Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools

From the Adventist News Network – August 18, 2014:

Elder Ted Wilson

Elder Ted Wilson

Seventh-day Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson forcefully asserted that life has existed on the Earth for only a few thousand years, not millions of years, as he opened an educators conference in Utah on Friday, and he said teachers who believe otherwise should not call themselves Seventh-day Adventists or work in Church-operated schools…

“As teachers on the campuses of Seventh-day Adventist academies, colleges and universities, and leaders in God’s church … hold firmly to a literal recent creation and absolutely reject theistic and general evolutionary theory,” Wilson said in his keynote speech. “I call on you to be champions of creation based on the Biblical account and reinforced so explicitly by the Spirit of Prophecy,” he said referring to the writings of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White…

“If one does not accept the recent six-day creation understanding, then that person is actually not a ‘Seventh-day’ Adventist since the seventh-day Sabbath would become absolutely meaningless historically and theologically and most of our Biblically based doctrines centered in Christ and His authoritative voice would become meaningless as well,” Wilson said.

He cautioned against associating with scientists, humanists and “some who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists” who have embraced an evolution-based creation theory.

“Do not believe them nor participate in this manipulation of biblical truth regarding creation and the visible commemoration of creation—the Sabbath,” he told conference participants. “In essence, evolution is not a science.”

He said educators should support creationism from the heart or do “the honorable thing” and resign.

“It is that important to God’s ultimate mission,” he said.

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206 thoughts on “Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools

  1. [edit] My point is, it’s the boards, the church administrators, etc., that must deal with this issue by taking stands, hitting the iceberg head on, and removing those that teach error. The enemy never gives up and resigns…unless forced to. Am I missing something? Correct me if I’m wrong.




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  2. I disagree with Brother Wilson in that the Theory of Evolution MUST be taught in SDA schools to show all its fatal faults, assumptions, and the many failures of its predictions. It is very easy to show how inadequate it is when it comes to creating new organs, new types of animals, and the information required to produce them. The same is true of cosmology. There is plenty of evidence for a young earth and a global flood.

    Start as early as possible and integrate it with a good science program.

    I am not familiar with what is being taught is SDA Elementary and High Schools in science and how well they handle the Theory of Evolution and the evidence for young life on earth. I do know that there are Home School Classes that address this very well by very qualified instructors.




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    • You misread what Wilson said. He believes that the students should be taught “about” the Theory of Evolution – to include all of its flaws and pitfalls. He just doesn’t think that the Theory of Evolution should be promoted as the “truth” or the most scientifically probable theory of origins in our schools. That is why the title of the article is “No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools.”




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  3. I am all for accountability. If these teachers are not accountable for upholding our biblical teachings we may as well close up shop for anything goes! But that is not our practice. We are duty bound to promote and subscribe to our teachings. Those who do not do so or cannot do so must be relieved of their duties. [edit] We endanger our students when we teach falsehood in our science classes. The UK recognized the importance of accountability to its false science in schools and banned creation in government supported schools. Are the Gentiles wiser than the children of God? Elder Wilson must now put teeth to his words by calling all our institutions to accountability or the GC will have to see that they do…




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  4. Shouldn’t there be some kind of litmus test, i.e. agreement with the church’s 28 fundamental doctrines, before teaching within one of our schools? Why isn’t teaching any material that denies a literal understanding of the Bible combined with a rejection of the Spirit of Prophecy grounds for immediate dismissal? It’s honorable to resign when in disagreement with basic church doctrine, however it would seem we are also guilty of creating a bureaucratic system of tenure based on credentials and longevity regardless of a teacher’s personal belief or their ability for instituting a curriculum in harmony with the public school system.




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    • John, if you read the preface to our 29 Fundamentals, it acknowledges that the book is not an “offical” statement of church doctrines. This means we can not technically hold church members accountable to these statements.

      We really are a “loose knit” church by way of doctrine. And this is why Pluralism has thrived in the church, and the liberal agenda has taken basic control of Adventism. I am not sure it can be corrected at this point. But if you “fire” someone who teaches evolution, they will surely appeal to the fact that many ideas are tolerated and even supported by the official church. Ministries like Spectrum are so anti-Adventism they boldly deny not only the Spirit of Prophecy, but the bible itself. And yet they are given an official endorsement at every GC session by allowing them to have a booth as a “self supporting SDA ministry.”

      As a church, we may have painted ourselves into a corner in which there is now no escape.
      How can you discipline one group, or even individual, when you have simply ignored again and again ministries that have attack our message for years?

      Bill Sorensen




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  5. I sat on the board of our local elementary school for a couple of years. When it came time to hire a new teacher we were instructed by the conference officials that we could not ask those applying for the job about their own religious convictions. We couldn’t even ask if they were baptized SDA’s. I was stunned and appalled. We were told it was against the law because we have state accreditation. Perhaps it is time to let go of accreditation?




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    • Nadine, this is why we have painted ourselves into the corner and have no way to discipline anyone by way of doctrine. No one knows the final answer to all the dilemmas in the SDA church today. Even if the Elder Wilson makes statements by way of a conservative conviction, it really has no viable authoritive influence. I assume most SDA’s agree with his position. I also believe he is opposed to womens ordination. Now we have the Gay liberation movement demanding “little pig, little pig, let me come in…….or……I’ll huff and I’ll puff until I blow your church down.”

      We are as a church, more concerned about civil and legal implications than loyalty to the word of God. The problem from this perspective is so complicated, it has no answer. Unless we are willing to defend the bible truth as a church community and let the world do as they please about it, we will always be intimidated by civil law and continue to yield the faith for political expediency. From here on in, there will not be any final church unity no matter how much unity is advocated by church leaders. The division is deep and wide.

      Bill Sorensen




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  6. It may be a reality that after EGW passed away, from that time we never really had any “final” authority to define church doctrine. It is even possible that the SDA church would never have embraced a Trinitarian view of God had not EGW confirmed a three person concept of the Godhead. We should remember that James White did not believe in the Trinity, nor Uriah Smith or E.J. Waggoner and probably others as well. They were what we call Arian in their theology of Christ. Meaning He was “created” or, at least came forth from the Father and had a beginning.

    With this in mind, we can see that since she is gone, no one disciplines false doctrine and “every wind of doctrine is blowing”. It was also EGW who demanded accountability of Kellogg for his Panthiestic views. In the end, we see she ran a lot of people out of the church for teaching false doctrine. Canright, Jones and Waggoner, Ballenger and the list goes on. When it came to doctrine and theology, EGW had no friends. She patronzied no one, not even her husband. Many of the people she opposed had been close friends that she and James had worked with in the past.

    Now, we have “spiritual icons” in the church that are untouchable in challenge and accountability. Maxwell was one. Venden another. And we could add others to the list of false teachers that were patronized and supported by church leaders, past and present. Our philosophy of Pluralism by those in church authority has spiritually emasculated the SDA church and we are fragmented to the point there seems to be no possible concensus in church doctrine. People in official positions attack EGW and some basic historic church teaching that were foundational truths to undergird our whole structure of bible teaching. So, apparently when EGW died, no one had the authority to “man up” spiritually and define and discipline those who abandon bible Adventism with novelties in their teachings concerning the bible and salvation issues.

    Bill Sorensen




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  7. The solution is quite simple. Just be a biblical school and abandon the teaching of biology. Science and faith are different disciplines and is the mix of the two that is the root of your problems.

    You can’t cherry pick science to suit faith. When this is done it makes a mockery of objective inquiry. And not that Science is always right or evolution is an exact science. Our scientific understanding continues to grow. Creationism however is a faith based concept, not Science. I know Bill Sorenson understands this but I’m afraid others trying to meld science and faith do not. That is why outside the insularity of creationism the scientific world views this meld as biased shoehorning of fact to fit faith.

    In times to come your biggest problems are going to be with your intelligent scientific youth who will not be able to rationalize science with creationism. They will have to compartmentalize the disciplines to make sense of the world.




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    • Science and rational faith can walk hand-in-hand. In fact, science itself cannot exist if one is unwilling to take evidence-based leaps of faith. The same is true of any useful religion. Faith need not be blind to the empirical world and religion need not be irrational.

      As it currently stands, the empirical evidence currently in hand strongly refutes the Darwinian story of origins via the mindless mechanism of random genetic mutations and natural selection (RM/NS). The strong faith in the creativity of this mechanism exhibited by the scientific community isn’t based on any kind of scientific demonstration or falsifiable testing. It is based on a type of religious blind faith that somehow, someway, a non-intelligent mechanism can actually create magnificently complex functional machines if given enough time. That’s simply not science and should not be taught as such in any school, religious or secular, since this idea is entirely based on a type wishful thinking that is opposed to the overwhelming weight of known evidence.

      I would also point out that your own arguments in favor of neo-Darwinism often invoke concepts of what you believe a God would or would not do. You don’t spend very much time at all presenting actual empirical evidence, scientific evidence, to support your belief in the creative powers of RM/NS. Therefore, it seems to me that your own position really isn’t any more scientific than anyone else’s – but is in fact based largely if not entirely on your concept of a just God and how this concept appears to you to conflict with the Biblical description of God. Of course, you are in good company. Many who accept Darwinism do so, primarily, for such religious/philosophical reasons. You also reject any possibility of accepting any evidence, no matter how dramatic, as suggesting a Divine or God-like origin (i.e., a true “miracle”). Even if you were to personally witness something like the Resurrection or the healing of a man born blind in apparent answer to prayer, you still would not start to question your skeptical position regarding the existence of a God or God-like being. Again, your position appears to be more of a philosophical choice than a rational scientific position that is at least open to the possibility of being wrong given sufficient evidence.

      Now, if one is still convinced of the truth of the Darwinian story of origins (despite the complete lack of a viable mechanism outside of deliberate design), that’s great. Go and teach in a secular school where such faith-based secular views are well accepted. Why continue to teach in an Adventist school in direct opposition to the stated goals and ideals of one’s employer?




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    • George,
      Creationism is a doctrine based on the Bible.

      Can you use the scientific method to test the validity of the Bible?

      You bet!!

      Has it been done???

      You bet!!!

      Bible is passing all tests.

      You should look at the evidence.




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  8. Sean, your comments about those who hold to evolution as a rational explanation of origins is correct. Those who support evolution are irrational for the most part. But it is equally true that any biblical explanation of origins is also irrational from pure reason and logic. Some would object to your way of dealing with the issues is because you at least seem to support the idea that the biblical revelation is clearly rational and in harmony with science that is also rational. The enigma is not solved by a purely logical and rational understanding of how science and faith can co-exist. They can not. They exist on two seperate levels with one subject to the other. Namely, science is subject to the bible and biblical revelation. Miracles are not scientifically evaluated as to how they can happen. That God can raise the dead is a “proveable” fact by the evidence that He did so. But how He can do that is not subjected to scientific evaluation. So it can not be discovered how God can do it, anymore than we can find out how God created this world.

    So, we must make either one or the other the final authority. Either God’s word is the final authority, or, science is the final authority. You can not make them equal or find perfect harmony in the function of both. Science can not discover the “first cause”. There is none by way of science. And this is an imperative distinction between the two systems of thought. As bible Christians, we simply say, “God is the first cause, and He has no beginning and no end.” This is faith based on biblical evidence that what the bible says is true. Namely, prophecy. God predicts the future infallibly. It is verifiable by the study of history. But it does not show us how God can create nor does it tell us of any way we can “prove” how He does it. Science is helpless in this department.

    So, the final line is this. Either we opt to believe the biblical account based on the bibles verification of itself as the word of God based primarily on prophecy, or, we reject this testimony as irrational based on scientific evaluation that nothing can self exist, not even God. This distinction defines a Protestant bible believer vs. other views of unbelief that will always attack the bible at some point.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • Come on Bill. I don’t need to know exactly how the Space Shuttle was built to know that, however it was done, it was done by intelligent design. The same is true regarding the evident need for an intelligent mind to explain the functional complexity that is present within all living things – and within the extremely fine-tuned features of the universe itself. There is also very good empirical evidence, or science, to support the Bible’s claims for a recent arrival of all life on this planet and for a world wide Noachian-style Flood.

      Again, the Bible’s credibility is based on how it matches known empirical evidences. If the Bible’s claims regarding history where continually shown to be inconsistent with the empirical evidence, it would lose credibility. The same is true of biblical prophecies. Your argument that the Bible verifies itself, based on prophecy, is a meaningless argument. Your argument is circular in this regard because useful prophecies are dependent upon external evidences for their fulfillment – outside of the Bible. And, prophecies are not the only aspect of the Bible that can be shown to be empirically credible. Many of the claims of the Bible are empirically testable and also support the Bible’s credibility.




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      • Sean said, “Come on Bill. We don’t need to know how God did it to know, scientifically, that however it was done, it required a very intelligent mind to do it.”

        And this is exactly where and why you are wrong. Unless you can explain “how” a thing is accomplished, by way of science, then it has no credibility by way of science. You can speculate all you want to, but you can not “prove” by science that it was by ID. So no matter how complex it is, and even logical, science can not prove ID. It is still speculation. And science does not even claim anyone can prove ID. It will allow for such a possibility, but without proof, it is not science.

        Faith in the word of God is just that, “faith”. And as you suggest, faith is not blind faith, it has evidence. But the evidence is not “proof” of the cause. Simply because you can not text the claim of the cause by way of science.

        A person could be healed of some sickness. Some could claim it was God, and others could claim it was the devil. You can verify that the person was sick and is now well by way of science, but you can not verify if it was God or Satan that did the healing by way of science. If we believe the bible, then we can test who did the healing by way of scripture and its affirmations. The same principle applies to creation and how it happened. The earth is here, and we can affirm this reality by science. But how it got here, we can not affirm it by science. So, we either trust the biblical affirmation that it was a miracle, (something beyond human comprehension) or not.

        The theory is not that difficult to determine one way or the other. Faith, or science. One or the other must be the final authority. Because no one can “prove” the first cause.
        Bill Sorensen




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        • I would know that the Space Shuttle, or an alien spaceship or even a highly symmetrical polished granite cube (even if found on Mars) are true artifacts of intelligent design, with a very high degree of confidence, without having to know how, exactly, the spaceship or the granite cube were actually produced. The various established sciences of intelligent design (such as forensic science, anthropology, or even SETI) don’t require this information. I can know that, however these artifacts were produced, they weren’t produced by mindless natural forces. They were produced deliberately by some kind of creative intelligence. You yourself would come to the very same conclusion if you saw an alien space ship, or a highly symmetrical polished granite cube lying on the surface of Mars – for the very same reasons.

          Can I be absolutely confident in my scientific conclusion? No. Of course not. Science is not about “absolute proof”, contrary to your claims, but is about demonstrating better predictive value for a particular hypothesis. Remember, a scientific hypothesis can always be wrong and is therefore always open to at least the potential for falsification given future evidence.

          In comparison, you seem to be arguing for some kind of absolute self-authentication to support faith in the claims of the Bible. This is no better than wishful thinking or any other type of blind faith – such as faith in the claims of the Book of Mormon for instance. How do you know that your position is any more credible or likely to be true? Could anything be presented to you that would falsify your faith in the claims of the Bible?

          Now, don’t come back to me with your usual appeal to biblical prophecies, because biblical prophecies are only helpful if they are supported by independent evidence of their fulfillment outside of the Bible itself – i.e., via the historical sciences.




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  9. Bill is right, Science can neither disprove or prove God.

    However, Science can provide clues as to what God as a creator is not. The reason Dr. Pitman is trying to hang his hat on ID is because it is more palatable – a back door approach to biblical creationism- than the magic of the Bible, to the rational mind. But when he starts promoting the Nochian flood story- a refined version of the previous Epic of Gilamesh- attendant with the animals gamely walking two by two up the gangplank as a rational explanation of the exisitng biodiversity of the world, he succumbs to Faith. And that is fine because he is an Adventist first, before he is a scientist. This is patently obvious.




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    • Bill is right, Science can neither disprove or prove God.

      Science isn’t about proving anything in any kind of absolute way. Science is about providing the “weight of evidence” to suggest which hypothesis, among competing options, is most likely true. However, science does not remove the possibility of being wrong…

      However, Science can provide clues as to what God as a creator is not.

      Indeed…

      But when he starts promoting the Nochian flood story- a refined version of the previous Epic of Gilamesh- attendant with the animals gamely walking two by two up the gangplank as a rational explanation of the exisitng biodiversity of the world, he succumbs to Faith.

      Science also suggests that a source that has established itself as very credible, may also be trusted regarding claims that cannot be independently tested. For example, why do historians think they know the general strategy and outcome at the Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III? Why do they think they know the very words that were said? Is the opinion of historians based only on blind faith and wishful thinking? Of course not. Their opinions are based on what they believe are credible accounts.

      As far a the biblical claims for a Noachian-style Flood are concerned, there is a great deal of empirical evidence for the recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a world-wide Flood of Noachian proportions within recent history.

      Now, as far as the details of the biblical story that cannot be independently verified (such as the animals entering the Ark “two-by-two”), of course these details are based on the credibility of the biblical account alone – the same as the argument used by historians for their claims as to what happened at ancient historical events like the Battle of Issus. However, it is pretty clear, as we’ve previously discussed, that the Biblical account is the original account (not the Epic of Gilgamesh). It is the most internally consistent account and it is the account most consistent with the evidence that is in hand.

      What is also very interesting in this regard is that most of the ancient cultures in the world have a universal Flood story – even though they are widely separated in time and place. This fact also adds credibility to the Biblical account as well.




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      • Sean, as Christians, we are not especially interested in presenting the evidence that the world is here. We all know that. Neither are we interested in affirming that “what goes up, must come down.” We all know this as well.

        What we are interested in doing is affirming the “first cause”. This is the issue between creation vs. evolution. Evolution denies how a Christian views the “first cause” and they also deny miracles. And our only sustainable evidence for our view of the “first cause ” is the bible. Just because you don’t like to admit that prophecy is the ultimate evidence to sustain the bible, does not mean it is not so. Prophecy has always been the evidence that all bible believing Christians use to “hang our hat on” to affirm the absolute validity of the bible. As you have stated “faith is not blind faith”. Of course not. But bible faith is based primarily on bible prophecy.

        Only God can accurately predict the future. And it is the God of the bible that prophecies, and then claims He is the creator God. Then He tells us how He created the world apart from human reasoning of how He could do. “He spake and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast.” There is no “science” that can verify this biblical affirmation. Science is “out the window” on this aspect of bible truth.

        You seem to ignore and circumvent the real issue by avoiding this reality. Believers don’t despise science. We use it continually to accomplish many goals. But we never use it as a tool to affirm who God is, or how He can create. As long as you ignore this reality, you miss the basic point of the creation vs. evolution debate and discussion.

        The question is not whether any thing is here or how it functions and its complexity. The question is “How did it get here and who or what was responsible?” Even if people will admit the possibility of ID, they still have not accepted the biblical account and may never do so. We would hope they would consider the biblical explanation, but even then, they must conclude there is no science that can affirm or confirm the “first cause.”
        Bill Sorensen




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        • What we are interested in doing is affirming the “first cause”. This is the issue between creation vs. evolution. Evolution denies how a Christian views the “first cause” and they also deny miracles. And our only sustainable evidence for our view of the “first cause ” is the bible. Just because you don’t like to admit that prophecy is the ultimate evidence to sustain the bible, does not mean it is not so.

