientific data and also because it dovetails nicely with careful exegesis of Genesis 1 and other pertinent scriptures. Unlike the YEC position, YLC does not require a complete rewrite of science. It merely questions Lyellian uniformitarianism and Neo-Darwinian macro-evolution, and I honestly see good scientific reasons to question those theories. YLC also affirms some value in the radiometric dating of the rocks. In summary, I find it an attractive position that provides a good explanation of data and that can provide many questions for further research.




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      • @Bob Helm: The signal to noise is way too low here but I would be interested in continuing dialog off this site. You can find my email address in the usual places. Do a pubmed search for me and you will find my email address in the address for correspondence section.




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  42. @ Dr. Pitman

    “I’m fine with the existence of other universes or the potential evidence of such.”

    We are in accord on this point. Would you agree that there is in fact potential evidence of other universes?




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  43. “I’m fine with the existence of other universes or the potential evidence of such.”

    Good, because the evidence of same may hold keys for the origins of our universe.

    Hooray for unbiased science that will continue to look for the objective truth, independent of left brain/right brain distinctions.

    Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in? Your weight of the evidence, as an apologetic, makes your criticism of Pauluc’s approach of science transparent, self serving rhetoric.




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    • As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood. These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column. Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.




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      • Sean Pitman: As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood. These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column. Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.

        Bob

        You are a very sensible man. Do you really want this sort of circumloquatious nonsense taught as Adventist scientific orthodoxy at LSU? Perhaps we are all fatigued (I know I am) and this is not really Seans finest and most cogent argument but as stated this is certainly the sort of tortured logic that elevates natural everyday events to cosmic struggles, confuses the divine with the mortal and sufficiently disconnects people from reality to effect the scenario of large gravity defying devices impacting habitable large urban structures.




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        • You must be feeling quite fatigued indeed 😉

          Since when is the evolution of anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity or a Noachian style Flood or the formation of the fossil record “everyday events”? And, how is your own appeal to discoveries at some unknown time in the future to explain complex biomachines, by some as yet unknown mindless mechanism, somehow rational or “scientific” by any definition of the term? You place a lot of emphasis on the ability of living things to reproduce, but fail to explain how natural selection can actually act as a creative force beyond very low levels of functional complexity – but you’re sure that it, or some other miraculous “emergent” mindless mechanism, is still responsible for all that we see in living things?

          Of course the claims of the Bible go beyond what can be supported by a study of nature alone. That much should be “blindingly obvious.” However, the claims of the Bible are not inconsistent with the evidence coming from the empirical world. True science and Scripture are complementary, not contradictory. They walk hand-in-hand, shedding light upon each other as both are studied – since they both have the same primary Author. If all the details described in the Bible could be determined through a study of nature alone, the Bible wouldn’t be needed as an additional revelation of historical events, the natural world, or God’s character and how he deals with mankind. However, the discovery that the weight of empirical evidence is consistent with the claims of the Bible adds credibility to the Bible and makes it rationally believable with regard to those elements or details that cannot be directly tested and verified. After all, why else would you give the Bible more credibility than the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? – or any other such religious text claiming to have a Divine origin?

          This seems to me to be the difference between your fideistic faith, which you claim cannot be affected by the weight of empirical evidence, vs. the faith of the writers of the Bible itself who claimed that their faith stood upon the solid weight of empirical evidence.




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        • @pauluc: Paul, what you regard as “circumloquatious nonsense,” I regard as very reasonable. And while you seem to regard Neo-Darwinism as very reasonable, I tend to concur with Louis Agassiz that you are chasing a phantom. What you stated earlier is very true. We have the same data before us, but we view it through different glasses because our presuppositions are different.




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  44. I understand and appreciate that you have explained your position on recent creation before. Thank you.

    However what is at scientific issue is your extrapolation from recent to 6 day creation. What is the specific evidence for 6 day creation?

    So, if you cannot provide specific evidence for 6 day creation, but believe in it, how can you criticize Pauluc for the ‘evidence not having to be there’?

    Is that not a classic case of the pot calling kettle black?




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    • I did provide the evidence – empirical evidence. If you want direct proof of every detail described in the Bible, that’s not possible. The claims of the Bible go beyond the details which could be determined through a study of nature alone. However, the claims of the Bible are not inconsistent with the weight of empirical evidence… which is the basis of Biblical credibility.




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  45. @ Dr. Pitman

    “I did provide the evidence – empirical evidence. If you want direct proof of every detail described in the Bible, that’s not possible”

    But that is not the standard of proof you apply to macro evolution is it? No you apply a much higher standard calling it a just so story. Yet you refuse to label 6 day creation a just so story. And your escape clause?: the weight of the evidence. Yet, even though there is no doubt that the weight of the evidence, as accepted by the vast majority of the scientific community and peer reviewed literature in the world, supports macro evolution, you dismiss that standard saying show me by experiment how macro evolution works over vast eons ot time.

    Doctor, heal thyself or at least admit to your hypocritical double proof standard when it comes to 6 day creation vs. evolution.




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    • How do you know that some historical event, like the battle strategy of Alexander the Great at Issus in 333 B.C., actually happened as described? You know based on the credibility of the witness. How is credibility established? By testing those elements of the story that can actually be tested. If the testable elements of the claims of a witness hold true, the rest of the story of the witness which cannot be directly tested gains credibility.

      So, here we have two opposing witnesses: the Bible vs. the claims of mainstream scientists.

      Which story is more credible?

      As far as I can tell, the difference is that the weight of evidence is completely contrary to the opinions of mainstream scientists when it comes to the Darwinian mechanism. Darwinian scientists have no basis at all for asserting that the Darwinian mechanism is able to do what they claim it did – beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. The extrapolation of low-level examples to higher levels of creative power is simply without any tenable basis. There simply isn’t any evidence, none at all, to counter the very clear statistical limitations to this mechanism.

      Compare this with the claims of the Bible that appear to me to be right in line with the actual weight of empirical evidence that is in hand. I see no significant contradiction here. That is why the Bible, rather than claims of mainstream scientists, gains superior credibility in my mind regarding those elements that cannot be directly tested in a falsifiable manner.

      I’m sorry, but the double standard seems to me to be with you and mainstream scientists who claim to be supported by science, while offering no rational, testable, empirically-based theories to back up that claim (i.e., no actual science).




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    • @george: George, when Louis Pateur proposed the germ theory of disease, the overwhelming scientific consensus was against it. But the evidence was on Pasteur’s side. Scientific consensus means very little in the absence of good evidence.




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  46. Bob Helm: We have the same data before us, but we view it through different glasses because our presuppositions are different.

    Do you really know what you are signing on for with your acceptance or acquiescence to Seans views on scientific evidence or data which I described as non-sense?

    GEORGE “Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in?”

    SEAN “As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible”

    So according to this any scientific evidence for the reality of a 6 day creation is based on the credibility of the Bible.

    Further
    “…and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood.”

    I am now confused don’t the evidences for these evidences rest on the credibility of the Bible?

    What exactly are the testing procedure for the credibility of the bible if no historical criticism can be allowed?

    Beyond that there are no cogent models of either the young life or the flood. Both of these have been rejected by the conventional science because there is no objective evidence for them short of religious assertion. Simple things like the Grand canyon as an evidence of a universal flood are rejected by geology. It is hard to conceive of how large eolian sandstone deposits (Coconino) could be placed within layers of clearly sedimentary deposits within a single flood.

    “These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.”

    How exactly without critiquing the Bible which is viewed a source of scientific evidence or of proposing testable hypotheses?

    “And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column.”

    Now we get to it. Opinion can now be part of the “weight of evidence” which fits entirely with the Pitman model of science where personal anecdote is equivalent to the literature of science if it is based on some scientific process of personal hypothesis testing and conviction based on that method independent of any repository of knowledge, expertise or consensus.

    “Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.”

    So now we have the completion of the circular argument. The evidence for the features of nature that support the fiat creation and the flood is the bible account and this evidence shows the credibility of the Bible and its account of the events.

    Bob you have stated earlier;

    “I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm.”

    If you accept the Pitman doctrine of science you will not only have to teach students about ID/creation and how “data can fit into this paradigm” but you will have to revise you ideas about data and will have to teach an entirely new way of understanding “weight of evidence” or data as being not just the peer reviewed literature of science but every hypothesis testing analysis, anecdote and piece of religious writing based on the Bible. Some in ID have accepted that as you will find if you look at what S Schiller has written in the thread on the blindingly obvious”. You will need to teach both theistic science; the science which is required to sustain ID arguments as Sean has done here and conventional science as it has been done for many many years which assumes only natural process a particular method of science and an accepted repository of scientific knowledge. The repository of knowledge that is the basis of modern western technology and medicine beloved and embrace by almost all students.

    Do you want students to be taught these 2 methods of science and allowed to arbitrary choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?




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    • Do you really know what you are signing on for with your acceptance or acquiescence to Seans views on scientific evidence or data which I described as non-sense?

      GEORGE “Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in?”

      SEAN “As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible”

      So according to this any scientific evidence for the reality of a 6 day creation is based on the credibility of the Bible.

      The same is true of the credibility for any historical claim by anyone. A rational belief that something happened in history as described by some historian, such as Josephus for instance, is entirely based on the established credibility of the author (given that the event itself cannot be directly evaluated). How then is credibility established?

      Further

      “…and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood.”

      I am now confused – don’t the evidences for these evidences rest on the credibility of the Bible?

      No. These Biblical claims are open to testing and potential falsification by comparing these claims with the evidences we have in the natural world. In other words, is there actual evidence of a recent world-wide Noachian-style Flood? Is there evidence of mass worldwide extinctions as a result of this Flood? Is there evidence for a recent arrival of all life on this planet? If the evidences are consistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible gains credibility. If they are inconsistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible loses credibility. It’s quite a simple and rational concept and it is used all the time.

      As an example, consider the claims of the Book of Mormon regarding the origin of the American Indians as being one of the “lost tribes of Israel”. This claim can be tested, genetically, to see if it’s true. Clearly, this claim is effectively falsified. And therefore, for the rational person, this falsification of a key claim from the Book of Mormon significantly undermines its credibility with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested.

      What exactly are the testing procedure for the credibility of the bible if no historical criticism can be allowed?

      Who said no historical criticism can be allowed? Historical criticism is perfectly fine – as long as it can be empirically supported with the weight of evidence. So far, however, Biblical critics have been on the losing end so many times its hardly worth counting. The Bible has be vindicated over and over and over again in the face of the “higher critics”… only adding further to its credibility.

      Beyond that there are no cogent models of either the young life or the flood. Both of these have been rejected by the conventional science because there is no objective evidence for them short of religious assertion. Simple things like the Grand canyon as an evidence of a universal flood are rejected by geology. It is hard to conceive of how large eolian sandstone deposits (Coconino) could be placed within layers of clearly sedimentary deposits within a single flood.

      The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed by the Flood. It was formed after the Flood by the catastrophic failure of a large inland lake and then subsequently by catastrophic failures of lava dams that suddenly released huge volumes of water.

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Erosion
      http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Alternative

      As far as the Coconino sandstone is concerned, there is good evidence that it was catastrophically deposited by water. It simply does not represent a desert or “eolian” environment at all.

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Coconino

      “These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.”

      How exactly without critiquing the Bible which is viewed a source of scientific evidence or of proposing testable hypotheses?

      The Bible should be critiqued in a critical manner before accepting it as credible regarding anything it has to say about history or God or other metaphysical “truths”. Fideistic faith, without any ability for testing or potential falsification, is worthless if one wishes to move beyond wishful thinking and a personal fantasy world.

      “And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column.”

      Now we get to it. Opinion can now be part of the “weight of evidence” which fits entirely with the Pitman model of science where personal anecdote is equivalent to the literature of science if it is based on some scientific process of personal hypothesis testing and conviction based on that method independent of any repository of knowledge, expertise or consensus.

      Again, you defined “science” as the consensus of experts. That means, does it not, that it is impossible for anyone to come to any rational conclusion, via scientific methodologies of any kind, which are opposed to the consensus of mainstream scientists? If this really is your position, you just removed many famous scientists, who personally opposed the consensus of experts of their own day, from the realm of science.