          I’m a big fan of biblical prophecy. I think its very good evidence for the Divine origin of the Bible – as I’ve said many times before. What I don’t agree with is your claim that biblical prophecy is “self-validating”. It isn’t. Prophecy is validated by the historical sciences – an external form of validation based on empirical evidence that exists outside of the Bible itself. Real historical evidence outside of the Bible confirms the truth of biblical prophecies and supports the rational conclusion that they are therefore of Divine origin.

          Prophecy has always been the evidence that all bible believing Christians use to “hang our hat on” to affirm the absolute validity of the bible. As you have stated “faith is not blind faith”. Of course not. But bible faith is based primarily on bible prophecy.

          Biblical prophecy is indeed important, but the evidence supporting the Bible’s credibility is not at all limited to its prophecies alone. You sell the Bible significantly short when you suggest that only the prophecies can be shown to be credible and of Divine origin – that the rest must be accepted based on blind faith alone. That’s simply not true.

          “He spake and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast.” There is no “science” that can verify this biblical affirmation. Science is “out the window” on this aspect of bible truth.

          What can be supported by the empirical evidence is that a very powerful creative mind was in fact responsible for the fine-tuned features of our universe and for life on this planet. You don’t need to know the precise methodologies used before you can know, with a very high degree of confidence, that however it was done, it was done via intelligent design.

          You seem to ignore and circumvent the real issue by avoiding this reality. Believers don’t despise science. We use it continually to accomplish many goals. But we never use it as a tool to affirm who God is, or how He can create. As long as you ignore this reality, you miss the basic point of the creation vs. evolution debate and discussion.

          I’ve never said that science can determine how God did it. What I’ve said is that science, or empirical evidence, can be used to support the concept that God did in fact do it. The Bible itself sites the empirical world as evidence that God is the creator. Have you not read, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” – Psalms 19:1-3

          Was David mistaken here to point to the heavens as evident work of God’s creative power? I think not…

          The question is not whether any thing is here or how it functions and its complexity. The question is “How did it get here and who or what was responsible?” Even if people will admit the possibility of ID, they still have not accepted the biblical account and may never do so. We would hope they would consider the biblical explanation, but even then, they must conclude there is no science that can affirm or confirm the “first cause.”

          You contradict the authors of the Bible who claim that nature herself testifies to her Divine authorship. Knowledge of the Bible is not required before one can know that amazing intelligence and creative power was in fact behind the fine-tuned features of our universe and behind the origin of life on this planet.

          Mrs. White also points out:

          “The voice of nature testifies of God, but nature is not God. As his created work, it simply bears a testimony to God’s power.”

          “Nature speaks to their senses, declaring that there is a living God, the Creator, the Supreme Ruler of all. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge’ (Psalm 19:1, 2). The beauty that clothes the earth is a token of God’s love. We may behold it in the everlasting hills, in the lofty trees, in the opening buds and the delicate flowers. All speak to us of God. The Sabbath, ever pointing to Him who made them all, bids men and women open the great book of nature and trace therein the wisdom, the power, and the love of the Creator.”

          — Patriarchs and Prophets, 47, 48. and R&H, Nov. 8, 1898




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  10. Sean, I personally think you go beyond the point. And, by the way, never did I say, or even imply that the fulfillment of prophecy by way of the historical process was not the evidence of the validity of the prophecy itself. What good would a prophecy be if there was no observable fulfillment? No one is expected to believe in a prophecy unless it has validation in history. The only exception is when God speaks of some future event and then points to the past fulfillments to validate the future.

    If I say I can take a hammer and break a rock, I validate my claim by doing what I said I could. This is “self validation” of the claim. So the bible validates itself and its authority by making a claim and then showing the claim is valid. God makes a prophecy, and then the prophecy comes true. This is “self validation”. The evidence only affirms the claim.

    If I say I can take a hammer and break a rock, and then have a friend do it for me, there is no validation of my claim at all. It may show that the rock can be broken by a hammer, but it doesn’t affirm that I can do it. I am more than happy that you and others are working to point people to the bible and the God who is the creator. But as I said, I think your consistency is not fully in harmony with your desired goal. At any rate, keep on keeping on. God can and will use many faulty means of grace to lead people to the truth. He might even use me on some occasion……. In fact, it is more than a little amazing that God uses sinful people to communicate His will, in behalf of both of the one who testifies and the one being testified to.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • The term “self validation” is defined by the dictionary as, “requiring no external confirmation, sanction, or validation.”

      The Bible does not validate itself as with your hammer/rock illustration. The Bible is just a book. It is not alive and cannot act for itself or carry out any mission for itself. The Bible simply claims that many of its prophecies were actually fulfilled. These are just claims – claims that may or my not be true. The Bible cannot, by itself, validate these claims and give them credibility. Validation of these claims must come in the form of a source of information that is external to the Bible and the Bible’s claims. This is not “self validation”. This is external validation that is based on the historical sciences.

      In the same way, the works of an author bear witness to the existence, intelligence and creativity of the author – as David talks about in Psalms 19:1-3 where the “heavens declare the glory of God.”




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      • Sean, our final problem on the term “self affirmation” is because we do not interpret the phrase the same way. And I don’t think the dictionary is in harmony with how you interpret it either. In my opinion, “self affirmation” does not mean there is no objective evidence for what is being affirmed. It simply means that it is “self” that provides the evidence.

        Back to the rock and hammer illustration. If I affirm I can break a rock with the hammer and do so, this is “self affirmation.” But, if I say I can break a rock with the hammer, and some else affirms I can do so, this is not “self affirmation” but rather an outside affirmation that may or may not have credibility. It will depend on how you view the credibiliy of this individual.

        I think you would interpret the phrase “self affirmation” as some one making a claim, and then producing no evidence to support the claim. I don’t think this is what the dictionary means. At any rate, our agreement or disagreement to a large degree depends on how we interpret the phrase “self affirmation.” Since I believe your view is not correct, then you create misunderstanding of what you believe and what you contend for by anyone who thinks like I do about the issue.

        Maybe we have stirred up interest in the creation/evolution discussion by “lurkers” who would never comment. As bible Christians, our goal is to stimulate interest in bible Christanity and the message it presents. I do a jail ministry, and my goal is to give accurate information about the bible so the Holy Spirit can use my testimony and those who listen can make an intelligent and objective decision about the bible.

        If we create any element of misunderstanding, we limit our usefulness as a means of grace to communicate God’s messages through His word. In which case, we need to be as careful as possible not to go outside the bible to explain the bible itself. In our zeal to defend it, we may actually undermine its message and dynamic meaning. As history clearly testifies, this has been the major problem in this sinful world. “God’s church” has often drawn incomplete and/or false conclusions that do not fit the biblical norm, and then present it to others as “the word of God.” And this generally happens, not by wicked men who deliberately convolute the bible, but honest well meaning individuals who truly think they are defending God, His kingdom, and government. The end result is mass confusion in the church community as church members tend to accept interpretations assuming those who advocate them are well informed in scripture, both in content and meaning.

        You and others have endeavored to challenge this type of spirituality and exhort those who support the church to demand accountability of their leaders to remain faithful to clear bible teaching on every level. For this, I thank you and all the others who are doing the same. It is causing division in the church. From one perspective we can say, “good”. From another, we can equally say, “bad”. God desires unity among His people, but not at the expense of clear bible truth. False doctrine and faulty teaching can not be tolerated in the name of “love, acceptance, and patronization.”

        Many, if not most SDA’s believe God will yet create a community of believers by way of the bible who reflect His will, kingdom and government. When this happens, the church on earth will also reflect the church in heaven, and the prayer of Jesus will become a final reality, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” In which case, Jesus will come and take His church home, and the church on earth, and the church in heaven will again be united as God intended for Adam and Eve in the beginning.
        Bill Sorensen




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        • Again, the Bible does not create its own history. The Bible does not swing the hammer of history. History is external to the Bible and independent of its claims – and is thus an independent source of support, or conflict. Therefore, biblical prophecies are not “self validating”… by any sense of the term.




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  11. Bill and Sean

    I commend you for your intelligent discussion and the relationship between the Bible and Nature.

    In the past when Man could not reconcile Nature with the Bible or any specific religion the concept of Desism arose. Intelligent Design is a moderm iteration of Deism. The problem of course is that if modern notions of cosmolgy are right, our universe may be one of many with different properties. Of course Sean rejects that notions as being non scientific. Yet he says that the Biblical story of creation is supported by Science. Hmmmm? It seems to me that Bill’s position that First Cause has to be a matter of faith not science is likely correct. Why? Because, even prior to the big bang of our universe, it is hard to deliberate on the ulitimate creation of matter from nothing. The proof of some sort of God like force may be the very fact of concious existence to conceive of it! This is why I am not an atheist and acknowledge the existence of an originating creative force, the nature of which I am unclear.

    For everyone’s edification I post the following from David Hume, quoted in Wikipedia;

    In the Natural History of Religion (1757), Hume contends that polytheism, not monotheism, was “the first and most ancient religion of mankind”. In addition, contends Hume, the psychological basis of religion is not reason, but fear of the unknown.

    The primary religion of mankind arises chiefly from an anxious fear of future events; and what ideas will naturally be entertained of invisible, unknown powers, while men lie under dismal apprehensions of any kind, may easily be conceived. Every image of vengeance, severity, cruelty, and malice must occur, and must augment the ghastliness and horror which oppresses the amazed religionist. … And no idea of perverse wickedness can be framed, which those terrified devotees do not readily, without scruple, apply to their deity.

    —David Hume,  The Natural History of Religion, section XIII




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  12. Curious to see the contrast between the views espoused here by Sean Pitman and those advocated vociferously at the recent Science and Faith Conference, which I attended.

    At the conference Ed Zinke and Richard Davidson gave close to a dozen talks between them that extolled a historical-grammatical hermeneutic devoid of any form of criticism. In their view the Bible ABSOLUTELY takes precedence above science and human reason. During several lectures Zinke even had the audience repeat after him “Scripture AND…” referring to the (presumably dangerous) alternative hermeneutics. Davidson answered a question during a panel session about whether their approach, the proclaimed “official” approach of the SDA church, constituted fideism to which he insisted it did not because the evidence considered derives from scripture rather than blind faith. At the end of the conference Ted Wilson forcefully endorsed the historical-grammatical hermeneutic during his final lecture.

    I have read some of the earlier dialogue here between Sean Pitman and others on this topic. At the time I straddled the fence and to be honest I still do. I wondered at the time whether you guys were just speaking past each other. However the conference made crystal clear to me that a very wide gulf exists between Sean Pitman’s views and those of Zinke, Davidson and Wilson, with both sides claiming to represent the official church hermeneutic. I can assert that there is no way on God’s green earth that both sides are in agreement!

    So Sean, if you want to change the church’s hermeneutic you have got your work cut out for you. I honestly do not see it happening unless you can persuade Zinke, Davidson and Wilson that they are wrong. Good luck with that.




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    • I may not agree with everything Zinke, Davidson, or Wilson might propose. In my opinion, it is most definitely a form of fideism to claim that the Bible needs no critical evaluation of any of its empirical claims to establish its credibility. After all, couldn’t the very same argument be used to support faith in the superiority of the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? Why is the Bible so special? It has to be based on an appeal beyond the mere claims of the Bible itself. Otherwise, one really has absolutely no rational basis to set one’s faith in the Bible above those who hold to the superiority of other religious books like the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an… or even atheistic books like “The God Delusion”. Such an argument appears to me to be nothing more than solopistic circular reasoning.

      As Mrs. White points out, “Since the book of nature and the book of revelation bear the impress of the same master mind, they cannot but speak in harmony. By different methods and in different languages they witness to the same great truths. Science is ever discovering new wonders, but from its research it brings nothing that, rightly understood, conflicts with divine revelation. The book of nature and the written Word shed light on each other. They make us acquainted with God by teaching us something of the laws through which He works.” – TE, p.77

      How can nature shed light on the Bible if faith in the origin and credibility of the Bible is independent of any kind of empirical evidence or support?

      “God so ordered that men, beasts, and trees, many times larger than those now upon the earth, and other things, should be buried in the earth at the time of the Flood, and there be preserved to evidence to man that the inhabitants of the old world perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things in the earth should establish the faith of men in inspired history. But men, with their vain reasoning, make a wrong use of these things which God designed should lead them to exalt Him.” – Spiritual Gifts 3:94-96

      God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. We are thus led to adore the Creator and to have an intelligent trust in His word. – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 115

      “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. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth, will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith.” – The Great Controversy, p. 527. and Steps to Christ, p. 105.

      If such empirical evidences should have no effect up one’s faith in claims of the Bible, what then is the meaning of statements like this?

      In this light, we need to keep asking ourselves, “Why the Bible?”, and “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] a reason for the hope that [we] have.” – 1 Peter 3:15




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  13. So, I presume at the top of the heap we have a Designer Turtle who Man has named God for lack of a scientific explanation as to First Cause? But, by concluding that the Bible is the inspired word of the Designer Turtle, we neatly avoid the need to empirically proof Its existence. But what happens when we start to see cause and effect mechanisms in the universe that appear to operate independent of an observable design? You acknowledge that natural selection at a micro level works this way, right? That’s the first turtle.




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    • You can’t just look at one turtle. You have to look at all the turtles that are available to you before you can recognize a useful general pattern as to where they are headed. Sure, RM/NS works just fine at very low levels of functional complexity, but shows an exponential pattern of declining ability with each step up the ladder of functional complexity. Also, there is a very clear pattern of genetic deterioration and decay over time for slowly reproducing creatures (like all mammals for instance). This is where you get a clearer idea as to where the turtles are headed… as very good empirical evidence (though never “proof”).




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      • Sean said, “This is where you get a clearer ideas as to where the turtles are pointing… as very good empirical evidence (though never “proof”).”

        Sean, science is looking for “proof” based on the evidence that is beyond question. You use the word “evidence” in a generic sense that has various shades of application. We have “circumstancial evidence”, and “possible evidence” and various other shades of meaning for the word. But when it comes to science, the evidence is tested and used as “proof” of any conclusion.

        The bible does not fit this definition and application of the word “evidence”. For the bible application it would be more accurate to say it is “adequate evidence” as opposed to scientific conclusions that call it “absolute evidence”. Or, “What goes up, must come down” by scientific evaluation is infallible in the context of gravity.

        Only if gravity is negated, can the phrase be negated. So science concludes their experiments are “proof” and infallible evidence of any stated conclusion. Christians never claim biblical evidence is proof. But it is adequate to affirm a viable degree of faith that the bible is true. You compare apples and oranges and claim the same conclusion can be deduced by the exact same method with the exact same certainty.

        Science and religion based on faith are two seperate studies that do not parallel precisely in the way we can find conclusions. Science seeks an absolute to reach a conclusion that is infallible. Faith seeks an adequate assurance based on a fluctuating experience that has no perfect continuity. And that is because miracles are not always consistent in every given situation.

        Bill Sorensen




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        • You’re mistaken. Science is not about and cannot look for “absolute proof” to support a given hypothesis or theory. There are no absolutes in science. That is why absolute proof simply is not part of science – by definition. Science can only look for evidence – for the “weight of evidence” for or against a particular hypothesis. The hypothesis either gains or loses predictive value, but never reaches the level of an “absolute proof”. That is why the conclusions of science are always tentative and subject to the potential for future falsification given additional evidence.

          Look up the concept of falsifiability. If your hypothesis or theory cannot be subject to testing with at least the potential for falsification, you simply don’t have a scientific hypothesis or theory. It’s all based on testability…




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        • Bill,
          The Bible makes statements. One can use science to determine how accurate those statements are.

          A couple of examples are;

          Acts 17:26 New English Translation (NET)
          26 From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth

          I believe science agrees with that.

          Genesis 1:27New English Translation (NET Bible)
          27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them,
          male and female he created them.

          Science agrees that we are all descended from one male and one female.

          There are many other statements that have been found to be substantiated by science.

          I can’t think of a statement that from the Bible that has been disproven.

          @Bill Sorensen:




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  14. The problem of course is reconciling the design of Superturtle with the holy book of turtles ( the Burtle). Because the design we see today – ain’t what the Burtle says it was originallly: Pefection. Of course there is no evidence in Nature of such perfection, thus faithful turltes must rely on the word of the Burlte alone in that regard.

    But perfection has its problems. Because in a world without death or predation, where the turtles went forth and multiplied soon the ole Garden of Turteden would become a might crowded. Now how good of a Design would that have been?

    Now one may claim that the ole Grand Designer Turtle wasn’t perfect or that his design wasn’t meant to be understood or questioned by the earthly turtles. ( turtologetics). Of course the other more empirical way is to look at Nature as it is through Science, as imperfect a tool as that might be. Seems though to be able to dispel a lot of superstition and myth, notwithstanding religious oppresion of empiircal data throughout the ages. Ah, brave Turtlmanity in its quest for truth no matter where the discarded shells may lie. 🙂




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    • George,

      The search for Origins is by definition not empirical.

      Therefore one must go with the best explanation given the data and evidence.

      I pick Intelligence over chance and necessity any day.

      This is based in part on my experience as a Systems Engineer and the accuracy of the Bible.




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  15. Hello Gene

    I agree that the search itself seems to be spiritual or philosophical.

    However the ‘means’ of the search are becoming more empirical with the use of reason and science. That is good because we are better able to understand superstition and cultural myths as pseudo explanations of reality.

    Is there really proof of the interventionist Biblical God of the Bible, or is that story largely made up based on the factors that Hume cited?

    I don’t know anyone that has ever witnessed a miracle. I’ve never spoken to God or had a supernatural experience. Although I was exposed and taught religion at a young age it made no rational sense to me. My faith is long term human objective inquiry devoid of religious or atheist bias. That, to me, is the best lens to investigate origins. To that end physics and evolution, in my humble estimation, provide a much better explanation than the Biblical creationist story.

    I say this respectfully as I am a guest here and, unlike fundamentalist atheists, I think faith should be respected. I also think Christian morality should be revered and practiced and that starts with tolerance and respect of other views.

    What Sean is doing is noble and admirable. He is trying to marry science to creation to give it empirical validity. I think he does a great service to the Adventist cause in this respect.

    In any case Gene, I enjoy your comments and do hope that they will continue 🙂

    All the best.




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    • George,

      I do know of people who have witnessed a miracle. It is much more common than you think.
      My son-I-law was about 8 years old. He and 3 other children were at home alone.
      In the middle of the afternoon he was awakened by prolonged beating on the door.
      He was very disoriented but finally opened the door.

      A stranger was there who told him to open all the windows and doors because there was something wrong with the heat exchanger.

      He did and woke up his brothers and sister and they went outside with bad headaches.
      When his mom got home she had the furnace checked and it was leaking carbon monoxide.
      Who was the stranger who could tell what was wrong inside a locked house?

      Then there was John Lennox, retired mathematics professor from Oxford.

      I will let him tell you his miracle.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh0M0EG2jKY

      @george:




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  16. Oh, by the way Gene, I am of the view that Science can neither disprove or prove God. However, I think Science can dispel myth and suggest what God is not, based on natural cause and effect mechanisms.

    That’s what makes apparent design so intriguing; and why it also presents such a conundrum for biblical creationists who must rationalize the design of death and decay with a benevolent creator. Not an easy task, but certainly a ‘creative’ one 🙂




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    • George,

      It is really simple, no need to rationalize anything, especially death and decay.