      Consensus means nothing if it is opposed to the clear weight of evidence – evidence which can be and often has been discovered by a single individual.

      “Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.”

      So now we have the completion of the circular argument. The evidence for the features of nature that support the fiat creation and the flood is the bible account and this evidence shows the credibility of the Bible and its account of the events.

      The argument is not “circular” at all. Credibility is established by independent evidence, outside of the source itself. Once established, it is perfectly reasonable to cite the source as being most likely accurate with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested. Tell me, why do you believe in the truth of the historical claim for the what happened during the Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III in 333 B.C.?

      Bob you have stated earlier;

      “I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm.”

      If you accept the Pitman doctrine of science you will not only have to teach students about ID/creation and how “data can fit into this paradigm” but you will have to revise you ideas about data and will have to teach an entirely new way of understanding “weight of evidence” or data as being not just the peer reviewed literature of science but every hypothesis testing analysis, anecdote and piece of religious writing based on the Bible. Some in ID have accepted that as you will find if you look at what S Schiller has written in the thread on the blindingly obvious”. You will need to teach both theistic science; the science which is required to sustain ID arguments as Sean has done here and conventional science as it has been done for many many years which assumes only natural process a particular method of science and an accepted repository of scientific knowledge. The repository of knowledge that is the basis of modern western technology and medicine beloved and embrace by almost all students.

      Do you want students to be taught these 2 methods of science and allowed to arbitrary choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?

      If you do not teach the rational basis for why the church disagrees with mainstream scientists, you undermine the very reason for having a church school – rather than yet another secular university promoting the philosophical Darwinian dogma.

      Again, Darwinism isn’t science, but philosophy. The weight of actual empirical evidence in hand is completely opposed to the notion that random mutations and natural selection can create anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity – even if trillions of years of time were available. Your argument that some future discovery will come along to explain how it all happened via some mindless mechanism isn’t scientific either – it is a religious or philosophical argument that is based on wishful thinking, not the current weight of evidence that is actually in hand.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @pauluc: I don’t need to respond to the bulk of your post because Sean has already answered it as I would. However, I will answer your final question:

      “Do you want students to be taught these two methods of science and allowed to arbitrary (sic) choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?”

      Paul, I say this kindly, but you have finally let the cat out of the bag. You don’t trust young people to think for themselves. It seems that instead, you prefer to do their thinking for them and indoctrinate them!




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  47. Bob Helm: Scientific consensus means very little in the absence of good evidence.

    Indeed and you will need to define what you mean by evidence. This science have done clearly and unequivocally. Free thinking and progress in science assumes certain things as Pasteur articulated in 1874;

    “I know that the word free thinker is written somewhere within our walls as a challenge and an affront. Do you know what most of the free thinkers want? Some want the freedom not to think at all and to be fettered by ignorance; others want the freedom to think badly; and others still, the freedom to be dominated by what is suggested to them by instinct and to despise all authority and all tradition. Freedom of thought in the Cartesian sense, freedom to work hard, freedom to pursue research, the right to arrive at such truth as is accessible to evidence and to conform one’s conduct to these exigencies–oh! let us vow a cult to this freedom; for this is what has created modern society in its highest and most fruitful aspects.”




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  48. @ Bob

    Glad you are talking about evidence. What is the specific evidence for 6 day creation? That is after all the counter argument to evolution right? Dr Pitman has admitted he doesn’t know any such specific evidence. Yourself?




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    • What do you mean by “specific evidence”? What is your specific evidence for the battle plan of Alexander the Great at Issus in 333 B.C.? – or that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address? It’s all based on the credibility of the witnesses…




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    • @george:
      George,

      I doubt that evidence for a 6 day creation will ever be adduced from natural science. As Sean has stated, evidence for a 6 day creation is much like evidence for the existence of George Washington; it depends on the credibility of witnesses. However, since holy scripture has proved reliable in so many other areas, like prophecy and archaeology, I see no reason to reject its testimony regarding the 6 day creation of the earth’s biosphere.

      However, it is theoretically possible to adduce evidence from natural science for a short chronology for the earth’s biology. If it can be shown that most of the Phanerozoic portion of the earth’s geologic column was laid down recently in one massive catastrophe, then the Lyellian idea of life existing over millions of years has been falsified.




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  49. @Bob

    Have you ever read how much resistance Darwin faced when Origin of Species was first published? Many of the scientific establishment opposed him. In fact I have read that natural selection did not become a centerpiece of modern evolutionary biology until the 1930’s and 1940’s.

    Darwin, like Pasteur has stood the test of time, notwithstanding the lack of initial scientific consensus. Who knows, perhaps one day YEC or YLC may ascend to the scientific pantheon? Have to find evidence for 6 day creation and how biodiversity emanated from the Ark though 🙂
    Until then, I’m afraid they are just so stories.




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    • Darwin, like Pasteur has stood the test of time…

      This is like saying that any religion, like Mormonism for instance, has stood the test of time. That doesn’t make it correct. It also doesn’t make it scientific – just because it remains popular.

      The real questions remain unanswered – such as how the Darwinian mechanism is supposed to work. You have no idea – and neither does anyone else. That is why Darwinism is truly just-so story telling – inconsistent with the evidence that we have in hand today.

      The claims of the Bible, on the other hand, remain consistent with the weight of evidence we have in hand – adding to Biblical credibility.




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    • @george:
      George,

      The resistance that Darwin encountered has been greatly overplayed. The fact is that much of the scientific community and also many theologians quickly embraced Darwin’s theory. What is more, it was embraced with very little evidence, and then people went out looking for evidence – and, of course, they found what they were looking for! Unfortunately, this endeavor turns the scientific method on its head.

      Eugene Dubois is a classic example of this. His mentor, Ernst Haeckel, was an ardent Darwinist, and he insisted that there was once an ape-man, which he dubbed “Pithecanthropus.” So Dubois traveled to Java in search of this new genus, and after finding a portion of a cranium and a femur, he loudly proclaimed that Pithecanthropus had been discovered. Well today, it is recognized that Dubois’ discovery was not a separate genus; he had discovered some skeletal remains of what is usually called Homo erectus – much like a Neandertal, but with a somewhat smaller brain – though still within the size range of modern human brains.

      Clearly, Dubois convinced himself that he had found what he was looking for. And this scenario has been repeated over and over again. Sadly, it is plainly contrary to the scientific method, and it is what Louis Agassiz was talking about when he stated that Darwin and his disciples were chasing a phantom. And even though Agassiz and Darwin have both been in their graves for well over a century, the chase continues.

      Yes, you are correct that Darwin’s system has stood the test of time, but not like Pasteur. Darwin has stood the test of time like Ptolemy’s geocentrism stood the test of time for many centuries – by constant ad hoc changes and manipulation to prop it up. Isn’t 154 years a long time for all this? Why not break out of the box and subvert the dominant paradigm?




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  50. George, I would add that what took center stage in the 1930s and 1940s was Neo-Darwinism – the belief that natural selection does its work on random mutations to produce the earth’s biology. This was simply another tweak to manipulate the system.




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  51. Bob Helm:
    George, I would add that what took center stage in the 1930s and 1940s was Neo-Darwinism – the belief that natural selection does its work on random mutations to produce the earth’s biology.This was simply another tweak to manipulate the system.

    Much like the quantum tweak to Newtonian mechanics




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    • Except that the Neo-Darwinian “tweak” has no basis in actual evidence beyond very very low levels of functional complexity and is completely at odds with the known statistical limitations to this mechanism within higher levels of sequence space.




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      • I wouldn’t say that mathematics is “foolproof” since the correlation between mathematics and the real world is still based on testable hypotheses that can be falsified. What I would say is that quantum theory is based on actual evidence which can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. The Neo-Darwinian claims regarding the creative power of random mutations and natural selection cannot be tested in a falsifiable manner – at least not beyond very very low levels of functional complexity.




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  52. Bob Helm: Paul, I say this kindly, but you have finally let the cat out of the bag. You don’t trust young people to think for themselves. It seems that instead, you prefer to do their thinking for them and indoctrinate them!

    No at all Bob but I would be very happy for you to introduce into science a completely new basis for science; theistic science which says that all religious understanding is actually part of the evidentiary base of science when you admit to a desire to introduce into theology the premises and conclusions of the Jesus seminar as the basis for proper Christian theology.

    Like Adventist theology we have a particular tradition of science. The scientific process which has accepted that the basis of all science is natural process and methodological naturalism.
    Just so in theology we accept the traditional canon and accept that theology cannot be done by consideration of that canonical literature as arbitrary selection from a literature that is simply the writings of Christians repeating hearsay about Jesus.

    Is that what you want to do? Teach the controversy? Perhaps you can get the new atheists in to talk about the nature of Christianity and religion at LSU or Andrews in the interest of honesty and openness and to show your confidence in the students maturity. After all how can you not honestly give students all the options and allow them to select.
    How absurd. It goes against the very nature of didactic teaching from at least the time of Plato.

    Though I think you and Sean missed the implication of Pasteurs statement, he wished for a science that was free and independent of religious interference, that was based on the accepted tradition of science and the free enquiry that is the process of science. Though he was a religious man I do not at all think he was suggesting that reactionary anachronistic religious understandings such as you and Sean seem to be advocating were “what has created modern society in its highest and most fruitful aspects.”




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    • @pauluc: I find nothing reactionary or anachronistic about my views or those of Sean. May I remind you that Pasteur was well aware of Darwin’s ideas, but he also rejected them. Was he reactionary and anachronistic as well?

      Furthermore, there is another tradition in science besides methodological naturalism (MN), which you have already mentioned. I refer to the Newtonian tradition of science, which searches out God’s laws and attempts to think His thoughts after Him. I realize that the majority of modern scientists have sacked this tradition in favor of MN, but traditionally, the Newtonian tradition rather than MN has formed the basis for science education in Seventh-day Adventist institutions. I also suggest that modern science would be well served by a reconsideration of this tradition!




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    • @pauluc: “when you admit to a desire to introduce into theology the premises and conclusions of the Jesus seminar as the basis for proper Christian theology.”

      Paul, I am really puzzled as to where this idea came from. The Jesus Seminar denies both Jesus’ miracles and His bodily resurrection from the dead. It strikes me as warmed-over Bultmannianism, and I certainly do not promote it as the basis for proper Christian theology! I did mention that, along with my fellow creationist, Dr. Alden Thompson, I see a place for a very cautious use of higher criticism – without endorsing its presuppositions. But this is, in no sense, an affirmation of the Jesus Seminar, which I do not even regard as Christian.




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  53. Bob Helm: The resistance that Darwin encountered has been greatly overplayed. The fact is that much of the scientific community and also many theologians quickly embraced Darwin’s theory

    You are of course at least partially right. I do not know if you have read any of Ron Numbers history of creationism but you certainly should. Modern creationism and ID really depended on the rise of fundamentalism. At the time of Darwin natural theology and the 2 books was accepted as part of Christian belief. Newtons tradition of science as a process of discovering Gods laws or thinking Gods thoughts after Him remained dominant in a society and a scientific establishment that was predominantly Christian. The idea to which Sean gives lip service of science and the bible going hand in hand and revelations in nature being a basis for rereading the Christian canon largely attenuated criticism of a new understanding of biological origins.

    It required the rise of a reactionary fundamentalisms that says the biblical text in its original autograph as inerrant before a robust critique of science as completely subservient to a literal reading of the biblical and a literal creationism was established. Obviously Adventisms trajectory was in this as in other parts of its theology outside the traditional churches and followed a YEC that was largely oblivious to the progress of science and GMP is appropriately seen as one of the founding fathers of modern literal creationism.




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    • @pauluc: Yes Paul, I have read Ron Number’s book. Although slightly biased, it is a very good overview and history of the creationist movement. I must add that I strongly identify with the Newtonian tradition of science instead of with methodological naturalism. However, I do want to remind you that I and many other Adventists are YLC rather than YEC. I realize that both of these paradigms affirm the 6 literal days of creation and the world-wide flood, but in other ways, they are quite different and should not be lumped together. Furthermore, I am not
      oblivious to the progress of science, nor is Adventism in general. Unlike some fundamentalist denominations, Adventism, for the most part, appreciates the value of science – especially because science has a bearing on its medical missionary work.