      It is all laid out in the Bible. It is called the Great Controversy.

      God Bless




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  17. While every thing in the scientific field has not been discovered, I think it is more than obvious that only those things that have been “proven absolutely” are used in a practical application. We don’t send people to the moon based on some probability of how the elements of the universe works. We are absolutely sure, and wouldn’t speculate with human life based on some obscure probability. So the evidence we use for scientific functions are by way of “infallible evidence” and not probabilities. This is precisely because they can be proven by experiment. And then repeated again and again.

    To claim we use this same method to affirm biblical declarations when God states that He created the world in 6 days is a real stretch of the imagination. No can “prove” the first cause and science generally doesn’t even try to do it. At this point, Sean, I am not sure you really understand what the real issue is in the creation vs. evolution discussion is. The issue is “first cause”. Period. Other points are simply side issues about the first cause. You have gone out of your way to claim the bible does not claim self affirmation. Or, self validation. And apparently you think you can use science to determine the “first cause” and thus there is no need for “self affirmation” by scriptures.

    All you are doing is creating more and more confusion about the basic issue of first cause. The bible reveals the first cause. Science doesn’t deal with it. Simply because it can not do so. Science may work endlessly to negate the biblical revelation of the first cause. But it has no alternative statement that can be verified. As bible Christians, as I have clearly stated, we use bible prophecy to validate the biblical claims. The bible presents its own evidence for its validity. You can oppose this reality from now on, but it won’t change the facts of the matter. The miracle of creation by the word of God is beyond scientific testing or validation. We prove it by bible prophecy. And this method is more than adequate to convince any individual seeking truth with an open and willing mind, as the Holy Spirit (God) validates the truth of it.

    Bill Sorensen




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    • You seem to confuse observations with science. Science is more than observations or “facts”. Science is all about making predictions about what will happen in the future with the use of hypotheses or theories that hope to explain the few observations and facts that are currently in hand. Now, some hypotheses and theories are very well established, supported by a great deal of evidence. They can therefore be used, with a great deal of confidence to predict what will happen in the future. Does this mean, therefore, that these hypotheses and theories have been “absolutely proven”? that they are no longer open to even the potential for additional testing and falsification? Absolutely not. All scientific hypotheses and theories, no matter how well established, are open to additional testing with the very real potential for falsification – for being wrong.

      We don’t send people to the moon based on some probability of how the elements of the universe works. We are absolutely sure, and wouldn’t speculate with human life based on some obscure probability.

      You’re mistaken. We most certainly have sent people to the moon based on the known probabilities of various scientific hypotheses and theories. There was no 100% guarantee of success. While it is possible to reasonably believe that the success of a hypothesis will be very high, it is impossible to know with absolute assurance that the hypothesis being used is actually true and that its success rate in predicting the future will always be 100%. That’s just not possible in science.

      So the evidence we use for scientific functions are by way of “infallible evidence” and not probabilities. This is precisely because they can be proven by experiment. And then repeated again and again.

      It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat an experiment, and get the same result. This still does not equate to “absolute proof” of the hypothesis. It is still possible that future experiments will falsify your hypothesis. That your experiment will not always hold true as predicted.

      To claim we use this same method to affirm biblical declarations when God states that He created the world in 6 days is a real stretch of the imagination.

      I never said that this particular biblical claim is empirically testable. It isn’t. However, there are many other claims in the Bible that are in fact open to empirical testing with the very real potential for falsification. And, such empirical scientific tests do in fact have an effect on overall biblical credibility.

      No can “prove” the first cause and science generally doesn’t even try to do it.

      Again, science cannot absolutely “prove” any hypothesis or theory. However, it is most certainly possible to establish the weight of evidence in favor or against a given hypothesis or theory – to include the nature of the “first cause”. It is most certainly a scientific question to ask, “Is there any empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that the ‘First Cause’ was intelligent?” This question is not at all outside of the realm of scientific investigation or empirical support. It is not just a “metaphysical” question…

      At this point, Sean, I am not sure you really understand what the real issue is in the creation vs. evolution discussion is. The issue is “first cause”. Period. Other points are simply side issues about the first cause. You have gone out of your way to claim the bible does not claim self affirmation. Or, self validation. And apparently you think you can use science to determine the “first cause” and thus there is no need for “self affirmation” by scriptures.

      The Bible can claim anything it wants. That doesn’t, in and of itself, make it true. After all, a lot of religious books claim a great many things. Why should anyone believe the claims of the Bible? Again, the Bible does not “swing the hammer of history”. Historical events are independent of the claims of the Bible. They can therefore be used to test the claims of the Bible, to see if the Bible is or is not accurate in its claims regarding historical events that can in fact be investigated. This is external evidence based on scientific-style investigation.

      Apparently you don’t understand that even the Bible itself appeals to external empirical evidence to support its claims to the intelligence and nature of the “First Cause”. David claims that the heavens declare the glory of God; that there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard (Psalms 19:1-3). Paul says that God’s invisible qualities, to include his eternal power and divine nature, are clearly seen by what has been made, by the actual work of God’s hands, so that all are without excuse; even those who’ve never read the Bible (Romans 1:20).

      Do you believe what the Bible says along these lines or not?

      All you are doing is creating more and more confusion about the basic issue of first cause. The bible reveals the first cause. Science doesn’t deal with it. Simply because it can not do so.

      Not true – as the Bible itself explains regarding the strong evidence of divine design in the works of nature.

      Science may work endlessly to negate the biblical revelation of the first cause. But it has no alternative statement that can be verified.

      What science can show us is which direction the turtles are going. If you’re looking for absolute proof, no, science cannot deliver some kind of absolute demonstration. However, science can deliver the weight of evidence for a God or, at the very least, a God-like designer behind what we see in nature.

      What you seem to be arguing, on other hand, is that the work of God’s own hands is not detectable as requiring an intelligent mind at all. Given your belief that God does actually exist and that He is the Creator of all things in nature, this is quite an amazing argument you’re presenting. You seem to be suggesting that it is impossible to tell, by looking at the works of God’s own hands, that they were in fact deliberately created by an amazingly intelligent mind. How can you possibly suggest such a thing?

      As bible Christians, as I have clearly stated, we use bible prophecy to validate the biblical claims.

      That’s true. I think biblical prophecy is very good evidence, empirically evidence, of its divine origin.

      The bible presents its own evidence for its validity.

      No, it doesn’t. What the Bible does is make a claim – that’s it. The evidence for the truth of this claim is external to the Bible in the form of historical evidence.

      You can oppose this reality from now on, but it won’t change the facts of the matter. The miracle of creation by the word of God is beyond scientific testing or validation.

      What is not testable is how God did it. However, even the Bible explains that the works of God’s hands speak of their divine authorship through empirically-testable evidences. The “weight of evidence” clearly supports the Bible’s claim that God created the universe and everything in it.

      We prove it by bible prophecy.

      Biblical prophecy, while very good evidence of the divine origin of the Bible, is not the only evidence for the Divine origin of the universe and everything in it – not by a long shot. Again, you don’t need the Bible or biblical prophecy to know that God-level intelligence and creative power was required to bring the universe, and living things, into existence.

      And this method is more than adequate to convince any individual seeking truth with an open and willing mind, as the Holy Spirit (God) validates the truth of it.

      Since when has the Holy Spirit directly told you the truth of the Bible? – or the truth of the creation story? Has God sent you an angel to explain it to you, or told you Himself in vision? Or perhaps, like my Latter-day Saints friends, you just have a warm fuzzy feeling deep down inside whenever you hear the “truth”?

      Well, I have to tell you that I don’t believe that God generally works this way. God expects us to use the minds and intelligence that He has given us to search out the Bible as it compares to the supporting empirical evidence that He has also provided. While the Holy Spirit may in fact guide the sincerely searching mind, God doesn’t just spoon feed us the answers to these questions by some sort of direct revelation through the Holy Spirit. We are not born with this knowledge. It takes some work and study, on our part, to acquire it – at least for those like me who do not claim to be a prophet of God who speaks with Him in such a privileged manner.

      Sean Pitman




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        This particular topic is one for which words, sentences, logic very rarely are up to the task. It comes out muddled, or worse, even by historical and famous authors and philosophers. So each time I read Sean’s take on it, I am again impressed, sometimes astounded. It’s not been put more clearly, and to me convincingly, even by St. Paul




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      • “God expects us to use the minds and intelligence that He has given us to search out the Bible as it compares to the supporting empirical evidence that He has also provided.”

        I’ve never suggested otherwise, Sean. Self affirmation and self validation does not negate the evidence provided to affirm the affirmation. God makes claims and then proves them. The proof does not negate His self affirmation. It only confirms it. But you claim the proof negates the concept of self affirmation. I disagree and think any viable reasonable individual would disagree as well.

        I fail to see how any rational and reasonable understanding would assume self affirmation can only be a reality if and when no evidence is provided to affirm the claim.

        Bill Sorensen




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  18. “This particular topic is one for which words, sentences, logic very rarely are up to the task. It comes out muddled, or worse, even by historical and famous authors and philosophers. So each time I read Sean’s take on it, I am again impressed, sometimes astounded. It’s not been put more clearly, and to me convincingly, even by St. Paul”

    From our good Sage Kime: the Wisdom of Age and Time.




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  19. Dr. Pitman,

    You wrote “I may not agree with everything Zinke, Davidson, or Wilson might propose. In my opinion, it is most definitely a form of fideism to claim that the Bible needs no critical evaluation of any of its empirical claims to establish its credibility.”

    Kudos to you for finally conceding that you do not adhere to the official church hermeneutic. But I am astonished that you have not called for the resignation of these well-respected church employees. I recall that you once suggested SDA scientists who teach acceptance of a recent 6-day creation on faith rather than evidence should resign because all they have to offer is blind faith. You even called for the resignation of one scientist who told attendees at the 2010 Atlanta convention that he accepted a recent 6-day creation on faith. To be consistent, why are you not calling for the resignations of Dr. Davidson, Mr. Zinke, and Elder Wilson? Have you had a change of mind, or have you decided that tolerance is a more prudent position?




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    • What I said is that we don’t need our professors telling our students that all we have to go on for believing in the biblical view of creation is a form of blind fideistic faith in the notion that the Bible is the Word of God. Teachers in our schools who tell our young people that the available science, the actual empirical evidence in hand, overwhelming argues for the neo-Darwinian perspective, but that we can still believe the Bible contrary to this overwhelming evidence “by faith alone”, are doing a disservice to our youth. The same is true even if coming from Zinke, Davidson, or President Wilson himself. The reason for our faith in the Divine origin and credibility of the Bible is vital – according to the Bible itself. If we have no reasonable explanation for our church’s position on the Divine origin of the Bible, why should our youth believe it? Why is the Bible credible? Because we merely choose to place our faith in it without any other reason? How is this better than choosing to place our faith in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the Book of Mormon?




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  20. Dr. Kime,

    You wrote “So each time I read Sean’s take on it, I am again impressed, sometimes astounded. It’s not been put more clearly, and to me convincingly, even by St. Paul.”

    And where would you be, Sir, with the fideism of Dr. Davidson, Mr. Zinke, and Elder Wilson? Do you think these gentlemen should have the integrity to resign since all they have to offer is blind faith? This is no trivial matter. We base our core beliefs on proper hermeneutics, and if these gentlemen are leading the church down the wrong path, should we not hold them accountable?




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    • Richard,

      Alvin Plantinga has noted that fideism can be defined as an “exclusive or basic reliance upon faith alone, accompanied by a consequent disparagement of reason and utilized especially in the pursuit of philosophical or religious truth.

      The “Faith” of Dr. Davidson, Mr. Zinke, and Elder Wilson is not fideism and it not blind. It is based on the reliability and accuracy of the Bible, personal experience, and the abysmal failure of science on origins and its inability to refute the Laws of Biogenesis and Heredity.

      I tend to see faith as related to its Latin root “fides.” Romans saw it as “reliability” or trust within a relationship. A healthy trust is based on evidence and consistency. My faith is not a leap in the dark, and the evidence I base it on is open to logical and scientific query.

      Faith, Trust, and Evidence:
      by Tom Price
      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. Koukl explains that, “Christian faith cares about the evidence…the facts matter. You can’t have assurance for something you don’t know you’re going to get. You can only hope for it. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is so important. It gives assurance to the hope. Because of a Christian view of faith, Paul is able to say in 1 Corinthians 15 that when it comes to the resurrection, if we have only hope, but no assurance—if Jesus didn’t indeed rise from the dead in time/space history—then we are of most men to be pitied. This confidence Paul is talking about is not a confidence in a mere ‘faith’ resurrection, a mythical resurrection, a story-telling resurrection. Instead, it’s a belief in a real resurrection. If the real resurrection didn’t happen, then we’re in trouble. The Bible knows nothing of a bold leap-in-the-dark faith, a hope-against-hope faith, a faith with no evidence. Rather, if the evidence doesn’t correspond to the hope, then the faith is in vain, as even Paul has said.”
      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 divert and cauterize the human soul by hijacking knowledge.
      Tom Price is an academic tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Oxford, England.




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    • @Richard: Fair enough – we’re both astounded, easily astounded, I’d say. I am astounded at the way Dr. Pitman says what he says. Your astonishment seems mainly directed at Dr. Pitman because he, having reiterated, in that astoundingly clear way of his, that the Bible and God and our faith therein must be certain and thus involve evidence, is NOT demanding the termination of anybody iterating it with different emphasis. But why should you be astounded? Are you not one of the folks who are so astounded (yea, outraged) at Dr. Pitman’s seeing the necessity of terminating our tithe-supported professors when they advocate evolution, theistic or beyond, and thus trash the very reason for having our own universities in the first place, and Adventism itself? Now you’ve got me astounded again. Oh well, the War Against Women is astounding, isn’t it, sir?




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  21. This site loves this kind of drivel from a non-scientist. Essentially, this so-called leader is a b—— and has no relevancy to this topic. He does God a disservice with this words and actions. He will not get his way and he hopefully will not be in a leadership position for too long with this cult. God hates this.




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    • Ted Wilson is just reaffirming his belief in God. His job. Among other things,, is to keep false doctrine out of the church and evolution is certainly false. What is wrong with that?

      You do a disservice to all the scientists that agree with Ted.

      What God do you believe in?




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  22. Gene Fortner: I tend to see faith as related to its Latin root “fides.” Romans saw it as “reliability” or trust within a relationship. A healthy trust is based on evidence and consistency. My faith is not a leap in the dark, and the evidence I base it on is open to logical and scientific query.

    The question then is do you make your faith subservient to science as does Sean with his very revealing “if I ever..” statement or do you give precedence to the acts of faith that as Hebrews 11 would have you go out not knowing where or how he would get there.

    You need to examine critically Sean’s statement to see what is its intent;

    “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).

    He does not allow for the possibility that his understanding of Christianity or science is perhaps in any way incomplete or dare I say it wrong. No, he is absolutely confident that his empiricism is not at all a house of cards and that he can honestly reject Christianity based on a scientific finding.

    This is precisely what Soren Kierkegaard was talking about in his essay on the difference between a genius and a prophet. Sean I am sure sees himself as a genius and does preference the atomistic understanding of life in his pronouncement but I would rather base my faith on the word of a prophet. One who has experienced the moving of the spirit of God and who is prepared to follow no matter where it leads. One who values the Word of God above the empiricist constructs of the current age.

    I think we as Christians should deprecate the pre-eminent role of the modern apologist for in their enthusiasm to show how logical, intellectual and right Christianity is they forget the Grace and servitude that is the way of the Lord and perpetuate the myth that empiricism must be the gold standard and play directly into the hands of the philosophical naturalists. It is little wonder that such people become fans of the new atheism and Provine’s utterances about a God not worth having. My god is the kenotic God of Philipians 2. That message of God as the suffering servant is the message of the Prophet but it is far away from the understanding of the genius. I would highly commend the book; The end of apologetics;

    ” William Lane Craig is one of the more prominent and prolific Christian apologists, and he possesses an impressive array of academic credentials and accomplishments. He is a first-rate analytic philosopher, author, debater, and popular speaker. Craig opens his defense of his “classical” method of apologetics with a personal story of how he came to this methodology for defending the Christian faith— which Craig assumes is the method used by earlier Christian apologists who emphasized “natural theology.” …….

    “Craig’s story, as he puts it, hinges on “the age-old issue of the relationship between faith and reason.” [37] He confesses that for many years of his Christian life, this issue greatly perplexed him. He came to faith not because of “careful consideration of the evidence” but because of the quality of the lives of a group of Christians who shared the message of their faith with him. But as a teenage convert to Christianity, Craig was eager to share his new faith and immediately began to present arguments for becoming a Christian to his friends and family. He brought this evangelistic enthusiasm with him as he entered a well-known evangelical Christian college, expecting he would learn more arguments to bolster his evangelistic efforts. Instead, this particular college, he tells us, was characterized by a “theological rationalism” that encouraged students “to follow unflinchingly the demands of reason wherever it might lead.” To Craig’s dismay, the Bible courses he took at this college completely ignored evidences for the historical reliability of the Gospels, and he was taught in theology courses that none of the classical arguments for God’s existence were sound. [38] This did not sit well with Craig, and he even began to question whether he was a true intellectual. He recounts how “frightened and troubled” he was when one of his theology professors remarked that he would renounce Christianity if he could be persuaded of its unreasonableness. This fear led to outright alarm as Craig discovered extremely intelligent students were leaving behind Christian faith in the name of reason. His encounter with Jesus Christ was so genuine and real, and his experience with Jesus had invested his life with such significance, that Craig simply could not throw it all away just because it was deemed irrational. “If my reason turned against Christ,” Craig told one professor, “I’d still believe.”
    Penner, Myron B. (2013-07-01). End of Apologetics, The: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context (p. 21). Baker Publishing Group.

    As it eventuated Craig rejected the Kierkegaardian approach that saw the supremacy of Christian belief and faith and instead imagines that he has the might of logic and right on his side completely forgetting that was not the way he came to Christ. As Penner implies In some ways it is a dishonest approach since it says I can persuade you by logic and argument but I actually believe this because of the witness of a community of faith and message from the prophet. I’m afraid I have the same jaundiced view of Sean’s statements predicated as they are on the acceptance of his genius. Give me the messy uncertainty or Kierkegaard and the prophet who ask us to beleive because of the non-logical any day and we can accept the Grace of God and move on to a vocation of science done as it should be done assuming methodological naturalism and accepting by faith that everything is not at all totally dependent on the natural and the scientific.




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    • The problem with this approach (for those of us who do not claim to be prophets or talk directly with God in such a privileged manner) is that it is a feelings-based approach – which can be used to accept or reject anything as “true”… to include Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Christianity, Judaism, agnosticism, and even atheism (all of which have their own “prophets”). Upon what basis then does one pick among so many competing options if there is no rational reason for determining which claims of which “prophet” are more or less likely “true”? After all, from the fideistic perspective, the rational mind doesn’t play a part in determining truth from error. The process of “weighing the evidence” simply isn’t important in this approach. For the fideist, it’s all a matter of personal feelings regardless.

      Now, this approach may be fine when it comes to general ethical questions since the moral law (the Royal Law) is “written on the hearts” of all human beings. This morality is therefore given to us as an internal moral compass that lets us know right from wrong. However, when it comes to the numerous doctrinal truths that are presented in books like the Bible (and other religious texts), these have not been given to us as “internal truths”. Their validity must be based on intellectual study and supported by empirical evidence that appeals to the rational minds that God has also given to us to appreciate Him on a different level.

      The rational minds of those who are honestly and sincerely dedicated to searching for truth are therefore important and should not be discarded when it comes to the doctrinal questions of religion – or discussions about faith in the various empirical claims of the Bible or the existence of God and his Signature behind various features of the world in which we live.

      “God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. We are thus led to adore the Creator and to have an intelligent trust in His word.” – Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 115

      In other words, science and empirical reasoning are not the enemies of true religion – but its base. These are gifts of God which, rightly used with sincere motives and an earnest heart, are the only rational options we have to appreciate God and worship Him in the “intelligent” and thoughtful manner that He wants us to realize – a religion that goes beyond mere emotion and empirically-blind faith.

      To further clarify that Mrs. White was actually speaking of empirical evidence as a basis of faith in God’s word, consider the following comments found just before the above-listed reference in Patriarch and Prophets:

      “In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but men, with their vain reasoning, fall into the same error as did the people before the Flood–the things which God gave them as a benefit, they turn into a curse by making a wrong use of them.” – Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets

      In other words, according to Mrs. White, God actually gave the fossil record to us as a gift that was intended to help establish our faith in inspired history – i.e., the Bible. This is a very direct appeal to empirical evidence as a basis for faith. Just because many have made a wrong use of these evidences and have misinterpreted them, does not mean that such empirical evidences have nothing to do with rational faith. According to Mrs. White, empirical evidence does have a role to play in establishing a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible. It’s all based on careful, very thoughtful, investigation of the “weight of evidence”:

      Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence. God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith. — Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, 5:675, 676 (1889).

      The Bible also makes this point quite clear. Consider, for example, the following well-known passages:

      “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20 NIV

      “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalms 19:1 NIV

      Clearly, the works of an author do in fact say something about the existence and nature of the author… a fundamental concept that William Lane Craig came to realize.




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    • Paul,

      I make the opinions of scientists subservient to the Word of God. The Bible has proven itself to be much more reliable than opinions of an atheistic worldview that has been in error on so many things.

      You need to read Hebrews 11 for its context. Each and every one was responding to specific requests of God.

      My faith has been increased and strengthened by the scientific method.

      FYI,

      Fideism is usually associated with religious fundamentalism. But the materialists have their own fundamentalists,

      ALL belief systems [worldviews] have a gap that requires faith [finitely remote foundation that rests on first plausibles]. Period. You know it.

      We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.”

      “If the historic process of the origin and evolution of life could be followed, it would prove to be a purely chemical process . . . (Wächtershäuser, G., 1997). The question is whether this historic process or any reasonable part of it is available to human experiment and reasoning; there is no requirement that Nature’s laws be plausible or even known to mankind.”

      Sir Karl did turn out to be a pushover when it came to Darwinism. He was right on track when he characterized Darwinism not as a scientific theory but as a “metaphysical research program.” He took a lot of heat for that statement and ultimately backed down. What happened to Popper with his criticism of Darwinism is reminiscent of Galileo’s persecution by the dominant Church at the time. Popper showed extreme bravery when he attacked Darwinism. I guess that, in the end, he realized that it was better for him to be a pushover than to be expelled, i.e., excommunicated. Still, I believe that his falsifiability principle tears evolution and materialism to shreds.




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  23. Pauluc quoted Sean who said, “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”

    And all bible Christians recognize that Sean has pushed himself out to sea with no viable anchor for his faith in the end. It has been well noted that in the end, a person must accept one authority, or the other. You can not have both science and biblical revelation be equal in authority. And this is because they can not be rationally and perfectly harmonized on all levels of rational reasoning.

    There must necessarily come a time when Sean must eventually admit that his scientific understanding and knowledge can not be perfectly and rationally harmonized with scripture. The apostle Paul says, “Spiritual things, are spiritually discerned.” And this excludes science as being a final authority, nor can we use science on all levels to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”

    Even if we admit and confess there is no real conflict between science and bible faith, the confession is a faith confession, not a scientific confession. The fact is, we will always find that science is at odds on some level with scriptural revelations and affirmations. Since we have no way of proving the “first cause”, we must accept some speculation based on the affirmation of scripture, or some speculation based on scientific findings.

    Apparently, Sean rejects the idea that God is self affirming when He presents the evidence of the truthfulness of His declarations. He seems to believe that self affirmation has no evidence, and any evidence negates self affirmation. So, God’s self affirmation could only be valid if He said, “I am God and I said so, and that’s that.” But if and when God presents evidence of His claim, it is no longer self affirmation but goes beyond this concept.

    I have tried to understand Sean on this point and hope I have not misrepresented his explanation. But the conclusion I have come to seems to me to be the only one that fits his explanation. At any rate, Pauluc seems to have again pointed out a basic flaw in Sean’s overall argument.
    Bill Sorensen




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    • It’s strange that you argue for the importance of evidence, to include prophecy, to support biblical credibility. Despite calling such evidence “self affirming”, it is actually based the historical sciences – an external source of empirical evidence (as I’ve already explained extensively in this same thread).

      I also don’t know what you seem to think that I’m arguing for some kind of perfection of knowledge. No one has perfect knowledge – except for God. What we can have, however, is the “weight of evidence” that we are given to personally understand. Does this mean I think I perfectly understand science or the Bible? Of course not – not even close. However, given what I think I do know, the weight of evidence clearly supports the credibility of the Bible – and one doesn’t have to be a genius to come to this conclusion.

      Beyond this, you do realize that those like Pauluc (Paul Cameron) who are promoting various forms of fideistic faith do not have faith in many of the claims of the Bible. Pauluc believes in the Darwinian-style evolution of life on this planet over the course of billions of years of suffering and death to untold numbers of sentient creatures – despite the Bible’s claims, and even Jesus’ claims, to the contrary. He also believes in universal salvation and numerous other doctrinal ideas that are opposed to the claims of the Bible. In short, Pauluc’s has faith in doctrinal ideas of his own creation or preference. And, his position cannot be rationally investigated or tested or potentially falsified or challenged in any way because his position is not based on the weight of evidence or rational argument of any kind. He just feels what he believes to be true – just like my LDS friends.

      If you support such a position, it makes no sense that you should oppose the promotion of neo-Darwinism in our SDA schools. After all, who cares what “science” says? The the science professors teach whatever they want. Our students should just believe the claims of the Bible regardless – right? Well, certainly Pauluc doesn’t believe many of the claims of the Bible, and neither will the vast majority of the students in our schools once they accept neo-Darwinism as the most rational story of origins – and for very good reasons. They will no longer consider the Bible remotely credible if it can’t get something so fundamentally important to the human condition, to include our moral condition, right.




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  24. Sean

    Thanks for making my point. Though you might claim genius in comprehending empirically better than any scientist you and Craig both come to Christian faith despite your protestations not because of the scientific evidence but because of the word of the prophet (I use the word in its accepted sense of a messenger from God and the supernatural not in your sense of simply a charismatic leader devoid of transcendent intent). You come to God by a certain intuition and revelation but then want to deny this reality and reconstruct the argument and your history as scientifically defensible and logical progression post hoc Else why do you even argue here with the words of our peculiar prophet?
    As to the arbitrary choice of different truths on which you seem to persevarate I am with Rahner in imagining God acts in many cultures to ask people to contemplate the divine and the transcendent and live beyond the natural world. How else can you make sense of Romans 1? These people did not come to God through empiricism or science but though an intuition coming from a gestalt of nature itself. After that step however I think there is a certain convergence within faith traditions. I personally am like, EGW, a follower of Christ because of His Life and death as a revelation of God. Are you suggesting that is insufficient to make a decision?
    I do not ask you to agree with anything I say, all I ask is that you are open enough to admit that your faith is not going to be lost because of any empirical evidence of age you may reluctantly admit is against your literal creationism. Its time to have an honest conversation rather than simply use the “If I ever” statement to bludgeon people and exclude them from a faith community.




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    • You come to God by a certain intuition and revelation but then want to deny this reality and reconstruct the argument and your history as scientifically defensible and logical progression post hoc Else why do you even argue here with the words of our peculiar prophet?

      I cite the writings of Mrs. White here to show those who believe that she was inspired by God, and who might be tempted to take on the fideistic perspective, that she was no fideist. The same thing is true of the Biblical prophets who regularly cited empirical evidence as a basis for faith in their claims to be speaking for God.

      Of course, there are many “prophets”, even modern prophets, who claim to speak for God. How does one determine which of these “prophets”, if any among these many competing voices, is telling the truth? Based on blind hope and wishful thinking? – or some vague sensation or intestinal gestalt? That’s it? Not for me. I investigate these competing claims as they stack up against the evidence that is available to me to see which claims have the support of the “weight of evidence.” I didn’t pick Christianity because I had a need to believe the Christian version of God (as compared to the LDS version or the Hindu version). I picked Christianity for myself, when I came of age, because of what I perceived to be the “weight of evidence” in its favor. It made the most logical sense to me given what I knew about reality. And, the more I’ve learned over the years, the more and more confidence I’ve gained in the credibility of its claims.

      As to the arbitrary choice of different truths on which you seem to persevarate I am with Rahner in imagining God acts in many cultures to ask people to contemplate the divine and the transcendent and live beyond the natural world. How else can you make sense of Romans 1? These people did not come to God through empiricism or science but though an intuition coming from a gestalt of nature itself. After that step however I think there is a certain convergence within faith traditions. I personally am like, EGW, a follower of Christ because of His Life and death as a revelation of God. Are you suggesting that is insufficient to make a decision?

      There are lots of good stories out there. Why pick the story of Christ as told by the Bible in particular? – especially when you don’t believe many of the things that Jesus is quoted as saying? After all, Jesus is specifically quoted as supporting the doctrine of a literal 6-day creation, Noah’s Flood, Adam and Eve, etc. Yet, you believe none of these things. You are, after all, a full-fledged Darwinian evolutionist – contrary to the very explicit claims of the Bible concerning the origin of life on this planet. You also don’t believe the Bible’s claim that there was war in Heaven or Jesus’ claim that He personally saw Lucifer forcibly expelled from Heaven and fall “like lightening”. You seem to believe in universal salvation, despite the claims of the Bible to the contrary. You see, you simple don’t view very much of the Bible as credible. What you do seem to appreciate is the ethical standards attributed to Christ. But, beyond this, you don’t believe very many of the doctrinal claims of the Bible. You seem to have a faith in a religion of your own creation – a religion that is largely independent of the claims of the Bible. And, according to you, your faith in your religion is not based on any kind of logical argument. Only you can understand it since you have what I would call a “feeling of truth” which need not be presented in a logically understandable way. After all, you said, “I do not need my religion… to be scientific or logical.” Yet you still try to present arguments for your religion for some strange reason (since it would seem that if your religion is not necessarily logical that it would be pointless discuss it at all)?

      Now, it’s great for you to have your own private unassailable faith, but how is that helpful for anyone else? Upon what basis can you talk to anyone else and give them any kind of solid hope in the future contrary to their own fideistic faith and what their own chosen religious text is telling them (such as those who follow the Qu’ran as “God’s Word”)? – based on an appeal to some deep internal feeling or gestalt of “truth” like my LDS friends have? That’s it? I’m sorry, but I just don’t find your gestalt, or even my own gestalts, very helpful to me and my faith in the superior credibility of the Bible.

      You argue that, “These people [the heathen who studied nature] did not come to God through empiricism or science but though an intuition coming from a gestalt of nature itself.”

      Really? Nature offers nothing more than a vague “gestalt” of the Divine signature? Paul says in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” That doesn’t sound like some kind of vague “gestalt” feeling to me. How can you “be without excuse” based on accepting or rejecting a feeling similar to indigestion?

      I’m sorry, but it seems to me that the signature of God is much more clearly recognizable in nature – based on the clear “weight of empirical evidence” and a form of scientific investigation and understanding of the natural world that appeals to the rational minds of those who are honestly searching after truth. After all, the majority of physicists believe in some kind of God-like intelligence at play behind the fundamental constants of the universe. The same thing can be true for one’s understanding of the credibility of the Bible as well. The Bible need not be accepted as the “Word of God” based on some intestinal gestalt feeling, but upon a carefully reasoned approach that compares the testable claims of the Bible to the weight of evidence for or against these claims. It is in this way that the Bible logically gains or loses credibility for the rational mind. I wouldn’t be willing to make significant sacrifices or put my life on the line for some vague gestalt feeling. However, I would be willing to put my life and career on the line for what I see as the clear weight of evidence in support of the claims of the Bible. I have in fact been brought up for military court martial, twice, over my refusal to do non-essential tasks on the Sabbath. I would never have put myself in such a situation over some intestinal gestalt feeling.

      In comparison, you really have no argument against the competing views of my LDS friends who present very very similar gestalt-arguments to the ones you’re forwarding in this forum. You just have a different “gestalt” or “feeling” than they have is all – but no better rational argument for why you believe what you believe. Why put anything important at risk for that?

      This is not what God wants for us. He wants us to have an “intelligent trust” in His Word, the Bible, that goes well beyond a mere feeling or intestinal “gestalt” that this book is in fact Divinely inspired and trustworthy in its claims.




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  25. Sean Pitman: This is not what God wants for us. He wants us to have an “intelligent trust” in His Word, the Bible, that goes well beyond a mere feeling or intestinal “gestalt” that this book is in fact Divinely inspired and trustworthy in its claims.

    Indeed He does and I am quite confident He does not expect us to throw it all away when we suddenly become convinced that there is some compelling “empirical evidence” that the earth is more than 6000 years old. I believe that faith in God is independent of the age of the Earth. You do not. Lets be quite clear on my concern here, we disagree on many things, definition of and basis of science being only one obvious one but we follow the same God who was incarnate in Jesus Christ. My view of inspiration and the activity of God calling all men to him is another. We of course agree on free will; that all men are required to make a choice to accept God and those that do are saved, those that reject Him have made their decision by free will, but the Doctrine of Salvation by Faith is contingent on the idea that salvation is entirely up to God it is not our judgement. It is not at all my role to make judgement on the commitment to Christianity or to determine if anyone is lost or saved. What is my concern is that you are so closely defining what is Christian and true with some woolly notion of an all-pervasive “science” as “weight of empirical evidence” as to advocate that anyone who does not believe like you and accept that the earth is 6000 years old is an atheist, should behave as one and should deny any knowledge or acceptance Jesus as their saviour. They are not welcome in your church or its academe. That is the offence and it is such an offence as in my view it makes you profession of faith in a God of Grace suspect.




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    • Oh please, I never said that those who hold different views of God, to include Darwinian views, are “all atheists” or are being dishonest in their views. In fact, I’ve known quite a number of atheists who hold to very high moral standards. I have no doubt that a sizable number of very surprised atheists (and “Christian Darwinists”) will find themselves in Heaven one day discovering a lot of very unexpected realities. In short, this isn’t about judging the morality of a person or who will or who won’t be saved. I totally agree with you that this decision is entirely up to God.

      Now, I do personally believe that I am called to be prepared to give a reason, a logical reason, for the hope that is within me (1 Peter 3:15). I may not believe that your Christianity is rational or logical (after all, you yourself don’t think your own Christianity is logical). However, I do not judge you on a moral level aside from the fact that I believe you to be honest and sincere. You are free to cite your “gestalt” feelings as your reason if you want. Which is fine for you. Again, I do not question your relationship with God or your sincerity.

      However, I do not believe that the Adventist Church should hire those who go with such gestalt feelings of what they personally believe to be true when such conclusions fundamentally oppose the church’s positions on various topics. You can believe whatever you want and form your own private views of your own Christianity – but not on the church’s dime. If you don’t subscribe to the clearly stated views of an organization, that’s perfectly fine. Go and form your own organization or work for yourself. However, it simply isn’t right, ethically right, to take money from any organization while going around undermining the primary goals and ideals of that organization.

      I must also note where you said, “I am quite confident He does not expect us to throw it all away when we suddenly become convinced that there is some compelling ’empirical evidence’ that the earth is more than 6000 years old. I believe that faith in God is independent of the age of the Earth. You do not.”

      Again, your faith is indeed independent of the claims of the Bible at large. You pick and choose and create your own picture of God based on your own personal feelings or “gestalt” – a gestalt that you hold in much higher regard compared to your views on the credibility of the Bible. So, you’re right. Your faith is so solid that it can withstand the falsification of any and all of what the Bible has to say.

      Remember also that I’m a “young-life” not a “young-Earth” creationist (which we’ve already discussed in some detail). While it may be rationally possible to believe in some kind of God given the truth of the neo-Darwinian perspective, I don’t see how such a God could be the same as the God described in the Bible. Such a neo-Darwinian reality would suggest to me a very different type of God – a deceptive dishonest type of God whom I wouldn’t like or have faith in to do the right thing. Nor would I wish to live forever in the type of place that you imagine Heaven to be (where the death and suffering of sentient animals continues for all eternity). Such a cruel place would not be Heaven for me. I much prefer the God of the Bible who suffers when even a little sparrow falls wounded to the ground; who promises to do away with all such death and suffering for all sentient creatures – as things were originally intended to be.




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  26. Gene Fortner: Still, I believe that his falsifiability principle tears evolution and materialism to shreds.

    This conversation is about teaching of evolution in Christian schools but I still do not really know what you mean with this statement about Popper really means or what you mean by evolution.

    1] We both as Christians object to materiallism as a doctrine which says that there is nothing but the physical or natural world. Fair enough. But you then seem to equate materialism with evolution when that is by no means the case. The scientific discipline of evolutionary science is like all of science clearly based on methodological naturalism but it makes no assumption about materialism as a philosophy essential its practice nor the practice of any science.

    2] It is unclear what you mean by evolution. You seem to be condemnatory of all evolutionary processes but I find that hard to believe. Do you accept that there was evolution of kinds after the 2 or 7/14 animals left the ark? Almost all YLC or YEC would accept that.

    3] Please define what you mean by the scientific method which gives such a boost to your faith. Do you accept that methodological naturalism is the basis of science. If not what do you suggest.

    4] If you want to make your religious understanding scientific or subject to “empirical evidence” as Sean would have it then surely his falsifiability criteria must also tear that to shreds. I think we do probably agree in that anything that cannot be subject to hypothesis testing and falsifiability is not science. This is precisely why I do not ever try to justify my religion and belief in Jesus as the incarnate God on the basis of any empirical evidence or scientific process. It is not within the realm of science defined by any criteria suggested by either Popperian of Kuhnian definitions.




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    • If your argument is that you have no logical basis or empirical evidence for the superiority of your faith, and you don’t even believe many of the claims of the Bible (even those attributed to Jesus Himself), why are you here? Upon what basis do you hope to convince anyone of the superior value of your perspective? – who doesn’t already subscribe to it? Isn’t it true that you have no argument — by definition?




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    • Paul,

      Definition of Evolution

      When I talk about “evolution,” I don’t mean, “any kind of change.” Nor do I mean minor variations that result from natural selection. I use the term “evolution” to mean;

      “The doctrine that unguided natural forces caused chemicals to combine in such a way that life resulted; and that all living things have descended from that common ancestral form of life.”

      This is utter nonsense.