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      • @Bob Helm:

        Do you agree with Numbers or not in seeing ID as a product of literal creationism? Clearly ID is not a monolithic belief and we have people at the DI like Behe who see ID within a context of evolution and at the other end literal creationist like Sean who see it as the scientific justification for discounting evolution. Where do you fit?

        Do you like Sean accept the earth as billions of year old only because the bible says so or because from the 18th century the geological sciences were providing evidence that the earth was very old?

        As far as I can see the piece about Azazel from Andrews seminary series 1994 is your work so I assume your views on YLC has been influenced by people like Younker and Davidson at Andrews.




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        • @pauluc: Paul, the Bible suggests that the earth existed in a chaotic state prior to creation week, but it doesn’t tell us for how long. Evidence from the sciences of astronomy and geology leads me to conclude that the earth as a planet is probably several billion years old and also that the ex nihilo creation of the universe (which Fred Hoyle insultingly called the big bang) probably occurred 13.7 billion years ago – as calculated from the Hubble Constant. However, I regard the designing of the earth’s biosphere as recent and as occurring in 6 literal days. I also believe that the Cambrian through the upper Cenozoic portion of the geologic column was laid down catastrophically in the Genesis Flood.

          The article on Azazel in AUSS was largely taken from my master’s thesis, “The Development Of The Azazel Tradition,” which was written as part of the requirement for the Master of Theology, which I completed at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY in 1992. That master’s thesis was intended as an extension of the ideas expressed in an earlier master’s thesis by Jerry Gladson. It also made some use of Richard Davidson’s ideas, but I don’t think Randy Younker even appears in the bibliography. My time at SBTS in the 1990s was interesting because at the time, that institution was transitioning from being liberal to being conservative. As a non-Baptist outsider, I thought it best not to get involved in the controversy, but it did allow me to be exposed to the arguments for both liberal and conservative theology.




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        • @pauluc: ID is not a monolithic concept. On one side of it, there are people like Behe, who affirm a very guided type of theistic evolution, and on the other side, people like Leonard Brand and Sean Pitman, who affirm YLC. I would also fall into the latter category, although my main training is in theology. Since ID is not monolithic, I think there would be some disagreement as to whether it is an outgrowth of creationism. Some strands of it probably are, while other strands probably are not.




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  54. @ Sean

    “What do you mean by “specific evidence”?”

    As scientifically specific as you require for proof of evolution beyond low levels of functional complexity. Otherwise you continue to apply a double standard for proof of origins. Darwin was not appealing to human witnesses but rather observations and testing of nature.




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    • Indeed, but the same principle applies. Do Darwin’s observations really match his theories? If not, the credibility of his theories is undermined. After all, if Darwin’s proposed mechanism simply doesn’t work beyond very low levels of functional complexity, that reality completely undermines his entire theory.




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    • @george: George, have you ever read “The Origin of Species?” Darwin’s research was excellent, but all of the evidence he cites falls into the category of micro-evolution. After reading the “Origin,” I find it ironic that as a creationist, I can endorse all of his research and about 75% of what he says in that book (and if his long age uniformitarianism is ignored, about 85%). The only things I fault in the “Origin” are the rampant Lyellism and Darwin’s great extrapolation, which proposed that all of the earth’s biology came into existence through natural selection working on small variations in plants and animals. Darwin was a good scientist, but like many 19th century intellectuals, he was overly optimistic and allowed his speculation to greatly exceed what he had documented through observation. If he had stuck with his observations and what the title of his book implies – the origin of new species via natural selection, but not the higher taxa – there would be no problem.




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  55. Bob Helm: Adventism, for the most part, appreciates the value of science – especially because science has a bearing on its medical missionary work.

    And to me this is one of the paradoxes of Adventism. As I have remarked many times before in discussion Gen 1 and Matt 17 Adventist medical work and its understanding of disease process is undoubtedly and unequivocally based on methodological naturalism but when it comes to other areas of science this process of science is disallowed. Such cognitive dissonance will eventually catch up and I am sure is not lost on smart young science students at Adventist institutions.




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    • @pauluc: There is no paradox, Paul. The modern understanding of disease can be derived just as readily from the Newtonian philosophy of science, as from methodological naturalism. In fact, MN harms modern science because it puts science in a straight jacket that will not allow certain deductions, no matter how powerful the evidence.




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        • @pauluc: I wondered if you would bring up alchemy. Just because Newton was wrong about alchemy, why try to slur him over it? Even though he was a great physicist, he was human, and he did make mistakes!




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        • @Bob Helm: As can all of us particularly when we think that our very existence depends on believing a certain way

          Newton had a lot of ideas beyond alchemy that would be considered heretical as you well know. Who would stick silver needles through his eye sockets to see what it did? How do you in the 21st century know which where right and which were wrong? I will stick with the process of science as a progressive process of understanding by methodological naturalism a product of his adherence to laws of nature and with a faith that has been progressively developed by the people of God over the last 2000 years.




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        • Again, even using concepts common to methodological naturalism alone, one cannot but help to discover “blindingly obvious” artefacts of intelligent design within various features of the natural world. Using the very same MN arguments SETI uses to search for artificial radio signals or anthropologists use to discover true artefacts within fragments of stone, one can discover clear artefacts of deliberate design within living things.

          Therefore, it isn’t methodological naturalism that causes you to fail to recognize these artefacts for what they really are. It is the secular philosophy held by most scientists that prevents you from these discoveries – for fear that any admission of intelligent design or creative intelligence at all, even on a natural level, will lead some to suggest that God might be responsible for even low-level artefacts of design. It is also your own inability to move beyond the status quo and take on your own ideas regardless of what may or may not be popular among most scientists that limits your ability to recognize the signature of God, or even some form of “natural intelligence,” in nature. You refuse to even consider the idea that God is perfectly capable of creating artefacts that we humans could also create, thereby making them detectable as true artefacts of creative intelligence via the use of even methodological naturalism.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Gene Fortner: There are a couple examples of evolution harming medicine that come to mind: 1) In the early 20th century, Darwinists branded many bodily organs as “vestigial,” including (gasp) the pituitary gland. 2) More recently, this whole process repeated itself when Darwinists branded non-coding DNA as “junk.” The findings of the ENCODE Project have demonstrated the fallacy of “junk DNA,” and this fallacy may have delayed the development of treatments for congenital diseases.




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  56. Bob Helm: Paul, I am really puzzled as to where this idea came from. The Jesus Seminar denies both Jesus’ miracles and His bodily resurrection from the dead. It strikes me as warmed-over Bultmannianism, and I certainly do not promote it as the basis for proper Christian theology!

    I regard the Jesus Seminar as the logical and honest extension of Sean’s call for Christian belief to be based only on empirical evidence and his denial of any fiedist basis for Christian belief.

    Seans approach escapes the conclusions of the Jesus Seminar because he rejects the conventions of science used by the Jesus seminar and redefines science so expansively as to include the bible as self-referential evidence for its own validity.




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    • @pauluc: Paul, Fiedism is an outgrowth of the 18th century Enlightenment and also the writings of Soren Kierkegaard, although I’m not sure the latter intended to go all the way in that direction. But it has never been accepted by historic Christianity. From the first century, Christian intellectuals (including the apostles) have made effective use of apologetics, which involves empirical evidence. Read some modern Christian apologists like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, or Josh McDowell, and you will see that this is the case. It was also the case with Christian apologists in the past, all the way back to the apostles. This has nothing to do with the Jesus Seminar!




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  57. @ Dr. Pitman

    “After all, if Darwin’s proposed mechanism simply doesn’t work beyond very low levels of functional complexity,”

    Looking forward to your theory gaining scientific acceptance beyond very low levels of YLC functional complexity 🙂




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  58. Bob Helm: MN harms modern science because it puts science in a straight jacket that will not allow certain deductions, no matter how powerful the evidence.

    Way too cryptic for me. Even one example would be helpful. Speaking of examples I am still waiting for the 5 examples of paradigm changes that were not published in the peer reviewed or presented by scientists before their peers. Or were you also wrong there.




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    • @pauluc: Well take the example of the big bang. Now I’m certainly not a physicist, but I think I can speak in very general terms about it. Many astrophysicists refuse to even consider the possibility that an intelligent designer was behind the big bang, even though so far, all naturalistic explanations for it have failed. Now I can see a problem for science if an ID explanation for the big bang ends all consideration of other hypotheses, but to simply reject an ID explanation a priori seems very closed minded. Of course, there have been been physicists like Don Page, Arno Penzias (who discovered the Cosmic Background Radiation), and Alan Sandage who have bucked MN and championed an ID explanation, but many others close their minds to this possibility. And the same thing holds true with many biologists when an ID hypothesis for life is considered. Again, I’m not suggesting that ID should stop research on a problem, but it should not be rejected a priori if the weight of evidence seems to point in that direction.




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      • @Bob Helm:
        This is where we disagree. You have rejected methodological naturalisms as a process of understanding religion (as have I) but want to retain or introduce religion into the process of science. You have not at all produced evidence that medical science nuclear physics telecommunications or biology would be any different if we had not has a the methodological naturalism we have at present. It is much better to have criteria for both our approach to science and religion and stick to them. This I will continue to do until it is clear that the basis of science has changed. I cannot at this stage see any justification to change the basis of science so any more than I can see that the Jesus seminar approach should be normative in religion and theology.




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        • This is not what Bob said. What Bob said and what I’ve been trying to say is that nothing should be ruled out, a priori, in either science or religion. Everything should be based on the weight of evidence regardless of where that evidence might lead…




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        • @pauluc: What Sean has stated is exactly what I am saying. Why not follow the scientific method and go where the evidence leads? Why confine the scientific method to the MN box? Furthermore, I have already mentioned how Darwinism (which is based on MN) has hurt the practice of medicine. Also, are you suggesting that physicists like Arno Penzias are not bona fide scientists because they believe the evidence indicates that the universe had an intelligent designer? Remember – Penzias received the Nobel prize in 1978 for his discovery. Should that be revoked because he accepts ID?




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  59. Bob Helm: this fallacy may have delayed the development of treatments for congenital diseases.

    You are absolutely reaching now. “May” indeed. Tell me the mendelian congenital disease for which treatments are now available? I need to get your statement into context.

    How to you think positional cloning was done? How do you think Francis Collins first identified and cloned the CFTR gene. How would the development of SNPs and association mapping of disease genes have progressed if there was no understanding of gene deserts or repetitive elements, retroviral insertion?

    If you had bothered to read the ENCODE papers you would see that they were contingent on and derivative of the preceding mapping of the human genome. That this could be done at anything like an affordable cost depended on the underlying technology; phage and BAC cloning, shotgun cloning, high throughput sequencing and supercomputers not on some abstract theory of function of junk DNA. What do you think Blue Gene was for?
    Arriving at an understanding of intergenic regions did not come and would not have come any earlier by arm-chair critics like Sean Pitman and Stephen Meyers proclaiming their teological message that God must have put it there for a purpose and how dumb must be those geneticist. It came because of the standard methodological naturalistic approach of conventional molecular biology and genetics.

    This is almost as revisionist as your statement

    Bob Helm: Seventh-day Adventists have held that they were raised up by the Holy Spirit to combat Darwinism

    Where has this been articulated in Adventism before Clifford Goldsteins Jihad?

    I cannot even find any reference to Darwin in the writings of EG WHite




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    • The functional aspects of what was originally discarded as evolutionary garbage or “junk” would probably have been discovered sooner given the Newtonian mindset and a belief in the Biblical perspective (i.e., a recent arrival of life on this planet). This was in fact a creationist prediction – not a Darwinian prediction. The Darwinian perspective arguably delayed the discovery of functionality for these non-coding regions of our genome.




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    • @pauluc: Paul, please notice the word “may.” I did not say that the concept of junk DNA definitely hindered cures for congenital diseases. But if certain congenital diseases find their roots in the non-coding DNA, calling this DNA “useless junk” could not possibly aid in finding a cure. Note also what Sean has posted.