      There is absolutely no basis for believing that except for blind faith. (Fideism). I don’t understand how any intelligent person can believe that evolution can produce new organs and / or body types when there is absolutely no evidence.

      What motivates that faith?

      Christians for Darwin is an oxymoron.

      As for Popper, evolution as taught by academia is not science because it is not falsifiable.

      It would be interesting to know upon what do you base whatever religion you believe in?




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  27. Sean Pitman: Again, your faith is indeed independent of the claims of the Bible at large. You pick and choose and create your own picture of God based on your own personal feelings or “gestalt” – a gestalt that you hold in much higher regard compared to your views on the credibility of the Bible. So, you’re right. Your faith is so solid that it can withstand the falsification of any and all of what the Bible has to say.

    Given your self sufficiency and genius i guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you would attack a fairly orthodox Christian position for that is essentially my position. I accept the bible as the word of God, written by human hands and revealing Jesus as the Incarnate God. I accept that everyone including Sean Pitman interprets the bible and do the same. I accept that the form can be subject to criticism but the acceptance of the core content of scripture as the word of God is a matter of faith not dependent on empirical evidences. You know very well I do not think that heaven is the carbon based life form we have here on earth subject as it is to death new birth and growth. As Paul says we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. We take on immortality which is not a conceivable property of carbon based life as we know it. In that Kingdom of Heaven there will be peace and the will of God will be done. As disciples we are called to practice Kingdom principles here and now in anticipation of the parousia and that includes the principle of overcoming evil with good. To me that includes a pacifist position. I still find it absolutely incredible that you should follow a God that is concerned when a sparrow falls while violently supporting US Emperialism as a soldier.




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    • I’m just saying that you pick and choose what to believe about Jesus and what He stood for based, not on what the Bible says, or even what Jesus is quoted as saying, or any kind of logical argument, but upon your own gestalt or feelings of what you seem to want to believe (which are strongly influenced by your Darwinian beliefs). As you point out, you are certainly not alone in this perspective of yours. After all, there are lots of people in numerous religious organizations who claim to be “Christian” and yet subscribe to numerous non-Biblical doctrines (such as the worship of and prayers offered to the Virgin Mary and numerous other saints, the eternal soul, eternally burning Hell, purgatory, Sunday sacredness, etc). However, the popularity of an idea doesn’t make it Biblical, logical, or rationally Christian (i.e., just because a lot of people who claim to be Christian believe something doesn’t mean it is something that Jesus Himself promoted or would ever promote).

      Along these lines, the Bible says nothing about nor does it suggest a change in humans from a carbon-based life form to some other type of life form; nor does it present your argument that animals will continue to suffer and die throughout all eternity – as they’ve done for billions of years. This is not a Biblical concept. The only way “mortals put on immortality” is by Divine intervention in what would otherwise be a natural decay process – carbon based or otherwise. Immortality is not achieved by changing from a carbon-based life form to some other type of life form. This is why we will still have to eat from the Tree of Life on a regular basis once we get to Heaven and the New Earth – just as Adam and Eve had to do before the Fall as a symbol of a continued connection with God. St. Paul is simply talking about our bodies being changed to how humanity existed before the Fall – without all the damage caused by thousands of years of degeneration since our separation from the Tree of Life.

      In short, separation from God naturally results in degeneration, decay and eventual death – regardless of the type of life form. No one has direct access to immortality except for God. And, anyone, carbon-based or otherwise, who is separated from God will start to decay and will eventually die.

      Again, you are free to believe and have faith in and call yourself whatever you want – just not on the church’s dime.




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  28. Sean Pitman: Oh please, I never said that those who hold different views of God, to include Darwinian views, are “all atheists” or are being dishonest in their views.

    Sorry Sean but my understanding of your “If I ever…” statement is that anyone who believes in long ages should not be calling themself a Christian and should do the honest thing and leave Adventism and Christianity. Is that not your implication? If not why would YOU reject Christianty just because life was old?




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  29. Sean Pitman: However, I do not believe that the Adventist Church should hire those who go with such gestalt feelings of what they personally believe to be true when such conclusions fundamentally oppose the church’s positions on various topics. You can believe whatever you want and form your own private views of your own Christianity – but not on the church’s dime. If you don’t subscribe to the clearly stated views of an organization, that’s perfectly fine. Go and form your own organization or work for yourself. However, it simply isn’t right, ethically right, to take money from any organization while going around undermining the primary goals and ideals of that organization.

    If I had the time I would codify your statements since they are so stereotyped. Like talk origins has for the arguments for YEC. You seem to have a fairly limited repertoire or core arguments so perhaps one of your accolytes should help us here with a code.

    This one in the absence of a code I could perhaps call “on the church’s dime”
    The “on the church’s dime” argument goes that anyone working for the church in academia should in ALL aspects adhere to the traditional beliefs.
    This calls for an ossified church and implies that any discussion of ideas is dangerous and should be avoided.
    This I presume this is what you want for your children when they attend LSU although you never did commit to sending your children there.
    Further you seem to imply that the “primary goals and ideals” of Adventism is to enunciate YEC. More or less consistent with Bob Helms statement that Adventism arose to fight Darwinism. Is this true. Do you really think that fighting the scientific theory of natural selection is the primary goal and ideal of Adventism and Christianity. Do you think that if someone is right on creationism they are Godly people who can convey to young people the Gospel and the life of discipleship?




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    • Why would you expect a different answer when you keep asking the same question over and over again? It’s quite true that my “core arguments” aren’t very extensive or complex. They were never intended to be. They are in fact very simple and straightforward – so much so that even a young child would be able to understand them.

      This isn’t rocket science. If an organization isn’t organized, if it doesn’t stand for something, if it hires whomever to do whatever, it really won’t be an organization much longer. Simple…

      I’m not talking about minor disagreements here. I’m talking about disagreements over what the organization has clearly declared are its primary goals and ideals – its very reason for existence.

      Now, changing some of the primary purposes and goals of an organization might be beneficial on occasion – no doubt. However, there are proper channels through which to propose such changes. Teachers or preachers who strike out on their own to publicly attack the primary goals and ideals of the church organization from the classroom or the pulpit are not acting appropriately toward their employer. No organization would tolerate employees acting like this in such a public manner. The honest and most ethical thing to do for any paid representative of the church (or any other organization) who has some fundamental disagreement with the church, is to present these disagreements internally to the church leadership. Then, if the leadership of the church does not listen or change “appropriately”, the individual should resign and seek employment elsewhere. Why should the church be required to maintain any representative who will not effectively represent what the church is paying him/her to represent?




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  30. Gene Fortner: “The doctrine that unguided natural forces caused chemicals to combine in such a way that life resulted; and that all living things have descended from that common ancestral form of life.”

    This seems to be lifted from http://scienceagainstevolution.info/index.shtml
    A website that I am sorry to say has very little going for it aesthetically or intellectually.
    It essentially equates evolution with abiogenesis. Perhaps you should use that well defined term rather than corrupting the understanding of evolution to the point that discussion is impossible. The use of the term doctrine of course gives the clue to the content of the site.

    Evolution as per Wiki is;
    Evolution is the process of change in all forms of life over generations, and evolutionary biology is the study of how evolution occurs. Life evolves by means of mutations (changes in an organism’s hereditary information), genetic drift (random change in the genetic variation of a population from generation to generation), and natural selection (the non-random and gradual process of natural variation by which observable traits (such as eye color) become more or less common in a population).

    Abiogenesis is
    Abiogenesis or biopoiesis] is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter such as simple organic compounds.

    You do not have to accept both of these processes and the second evolved historically from the former. I believe you like Sean would accept evolution as conventionally understood for the origin of species but would for the sake of argument think it is not actually evolution.

    You ask;

    “It would be interesting to know upon what do you base whatever religion you believe in?”

    If you had parsed any of my comments to you here or at Spectrum you would know I am a very conventional scientist with a background in genetics and a Seventh Day Adventist who accepts the neo-othodox position that Christianity is based on a revelation of God in Jesus not derivative of modern naturalistic science. It is accepted by faith and “science” as EGW understood it as knowledge about God. It is not based on the genius but the prophet by the understanding of the community of faith in my case the Adventist community and the word of God revealed in that community and its canon. It is not now and never has been scientific as anyone except Sean would understand modern experimental science.




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    • Come on Paul. You know full well that neo-Darwinism proposes that all life on this planet arose from a common ancestral life form without the detectable need for intelligent design or Divine guidance of any kind. You also know that abiogenesis is promoted by most secular Darwinists as a valid extension of methodological naturalism. Yet, neither one of these concepts is based on testable, potentially falsifiable, scientific hypotheses or theories – which haven’t already been falsified beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

      As far as the basis for your faith is concerned, I ask you yet again, why couldn’t your very same argument be used by the Latter-day Saints, or Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, or even atheists? What makes your “community of faith and its canon”, as you interpret it, superior to all of these competing options? Upon what basis do you, or should anyone else beyond you and your “community of faith”, recognize the superiority of your faith over numerous competing options? You claim to have no logical argument to answer this question. So, why are you here? – since, by your own admission, you have no logical argument to support your position?

      It seems to me then that you’re primarily upset because I do have the temerity to believe that there is a logical basis for my faith – a basis that can be used to argue for the reasonable superiority of Christianity, and the Adventist take on Christianity and the Bible in particular, verses all other competing options. That’s what really seems to bother you. You wouldn’t care one lick if I said that the only basis for my Christianity was the same sort of fideistic feelings-based “gestalt” type of faith to which you subscribe. Why wouldn’t that bother you? Because, such a faith does not challenge your position since all such fideistic faiths are rationally equal and logically indistinguishable. It seems to me that you don’t like anyone to suggest that there might be very good reasons why you, and your community of faith, are probably mistaken. That’s why you go around calling me an arrogant “self-proclaimed genius” all the time – in an effort to try to discredit the arguments presented in favor of a rational faith in the credibility and Divine origin of the Bible that can be based on the “weight of evidence” that has been made available to us.




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    • @pauluc:

      Paul,

      FYI,
      There are the theories of evolution of the Universe; Solar System; Earth; Life;Ascent of Life; Man.
      All of these theories are against the Bible and all are found wanting based on science.
      SDA Theology is based on the Bible, not “genius”. What ever gave you such an idea?
      Surely not me or Sean.

      Why do you have a problem with pointing out the problems with current evolutionary theory?

      So your belief is based on absolute fideism?




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  31. Sean Pitman: It seems to me then that you’re primarily upset because I do have the temerity to believe that there is a logical basis for my faith – a basis that can be used to argue for the reasonable superiority of Christianity, and the Adventist take on Christianity and the Bible in particular, verses all other competing options. That’s what really seems to bother you

    No Sean what upsets me is that you are a much much better advocate for atheism than you are for Christianity. Your “If I ever…” is the essence of your belief structure. You are advocating that logic and empirical weight of scientific evidence as the basis of Christian belief and if ever that is challenged its Atheism for me. You and I know the basis for philosophical naturalism but only you are advocating it as the only alternative to Christian fundamentalism. None of this mamby pamby belief in God based on non-logic or non-scientific argument. No burning in the Bosom, and to say “I see matchless charms in my Redeemer, I see unsurpassed loveliness in his character, and I want to be like him” is to succumb to the left brain activity of intuition and aesthetics which of course could not be the basis for anything. It of course is not scientific or logical and deserves only scorn.

    I accept on the witness of several people that know you that you are likely a genius but you would have to be brain dead not to notice a modicum of arrogance and deference to your brilliance in everything you write. You accept that you alone can divine the true nature of plate tectonics, biological basis of speciation, genomics, genetics, paleontology, or ice cores or any other of a myriad of disciplines that impinge on the scientific understanding of origins. Those that practice these disciplines and accept the conventional scientific synthesis are or course foolish or just simply wrong. You similarly understand the bible unlike anyone else. You can see in the text the clear position of YLC, a position that escaped most before the 18th century understanding of geology altered the theological perspective. You of course hold your theological position while denying that any consideration of age impacts you exegesis.

    I comend some extremely well written books relevant to this comment that I have read this year.
    1] “A faithful guide to philosophy” by Peter Williams. http://www.amazon.com/A-Faithful-Guide-To-Philosophy-ebook/dp/B00EL3Q0CO
    I am sure you would love it as he repeats the whole mantra of modern Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and advocates for ID as the legitimate philosophical child of Paleys natural philosophy but as a Christian and a scientist I have to agree with the teachers at Craig’s alma mater who accepted that none of the classical arguments for Gods existence were compelling. http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/ted-wilson-no-room-for-evolution-as-truth-in-adventist-schools/comment-page-1/#comment-51917
    Peter William’s book is a book full of platitudes and reassurances of our superiority but if you know any science you know it is simply preaching to the choir and will be dismissed by any well informed atheist or even Christian.

    2] “Unapologetic: Why Despite everything Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense”. Francis Spufford. http://www.amazon.com/Unapologetic-Everything-Christianity-Surprising-Emotional/dp/0062300458
    Despite the style that will offend some this is a serious adult book on the basis for Christian belief from a very well informed atheist who reconsidered Christianity and came to belief.

    3] The end of apologetics: Christian witness in a postmodern context Myron Penner
    http://www.amazon.com/End-Apologetics-The-Christian-Postmodern-ebook/dp/B00DO2Y4GC
    You will either hate this if you are an advocate of the classical logical apologetic and accept Peter William’s contentions or appreciate it for what it is a book that accepts we are no longer in the 19th century and that Atheism is the fastest growing religion.

    4] The great partnership: God, Science and Search for Meaning. Jonathon Sacks.
    http://www.amazon.com/Great-Partnership-Jonathan-Sacks/dp/0340995246
    Again a serious book written by the cheif Rabbi of UK on the relationship of scientific understanding to God within the Abrahamic traditions.

    As for “weight of evidence” I totally agree that Christianity is based on the “weight of evidence” but what I disagree about is that Christianity should be based on the “weight of empirical evidence” which as almost everyone uses the term means experimental or scientific evidence. You parse EG White poorly if you think that these are in her writings the same. The former leads to edification the latter is an inexorable path to “If I ever…” and atheism. If I am to take you seriously you are one scientific observation away from Atheism.




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    • No Sean what upsets me is that you are a much much better advocate for atheism than you are for Christianity. Your “If I ever…” is the essence of your belief structure. You are advocating that logic and empirical weight of scientific evidence as the basis of Christian belief and if ever that is challenged its Atheism for me. You and I know the basis for philosophical naturalism but only you are advocating it as the only alternative to Christian fundamentalism.

      Just because one might not believe in Christianity doesn’t mean that one is automatically an atheist. There are many non-Christians who believe in some kind of God. Most physicists, as already noted, believe in some kind of God-like creative power behind the fundamental constants of the universe – yet most of these do not subscribe to Christianity. So, obviously methodological naturalism isn’t the only alternative to Christianity – not by a long shot. However, methodological naturalism that concludes that there is no need to invoke intelligent design to explain any empirical phenomenon makes it a lot easier to subscribe to philosophical naturalism and atheism.

      So, why should anyone put one’s faith in Christianity and the Divine origin of the Bible in particular? – based on some kind of strong feeling or intestinal gestalt?

      You write:

      None of this mamby pamby belief in God based on non-logic or non-scientific argument. No burning in the Bosom, and to say “I see matchless charms in my Redeemer, I see unsurpassed loveliness in his character, and I want to be like him” is to succumb to the left brain activity of intuition and aesthetics which of course could not be the basis for anything. It of course is not scientific or logical and deserves only scorn.

      Here you seem to do exactly what my LDS friends do – argue for some kind of “gestalt” or “intuition” or “aesthetics” as a basis for determining empirical truth. Now, I do completely understand the attractiveness of the story of Jesus’ character – and the desire to be like Him. However, this desire is based on an internally derived knowledge of the moral law – the “Royal Law” that is written on the hearts of all humans. This knowledge does not have to be learned over time. It is unlike discovering the truth or error of various doctrinal claims – such as the Bible’s claim that Jesus was born of a virgin, raised the dead to life, and was Himself raised to life and ascended to Heaven. These particular claims are empirical claims that supposedly really happened in our empirical world. These are claims about real history. This is completely different from determining the attractiveness of the ethics of a story about someone’s life.

      It is for this reason that left-brained gestalt feelings and intuition only take you so far. These feelings cannot form the basis of determining the truth of the empirical claims of the Bible which is separate from determining the truth of the moral claims of the Bible. Additional empirical evidence is needed before one can determine if a good moral book is also credible regarding its empirical claims as well. Otherwise, there is no way to rationally tell the difference between a good “moral fable” and something that likely happened in real history or something that can be relied upon as far as its claims about our very real, empirically real, future.

      Yet, you write that, “none of the classical arguments for Gods existence [are] compelling.” Not that it should matter, but the majority of physicists would disagree with you. The Biblical authors disagree with you, citing the clearly evident signature of God in the works of nature. And, in this particular case, I would disagree with you as well. I also see very compelling evidence for the existence of God’s signature in nature and within the pages of the Bible. I’m sorry that you aren’t convinced by these empirical evidences, but why should your doubts affect me and what I think I understand to be so clearly evident?

      I accept on the witness of several people that know you that you are likely a genius but you would have to be brain dead not to notice a modicum of arrogance and deference to your brilliance in everything you write. You accept that you alone can divine the true nature of plate tectonics, biological basis of speciation, genomics, genetics, paleontology, or ice cores or any other of a myriad of disciplines that impinge on the scientific understanding of origins. Those that practice these disciplines and accept the conventional scientific synthesis are or course foolish or just simply wrong.

      I may be in the minority as far as “scientists” are concerned, but I am by no means alone in my views. And, even if I were entirely alone in the world, with no other person sharing my perspective, what would that prove? Why should I modify my views before I actually recognize the errors of my ways? Such arguments from authority have no explanatory value. I know that you feel most comfortable being part of what you consider to be the intellectual majority. But, if you have no personal understanding of what others are telling you is true, what can you tell me except for what I already know? – that most scientists disagree with me? I already know that.

      You similarly understand the bible unlike anyone else. You can see in the text the clear position of YLC, a position that escaped most before the 18th century understanding of geology altered the theological perspective. You of course hold your theological position while denying that any consideration of age impacts you exegesis.

      Again, I am by no means alone in my understanding of the Bible. Also, the concept of a literal creation week and a recent Noachian-style Flood goes way back, well before the 18th century. Also, the idea that the universe pre-existed the creation week of our planet is not an entirely new concept either. Either way, the YLC is quite consistent with the claims of the Bible. The age of the universe is not detailed in the Bible. Therefore, I fail to see why the age of the universe should impact my exegesis?

      As for “weight of evidence” I totally agree that Christianity is based on the “weight of evidence” but what I disagree about is that Christianity should be based on the “weight of empirical evidence” which as almost everyone uses the term means experimental or scientific evidence. You parse EG White poorly if you think that these are in her writings the same.

      Again, we are back to intestinal “gestalt” feelings, or “intuition” or “aesthetics” as a basis for determining the Divinity of Jesus and the Divine origin of the Bible verses all competing options. Such are not “evidence” that would appeal to anyone else beyond yourself. And, Ellen White did not use the term “weight of evidence” as you use it here. She cited specific empirical evidences as a basis for a rational intelligent trust in the claims of the Bible – as did the biblical authors themselves. Such is not an emotion-driven faith, but a faith that requires the engagement of the intellectual mind as well as the heart. The type of faith promoted by the Bible is not one devoid of careful intellectual study of real events in real history where the empirical claims of a prophet or a “sacred text” are compared against known reality.

      Without these checks on our emotional gestalts, we end up doing what you have done – inventing our own religion where we accept what we like and deny what we don’t like based purely on our emotions. Again, I don’t see how one’s emotions can be used to effectively convince another of the superiority of your “faith” vs. theirs. That’s certainly not how the disciples of Christ tried to convince others of the reality of His Divinity and the credibility of their claims. They cited empirical evidence as the basis for why others should also place their faith in Him. Jesus did the same thing. Why should I be any different? Because of the risk that I might be wrong? Please. Nothing worth having comes without risk.




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    • @pauluc: Am I understanding you correctly, that in advocating evidence in studying the Bible, the creation in particular, Sean is but a silly millimeter from atheism? But seriously, it would seem you aren’t catching Sean’s broader paint, that both faith and evidence are indispensible and work together, the one surging while the other eases off, rather like it takes both air power and boots on the ground for victory but while the infantry charges air strikes ease up. Works that way with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and aren’t we glad. Good physiology, responsible tactics.
      Under fire from either-or advocates of faith, Sean indeed has been emphasizing evidence, in his lucid, telling, and to some people annoying, way, in the same way, for the same reason, that St. Paul advanced faith over works (faith vs works, the apostolic era equivalent of our faith vs. evidence dustup) when he was up against an armada of circumcision-only militants. Meanwhile St. James was saying, “faith without works is dead.” Faith without evidence is dead. They were both right, weren’t they, isn’t he?




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      • Yes. Evidence and faith can and should walk hand in hand. A rational faith cannot exist without the support of the weight of empirical evidence. On the other hand, empirical evidence, without the ability to take a leap of faith, is pretty much worthless. There is no science where there is no leap of faith beyond that which can be known with absolute certainty. A rational leap of faith, or even science, is therefore based on the “weight of evidence” – not absolute demonstration.

        Paul and James are therefore not contradictory gospel writers, but are in fact complimentary. After all, it was Paul, not James, who wrote: “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13).




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        • @Sean Pitman: And I’d sure like to plug in John 10:38 where He says, even though you “do not believe me, believe the works,” “oh yea of little faith.” (my concatenation, apt, I think.) Proof texts, you know. Faith AND evidence working together, as Biblical as it gets.




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      • @wesley kime:

        “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

        “I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?” Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.”

        I am with John Wesley. I recognize I am called of God by His revealing Himself to me a searcher for truth. Science and empirical evidence has nothing to do with it. Christian has this doctrine of the new birth and conversion. Of course the immediate events leading to that may be extremely varied perhaps even at CMI public meetings but for me they have always been graceless events. Although even such events among the hostility hate and identification of scientists with satan worshippers, there are redeeming events when the speaker reveals how they actually became a Christian when God revealed Himself to them.
        Of course anyone who is alive looks for evidence for their belief. For Christians that too applies but we have to be honest. Science and emprical evidence as usually defined do not lead to God. Science properly defined as investigation of the natural world by methodological naturalism leads to understanding of the natural world as natural process or natural law it does not lead to God. The new Atheists are absolutely right as is evident in almost all the debates I have even looked at. If you honestly extrapolate from science and empirical evidence you arrive at Atheism or at least agnosticism which is simply the position that God doesnt matter. This is the way of the Genius. This is precisely what is implied by Seans “If I ever…” statement. It allows absolutely no possibility that God can speak other than by logic and through empirical evidence. The delusion of Christian apologists is that they imagine they can take on New Atheists and win using the tools of Logic and empirical evidence. They cannot and the rate of growth of Atheism in the developed world clearly evidences that.

        If Sean would simply drop his mantra of empirical evidence as the supreme basis for coming to God and recognize the role of faith I would have no issue with his understanding of religion. Obviously I would still contend he shows extreme confirmation bias in his understanding of science.




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        • On the one hand you say, “empirical evidence has nothing to do with it” while on the other you say, “Of course anyone who is alive looks for evidence for their belief.”

          It can’t be both ways. If even the faith of the disciples of Christ was dramatically affected by and even based on the Resurrection, how can you say that “empirical evidence had nothing to do with it”? Even you admit that you look for evidence, empirical evidence, for your faith. The same has always been true – even at the very beginning of the Christian church. Without the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection, there would be no Christianity today. Why not? – if such a demonstration should have “nothing to do with it”?

          It has everything to do with it… even if some are initially converted for emotional reasons, these warm fuzzy feelings won’t keep them going when the going gets tough.




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  32. Sean Pitman: That’s certainly not how the disciples of Christ tried to convince others of the reality of His Divinity and the credibility of their claims. They cited empirical evidence as the basis for why others should also place their faith in Him.

    On this we will have to agree to differ. First lets make it clear what most consider empirical evidence; according to wiki

    “The term empirical was originally used to refer to certain ancient Greek practitioners of medicine who rejected adherence to the dogmatic doctrines of the day, preferring instead to rely on the observation of phenomena as perceived in experience. Later empiricism referred to a theory of knowledge in philosophy which adheres to the principle that knowledge arises from experience and evidence gathered specifically using the senses. In scientific use the term empirical refers to the gathering of data using only evidence that is observable by the senses or in some cases using calibrated scientific instruments. What early philosophers described as empiricist and empirical research have in common is the dependence on observable data to formulate and test theories and come to conclusions”

    Except in your own mind dependence on empirical evidence to determine all belief has very little to do with the activity of the disciples as described in Acts. They preached about Christ as the messiah they did not discuss empirical evidence; to imagine they did is to project back onto that time a modern concept that has evolved with modern science.

    Acts 1
    4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
    6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

    Acts 2
    When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

    36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
    37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
    43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    I am really having a hard time seeing anything about this proclamation, conversion, baptism with the holy spirit, and communal life filled with awe that can be construed as scientific. I do not think much of this work of God was explicable on the basis of experimental observation or scientific theory. It was miraculous acts of God. The wind of the spirit which blows from whence we do not know.

    Somehow I dont think that Peter being filled with the holy spirit was one scientific observation away from atheism. I cannot ever imagine one who had received the spirit of God saying “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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    • Except in your own mind dependence on empirical evidence to determine all belief has very little to do with the activity of the disciples as described in Acts. They preached about Christ as the messiah they did not discuss empirical evidence; to imagine they did is to project back onto that time a modern concept that has evolved with modern science.

      You forget that the faith of disciples of Jesus, as well as James (the brother of Christ) and Paul, were significantly affected by the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection of Jesus. They cited the empirical evidence of the empty tomb constantly as a primary basis for their faith and a very good reason why others should take on faith in Jesus as their Risen Lord as well. The Gospel of John is filled with empirical observations to support John’s claim that Jesus was God. Paul specifically explains the importance of this evidence in his argument, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Peter also cites the empirical basis for his faith, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” He then goes on to explain that he personally heard the empirically audible voice of God, along with James and John, and saw the empirical transfiguration of Jesus. Then, to conclude his argument he cites the empirical evidence of prophecy as trumping everything else (2 Peter 1:16-19). Even the heathen are left without excuse when it comes to the existence of God because of the weight of empirical evidence, according to Paul who argues, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).

      Why do you think the Bible writers consistently cite so much empirical evidence for their claims if such evidence has no necessary part to play in establishing a reliable faith? – a faith that goes beyond gestalt feelings of truth? What do you think would have happened to the faith of the disciples in Christ, in Christianity itself, if they had not seen the empirical evidence of the Resurrection? You know as well as I do that Christianity would not exist today if they had not seen such dramatic empirical evidence. I’m sorry, but the Bible is not at all fideistic. It does not promote your feelings-based or gestalt-based approach to faith free of the need for a logical empirical basis to support itself.

      Yet, you write:

      Somehow I dont think that Peter being filled with the holy spirit was one scientific observation away from atheism. I cannot ever imagine one who had received the spirit of God saying “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”

      Do you speak directly with God in the privileged manner of a prophet? Does the Holy Spirit directly tell you what is or isn’t true regarding all that you believe? What about the Divine origin of the Bible as superior to all other religious books? Has the Holy Spirit told you that neo-Darwinism is true? that those passages in the Bible where Jesus talks about the literal creation week, Adam and Eve as real people, and Noah’s Flood are all lies? Has the Holy Spirit told you that animals will continue to suffer and die throughout eternity because they are carbon-based life forms? When is the last time the Holy Spirit worked through you to raise someone from the dead or speak fluently before crowds of foreigners in languages that you didn’t know before (which would also be a form of empirical evidence for those witnessing such empirical demonstrations of Divine power by the way)? Does the Holy Spirit really fill you with such privileged knowledge and power as He did for Peter?

      I think not. After all, if the Holy Spirit did speak to you and work through you in such a privileged manner, why would you need the Bible? You wouldn’t need the Bible at all given your very privileged communications with the Holy Spirit (which is the primary danger with feelings-based fideistic faiths where one’s feelings are always interpreted as coming directly from God).

      Now, I do believe that the Holy Spirit does help to guide the minds of those who are honestly seeking after truth. However, generally speaking, the Holy Spirit does not spoon feed doctrinal knowledge regarding the credibility of the Bible’s origin or claims, the history of Jesus on this planet, the reality of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection of Jesus, or the literal 6-day creation week. These doctrinal concepts are not discovered through emotional feelings or gestalts. They are discovered with the use of the intellectual mind based on the weight of empirical evidence as various claims are tested against that evidence.

      Of course, one could argue that the Holy Spirit suggests to us, and even to the heathen, that there is something bigger than we are – that a Divine power of some kind exists beyond ourselves. The very existence of the Moral Law written on our hearts from early childhood is evidence along these lines which has convinced a number of atheists of the existence of a Law Giver. However, this internally-derived evidence for the existence of a God of some kind isn’t the same thing as evidence that the various claims of Christianity are true or that Jesus was all that He claimed to be or did all that the gospel writers claimed He did.

      After all, you yourself do not believe or have faith in many of the claims of the Bible. Why then do you believe that Jesus, in particular, was God incarnate? – beyond a gestalt feeling? Did an angel show up and explain this truth to you? Or, do you just have some deep-seated feeling very similar to the “burning in the bosom” that my LDS friends have when they “hear the truth”? I’d really like to know how your gestalt feelings of truth are based on something superior compared to theirs? Yet, you’ve never responded to this question. So, I’ll ask it again:

      How do you know that you are moved by the Holy Spirit in a reliable manner when it comes to your faith in some of the claims of the Bible? – while my LDS friends are not? Why are your feelings of truth so much superior to theirs?

      Until you address this question, I’m really not interested in continuing this discussion with you.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        If I understand correctly you are arguing that “empirical evidence” is equivalent to “physical evidence” those things you can appreciate with your own bodily senses. This seems apparent from the your statements and suggests you have a very pathological or forensic view on what is evidence as well as a readiness to accept hearsay without testing.

        ” You forget that the faith of disciples of Jesus, as well as James (the brother of Christ) and Paul, were significantly affected by the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection of Jesus. They cited the empirical evidence of the empty tomb constantly as a primary basis for their faith and a very good reason why others should take on faith in Jesus as their Risen Lord as well.”

        In other words any physical evidence is evidence of a miraculous event. An empty tomb becomes the evidence for a miracle. No discussion of the alternative hypotheses of why the tomb was empty. They give no physical evidence that the alternative hypothesis that someone stole the body away was tested empirically. No they simply proclamied that an apparition that could walk through walls was the evidence of the bodily resurrection.

        Futher, although most people would presume the term empirical evidence denotes an a posteriori approach your presumption that the fact that the accounts appear in the religious text is evidence that it was exactly as recounted. An a priori approach to knowledge not based on empiricism. Do you think that scientific in any way?

        ” Why do you think the Bible writers consistently cite so much empirical evidence for their claims if such evidence has no necessary part to play in establishing a reliable faith?”

        So no reliable faith can exist except it is based on physical evidence and by extension is scientifically tested?

        “However, generally speaking, the Holy Spirit does not spoon feed doctrinal knowledge regarding the credibility of the Bible’s origin or claims, the history of Jesus on this planet, the reality of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection of Jesus, or the literal 6-day creation week. These doctrinal concepts are not discovered through emotional feelings or gestalts. They are discovered with the use of the intellectual mind based on the weight of empirical evidence as various claims are tested against that evidence.”

        All doctrine and all of religion then in your mind seems to be based on physical evidence. Is that true?
        Then the vocalization by someone that Jesus rose from the dead becomes the physical evidence that this is true. That Jesus was born of a virgin becomes evidenced by the physical evidence that there was a proclaimer rather than the verifiable direct observation of an intact hymen at the onset of labour. The physical evidence that the earth actually exists and the physical observation that there is a written text dating from the the 12-14th century BC becomes the physical evidence of a 6 day creation.
        This is not what most people would consider empirical evidence in any sort of scientific sense.
        Along with this view of religion as verifed by physical evidence, you seem to have a definition of science as largely the documentation of physical evidence. You talk of falsifiability but you are unwilling to actually test this and accept any piece of physical evidence to support your apriori view. This is the corruption of the accepted definition of science;

        The Wiki definition used in discussing empirical evidence on which of course science is based is;
        “In science, empirical evidence is required for a hypothesis to gain acceptance in the scientific community. Normally, this validation is achieved by the scientific method of hypothesis commitment, experimental design, peer review, adversarial review, reproduction of results, conference presentation and journal publication. This requires rigorous communication of hypothesis (usually expressed in mathematics), experimental constraints and controls (expressed necessarily in terms of standard experimental apparatus), and a common understanding of measurement.”

        The discussion would be much more useful if you replace every instance of “empirical evidence” by “physical sensory experience” of “physical evidence as perceived by the bodily senses” and scientific evidence as “agreed understanding based on hypothesis, experimental testing and peer reviewed publication”.

        If you did that it would be apparent that my contention that you actually accept many things by faith as all Christians do and your claim to physical evidence is not equivalent to experimentally tested verified information based on “agreed understanding based on hypothesis, experimental testing and peer reviewed publication”. It would make it apparent that your claim that your religion is based solidly and solely on science seems somewhat vacuous.




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        • “You forget that the faith of disciples of Jesus, as well as James (the brother of Christ) and Paul, were significantly affected by the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection of Jesus. They cited the empirical evidence of the empty tomb constantly as a primary basis for their faith and a very good reason why others should take on faith in Jesus as their Risen Lord as well.” – Sean Pitman

          In other words any physical evidence is evidence of a miraculous event. An empty tomb becomes the evidence for a miracle. No discussion of the alternative hypotheses of why the tomb was empty. They give no physical evidence that the alternative hypothesis that someone stole the body away was tested empirically. No they simply proclamied that an apparition that could walk through walls was the evidence of the bodily resurrection.

          They claimed to have physically touched and ate with Jesus after the Resurrection. What better empirical evidence would you want? It doesn’t get better than collectively seeing, touching, talking with, and interacting with someone. If that doesn’t do it for you, if this doesn’t make things “blindly obvious”, nothing will.

          And yes, the Bible does in fact discuss the alternate hypothesis that “someone stole the body away”. However, the biblical authors rightly reject this alternate hypothesis (proposed by the enemies of Christ – big surprise), for very rational reasons – such as the fact that a large number of Roman guards were stationed at the tomb and would have been executed for sleeping on duty (extremely unlikely that even one, much less all, of the guards would have slept on duty). Also, let’s not mention the fact that both the Romans and the Jewish leaders would have been first to present the body to squelch the early Christian movement – if they could have actually found the body. Also, details of what happened at the Resurrection could only have been known by the Roman guards. How were these details discovered by the disciples of Jesus? Most likely the original story of the guards was overheard by some Jewish leaders who were sympathetic with the disciples.

          This would all be extremely good empirical evidence for the disciples living at that time – and completely trumped by the actual appearance of Jesus before them in bodily form – real flesh and blood. Such empirical evidence would overwhelm anyone – even the most skeptical.

          Futher, although most people would presume the term empirical evidence denotes an a posteriori approach your presumption that the fact that the accounts appear in the religious text is evidence that it was exactly as recounted. An a priori approach to knowledge not based on empiricism. Do you think that scientific in any way?

          I’m talking about what was very good empirical evidence from the perspective of the disciples. If such an empirical demonstration of the Resurrection was not given to them, it is very clear that they would not have maintained their faith or hope in any kind of future with Christ.

          We don’t have the same kind of empirical evidence open to us today – obviously. However, this isn’t to say that we don’t have the “weight” of every good empirical evidence available to us or that our faith is somehow immune or independent of such evidence while theirs was not.

          So no reliable faith can exist except it is based on physical evidence and by extension is scientifically tested?

          All useful forms of faith do in fact require a basis in the weight of empirical evidence – that’s what I’m saying. Without such evidence what you haven’t isn’t real faith. It’s wishful thinking.

          Then the vocalization by someone that Jesus rose from the dead becomes the physical evidence that this is true. That Jesus was born of a virgin becomes evidenced by the physical evidence that there was a proclaimer rather than the verifiable direct observation of an intact hymen at the onset of labour. The physical evidence that the earth actually exists and the physical observation that there is a written text dating from the the 12-14th century BC becomes the physical evidence of a 6 day creation.

          No. Additional empirical evidence is required to support the claims of the “proclaimer” – evidence that is actually testable in a potentially falsifiable manner.

          This is not what most people would consider empirical evidence in any sort of scientific sense.

          I agree.

          Along with this view of religion as verifed by physical evidence, you seem to have a definition of science as largely the documentation of physical evidence. You talk of falsifiability but you are unwilling to actually test this and accept any piece of physical evidence to support your apriori view. This is the corruption of the accepted definition of science;

          I am willing to consider all physical evidence and accept what the “weight” of what the physical evidence seems to be saying – even if it goes against my “apriori views”. After all, I’m the one who claims to be willing to change my mind given the weight of physical evidence, while you claim that you will not change your mind regardless. How then is my position a corruption of the accepted definition(s) of science?

          The Wiki definition used in discussing empirical evidence on which of course science is based is;

          “In science, empirical evidence is required for a hypothesis to gain acceptance in the scientific community. Normally, this validation is achieved by the scientific method of hypothesis commitment, experimental design, peer review, adversarial review, reproduction of results, conference presentation and journal publication. This requires rigorous communication of hypothesis (usually expressed in mathematics), experimental constraints and controls (expressed necessarily in terms of standard experimental apparatus), and a common understanding of measurement.”

          I agree with most of this with the exception, as previously explained in some detail, that peer-review and acceptance is not require before an individual can use scientific methodologies on a personal level to discover real truths about the empirical world – regardless of the acceptance or rejection of his/her peers. This has happened time and again in history. Peer review and/or acceptance is simply not required before an individual can effectively use scientific methodologies and reasoning to learn independent of anyone else.

          The discussion would be much more useful if you replace every instance of “empirical evidence” by “physical sensory experience” of “physical evidence as perceived by the bodily senses” and scientific evidence as “agreed understanding based on hypothesis, experimental testing and peer reviewed publication”.

          I don’t agree with your requirement for “peer review” before real scientific evidence can be realized. Was Leonardo da Vinci not a real scientist because he didn’t submit all of this scientific discoveries to “peer review”? Please…

          If you did that it would be apparent that my contention that you actually accept many things by faith as all Christians do and your claim to physical evidence is not equivalent to experimentally tested verified information based on “agreed understanding based on hypothesis, experimental testing and peer reviewed publication”. It would make it apparent that your claim that your religion is based solidly and solely on science seems somewhat vacuous.