      I am not aware of any reference to Darwin himself in the writings of Ellen White. However, she was well aware of his theory, and she addressd it in these terms: “There is no ground for the supposition that man was evolved by slow degrees of development from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life. . . The genealogy of our race, as given by inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator.” (“Patriarchs and Prophets,” page 45)

      Ellen White also spoke out against fideism: “God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason, and this testimony is abundant.” (“Steps To Christ,” page 105)

      The idea that Adventism was raised up to combat Darwinism was articulated well before Clifford Goldstein said anything about it. For example, Desmond Ford wrote the following in 1982 (after Glacier View): “In many respects, the modern era may be dated from the mid-nineteenth century. Several key ideologies which dominate our times came to the fore in that period. Evolution, Communism, radical biblical criticism, Existentialism, Spiritism burgeoned in the years following 1844. For all of these, Seventh-day Adventism has offered a heaven-sponsored challenge: the creation-sabbath challenged the evolution hypothesis; . . .” (“The Adventist Crisis of Spiritual Identity,” pages 100-101)




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        • @Sean Pitman: Sean, that is unfortunately true today. But it wasn’t always true. I cited Ford because his statement from 31 years ago is very indicative of how Adventism has traditionally viewed its role in offering a heaven-sponsored challenge to evolution. This isn’t something that Clifford Goldstein cooked up just recently, as Paul Cameron claimed.




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        • That’s true. In the first half of the last century, pioneer Adventist scientists such as George McCready Price, Harold Clark, and Frank L. Marsh helped steer the church away from any evolutionary ideas, all affirming that God had created life on earth in six days a few thousand years ago. However, by the middle of the 20th century some Adventist science teachers had some concerns, especially about radiometric dating and the fossil record. At their suggestion, in 1958 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists organized what became the Geoscience Research Institute.

          As far as modern Adventists are concerned, a survey of Adventist college-level science teachers in North America taken in 1994 found that nearly two-thirds believe in a six day creation. More than two-thirds of those that believe in a six day creation think it occurred less than 10,000 years ago, while the rest opt for a six day creation between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago. Only 18.2% opt for life having developed by God’s activity over millions of years, while a few have other ideas.

          Almost two-thirds of the scientists believe that most fossils result from the biblical flood. This great worldwide Genesis flood is a crucial point in the discussion, because that flood is the way one can reconcile the sequence of fossils found in the crust of the earth with a six day creation. Instead of the fossils’ having been laid down gradually over millions of years, as evolution postulates, the creation view proposes that most fossils resulted from burial of animals and plants during the Genesis flood.

          Also, one’s beliefs affect one’s church membership. Loss of membership often accompanies erosion of beliefs. In recent years the mainline churches in the United States—who no longer believe in the biblical account of creation and many other traditional biblical concepts—have lost millions of members, while the more conservative evangelical churches have grown rapidly. It is particularly difficult to convince people that Christianity is for real when churches consider the Bible to be in error, especially with respect to the important question of origins.

          http://www.adventistsaffirm.org/article/40/previous-issues/volume-16-number-1/adventism-and-the-challenges-to-creation




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        • @Sean Pitman: Sean, it’s interesting and ironic how churches repeatedly try to become more relevant by accepting Darwinism and other forms of liberalism, but in the end, they always die, while churches that maintain their creationist stance and conservative values continue to grow.




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  60. It should also be noted that the first angel’s message (Rev 14:6-7), which includes the main elements in the advent message, concludes with a call to “worship the One Who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.” This is an allusion to the fourth commandment and also to Gen 1 – both of which describe a 6 day creation. If Adventists still desire to proclaim this message,then they must be creationists. Furthermore, notice how this passage places the proclamation of the eternal good news about Jesus in the context of creation and judgment. A gospel that is divorced from creation and judgment ceases to make sense. If Adam and Eve were not real people and if death did not result from their sin, then a Savior from sin and death Who provides us with an innocent verdict (justification) becomes ridiculous. Yes, I believe that a theistic evolutionist can be saved, but intelligent people can recognize theistic evolution for the farce that it is. Creation, gospel, and judgment – these belong together!




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    • @Gene Fortner: I really didn’t mean to get the discussion going in this direction. But I think it is important to understand that Adventists are reformers and restorers of neglected truth. One of the truths that needs to be restored is the neglected truth of creation that has been maligned for over 150 years, and Adventists (if faithful) have been called to bring this about. This is not something that was dreamed up by Clifford Goldstein or Desmond Ford (when he was a creationist), although they have called attention to it. It has always been part of our Adventist heritage, and it is a beautiful thing that we must not throw away. For if we throw it away, we are throwing many other things away with it – including the precious grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the truth of righteousness by faith, the great truth around which all other truths cluster. Rev 14:6-7 is correct; the gospel of grace is inseparably bound to the truth about creation!




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      • Bob,

        I am a YLC and I got there by studying the Bible and science.

        The only thing that makes sense is the creationism of the Bible.

        Without that you have nothing.




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  61. Bob Helm wrote: “Yes, I believe that a theistic evolutionist can be saved, but intelligent people can recognize theistic evolution for the farce that it is.”

    I suggest you tone it down, Pastor Helm. For a pastor to be using this language, showing disrespect toward the views and intelligence of others, is inappropriate. Your language certainly fits well here, but not for someone with your standing.




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    • What alternative language would you suggest for describing a perspective that appears, to Bob and me at least, to be antithetical to the very basis of Christianity? What kind of language did Jesus use to describe the actions of those who were destroying the faith of His people? – to include leaders of the church in his day? It wasn’t the most pleasant language I can tell you that. Now, I do agree that we need to try very hard to be as gentle as possible. However, when it comes to ideas that are harming the faith of church members, stronger languages is occasionally warranted.




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  62. Bob Helm wrote, “I have already mentioned how Darwinism (which is based on MN) has hurt the practice of medicine.”

    What’s your point, Bob? Do you deny Christianity has ever harmed the practice of medicine? Has refusal to acknowledge the gains made by methodological naturalism ever harmed the practice of medicine?

    I don’t see how an argument over which belief system, Christianity or human secularism, has most hindered medicine sheds any real light on which belief system is more valid. Medicine obviously benefits from the approach of methodological naturalism, and I’m personally convinced that Christian views independent of science can certainly benefit one’s health and medical response to treatment.




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    • The point is that one should not approach the world with set limitations about what the information is saying. The concept of “a priori” conclusions simply isn’t rational and can get in the way of important discoveries.




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    • @Jared: Jared, I was not intending to be unkind in my language, and believe me, I truly love theistic evolutionists and even atheistic evolutionists. Furthermore, some people have faulted me for saying that theistic evolutionists can be saved. However, we are not saved by perfect knowledge or faultless theology. We are saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. So I stand my ground on that. However, I really do find theistic evolution to be a farce, and I do believe that intelligent people can see through it. Richard Dawkins is a very intelligent man, and he has expressed great disdain for theistic evolution. Why? Because of its incongruence. Think carefully about what theistic evolution postulates: 1) God had the power to design human beings in an instant, but instead He used millions of years of monstrous suffering and death to create us. 2) God was incarnated and came to earth as a Savior, to save us from the very process that He used to create us? If God used death to create us, why does He describe it as an enemy? Why would He want to save us from something that He used as His agent of creation? And what kind of God are we serving anyway: a loving God who helps the downtrodden and weak, or a God Who delights in carnage and the dominance of the strong over the weak? Jared, intelligent people can see the contradiction here, and that is why I said that theistic evolution is a farce. I really don’t know a better word to describe something that is so utterly contradictory. If people want to believe something that is contradictory and love Jesus at the same time, I surely must love them as my brothers and sisters in Christ, but their logic mystifies me!

      I am sure that Christians (not Christianity) has sometimes harmed the practice of medicine, but I fail to see how this relates to the issue of methodological naturalism. I was asked how MN had hurt medicine, and I pointed out some clear instances when it had. Furthermore, I was raised in a medical family. My mother was an R.N. and my father an M.D., so I know something about the field, and I fail to see how MN has benefited medicine in any way. Medical research would actually be benefited by the Newtonian philosophy of science, rather than MN.




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  63. Sean Pitman wrote: “What alternative language would you suggest for describing a perspective that appears, to Bob and me at least, to be antithetical to the very basis of Christianity? What kind of language did Jesus use to describe the actions of those who were destroying the faith of His people?”

    Where in scripture did Jesus say people lacked intelligence? Where did he call others stupid? Especially if they disagreed with his interpretation of potentially falsifiable scientific evidence?

    You give Christianity a bad name when you disrespect others who has a different viewpoint. You don’t need to mock your enemies.




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    • This is not an attempt to mock anyone. It is only an attempt to make it clear how certain ideas are clearly false in a way that destroys the faith of many in the very credibility of the Bible and the character of God. This isn’t an attack on the person, but on the idea. Many good people hold to erroneous ideas that are harmful to themselves and to others and it is to their benefit to accept correction – even if stronger language is required to explain why their ideas are harmful. I’d hardly call the description of Theistic Evolution as a “farce” overdoing it in this regard. This isn’t the same thing as calling the person a “farce”. That’s not true at all, but many ideas are farcical and it is not wrong to describe them as such. If I personally held to such a farcical idea, and someone explained to me why my position was in fact based on a farce, I’d be grateful to know if it. Try not to be so sensitive and so personally attached to and identified with your ideas.

      Matthew 23:27




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    • @Jared: Jared, I never called anyone stupid; nor did I say that anyone lacked intelligence. Some people do mock evolution and call it stupid, but that’s not what I am about. There are some very intelligent people who believe in evolution, and it is certainly one way of interpreting biological data.




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    • @Jared: Jared, I would add that Darwinists regularly use very hateful language to describe creationists. We are called anachronistic, liars, evil, child abusers, etc. Falsehoods are also spread about us. It is regularly stated that we would harm medicine because we do not believe that microbes mutate, and that we believe in fixity of species. We have repeatedly stated that we do not believe these things, and yet Darwinists gleefully repeat them. Isn’t it appropriate for Darwinists to tone down their rhetoric and be honest? There is no excuse for unkind discourse on either side!




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    • @Jared: Jared, I’ve been thinking over what you posted, and I believe I need to add another response to clarify what I intended to say. I honestly had no desire to hurt anyone’s feelings or to insult anyone’s intelligence. I am sorry if I left that perception! Please understand that I was not intending to imply that theistic evolutionists are stupid. On the contrary, there are some very intelligent theistic evolutionists who are moral Christian people, and as such, I fully respect them. For example, Francis Collins has my greatest respect as a person. However, I also think that people have other reasons for being Christians than logic regarding the question of origins. And I can understand that. There are certainly other reasons for me to be a Christian also. In fact, while I can derive a revelation of an intelligent designer from nature, I cannot derive a revelation of the gospel from nature. But here’s my problem – I don’t think that theistic evolutionists are really grappling with the incongruity of their views regarding origins and the gospel – because I perceive a flat-out contradiction there, and so do many other people, including many of their fellow Darwinists. I am very thankful that some theistic evolutionists seem to have a genuine walk with Jesus Christ. However, when I spoke about intelligent people seeing theistic evolution for the farce that it is, I had in mind intelligent seekers, particularly young people in college, who may be attracted to the gospel, but repelled by the incongruity of TE. I don’t think it is possible to practice effective evangelism while promoting theistic evolution, because intelligent seekers recognize that TE is full of holes. It isn’t at all what the Bible says, and it undermines the cross of Christ.




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    • @Jared: In a fast run around the right end of this generally scientific and fittingly outspoken debate about Evolution vs. Creationism and theistic variations, you have undertaken to reproach Creationist presentations by unfavorably comparing them to Christ’s vocabulary and message which you represent as vanilla tame and politically correct, devoid of unsettling expressions of opposition or oppugnancy, a convenient slant nowadays hugely favored. But this characterization of Christ’s locution is at odds with what He actually went around saying and crying in the temple – “thou fool,” “thou hypocrites,” thou “whited sepulchers,” “ye blind leaders of the blind,” “ye generation of vipers,” “your father the devil,” “how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (“Where in scripture?” you ask. For starters see Matthew 23:27, Matthew 23:33, Matthew 22:18, Luke 12:20.)




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  64. The original wording implied that anyone believing in theistic evolution lacked intelligence. That’s not appropriate language in dealing with one’s opponents.

    You’re getting yourself confused, Sean. You’ve asked me not to be so sensitive and personally attached to my ideas. I actually share your conviction that theistic evolution is wrong. Should I now poke fun at your intelligence for your wrong a priori assumption about me?

    Lecturing others seems to come natural for you.




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    • @Jared: “Lecturing others comes natural for you.” Praise be! The award-winning academic thing to do. The expected, beloved academic thing to do since the days of Aristotle and Plato and the Lyceum. And Dr. Pitman’s lectures are exemplary indeed, on a par, I’d say, with R. Dawkin’s, even Pauluc’s. Alas, nowadays lectures are going out of style in favor of PowerPoints with background music, flaming blogs. Fortunate is the forum that can boast such a natural lecturer.




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  65. I came across this remarkable story

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/04/earth-like-planets-milky-way-galaxy/3433449/

    The endless discussion of statistical probabilities associated with limits to change takes on a new dimension when one considers multiplying anything that COULD happen on this earth by the tens of billions of earth-like (life-compatible) planets in just one galaxy of this universe. (I recall growing up in Adventism the many arguments about the probability that our planet would be precisely positioned relative to the sun in a manner that would make life sustainable.)

    The three big problems with arguments from probability relate to incomplete knowledge, assuming we have a correct understanding of boundaries, and the failure to recognize that extremely improbable events happen.

    Humility can be a scarce commodity. Especially at this website. Here’s a quote that bears repeating: “In the end life’s feasibility depends on chemistry and biochemistry that we are still studying, not coin flipping.”




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    • You appear to be arguing that science can work without statistics or predictive value – that anything and everything is possible and therefore probable…

      Don’t you see that your argument undermines science itself? – a method of rational thought which is based on the predictive value of the hypothesis in question given information that is currently in hand? Science is not based on what might be discovered in the future. It is therefore undermined by arguments that remove the statistical basis for science (such as the multiverse theories, etc.). In other words, arguing that if many universes exist our universe isn’t so special, undermines all of science since this argument can explain anything an everything – and therefore nothing. It removes the very basis of statistically-based predictions of the future using scientific methodologies that suggest that X is more likely to happen than Y. The same thing is true for the notion that life can evolve on any place that happens to be the right distance from a star and have water on its surface. The are a host of other variables required for life to come into existence which are extremely unlikely within our universe – even given trillions upon trillions of years of time.

      True humility is realized when one considers and recognizes the evidence for the Divine Hand behind the origin of the natural world and the written Word – and acts accordingly.




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    • @Jared: It is true that the earth is right in the middle of the so-called goldilocks zone, where solar radiation is correctly balanced to sustain life. However, considering the number of earth-like planets in the Milky Way, earth’s position is almost certainly not unique. Nevertheless, the correct position of a planet and the presence of water on that planet do not insure that life is present, because life is incredibly complex at the cellular level. And yet I am inclined to agree with the late Carl Sagan when he suggested that the universe is stuffed with life. Probably many stable G and K class stars that are located in the outskirts of the galaxies sustain life on their planets, but it is life that has been intelligently designed, not life that is derived via abiogenesis.




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  66. Sean,

    You wrote this: “arguing that if many universes exist our universe isn’t so special, undermines all of science since this argument can explain anything an everything – and therefore nothing.”

    You’ve trotted out this silly argument several times now. Yet you insist that God created everything, which of course can explain everything–every single bit of evidence–and therefore undermines all of science (according to you) and explains nothing.

    I totally agree with you that God created everything, but your dismissive style and boastful arguments betray your misplaced dependence on human logic and reason.

    You also wrote: “True humility is realized when one considers and recognizes the evidence for the Divine Hand behind the origin of the natural world and the written Word.”

    Sorry, but I don’t believe that human logic and reason form the basis of true humility.




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    • You’ve trotted out this silly argument several times now. Yet you insist that God created everything, which of course can explain everything–every single bit of evidence–and therefore undermines all of science (according to you) and explains nothing.

      I’ve never argued that God created everything or that God is required to explain all phenomena. That’s simply not true. God did not create the computer I’m typing on nor what I’m typing. These are the result of human design and therefore do not require omnipotence to explain their origin. Also, God is not required to explain natural phenomena like tornadoes or hurricanes that destroy lives and property around the world every year on this planet. These are the result of apparently mindless laws of nature, not the direct result of deliberate intelligent design on the part of God or anyone else. It is therefore possible to detect a difference between phenomena that require intelligence to directly explain their existence vs. phenomena that can be explain by various mindless natural mechanisms. That is why there is a difference between a highly symmetrical polished granite cube and a chunk of granite carved by wind and rain. Yet, according to your argument, given enough universes, one should actually expect to see a highly symmetrical polished granite cube produced by mindless natural mechanisms.

      Again, your argument removes the statistical basis for making such determinations – from using science itself. Your argument is not testable or even theoretically falsifiable. In comparison, the argument that intelligent design is required to explain a given phenomenon is testable and potentially falsifiable – and therefore scientific.

      Beyond this, I suppose its Ok for you to argue that the thoughts of others are “silly”? I personally don’t mind, but it does seem rather inconsistent of you…




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  67. Jared:
    “I never argued that God created everything or that God is required to explain all phenomena. That’s simply not true. God did not create the computer I’m typing on nor what I’m typing. These are the result of human design and therefore do not require omnipotence to explain their origin.”

    If A created B and B created C, then A is not required to explain C? Right.

    “Again, your argument removes the statistical basis for making such determinations – from using science itself.”

    Oh really? So if scientists show there are “tens of billions of earth-like planets,” I am being unscientific in my use of their statistics? How does my argument differ from your use of someone else’s statistics to conjure the “trillions upon trillions of years” impossibility that you insist is the only valid scientific conclusion regarding the probability of life’s origin on this planet?

    Again, I don’t think we should rely on statistics, logic, and human reason to convince others that God created us, that Jesus was real, and that God has a plan to restore us to his original creation. The Holy Spirit does not depend on human argumentation to accomplish His purpose.




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    • If A created B and B created C, then A is not required to explain C? Right.

      That’s right. The totality of “A” is not required to explain “C” if “B” does not represent all of what A can do. For example: Let’s say that it’s actually possible for God to make robots that are not themselves omnipotent, but finite. For example, let’s say that these robots can create certain things, but the things these finite robots can create do not require omnipotence to directly explain their origin. The same is true of things humans create. I can create a simple computer program that can in turn draw a square on the computer screen. However, this program does not require high level programming skills or any kind of genius to achieve. Yet, it does require “intelligent design” on at least some level.

      Along these same lines, surely you can tell the difference between a highly symmetrical polished granite cube vs. a natural granite rock. Why keep avoiding this question?

      Oh really? So if scientists show there are “tens of billions of earth-like planets,” I am being unscientific in my use of their statistics? How does my argument differ from your use of someone else’s statistics to conjure the “trillions upon trillions of years” impossibility that you insist is the only valid scientific conclusion regarding the probability of life’s origin on this planet?

      I’m not arguing against the concept of tens of billions of Earth-like planets that may have liquid water on their surfaces. I personally believe that many such planets exist within the universe. What I’m arguing against is the concept that this makes the statistics for life existing on other planets, outside of intelligent design, any better. It doesn’t. All it does is highlight the ignorance of most scientists when it comes to understanding what is required to produce even the most simple of living things – even under the most ideal conditions. It just doesn’t happen without very high level intelligent design. The same thing is true of arguments for multiple universes as an effort to explain the extreme fine tuning of the fundamental constants of our universe.

      Again, I don’t think we should rely on statistics, logic, and human reason to convince others that God created us, that Jesus was real, and that God has a plan to restore us to his original creation. The Holy Spirit does not depend on human argumentation to accomplish His purpose.

      The Holy Spirit doesn’t not replace or supersede our God-given minds and our abilities to think and reason from cause to effect or from effect to likely cause. The Holy Spirit guides the mind, but He does not provide answers without personal effort, investigation, and research. God does not require blind faith, but wishes us to base our faith on the weight of evidence – evidence that he has provided.




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      • @Sean Pitman: Sean, in popular science presentations today, the impression is given that if a planet has liquid water present on it (which implies the correct temperature), it can be expected to harbor life. This is sheer hype! Life is extremely complex, and it doesn’t just pop into existence in the presence of water. I strongly suspect that there is life on other planets, but it is there because it was designed, not because of the presence of liquid water.




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        • I certainly agree. The notion that liquid water alone is all that it takes for life to simply self-assemble is nonsense and is certainly not backed up by the scientific evidence that we currently have in hand.




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    • @Jared: “Again, I don’t think we should rely on statistics, logic, and human reason to convince others that God created us, that Jesus was real, and that God has a plan to restore us to his original creation. The Holy Spirit does not depend on human argumentation to accomplish His purpose.”

      Jared, then what should we rely on? Granted, conversion will not take place without the work of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit uses preaching, and this is the very stuff of preaching. Of course, evidence alone will not convert people because human beings don’t merely have a head problem; they also have a heart problem. As the reformers rightly pointed out, our hearts are totally depraved, which means that everything is tainted with selfishness, and it takes the Spirit to break through this. But when people ask honest questions about evidence for Christianity, are we to respond will silence and a sheepish look on our faces? I can’t think of any quicker formula to produce atheists! Yes, the Holy Spirit is the Agent in conversion, but He uses evidence, and that evidence is abundant!




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  68. @ Dr. Pitman

    “that happens to be the right distance from a star and have water on its surface. The are a host of other variables required for life to come into existence which are extremely unlikely within our universe – even given trillions upon trillions of years of time.”

    Secondly, where is your cosmological math to support yout ‘trillions upon trillions of years” supposition? This sounds a lot like your refrain for the amount of time it would take for macroevolution to work.




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    • I do believe that there is life on other planets in this universe – because the Bible suggests as much and Mrs. White directly describes other inhabited worlds where other “sons of God” live. Also, such claims are not inconsistent with the empirical evidence we have in hand. Again, the rational basis for belief in the claims of the Bible which cannot be directly tested is based on the established credibility of the Bible with regard to those claims that can be tested. Exactly the same thing is true for any historical science – such as the claims of historians regarding the life of someone like Alexander the Great for instance.




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  69. Fair enough, and I don’t disparage your faith or beliefs. However, is it fair to categorize this belief as theological – not scientific, empirical or ID based?

    After all, you seem to acknowledge that SETI is a valid form of ID that is looking for signs of alien life. As far as I know SETI, or any other scientific investigation, has not yet detected life elsewhere in the universe? Would you agree?




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    • Again, why do you believe that Alexander the Great really did the various things that historians claim he did? – such as his fantastic victory against Darius III at Issus in 333 B.C.? Upon what basis are these claims believable? Is it just a matter of blind faith? Of course not. The same thing is true, or at least can be true, for the claims of the Bible that are not directly testable – as I’ve explained to you many times before. I’d be very interested in your response regarding Alexander the Great in particular. Upon what basis do you believe the historical accounts of his life?




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  70. “Again, why do you believe that Alexander the Great really did the various things that historians claim he did.”

    Who said I did?

    History is often recorded by the victors who may well gild the lily. Different historians may say different things about him. Some may have been eye witnesses, some may have not relying on hearsay. Some may have had a bias. Take all history with a grain of salt by considering the sources and margin for error I say.

    However you’re not just talking about claims of the Bible, you’re talking about the claims of EGW. Do you have some empirical proof that she actually visited those worlds she described? If so where is your corroborating evidence of any sort? In short is your belief about EGW’s vision of extra terrestial based on any science whatsoever?