          I think I’ve explained my position quite clearly – clearly enough for those with a candid approach to appreciate in any case. My definition of science does in fact include observation of physical phenomena and the formation of a testable potentially falsifiable hypothesis to explain the phenomena. I need no peer review or to convince anyone else before I can know, for myself, with a great deal of confidence, that my hypothesis has a significant degree of predictive power and reliability.

          Would you need peer review before you would know, with a great deal of confidence, that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube was a clear artifact of deliberate design? Of course not. You yourself have said that such an object would be a “blindingly obvious artifact of creative intelligence” – even if found on an alien planet like Mars.

          The same thing is true of the disciples witnessing the Resurrected Jesus. Was “peer review” required by Thomas before he could rationally say, “My Lord and my God!”? Of course not. Some hypotheses are so strongly supported by the empirical evidence that their overwhelming superiority to all alternate hypothesis is immediately obvious – some would even say “blindingly obvious” 😉




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  33. @ Dr. Pitman

    .” However, this desire is based on an internally derived knowledge of the moral law – the “Royal Law” that is written on the hearts of all humans. ”

    Would you say this is an empirical statement, a philosophical statement or one of faith? How do you empirically know God inscribed this moral code on the hearts of all humans?

    You seem to interpose statements of faith with your empirical reasoning to come up with an amalgam of individual belief? Also to think you came of your faith, independently, objectively, devoid of cultural, family influence is – dare I say- bordering on self deceit. If your father had have been a rabbi do you really think independently you would have examined all the facts scientifically and become an Adventist?

    Pauluc sees the conundrum of the overwhelming evidence for long term evolution and the redemptive power of Christian faith. You, on the other hand have to fit the evidence into the YLC box, which genesis is clearly from the bible not the overwhelming multi – disciplinary evidence from science. If creationism was overwhelmingly supported by science it would be being taught in public institutions which cut across religious bias. Tell me one advocate of a young earth or young life who does not believe in the Bible and came by their beliefs without religion? On the other hand many people of religious belief think evolution is the best scientific explanation as to how life developed from a very simple stage on this planet. Are they all suffering from self delusion or able to bifurcate objective evidence from subjective religious belief?




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    • I’ve already addressed these questions for you extensively. You yourself have presented no evidence (aside from your usual argument that I’m in the minority) to explain how neo-Darwinism is remotely tenable. Where is this “multidisciplinary evidence” you speak of that explains how the evolutionary mechanism could actually work beyond very low levels of functional complexity? You simply don’t know. You’re basing everything on what your favored “experts” are telling you – not on your own understanding of the issues in play. Yours is therefore a faith-based position with nothing much more than arguments from authority to back up your faith – very similar to the fideistic faith of a religious fundamentalist who cites the Bible as the source of ultimate authority without any real understanding as to how the Bible should have such credibility. So, let me know when you come up with an actual argument of your own, one that you actually understand and can present in a reasonable way, in support of the evolutionary mechanism…

      In any case, if religion is entirely subjective it is, in my book, no more valuable or useful than wishful thinking… especially when it comes to trying tell others that they should also believe the same way.




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    • George,

      There is No evidence for evolution (“The doctrine that unguided natural forces caused chemicals to combine in such a way that life resulted; and that all living things have descended from that common ancestral form of life.” ).




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  34. Sean Pitman: How do you know that you are moved by the Holy Spirit in a reliable manner when it comes to your faith in some of the claims of the Bible? – while my LDS friends are not? Why are your feelings of truth so much superior to theirs?

    Are you a teacher in Israel and do not know what faith is? I accept empirically I can never know that I am superior to LDS and as a Christian I am not called to know my superior position or logic I am call to be a follower of God in Christ.

    Hebrews 11 is a good place to start to understand faith. As Kierkegaard does in “Fear and Trembling” consider Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his only son Isaac at the insistence of God? Did this act have the imprematur of logic reason and empirical evidence. I certainly do not think so yet it is the ultimate example of faith and we would concede the type of God’s action in human existence.

    “There was many a father who lost his child; but then it was God, it was the unalterable, the unsearchable will of the Almighty, it was His hand took the child. Not so with Abraham. For him was reserved a harder trial, and Isaac’s fate was laid along with the knife in Abraham’s hand. And there he stood, the old man, with his only hope! But he did not doubt, he did not look anxiously to the right or to the left, he did not challenge heaven with his prayers. He knew that it was God the Almighty who was trying him, he knew that it was the hardest sacrifice that could be required of him; but he knew also that no sacrifice was too hard when God required it–and he drew the knife.
    Kierkegaard, Søren (2012-09-08). Fear and Trembling (pp. 16-17). Fig. Kindle Edition.

    “Yet Abraham believed and did not doubt, he believed the preposterous. If Abraham had doubted–then he would have done something else, something glorious; for how could Abraham do anything but what is great and glorious! He would have marched up to Mount Moriah, he would have cleft the fire-wood, lit the pyre, drawn the knife–he would have cried out to God, “Despise not this sacrifice, it is not the best thing I possess, that I know well, for what is an old man in comparison with the child of promise; but it is the best I am able to give Thee. Let Isaac never come to know this, that he may console himself with his youth.” He would have plunged the knife into his own breast.
    Kierkegaard, Søren (2012-09-08). Fear and Trembling (p. 15). Fig. Kindle Edition.

    For him was reserved a harder trial, and Isaac’s fate was laid along with the knife in Abraham’s hand. And there he stood, the old man, with his only hope! But he did not doubt, he did not look anxiously to the right or to the left, he did not challenge heaven with his prayers. He knew that it was God the Almighty who was trying him, he knew that it was the hardest sacrifice that could be required of him; but he knew also that no sacrifice was too hard when God required it–and he drew the knife.
    Kierkegaard, Søren (2012-09-08). Fear and Trembling (pp. 16-17). Fig. Kindle Edition.

    Venerable Father Abraham! Thou who first wast sensible of and didst first bear witness to that prodigious passion which disdains the dreadful conflict with the rage of the elements and with the powers of creation in order to strive with God; thou who first didst know that highest passion, the holy, pure and humble expression of the divine madness” which the pagans admired–forgive him who would speak in praise of thee, if he does not do it fittingly. He spoke humbly, as if it were the desire of his own heart, he spoke briefly, as it becomes him to do, but he will never forget that thou hadst need of a hundred years to obtain a son of old age against expectation, that thou didst have to draw the knife before retaining Isaac; he will never forget that in a hundred and thirty years thou didst not get further than to faith.
    Kierkegaard, Søren (2012-09-08). Fear and Trembling (p. 18). Fig. Kindle Edition.

    God may indeed reveal the Royal Law of Love and people may inwardly aspire to a notion of goodness but there is of course the HPTFTU , a thing I would consider original sin. The natural state that we see evident daily in the blood thirsty selfishness equally manifest in acts of empirialism and barbary on the plain of Megido. That is the result of being right and superior and calls for the acts of redemption of a gracious God.




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    • “How do you know that you are moved by the Holy Spirit in a reliable manner when it comes to your faith in some of the claims of the Bible? – while my LDS friends are not? Why are your feelings of truth so much superior to theirs?” – Sean Pitman

      Are you a teacher in Israel and do not know what faith is? I accept empirically I can never know that I am superior to LDS and as a Christian I am not called to know my superior position or logic I am call to be a follower of God in Christ.

      So, why then are you a Christian rather than a Latter-day Saint? – or why should anyone else pick one over the other when presented with both options? Because of some “gestalt” feeling that you cannot distinguish from what the LDS believers say they are feeling when they hear “the truth”? Why then should I listen to you rather than them? You don’t know? Why are you arguing with me then? Why don’t you argue with them? Because you don’t like anyone telling you that some faiths are more reasonable than others? Why not just quietly follow your own view of “Christ” in your own mind without saying anything at all about your faith to anyone else? If you have absolutely no reason as to why one should follow your form of Christianity rather than any other religion (i.e., Mormonism, Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, etc.) why then are you trying to convince me that I’m wrong in my religion? – if you don’t consider your form of Christian faith superior how do you know you’re right and I’m wrong? Because your form of Christianity gives you a better feeling? – a better gestalt? How do you know that your feelings apply to me or anyone else? I should listen to your gestalt feelings as somehow superior to my own understanding of things because… why again?

      Since you brought it up, remember that when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus in the garden at night (John 3:1-21) the conversation was about “rebirth” into a spiritual morality (as compared to the natural human tendency to “MTU”) – a spiritual morality based on the Royal Law where one is enabled to actually love the truths that one knows. It was all about a “love of the truth”, especially moral truths that are internally derived as a gift of God, and how to achieve that love. It wasn’t about how to determine empirical truths in the first place – such as how to determine the truth of the Divine origin of the Scriptures or the literal 7-day creation week. Otherwise, only certain types of Christians could be saved if knowledge and acceptance of such empirical truths were required. It is because such empirical knowledge is not required for salvation that even the heathen who have never heard the story of Jesus or anything in the Bible can be “reborn” through the power of the Spirit into a true observance of the Royal Law – and be saved (Romans 2:13-16).

      You see, it isn’t that I think that I’m personally better than you or anyone else on a moral level. I’m not, and I know that full well. I’ll be singing “Amazing Grace” louder than anyone else if I ever find myself in Heaven someday. However, I do think that my religion is better and offers a much more solid hope in the future that is well beyond anything else that I know. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t feel the need to share the “hope that is within me” with anyone else. Why would I want to share something that I didn’t believe was superior to what those around me have? If I didn’t think what I had to say would be for their advantage, why would I say anything about my faith to anyone else? Why did Jesus Himself ask His disciples to spread the “good news” of the Gospel if this Gospel message wasn’t clearly superior to everything that the world already had? – a message of a solid Hope that is in fact superior to anything else that any other religion has to offer? He didn’t just “call them to be followers of God in Christ” in some sort of private club. He called them to share what they had seen and heard, the empirical evidence that had been especially given to them to know, with those around them, to win converts to Christianity, so that others might also share in the special hope that an empirically-based faith in Jesus offers.

      In short, if you don’t believe that the story of Christ and the hope that this story gives you is superior to what other religions offer, why say anything to anyone about it? Why even try to fulfill the commission of Jesus to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15)?

      Hebrews 11 is a good place to start to understand faith. As Kierkegaard does in “Fear and Trembling” consider Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his only son Isaac at the insistence of God? Did this act have the imprematur of logic reason and empirical evidence. I certainly do not think so yet it is the ultimate example of faith and we would concede the type of God’s action in human existence.

      I suppose then, if I get a strong enough feeling or gestalt or voices in my head that the Holy Spirit is impressing me to kill one of my boys, that I should follow this “gestalt” feeling? That’s pure insanity!

      You seem to forget that Abraham talked face-to-face with God – “as to a friend”. He actually saw Christ in human form (along with His angel companions) and heard the empirically audible voice of God. Abraham knew that audible voice. It wasn’t just in his mind. Since when has God spoken to you with an audible voice? or showed up at your house to talk to you face-to-face? Also, Abraham was told that he would be given a miraculous sign, additional empirical evidence which both Abraham and Isaac saw, when they came to the spot where Abraham was to offer up Isaac – to confirm the Divine command.

      So, was Abraham acting on faith here? Of course he was! However, he wasn’t acting on blind or fideistic or illogical faith. He had many past experiences with God – empirically tangible interactions with God that supported God’s credibility regarding His empirical claims. Abraham was given a great deal of very good evidence, empirical evidence well beyond what most of us have ever experienced, as to the Source of the command and its credibility. Abraham’s faith was therefore based on strong empirical evidence that gave him a solid trust and confidence in God’s word and His promises regarding Isaac (i.e., Abraham believed that even if he had to sacrifice Isaac that God would raise Isaac back up from the dead in order to fulfill His promises regarding Isaac). Otherwise, Abraham would also have been insane – the locked up forever in an mental institution variety.

      This is the type of faith in God that we should cultivate – faith based on the weight of empirical evidences that God has given us along the way to know that He exists and that He cares deeply for us and our situation and will one day make everything new as it was originally intended to be. Such an empirically-based faith is what the disciples had after they saw the Resurrected Christ with their own eyes and touched Him with their own hands. They simply did not have this kind of faith in Christ and who He claimed to be before this empirical evidence of the Resurrection was given to them. And, God does not expect anything more from us either. God does in fact understand the importance of the weigh of empirical evidence when it comes to establishing a solid faith that can withstand the trials of this life or enable one to be willing to put one’s own life, and even the lives of one’s dearest loved ones, on the line.

      God may indeed reveal the Royal Law of Love and people may inwardly aspire to a notion of goodness but there is of course the HPTFTU , a thing I would consider original sin. The natural state that we see evident daily in the blood thirsty selfishness equally manifest in acts of empirialism and barbary on the plain of Megido. That is the result of being right and superior and calls for the acts of redemption of a gracious God.

      I totally agree that HPTMTU, or the “Human Propensity to Mess things Up”, is very real. However, it has been given to us to know, as a miracle of god, when we are messing things up on a moral level. If we had no sense of right vs. wrong, we wouldn’t be able to have a sense of HPTFTU or selfishness (i.e., sin). This sense of moral right and wrong, a conscience, is therefore a Divine gift that is given to all to know as an internal moral compass. And, it is by this moral compass that we will one day be judged.

      What this means is that we are not judged on our correct understanding of empirical knowledge. Empirical knowledge will not be the basis of salvation. The only question that will be asked in the Day of Judgement is, “Did you follow the Royal Law of Love that I wrote on your heart?” – i.e., Did you have a love for the truth that you did understand?

      This is good news because it means that the honest Buddhist, or the honest Catholic, Latter-day Saint, Muslim, agnostic or even the honest and sincere atheist who lived according to the Royal Law of Love for one’s fellow man can be saved.

      What this does not mean is that this internal sense of moral truth is therefore able to reveal to us various empirical truths – such as the superiority of the Christian perspective or the Divine origin and correct interpretation of the Bible. It cannot tell us if neo-Darwinism is right or wrong or if there was a literal 7-day Creation Week or if a Noachian Flood really happened. It cannot tell us if there was a Virgin Birth or if Jesus was in fact the Son of God. These claims, if true, are empirical realities that exist outside of ourselves. The truth or error of these claims cannot be accurately judged among competing options via the Royal Law or some other form of subjective internal “gestalt” feeling. The intelligent mind must be used to weight empirical evidences to see if the weight of these evidences appears to us to support or undermine certain options among all of the other competing options.

      In any case, I really don’t see the point in discussing why you think I’m wrong any further when you can’t even tell me why I should recognize your position as superior to the claims of any other religious group or perspective? – when you yourself are telling me that you have nothing to offer that is clearly superior to anything else out there?




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      • @Sean Pitman: Dont be daft Sean. Of course I think that my position is superior to other positions I might hold but as to their superiority to positions anyone else may hold I lack to necessary arrogance to assert that. I have no issue with using evidence we all do that but very few believe and proclaim that scientific or empirical evidence leads inexorably to the Adventist position as you seem to do.

        To do that you must and do corrupt the usual definition and accepted process of science, vilify those that practice science in conventional ways and proclaim your genius as the arbitrator of what is true in science. I think this evidences a certain lack insight and self-awareness.

        My contention is that all come to God by virtue of his revelation. As I recall your story of crisis of faith in the army lead you to take on a highly conservative and fundamentalist position on origins and Christianity. Is that so? Did you through understanding science come to that position or did you take on that position after you accept Christianity? My contention is that all and I suspect you as well as Craig first felt the calling of God and then from that experience a certain world view was constructed that included for largely cultural and historical reasons highly conservative views of science and religion.




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        • Dont be daft Sean. Of course I think that my position is superior to other positions I might hold but as to their superiority to positions anyone else may hold I lack to necessary arrogance to assert that. I have no issue with using evidence we all do that but very few believe and proclaim that scientific or empirical evidence leads inexorably to the Adventist position as you seem to do.

          So, you do believe your position to be superior, that the evidence is on your side, but you’re too polite and humble to say so? No wonder I was so confused! What then are your arguments in favor of Christianity vs. other competing options? – or would these be too arrogant of you to mention? And, are these personal arguments for the superiority of your position required as a basis for your faith? If these arguments could be shown to be in error, would you give up your faith? If not, are you a Christian, rather than a Latter-day Saint, based primarily on your internally-derived “gestalt” feelings of truth which are never in error? – rather than any kind of empirical “weight of evidence”?

          To do that you must and do corrupt the usual definition and accepted process of science, vilify those that practice science in conventional ways and proclaim your genius as the arbitrator of what is true in science. I think this evidences a certain lack insight and self-awareness.

          I fail to see how explaining my disagreements with mainstream scientist is equivalent to “vilification”? I’ve never said that those who disagree with me are evil or vile. I’ve specifically said that I believe most who disagree with me, like you, are honest and sincere – however ignorant they may be 😉

          I also fail to see how my definitions of “science” or “scientific processes” are “corrupt”? After all, I’m the one suggesting that even if science is limited to that which can be “measured, quantified and studied methodically” in a manner open to testing with at least the potential for falsification (which I believe is a generally accepted definition of science) that such limitations can be used to demonstrate the need for intelligent design to reasonably explain various phenomena. You’ve even agreed that my “highly symmetrical polished granite cube” is “blindingly obvious artifact” of deliberate design – even if found on an alien planet like Mars. You just don’t agree with my conclusion that the weight of empirical evidence for design in nature goes well beyond some vague “gestalt” feeling for Divine design (despite the fact that the Bible makes the same claims that I do regarding the meaning of the empirical evidence for very high-level design in nature and in the written Word). The same is true for the majority of physicists who also see the signature of some God-like intelligence and creative power behind the extraordinarily precise fundamental constants of the universe – for the very same empirical reasons.

          What then have I said about science that is so “corrupt”?

          My contention is that all come to God by virtue of his revelation. As I recall your story of crisis of faith in the army lead you to take on a highly conservative and fundamentalist position on origins and Christianity. Is that so? Did you through understanding science come to that position or did you take on that position after you accept Christianity? My contention is that all and I suspect you as well as Craig first felt the calling of God and then from that experience a certain world view was constructed that included for largely cultural and historical reasons highly conservative views of science and religion.

          That’s not how it happened for me. I was willing to leave Christianity behind if I saw that the weight of evidence favored Neo-Darwinism. I had no overwhelming need to remain in the Christian faith. I’d rather know the truth than remain in a nice fairy tale.

          Not everyone is like that, I understand. There are those who would prefer to believe a lovely lie than to live with an ugly truth. Not me.




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  35. Sean Pitman: Just because one might not believe in Christianity doesn’t mean that one is automatically an atheist.

    Indeed then why do YOU say you would leave Adventism and Christianity if Life is older than 6000 years? And advocate that is the honest thing to do?




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    • Indeed then why do YOU say you would leave Adventism and Christianity if Life is older than 6000 years? And advocate that is the honest thing to do?