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    • So, you don’t believe the claims of historians that Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at the Battle of Issus in November of 333 B.C.? It’s all just propaganda? Do you believe that Alexander even existed as a king of Greece? Come on now. If you cannot accept the evidence for the validity of historical accounts such as this, you’re certainly not going to accept the basis for the credibility of the Divine origin of the Bible (or the Divine origin of the visions of Ellen White either)…




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  71. ” Again, the rational basis for belief in the claims of the Bible which cannot be directly tested is based on the established credibility of the Bible with regard to those claims that can be tested. ”

    You do understand what a weak argument this is don’t you? It’s like saying that if a person tells the truth once in his life it is rational to think everything he says is the truth. It’s like saying if a scientist is right once, every theory he postulates will rationally be right. The truth of one component of any historical account does not rationally translate into the absolute truth of the whole. That wouldn’t be scientific would it?

    Again the double standard, Pard. You are quite prepared to eviscerate the possibility of life evolving on other planets as a’ just so’ story but claim that woman’s vision, or trip to see, such life is rational! Can you understand the absurdity of that dualism?




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    • Significant credibility isn’t established based on one little test, but upon many tests of many claims. The Bible has been subjected to many many tests of its testable claims – which are numerous. In fact, the Bible has been subjected to more testing than any other historical document and has been vindicated, over and over again, in the face of “higher criticism” from many of the very best “intellectuals” of the day. The Biblical critics have been consistently proven false, and the claims of the Bible vindicated, throughout modern history. In fact, the Bible has far more independent documenting evidence supporting its overall credibility, to include the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, than is available for the existence and activities of someone like Alexander the Great.




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    • @george: George, just to set the record straight – Ellen White never claimed that she went on a trip to another planet. However, she did report a vision in which she saw alien beings on another planet who were much more beautiful than human beings. This was a vision that presented images to her brain; it was not an actual trip, although she believed that it corresponded to a cosmic reality. But you need to listen to Sean more carefully. He has never stated that his belief in intelligently designed life on other worlds is based on this one vision alone. He has appealed to the trustworthy nature of the entire Biblical record and also of Ellen White’s writings. However, it sounds like you also believe in ET life; only you want it to evolve from non-life. Please explain why you think that abiogenesis has any scientific foundation whatsoever. Even many theistic evolutionists – like Michael Behe – reject abiogenesis, because there is not one speck of evidence for it.




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  72. @ Bob and Sean

    Is EGW’s vision scientific? Is it corroborated or falsifiable?

    Ask yourselves honestly why you believe in it. If it is because of your faith that is fine, but if it has some scientific, empirical basis, as Dr. Pitman likes to tote, you need to establish that basis. Otherwise it is a ‘just so’ theological story.

    Also, I think a couple of my previous comments on this topic never made it out of the cyber editing room. I didn’t think they were offensive so I’m not sure why they were not posted. 🙂




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    • Is the claimed Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III in 333 B.C. directly testable or falsifiable? Why then do historians believe that such a battle took place? – and that Alexander was the victor of this real historical event? Upon what rational empirical basis are such claims believable? Again, you don’t seem to me to be consistent regarding how the credibility of a source or witness is empirically established…

      Also, none of your comments have been blocked as far as I’m aware.




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    • @george: George, faith that is not based on evidence is not “fine.” Blind faith in anything is silly! However, you need to go back and read my last post, because, at least for me, my belief in ETs is not simply based on that one vision from EGW. I mean, hey, Brigham Young stated that God gave him a vision of beings who live on the sun, and I don’t believe that for one minute! So no, EGW’s vision is not scientific because it cannot be falsified – at least not yet. Perhaps some day – either before or after the second advent of Christ – evidence for ETs will turn up, but that hasn’t happened yet. However, I do see evidence of real honesty in Ellen White’s writings, and I also see evidence that she learned certain things that she could not have known apart from her visions. So these factors lead me to conclude that she was a genuine Christian woman who was gifted by the Holy Spirit with a particular spiritual gift, namely prophecy. This isn’t blind faith; it is faith that is informed by evidence. And because Ellen has proven trustworthy in other areas, I suspect that she was telling the truth about her vision of other worlds. With that said, my belief in ETs is not simply based on EGW. As Sean has pointed out, the Bible does speak vaguely of certain beings that seem distinct from angels – like the sons of God. And to me, this suggests that there are other beings out there. Furthermore, it seems quite anthropocentric to suggest that human beings are God’s special pets and that He designed this entire universe without creating life elsewhere. Honestly, I very much dislike anthropocentrism because it is a form of pride, and in the past, it has steered science in the wrong direction. Is my belief in ETs a doctrine that is derived from EGW? No! Absolutely not! EGW is not my rule of faith, and she did not claim infallibility. So if someone else doesn’t believe in them, I have no bone to pick. Is my belief in ETs empirical – in the sense that it is falsifiable? No again – because science is not advanced enough to determine empirically if ETs exist. Remember – I simply see evidence for them in certain writings that, on the weight of evidence, I consider reliable, and I also believe that anthropocentrism is usually a dead-end street. So yes, I believe in ETs, but I am not dogmatic about their existence.

      However, you did not respond at all to the main question I posed. Why do you believe in abiogenesis when it has never been observed and when there is no evidence whatsoever for it?




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  73. Did you notice that you have unilaterally used the analogy of Alexander the Great of which I have never studied or alluded to?

    Are you equating EGW’s vision of extra terrestrial life to a battle on earth? Proverbial apples and oranges, but your silence and evasion of the science behind EGW’s vision is deafening.




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    • Once you determine the basis of historical science, you’ll have your answer. Take any historical claim. Why is it or isn’t it believable since it isn’t directly testable? It’s all a matter of establishing credibility of the witness – as I’ve already explained in some detail.




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  74. @ Bob

    “However, it sounds like you also believe in ET life; only you want it to evolve from non-life”

    Did I ever say that? Haven’t I been asking questions about the scientific vs. theological basis for same? Is there any evidence whatsoever for extra terrestrial life or is there just a possibility or probability of same? There is a difference between a possibility/ probability of something and actually believing same. That is the value of studying cause and effect mechanisms of Mature rather than relying on myth, culture or default mechanisms like ID. Prove things I say or else it is theory. Does Evolution have lots to prove yet? Certainly. Has it been disproved? Nope.




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    • @george: George, I agree that there is no scientific evidence for ET life. I also agree with your conclusion when you state, “Does evolution have lots to prove yet? Certainly. Has it been disproved? Nope.”

      However, you did post the following: “You are quite prepared to eviscerate the possibility of life evolving on other planets as a just so story. . .” Perhaps I misunderstood you, but I read this as life evolving from non-life, i.e., abiogenesis.

      It is one thing to argue, as Darwin did, for the transmutation of taxa – because there is some data that could be interpreted this way. However, it is another thing entirely to argue for the evolution of life from non-life. Abiogenesis really is a just so story because there is not one scintilla of evidence for it.

      I also have another question for you. Do you or do you not believe in ID? You write like you do, but yet you class ID with myth. I’m confused.




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      • George, I agree that there is no scientific evidence for ET life.

        However, there is abundant empirical evidence to support the credibility of the Bible (and EGW).

        I also agree with your conclusion when you state, “Does evolution have lots to prove yet? Certainly. Has it been disproved? Nope.”

        I don’t think I can agree with this statement. In my opinion, Darwinism has been clearly disproved in its most fundamental claims. The very mechanism of evolution, i.e., random mutations and natural selection, is demonstrably incapable of producing anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity. It is a statistical reality that this mechanism simply cannot come close to doing what evolutionists claim it did.

        What hasn’t been disproved is the naturalistic Darwinian philosophy because this philosophy isn’t based on anything that can be tested in a falsifiable manner. As soon as you show that the mechanism is wrong, the ardent Darwinist, like Dr. Paul Cameron, will claim that some future discovery will demonstrate another mindless mechanism that is capable of doing the job. Such claims for future discoveries are not testable and they’re not scientific. They’re strictly philosophical positions with not more predictive value than wishful thinking. This isn’t just true for the notion of abiogenesis. It is true for Darwinism in general.




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  75. @Bob

    “Please explain why you think that abiogenesis has any scientific foundation whatsoever.”

    The fact is that experiments have and are being done on the topic and the proposition remains theoretical and unproven at this time. See link below.

    However what is the logical progression of life evolving over billions of years from common ancestors?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis




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    • @george: George, I read over the wikipedia article that you posted, and it only reinforces what I already stated. Consider the multiplicity of hypotheses regarding abiogenesis that are listed in that article. The very fact that there are so many indicates that this field of research is producing a lot of smoke, but very little light. The Miller-Urey experiment in 1952 was interesting, but considering what is known today about the complexity of the most simple cells, it has no bearing on the subject. Simply put, no evidence whatsoever has turned up for non-life begetting life. I’m not suggesting that research in this field be abandoned; ID should never be an excuse to avoid research. However, I predict that real evidence for abiogenesis will never be found because life was designed. I mean, can you name any code other than DNA that assembled itself without input from an intelligent designer? But the complexity of cells far exceeds a mere code.

      I’m not sure what you meant by your final question: “what is the logical progression of life evolving over billions of years from common ancestors?”

      Also, you did not respond to the question I asked you: “Do you or do you not believe in ID?”




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  76. “It’s all a matter of establishing credibility of the witness – as I’ve already explained in some detail.”

    Actually it is quite a bit more complicated than that. Look at a legal case for example. Often viva voce evidence, without the corroboration of physical evidence, is very unreliable. Bias plays a huge role in the testimony of witnesses. Ask any lawyer as to the whether ‘visions’ would ever be admitted as proof of their contents in a court of law.

    So, if I have a bit of charisma, intelligence, salesmanship, deep knowledge of the Bible, past knowledge of what others have written, say, on a topic like the Noah’ Ark – how hard would it be to have a vision of being on the big boat and giving a splendid rendition of the event with detailed descriptions of all the beasts? Then my disciples can say it must be true because my vivid accounts are corroborated by the Bible itself. Classic circular reasoning.

    So the fact that the bible might obliquely refer to sons of God and EGW had visions of same gives no scientific credence whatsoever to extra terrestial life. Where is the evidence? Just because the Bible says it so does not make it so, otherwise we wouldn’t need any corroboration from science wouuld we?

    And yes there is a difference between looking at a physical battle site where a historical battle took place and speculative life on other planets. I’m sure you can understand the distinction.




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    • “It’s all a matter of establishing credibility of the witness – as I’ve already explained in some detail.” – Sean Pitman

      Actually it is quite a bit more complicated than that. Look at a legal case for example. Often viva voce evidence, without the corroboration of physical evidence, is very unreliable. Bias plays a huge role in the testimony of witnesses. Ask any lawyer as to the whether ‘visions’ would ever be admitted as proof of their contents in a court of law.

      You don’t seem to understand the basis of various historical claims. There is no remaining physical evidence at all that Alexander the Great actually fought the various battles that it is claimed he fought, nor is there any physical evidence of the things that it is claimed that he said. How then are such historical claims supported by “science”? – by appealing to the credibility of the source of such claims. This credibility is established by testing those elements of story that can actually be tested and potentially falsified. That is where the “physical evidence” comes into play. Those elements of the story that are supportable by physical evidence end up provided credibility to those elements of the story that cannot be directly supported by empirical evidence.

      And yes, a court of law would most certainly accept the evidence that various historical figures, like Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan, actually said and did what most historians claim.

      The very same is the basis for a rational belief in the claims of the Bible regarding both its historical as well as its futuristic claims.

      So, if I have a bit of charisma, intelligence, salesmanship, deep knowledge of the Bible, past knowledge of what others have written, say, on a topic like the Noah’ Ark – how hard would it be to have a vision of being on the big boat and giving a splendid rendition of the event with detailed descriptions of all the beasts? Then my disciples can say it must be true because my vivid accounts are corroborated by the Bible itself. Classic circular reasoning.

      It would take quite a bit more than this to establish your claim to be a true prophet – to include some empirical demonstration of your Divine calling that is actually empirically testable and potentially falsifiable.

      So the fact that the bible might obliquely refer to sons of God and EGW had visions of same gives no scientific credence whatsoever to extra terrestial life. Where is the evidence? Just because the Bible says it so does not make it so, otherwise we wouldn’t need any corroboration from science wouuld we?

      The corroboration from science is in regard to those elements that can be tested and potentially falsified. Again, how are you going to test a historical claim about any historical figure saying or doing this or that when all you have is the account of a witness? The best you can do is to test the credibility of the witness. That’s it. You cannot actually present direct evidence for such historical claims. Yet, it is not unreasonable or unscientific to accept the claims of historians regarding the events of the life of someone like Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan…

      And yes there is a difference between looking at a physical battle site where a historical battle took place and speculative life on other planets. I’m sure you can understand the distinction.

      There is no difference because no physical evidence that a battle ever took place remains at many of these sites. All that remains is the historical accounts of such battles – the testimony of witnesses that was handed down, orally for hundreds of years before it was actually written down. That’s what these accounts are based on. Why then are they believable? Think about it…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  77. @ Dr. Pitman

    “That’s what these accounts are based on. Why then are they believable? Think about it…”

    Indeed think about it. Do you think all the historical accounts are accurate, especially the ones saying that Alexander was divine? Without corroboration how do you choose or know which story is true? Do you think historical accounts based on eye witness accounts are as accurate as scientific experimentation?

    “Again, how are you going to test a historical claim about any historical figure saying or doing this or that when all you have is the account of a witness?”

    Indeed, then how can such accounts subject to human error ever reach the status of scientific observation and testing? Think about it….




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    • Do you not believe that historical research is based on a form of scientific reasoning and understanding?

      Do you think all the historical accounts are accurate, especially the ones saying that Alexander was divine?

      What historical accounts claim that Alexander was Divine? While Alexander eventually took upon himself the title of a god (probably for political reasons), I am not aware of any reliable historical source who claims that he was actually a god. To the contrary, his personal historian was killed, by Alexander, for pointing out to Alexander that he wasn’t a god – that he was only a man.

      So, yes, historians do in fact believe that the general accounts of Alexander’s life, to include accounts of what he did and what he said, are largely correct. Why do historical scientists believe this? After all, there remains no physical evidence as to many of the battles he fought, much less the conversations that he had or the speeches that he made. Upon and what then do historians make the claim that he actually did and said these things? Does not they believe these historians arrest largely on the credibility of the witnesses? – With regard to those elements of the testimony of the witnesses that are testable?

      Without corroboration how do you choose or know which story is true? Do you think historical accounts based on eye witness accounts are as accurate as scientific experimentation?

      Again, the science of history is based on establishing the credibility of the witness or the document in question. This is done based on testing those elements of the testimony of the witness or witnesses they can actually be tested. History cannot be done by directly testing of the event in question. Yet, it can still be researched in a scientific manner by testing those elements or claims that can actually be subjected to empirical evaluation. Successfully passing these tests adds credibility to those elements or claims that cannot be directly tested in a scientific or empirical manner.

      Indeed, then how can such accounts subject to human error ever reach the status of scientific observation and testing? Think about it….

      All sciences are subject to human error. It seems like you are suggesting that the historical sciences are not true sciences. Is that true? The reason why I believe historical sciences are true sciences is because they do actually invoke testing and potential falsification of those elements of the account of that are actually testable. This adds or takes away from the credibility of those claims that cannot be directly tested.

      That is why I ask you, yet again, upon what basis are the accounts of the various battles, conversations, or speeches of Alexander the Great, or any other similar historical figure, at all credible? Is the truth of these accounts entirely dependent upon blind faith? I think not. And, in this particular position, I am firmly on the side of the vast majority of historians.




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  78. @ Dr. Pitman

    “Such claims for future discoveries are not testable and they’re not scientific. They’re strictly philosophical positions with not more predictive value than wishful thinking.”

    That certainly applies to 6 day biblical creation 🙂




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    • The credibility of the biblical story of creation in 7 literal days is not based on it’s direct testability, but upon the overall credibility of the Bible itself – credibility that is built upon those claims of the Bible that can be empirically tested. It’s the same as any historical claim from any historical scientist.

      Darwinism, in comparison, has no such basis in empirical credibility because it’s testable claims regarding the creative potential of its proposed mechanism (random mutations and natural selection) have been effectively falsified.




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  79. “The credibility of the biblical story of creation in 7 literal days is not based on it’s direct testability”

    Dr. Pitman, we are in accord on this point that biblical creation is not scientific, but represents a religious point of view. Perfectly fine.




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    • Then I suppose the history of Alexander the Great, or any other such historical figure, is not based on scientific reasoning, but upon some kind of religious opinion or blind leap of faith?

      You simply can’t have it both ways… and that is why we are not in “accord” here, as you very well know. Science, historical science in particular, does not require direct evidence or direct demonstration for historical conclusions to be based on valid scientific arguments/reasoning. The very same thing is true of the Bible – for the very same reasons.




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    • George,

      A historical narrative does not have to be “scientific” to be true.

      There is plenty of “scientific” evidence to support Gen 1-11.

      The truth will make you free.




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  80. @ Dr. Pitman

    How did you make the segue from the creation story to Alexander the Great as historical science? What am I missing here – did someone actually witness the creation story and write about it?

    Let’s try to stay inside the ball park on analogies shall we?




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    • Yes, someone did witness the creation story and wrote it down… more than once. Now, all that is left is to judge the credibility of the one telling the story – the very same as the one(s) telling the story of Alexander the Great or any other historical figure or event. It’s all the same.




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  81. Merry Christmas to you Sean and to you George and to everyone else who posts on here. Whether we agree or disagree, I love all of you and wish you the very best for Christmas 2013 and for life in general. 🙂




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  82. Faith in the historical process of the past is tied to the continuing process in the future. The bible is a complete historical process, past, present, and future. So that it is a complete picture. If you doubt any part of this “revelation” you must necessarily doubt the whole of it.

    In the sovereignty of God, everything is past. But when He chooses to break into our historical process, He does not know anymore than we do. And this is by way of His free choice. Which means, any time He wants to, He can have complete knowledge, past, present, and future.

    Only if we understand this paradox, can we even begin to understand the bible and its message of salvation. And we must not play off one aspect of this truth against the other, so that one, or the other, is negated. If and when we do it, the bible is a mass of confusion with no viable continuity.

    We can place God at the beginning of human history and declare that He is predicting the future, or, we can place Him at the end, and claim He is only declaring what has already happened. So, “God, calleth those things which be not, as though they were.” Rom. 4:17. This is declaring the future as a past event.

    There is no need to “figure it out”. We just accept it “by faith”, and our faith is the evidence the bible is true, at least to those who believe. And in this paradox, we find a consistent flowing continuity that makes sense to a believer, but is not comprehendable to an unbeliever. Why? Because there is no continuity nor rational understanding of God, or the bible, unless you accept the paradox. And this applies to many biblical concepts of truth.

    Hope you all have a great new year.




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  83. Bill, you have alluded to some interesting concepts in your post. As YHWH, God exists outside of the space-time manifold. Hence, He is not part of time as we understand it. So there is no past, present, or future with Him. All times are the same to God, which is probably why He can predict the future. Also, as YHWH, God does not need to have had a beginning – because only things that are within the flow of time need beginnings. I mention this because skeptics sometimes ask, “Who created God?” Asking a question like that about YHWH is illogical. It is like trying to take the square root of a negative number.

    However, I am puzzled by your statement, “When He chooses to break into our historical process, He does not know anymore than we do.” Are you talking about the incarnation?

    Happy New Year to you!




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    • ” However, I am puzzled by your statement, “When He chooses to break into our historical process, He does not know anymore than we do.” Are you talking about the incarnation?”

      Yes, Bob. But we must see that the “incarnation” is more of a “revelation” than an “inovation”.

      The devil accused God of being an “elitist” who would not subject Himself to the same laws that all other created beings are expected to conform to. And certainly, outside the circle of all creation, God is self existent and subject to no one or anything. But we examine the paradox of creation more carefully by way of scripture.

      God can and will “enter” the realm of the created order and when He does, He willingly subjects Himself to the same laws He imposes on creation.

      So, Paul says, “When the fulness of time was come, Christ came into this world, ‘made under the law'”. Gal. 4:4

      This is a revelation, not an inovation. Notice how Jesus speaks to Abraham in Gen.

      “I come down to see if all the reports I am getting about Sodom are true.”

      Hello? Is Jesus telling us He does not know what is happening in Sodom, and His only knowledge is what the angels are reporting? The answer is “yes”. He has limited Himself for our benefit and Abraham knows it. So he beings to reason with Christ.

      “You wouldn’t destroy Sodom if 50 righteous people were there, would you Lord?” Abraham knows he can “dicker” with Jesus and influence His decision.

      We don’t know how Jesus “limits Himself” in this context, but He does. He is still God. And now we can see and comprehend how the investigative judgment works and the importance of the human factor in the decisions made concerning salvation.

      God uses no inherent self knowledge to determine the outcome of this final judgment. He must and will go solely by the books of record and the decision is made based on the books. Nothing more, and nothing less. This truth should strike a little fear into the presumptous, antinomian spirits who apply “grace” far outside the biblical norm.

      That God knows who will be saved or lost, is not relevant in the context of the IJ. Neither will He say, “Well, I knew this person would have repented a few weeks after his death, and therefore, I will take him to heaven.” Such would negate the whole purpose of the Great Controversy and Satan would win.

      Glad to see your mind was stimulated, Bob. Have a great new year and “keep the faith.”




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  84. “Yes, someone did witness the creation story and wrote it down… more than once.”

    Hmmm, someone…?

    Scholars think as number of chaps may have been involved in writing it done over time, with a bit of redaction by Ezra.

    So, if it wasn’t recorded at first instance, but only over time by a number of writers, and then redacted, how does it fare as reliable historical evidence? Why are there different creation and flood stories if it is infallible history? If oral history was passed down from generation to generation before being written how much got modified or redacted in the modern iteration of the Blble?




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    • This is a different argument entirely. Now, you’re arguing against historical credibility. It seems as though you do understand at least something of the concept of the science and value of determining the credibility of a witness.

      Now, if your arguments against Biblical credibility proved to be reasonable, this effort would indeed undermine the rational credibility of the Biblical claims. However, if the claims of the Bible show themselves to be true, contrary to the claims of the Biblical critics, then the Bible would maintain credibility while the credibility of the Biblical critics would fail. And, in my opinion, this is just what has happened. The arguments for the “Documentary Hypothesis” of the Biblical critics, which you cite, simply don’t hold water as far as I’ve been able to tell – to include the arguments for multiple primary authors of the creation narrative, multiple non-complimentary creation accounts, and the supposed extensive editing of the Genesis account during and after the Babylonian exile. Many of the original DH claims have also been falsified by more modern archaeological discoveries – so much so that many modern scholars no longer accept the documentary hypothesis as credible.

      Consider also that the oldest written account of Alexander the Great is dated 400 hundreds of years after his death. In other words, his story is based almost entirely on word of mouth. Yet, historians do not question the main points of history attributed to him, the things he said or the things he did, despite the lack of direct physical evidence. Why not?

      And, as far as confirmatory witnesses are concerned, one cannot get better than the personal witness of Jesus Himself concerning the historicity of the Genesis account. Jesus, who claimed to have existed before Abraham (John 8:58), who claimed to have seen Satan fall from heaven like lightening during the original rebellion in heaven (Luke 10:18), also claimed that the story of Adam and Eve and the creation account was true (Matthew 19:4). How credible are such claims coming from someone claiming to be an eyewitness? – a Divine eyewitness at that?




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    • @george: George I’m puzzled as to why you are so strongly persuaded by the Documentary Hypothesis. I mean, in recent years, the old Wellhausen theory has fallen increasingly on hard times, with many scholars of all stripes expressing doubts about it. Where exactly do you find those multiple creation and flood stories clearly articulated in Genesis? Don’t misunderstand – I am well aware of the four proposed sources J,E,D, and P, but they look like guesswork to me. I will admit there was undoubtedly some late redacting and updating of the Pentateuch, but I see no reason to doubt that the bulk of it derives from Moses.




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      • What “late redactions and updates of the Pentateuch” are you citing here? The only ones I can think of are along the lines of updating the names of places and similar redactions.

        For example, in certain points of the Pentateuch, later names are used in the text. For instance, the city of Dan (Gen. 14:14), the city of Bethel (Gen. 28:19), and the names of Israelite kings (Gen. 36:31) are all anachronistic titles. That is, these titles did not exist at the time of Moses. These places were named with these titles later in history. Critics argue that this proves post-exilic authorship.

        However, it is perfectly appropriate for a later author to update the name of a land or people. This would be similar to a historian using a modern name for a city, rather than using its ancient name. For instance, a tour guide might say that two Native American tribes fought over the territory of Kentucky, rather than giving the Iroquois name Kentake, which was used three hundred years ago. Put another way, why would later generations still refer to these territories with their ancient names, rather than their current names? Using antiquated names would be intentionally difficult for the contemporary audience to understand.

        Moreover, it makes more sense that later authors would change the names of a few cities, than the idea that later authors knew elements of history, culture, and archaeology (as the critics claim). A later author might change a name retrospectively, but how could he know history retrospectively hundreds or thousands of years after the events in question?




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  85. Hard to argue with an eyewitness that claims divinity or claims the gift of prophecy. Respectfully, I think such claims fall outside the purview of science and rest in the land of mythology.

    Thanks Bob for your candour in recoznizing the likelihood of redaction in the Bible. What got left out, amended, embellished?




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    • Thanks Bob for your candour in recoznizing the likelihood of redaction in the Bible. What got left out, amended, embellished?

      As already noted, the names of places were likely updated over time, but not the historical narrative – information which was lost outside of the Scriptural accounts. In fact, this is one of the best evidences that the authors cited by Scripture really did write these accounts in their own day.




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    • @george: George, redaction in the Bible basically involves updating place names and probably rearranging some material. I guess there could be a later redactor who would be inspired to add some new material, but in the case of the Pentateuch, the material is very ancient, and I see no reason to discount the hand of Moses in recording all of this historical data. So yes, I am open to the use of redaction criticism, but only in this limited sense. However, you still have not explained why you favor the Documentary Hypothesis.

      In comparing Gen 1 and 2, Wellhausen argued that the latter chapter contradicts the former by suggesting that God created Adam first and everything else later. Hence Gen 2 must have proceeded from the hand of J and Gen 1 from the hand of P. However, Wellhausen’s theory overlooks the grammatical fact that Hebrew verbs can function as pluperfects as well as simple pasts. For example, compare the timing of the creation of the animals in Gen 2:19 (KJV) with the timing of their creation in Gen 2:19 (NIV). The KJV rendering supports the Wellhausen theory, but by introducing a pluperfect, the NIV rendering does not. Also the contrast between the use of Elohim in Gen 1 and YHWH Elohim in Gen 2 need not indicate different authors. It is more likely that Elohim connotes transcendence, while YHWH Elohim connotes immanence. With regard to the flood account, Wellhausen’s supposed contradiction between Gen 6:19-20 and Gen 7:2-3 disappears when it is remembered that the Hebrew word for “two” can also mean “pair.” In summary, I fail to see where you finding all these contradictory creation and flood accounts. Clearly, there are simple ways to explain the textual data without resorting to the fanciful Documentary Hypothesis.




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    • @george: George, I should have mentioned that Deut 34 is an example of a later redaction that added new historical material, but that is the only clear case of this phenomenon that I can find in the Pentateuch.




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  86. @ Dr. Pitman

    “However, it is perfectly appropriate for a later author to update the name of a land or people.”

    Well, at least like our friend Bob you agree that there were redactions to the original stories. However how do you know what was in the mind of the redactors? How do you know a redactor did not embellish the stories to make different accounts coincide? Why should the word of God have any redactions whatsoever?




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    • @george: “Why should the word of God have any redactions whatsoever?”

      George, if someone believes that God dictated the words of scripture and that the actual words are inspired, that is a legitimate question. Muslims make such clams about the Koran, which is why they frown on even translating it. But please bear in mind that I am not a fundamentalist (at least in the sense that the term is commonly used today). I believe that the ideas in scripture are inspired, but not the words. As time passes, names of locations, etc. change, and sometimes editing is needed for effective communication. You seem to attribute a higher view of scripture to me than I actually hold. Yes, I have a conservative view of scripture, but not a fundamentalist one.

      You also asked about embellishing different accounts to make them agree. But before I can comment on that, I first need to pose the same question I have asked you twice before. Where do you have any clear evidence of different accounts coming from different hands?

      I realize that you directed your questions to Dr. Pitman, but they really concerned material that I had posted to you, so I decided to reply. Dr. Pitman can also have a stab at it.




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  87. Is it just conincidence that the Babylonian creation and flood stories, that preceded the Bible, are eeirly similar to those of the Bible? What is the liklihood that the Hebrew scribes borrowed from those preceding stories?

    As you have noted there is redaction in the Bible. It is quite possibe that Geneis is a redaction of the earlier Babylonian stories written upon tablets. Now there is written, empirical evidence of creation. Can’t deny that written history I would presume Dr. Pitman?




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    • What is interesting is that the older the creation/Flood stories (which are practically universal in cultures around the world), the closer they match the Biblical account. In other worlds, the evidence at hand strongly favors that the Biblical account in the original account from which all other accounts are derived. Also, the details of the Biblical account described in Genesis are supported by archaeological evidence that confirms various details long believed to be in question or even mythical – such as the existence of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities that were catastrophically destroyed (mentioned in the same order in the Ebla Tablets).

      In any case, you’re not mentioning anything new here. These attempts to challenge Biblical credibility have been around for a long time. However, the Bible keeps trumping all efforts to undermine its credibility. It has shown itself to be the most reliable historical text that we have. No other historical text or resource comes remotely close.

      For a further discussion along these lines, to include a discussion of the origin of the 7-day weekly cycle in history, see: http://ssnet.org/blog/origin-of-sabbath-7-day-week/




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    • A writer could make a statement and then qualify that statement in a more comprehensive way or application without changing the fundamental meaning.

      Not just bible writers, but anyone may do it if the situation requires it. As in the case of EGW who quoted Eve from scripture who said about the forbidden fruit as God’s directive, “neither shall ye touch it……”

      But God never stated anything about touching the fruit, and in another place, EGW, who had quoted Eve as a God given directive, says, “Eve went beyond God’s directive and added her own words about not touching the fruit and this gave Satan an advantage in the dialogue.”

      So, EGW goes beyond her first statement of endorsement of Eve’s words, to a condemnation of what she said. It is simply a more qualified and comprehensive statement about the given situation. It does not change the basic meaning and/or thought.

      She also said in one place that Moses did not sin in throwing down the 10 commandments. In another place, she stated that he did sin, but was forgiven because his zeal was for God’s glory. And I simply say, “So what?” These scenarios change nothing of substance in the historical context of scripture, nor does it confuse or cause doubt to any sincere believer who understands the purpose of the bible to communicate a clear and substancial record of the will of God in various contexts.

      So, the same writer may qualify the meaning of any given exhortation to be more comprehensive and definitive when the situation calls for it.

      If you want to find reasons to doubt the bible, you will find them. If you want to know “What must I do to be saved?”, you can find the clear answer in scripture with massive affirmation for faith that the bible is true and can be trusted.

      People who “bicker” about the bible are looking for some “out” to justify sin and unbelief. And often their favorite “dodge” is to claim the scripture is not clear enough for a definitive understanding. And if so, then God could not hold anyone accountable for what was not clearly revealed and “judge” anyone if they could not comprehend the message and its meaning.

      Such is an empty and vain hope to escape judgment and accountability. There is a perfect flow and continuity in scripture that is plain and understandable to anyone who seeks truth. The Holy Spirit will guide anyone who seeks such knowledge. The rest perish in willful darkness and unbelief. Even believers must “fear” lest they be deceived by a carnal nature that leans toward skepticism and unbelief.

      Faith must be nurtured and practiced continually by way of scripture, or unbelief will creep over the mind and cloud the understanding. So, as Peter says, “the righteous are scarcely saved”.

      “Make your calling and election sure.”

      Keep the faith.




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  88. George, why do liberal critics of the Bible almost always assume that the Hebrews borrowed the creation and flood stories from the Babylonians? Why couldn’t the copying have been from the Hebrew original, as Sean has suggested above. Or maybe there was an earlier account (perhaps oral) from which the Babylonians and Moses both borrowed. I fail to understand the logic of assuming that the Genesis account was borrowed from the Babylonians because there is no evidence for it. To me, it comes across as an unwarranted and ad hoc attempt to undermine the authority of scripture.

    Furthermore, the Babylonian stories are not the only ones that resemble Genesis. Even North American and Polynesian cultures have their own native flood accounts that are remarkably similar to the one in Genesis. There is also a Chinese symbol for a ship that depicts a boat with 8 mouths in it (Remember – Noah’s family had 8 members on the ark). How do you explain all this? Why assume that the Hebrews copied from the Babylonians when the flood tradition is worldwide? And how did such a story become known all over the globe. . . unless it represents a collective memory of a real and extremely ancient event?




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  89. Sean, would you assume in the new year that there could or would be a discussion that goes beyond what has been dialogued about for the last several years?

    Like yourself, Advindicate, Spectrum, A-today and others are always the “same-o same-o” with the same people going on and on about the same issues and same conclusions.

    We could “forum hop” from place to place and still see the same thing. In which case, what is the value of all the “independent” forums and their agendas? Yours is especially selective in that your whole scope of discussion is basically creation vs. evolution.

    Kevin Paulson has taken over Advindicate to a large degree. He envisions himself as a great theologian everywhere he posts and pontificates all over the internet.

    The highest position I ever held in the SDA church was head elder for a couple of years. But I think there are a lot of people, including myself, who know considerable more “theology” and bible truth than some who hold various levels of church influence and authority, in which case, we find it somewhat difficult at times to find any real unity, either now, or even hopefully in the near future.

    I only used Kevin as a classic example and do not have any personal ax to grind with him, but more with the church in general. He represents the classic problem. And areas of disagreement does not mean people are not Christians on both sides of a discussion. It does mean that many in higher positions are able to use their influence and authority in a more comprehensive manner than a “regular” church member who may be more informed and “enlightened” than some who hold these higher positions.

    At any rate, many of us appreciate the effort that you and others put forth to inform church members who desire to know the in’s and out’s of church issues.

    We all hope the new year will bring a more biblical unity based on clear bible truths and bring us closer to the final goal of the second coming. Many of us are convinced that God will yet produce a Christian community with a more comprehensive understanding of the bible as the final basis of Christian unity.

    Thanks again for your effort to stimulate thinking to this end, even if your forum is rather selective in discussion topics.

    Keep the faith.




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    • Just a note to start the new year. How we understand and interpret the bible concerning “faith” and viable Christanity has much to do with how we view certain terms and/or ideas presented in the bible.

      The phrase “under the law” has two clear meanings and application in scripture. One is the negative concept of guilt and judgment. Or, we are “under the condemnation of the law”.

      The other idea of being “under the law” was used by Reformation scholars to mean, “All Christians and all humanity is ‘under the law’ as a rule of life.”

      This biblical concept is either unknown or simply ignored, even in the SDA church today. So now, the phrase “under the law” always means and can only mean under the condemnation of the law. This is a limited and even false view of the full comprehensive way the phrase is used in the bible and Reformation theology. And because of this, we have continual disagreement of what the bible means about the law and justification.

      In a dialogue with the pastor where I attend church, he was shocked when I stated all Christians are “under the law” as a rule of life. It was a foreign idea and new to his thinking. Yet it has always been a part of historic SDA evangelism and has been ignored or removed from modern SDA theology. When we can explain what it means to be “under the law” as a rule of life, we will go a long ways in clarifying the difficulties in the church.

      So Christians are not “under the condemnation of the law” if we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. But all created beings are “under the law” as a rule of life, and this will remain for eternity.




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      • I might add this important point, when people say we are “not under the law”, it will always end up claiming we are not “under the authority of the bible” as a final application of “not under the law.” And then people look for outside affirmation for their conclusions about any and all bible teaching.

        This is evident by those who abandon clear bible teaching on creation and opt for scientific knowledge to draw a final conclusion. But to be “under the law” in its true biblical context is stated by Jesus who said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

        Let us willingly subject ourselves to be “under the law” and acknowledge not only the authority of scripture, but affirm God’s right to rule His people by way of the bible, including the 10 commandments.




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