      I never said that it would be the honest thing for everyone to do. What I said is that it would be the honest thing for me to do. Not everyone knows what I know…

      As far as my reasons for why I would leave Adventism and Christianity behind if I discovered that the claims of neo-Darwinism were most likely true, you asked this before (Link) and I’ve already answered – (see the last paragraph of the following: Link). So, I repeat myself:

      “While it may be rationally possible to believe in some kind of God given the truth of the neo-Darwinian perspective, I don’t see how such a God could be the same as the God described in the Bible. Such a neo-Darwinian reality would suggest to me a very different type of God – a deceptive dishonest type of God whom I wouldn’t like or have faith in to do the right thing. Nor would I wish to live forever in the type of place that you imagine Heaven to be (where the death and suffering of sentient animals continues for all eternity). Such a cruel place would not be Heaven for me. I much prefer the God of the Bible who suffers when even a little sparrow falls wounded to the ground; who promises to do away with all such death and suffering for all sentient creatures – as things were originally intended to be.”

      In short, the Bible, the very basis of the uniqueness of Christianity, would lose way too much credibility regarding key elements of its claims and gospel message. If it cannot be depended upon regarding those key empirical claims that it makes that are actually subject to testing and potential falsifiability, then how can it be depended upon with regard to any claims it makes at all? – to include all of its metaphysical claims or its various empirical claims that cannot be directly tested in a potentially falsifiable manner? It’s all a matter of credibility and how credibility is rationally established.




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  36. George: You, on the other hand have to fit the evidence into the YLC box, which genesis is clearly from the bible not the overwhelming multi – disciplinary evidence from science.

    I would add , from one particular view of the Bible that naively assumes there is no provenance to the canon and that the canonical writers were categorically different than any other writers following the Christian tradition. The Bible gives a truthful account of origins that serves the religious purpose of placing the Monotheistic God in context but may not be factual or stand scrutiny by honest application of the criteria of science based on empirical evidence.




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  37. @ Sean

    “Not everyone is like that, I understand. There are those who would prefer to believe a lovely lie than to live with an ugly truth. Not me.”

    And yet you have no empirical evidence that once creation was perfect and there was no death or decay. All the scientific evidence we have suggests the latter state has always been but you accept wholeheartedly fiat creation. Why? Because that offers you hope and redemption. And that is fine, but it is not scientific. Of course your rationalization is to talk about the ‘ credibility of the Bible’ but that is not scientific proof of the iterated God depicted therein. That is why Bill Sorenson and Pauluc are correct with their view that science can only take one so far when it comes to believe in God and one must trust the ‘word’ of God or the ‘spirit’ gestalt of God.

    Like you I think any proclaimed ‘ word’ of God or phenomenologically spiritual experience is subjective, hence unreliable as proof, of God. Yet, I don’t think science can prove or disprove God. Of course your answer to this is that science can prove design in the universe, hence a designer, hence a God like being, hence the most credible source of its intervention in human affairs is the Bible, hence the most reliable, recent prophet is Ellen White, hence the best interpretation of all that YLC and there you are! That’s a lot of ontological dominoes or turtles all the way up! But at the end of the day- because you deeply feel it! – that is the path you are going to follow it no matter what scientific evidence there is to to the contrary to your quite unique position.

    Others of us are not sure of the ultimate truth but see ourselves on the arrow of time understanding perhaps a little more than our ancestors due to scientifc progress. Will Mankind have a better grasp of reality in a 1000 years. Of course!

    It is also important to understand the relative cultural aspects of religions and the different iterations of God(s) as articulated over time. Comparative religious study tells one a lot as to the evolution(?) of the concept of God(s). Each organized religion has a vested interest in indoctrinating its members to maintain its power. And at the top of those power hierarchies are men who will attempt to maintain their positions with the enforcement of orthodoxy. And when that becomes unbearable schisms happen and new iterations of the brand occur. What is happening to Adventism is predictable. Liberal views are aimed at inclusiveness so all can remain under the big tent.

    The answer of course is the untrammeled freedom of the individual to seek knowledge and decide for him or herself. This takes integrity and courage. Sometimes it means shedding all extant belief systems and evaluating – as best as one can – the current state of scientific understanding of reality. If one’s existence is merely an accident of nature- not part of a grander design- then one should be at least a thinking accident 🙂 Now you may see this as an appalling, hopeless state of affairs as is your right. But I see it as an honest one and mortal life as a privilege to live, experience, procreate, contribute to society and above al think. Can you be happy and mortal? Yes, by accepting the limitations of your mortal life but making the most of it!

    I believe much of religious belief emanates from a fear of death. That is why pharoahs buried themselves in pyramids. That is also why stories or resurrection and heaven are so appealing and compelling. As to the ultimate nature of God? Who knows? Fun to contemplate though 🙂




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    • And yet you have no empirical evidence that once creation was perfect and there was no death or decay. All the scientific evidence we have suggests the latter state has always been but you accept wholeheartedly fiat creation. Why? Because that offers you hope and redemption.

      The scientific evidence suggests that this situation of constant death could not have always been – because of the problem of genetic deterioration over time for slowly reproducing creatures. This discovery of science strongly suggests that originally living things were superior than they are today, consistent with the Bible’s claims, adding to its credibility.

      In fact, the Bible has proven itself to be highly credible for those empirical claims that it makes that are actually testable. It can therefore be reasonably argued that it is also quite likely that it is credible in its claims that cannot be directly tested as well. And, according to the Bible, there was no death or decay for sentient creatures before the Fall. Some argue that plants obviously suffered “death and decay”, as would have to happen simply by eating something – like an apple. This isn’t the type of death I’m talking about. There are lots of what I like to call “biomachines” or life forms that are not sentient – that cannot experience suffering. No one cares if these machines “die” or are “recycled”.

      And that is fine, but it is not scientific. Of course your rationalization is to talk about the ‘ credibility of the Bible’ but that is not scientific proof of the iterated God depicted therein. That is why Bill Sorenson and Pauluc are correct with their view that science can only take one so far when it comes to believe in God and one must trust the ‘word’ of God or the ‘spirit’ gestalt of God.

      Again, there is no such thing as “scientific proof” for anything. No scientific hypothesis or theory is definitively provable. What science provides is the “weight of evidence” upon which one can make a reasonable “leap of faith” and say that this or that conclusion is “most likely true given the evidence so far in hand.” The very same thing can be said about the claims of the Bible and the Bible’s overall credibility. And, as already noted, the discovery of inevitable genetic deterioration within slowly reproducing gene pool only adds to this credibility – as does the empirical reality that the Darwinian mechanism is incapable of generating qualitatively novel functionality beyond very low levels of functional complexity. All this is very good scientific evidence that strongly supports the claims and overall credibility of the Bible.

      Like you I think any proclaimed ‘ word’ of God or phenomenologically spiritual experience is subjective, hence unreliable as proof, of God. Yet, I don’t think science can prove or disprove God. Of course your answer to this is that science can prove design in the universe, hence a designer, hence a God like being, hence the most credible source of its intervention in human affairs is the Bible, hence the most reliable, recent prophet is Ellen White, hence the best interpretation of all that YLC and there you are! That’s a lot of ontological dominoes or turtles all the way up! But at the end of the day- because you deeply feel it! – that is the path you are going to follow it no matter what scientific evidence there is to to the contrary to your quite unique position.

      My feelings on the matter don’t change where the turtles are headed. This observation is not limited to me, but is open to all who actually investigate it. It is therefore not a “subjective” feeling if others have access to the same information. Just a few relatively basic empirical observations (such as the conclusions that 1) the extremely fine-tuned features of the universe are best explained by a God-like creative power 2) the observation that evolutionary progress is extremely limited to very low level of functional complexity and 3) slowly reproducing creatures are inevitably degenerating over time) is enough to cause the candid mind to seriously reconsider the claims of the Bible since only the Bible, among all religious texts, explains all of these phenomena.




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  38. Sean Pitman: Not everyone is like that, I understand. There are those who would prefer to believe a lovely lie than to live with an ugly truth. Not me.

    On this we do agree then. We disagree of course on what is the lovely lie and the ugly truth.
    You believe with supreme certainty that all empirical evidence and science rightly understood points to the Adventist God, a life of perfection without death in the biology we know and experience here and now, a short chronology of life on earth interrupted about 2000 BC by Gods displeasure and destruction of all life save in one small boat, a God of Love and Grace who knows when a sparrow falls and has written His royal law of love on every mans heart but calls you to take up lethal weapons and in the name of God’s own country once more start killing people whose only fault is to belong to another Abrahamic faith, a restoration of that edenic life of immortality by the simple expediency of access to a tree of life, a heaven where the rule of overwhelming force is the basis of peace and order and where if someone rebels there will be war in a real place with real weapons and destruction all absolutely and confidently verifiable by empirical evidence.

    The ugly truth to me is that we do not know. We can never know. We can only live in hope with attendant and almost insuperable uncertainty and doubt. We have the option of only hope of a transcendent reality or of nihilism and meaninglessness. The new atheism’s optimistic and utopian idea is to me not realistic or sufficient for hope; that all selfishness will disappear with knowledge based on empirical evidence and that an ethic based on the Golden Rule or an appeal to empathy with “how would that me feel if it happened to me” is a sufficient foil to the HPTFTU and the psychopathy that is lurking in the soul of every man. Empirical evidence is not supreme. A revelation of the transcendence is to me the Hope that comes through the revelation of God who is implicit in the message of the prophets but is revealed in Jesus who was God incarnate, God made flesh who we can only understand through the mind of the community of faith, the body of Christ and the writings blessed by that community in the form of the Canon. We come to God when He reveals Himself to our minds and heart in an intuitive and life changing and asks us to live a life of Faith as a disciple. A disciple who overcomes evil with good. Who practices the kenosis of God in a practical way with both an ethic and a politic that is one of peace and deference to the other. We can only retrospectively justify all this through logic and reason in a utilitarian way by virtue of the fruits of the Spirit. The ugly truth is we live by faith not by knowledge. The lovely lie is that we have certainty and can be absolutely confident we understand the Bible completely in a naive reading, that all knowledge supports our position and that everyone else is wrong and of course inferior.




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    • On this we do agree then. We disagree of course on what is the lovely lie and the ugly truth.

      You believe with supreme certainty that all empirical evidence and science rightly understood points to the Adventist God, a life of perfection without death in the biology we know and experience here and now, a short chronology of life on earth interrupted about 2000 BC by Gods displeasure and destruction of all life save in one small boat, a God of Love and Grace who knows when a sparrow falls and has written His royal law of love on every mans heart but calls you to take up lethal weapons and in the name of God’s own country once more start killing people whose only fault is to belong to another Abrahamic faith, a restoration of that edenic life of immortality by the simple expediency of access to a tree of life, a heaven where the rule of overwhelming force is the basis of peace and order and where if someone rebels there will be war in a real place with real weapons and destruction all absolutely and confidently verifiable by empirical evidence.

      I do believe that the empirical evidence that I know and think I understand quite well does in fact support the overall credibility of the Bible – to include the Bible’s claims about empirical realities past, present, and future.

      I know you think that all force is evil, but that’s simply not true. Sometimes the only way to stop evil is with the use of force. What would your plan have been to stop the Nazis from murdering all the Jews of Europe? Hmmmmmm? To pass out daisies and sing “kumbaya”? The same thing happened before the Flood when things got so bad that every thought in the hearts of everyone on the planet (save for one small family) were “evil continually” and the world was filled with murder and bloodshed (Genesis 6:5). Given such a situation, what would your solution have been? – to let the entire world head into irretrievable darkness, pain, suffering, and death? What about your own police force over there in Australia? – you’re not grateful for their work I take it? I think you’re very naive – but in a good way.

      The ugly truth to me is that we do not know. We can never know. We can only live in hope with attendant and almost insuperable uncertainty and doubt. We have the option of only hope of a transcendent reality or of nihilism and meaninglessness. The new atheism’s optimistic and utopian idea is to me not realistic or sufficient for hope; that all selfishness will disappear with knowledge based on empirical evidence and that an ethic based on the Golden Rule or an appeal to empathy with “how would that me feel if it happened to me” is a sufficient foil to the HPTFTU and the psychopathy that is lurking in the soul of every man.

      I agree. Sin cannot be overcome by appeals to “do the right thing”. Sin can only be overcome by a complete surrender to God who is the only One who can supply the power to overcome the evil that is within one’s self. And, there is excellent evidence that this is possible on an individual basis – empirically detectable evidence.

      Empirical evidence is not supreme.

      Without empirical evidence, you have no basis for hope in God or in His ability to solve the sin problem within you or within anyone else.

      A revelation of the transcendence is to me the Hope that comes through the revelation of God who is implicit in the message of the prophets but is revealed in Jesus who was God incarnate, God made flesh who we can only understand through the mind of the community of faith, the body of Christ and the writings blessed by that community in the form of the Canon.

      If the “revelation” is entirely subjective, based on some internal feeling or “gestalt” of truth, it is no more useful than wishful thinking. However, if the “revelation” produces real empirical results, then it gains credibility. That is why the “revelation” of Jesus after the resurrection in the flesh, an empirical demonstration, was required to produce real faith and hope in His disciples. Without this empirical demonstration as a solid revelation that went beyond and trumped their subjective feelings, they would never have realized any kind of hope in Jesus as the incarnate God who offers a better life to come. And, without such empirical evidence you and I cannot have such a solid hope either. As Paul says, without the empirical reality of the Resurrection, “your hope is in vain.”

      We come to God when He reveals Himself to our minds and heart in an intuitive and life changing and asks us to live a life of Faith as a disciple. A disciple who overcomes evil with good. Who practices the kenosis of God in a practical way with both an ethic and a politic that is one of peace and deference to the other. We can only retrospectively justify all this through logic and reason in a utilitarian way by virtue of the fruits of the Spirit. The ugly truth is we live by faith not by knowledge. The lovely lie is that we have certainty and can be absolutely confident we understand the Bible completely in a naive reading, that all knowledge supports our position and that everyone else is wrong and of course inferior.

      I agree that the motive of love, to include the “love of the truth”, must come first. I also believe that this motive of love can only come from God as a Divine gift – which is in fact “life changing”. However, there is very good evidence that such a motivation can be realized by non-Christians and heathen who have never read the Bible or even heard the name of Jesus. The knowledge that the Bible is in fact Divinely inspired and that God did in fact become man and walked our planet in bodily form in the person of Jesus Christ is not automatically derived when one asks for and receives the “love of the truth”. What happens is that the motive of love for the truth causes one to use one’s mind to search for truth and accept it with joy once the intelligent mind hears and appreciates the evidence for truth of all kinds – moral and empirical.

      Your problem is that you confuse the existence of moral truth within yourself, and the ability to identify with good moral stories, with the ability to determine which religion or religious ideas and stories are empirically true – such as the story of eternal life described in the Bible. That’s not the case. While following internally-derived moral truth will in fact save you, it is the realization of empirical truth that has the power to give one a rational conscious hope in a bright future while still in this life. There will be many who will enter the gates of Heaven one day who never had the assurance of salvation while in this life because they were never given such empirical knowledge. They had a love of the little bit of truth that they had, but the didn’t have enough knowledge of empirical truth to realize that they would one day receive an empirical reward for their demonstration of love for their fellow man. One may have many empirically-wrong ideas and have hopes for things that will never come true (such as the hope of my LDS and Muslim friends for many things that will not happen). However, despite their erroneous hopes and beliefs, if they live according to the Royal Law, they will still be given the very real reward of eternal life with God in Heaven and the New Earth someday.




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  39. Sean Pitman: One may have many empirically-wrong ideas and have hopes for things that will never come true (such as the hope of my LDS and Muslim friends for many things that will not happen).

    I find it curious that you ridicule the faith of other Christians such as LDS and would call Muslims your friends when yours and our government have decided that if they hold their religion with any sort of zeal they should be hunted down and killed. Strikes me as very strange and not at all the way of faith that would as Tolstoy put it “resist not evil but overcome evil with good”. Like the concept of Faith base on a knowledge of God not empirical evidence and self sacrificing love this precept of the kingdom of heaven is completely beyond anyone who imagines that evil can overcome by the use of evil. Force against force an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth. That will teach them to mess with Gods own country the US of A. Indeed the whole world has followed what we as Adventists imaged the the image to the Beast and we are all blindly following the meme of violence and force perpetuated by Hollywood and a thousand Xbox games. When a few people from another Abrahamic tradition recognize this spiritual and moral destitution of the Harlot of western culture and act in God name then we as soldiers for God respond from the safety of our technology with drones and high level airstrikes. Pretending its sort of a video game and we are not really murdering people and imagining that those suffering in the collateral damage know it is all in the name of a God who grieves when a sparrow falls. We delude ourselves in many way not only in imagining that we have an airtight scientific religion.




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    • Again, how are you going to overcome Nazis with passive resistance? How are you going to live without a police force in this world? You would really vote to do away with your police force over their in Australia? That just wouldn’t work in this evil world. Civil laws must be maintained by threat of force against those who are not going to be influenced by your good deeds…




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  40. Sean Pitman: What would your plan have been to stop the Nazis from murdering all the Jews of Europe? Hmmmmmm? To pass out daisies and sing “kumbaya”?

    I sometimes doubt your genius when you lack so in imagination. What do you think would have happened if the Christians including Adventists instead of supporting Hitler and his war machine had done what the confessing church had done, what supporters of Ghandi did in India, what protester at Tiananmen square did, what protesters in the arab spring, what solidarity did in Poland, the people did in the people power revolution in the Philipine. What would have happened if every Lutheran and Christian had resisted and stood with Jews. Evil happens because good men do nothing or even worse side with the oppressor.
    I think you are naive and indoctrinated with military thinking if you think that ever increasing cycles of violent struggle will do anything except eventually maybe hopefully convince people of their futility. How many wars to end all wars do we need? Just another example of HPTFTU. At least some soldiers recognize their activities are FUBAR.




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    • This is getting way way off topic, but are you saying that you wouldn’t physically restrain murderers or other violent criminals or even put them in jail? You’d just show them “passive resistance” in order to shame them into towing the line? Such a situation would not an orderly government or peaceful society make in this world. Rather, it would end in anarchy and chaos.

      What you aren’t considering is that because a lot of good people did nothing it left the good people that remained with the only viable option left against Hitler and the Nazis – i.e., military force. Sure, it would have been lovely if the vast majority of the population of Germany, to include all the so-called Christians over there, had opposed Hitler. But, they didn’t. So, what then? You wouldn’t use force to stop him from killing massive numbers of innocent people? Really? You’d rather see millions more innocent people die than to walk in there and physically stop the Nazis by whatever means necessary?

      You think any country would be just fine without a police force in action? That’s seems very naive to me. It would only work if everyone agreed to be good and upright and to obey the Royal Law all the time. Only then would civil laws and a police force to enforce those laws with civil penalties (like fines, arrests at the point of a gun and jail time, etc.) be superfluous. Such a situation would, of course, be Heaven itself. But, we just don’t live in Heaven now do we? We live with evil people in this world that will not be stopped by peaceful protests against their criminal ways.

      You do realize that Gandhi’s peaceful protest only worked because of the moral sensibilities of those he was protesting against? – as well as outside pressures from various governments around the world? If he happened to be protesting against Genghis Khan or Hitler or Alexander the Great or Cesar, it wouldn’t have worked. These mass killers would have just killed Gandhi without a second thought – and everyone else with him.

      Consider the following passages along these lines:

      Mahatma Gandhi, gave a very important interview (also cited here) with his biographer, Louis Fischer, reported in his The Life of Mahatma Gandhi (1950):

      “Hitler,” Gandhi solemnly affirmed, “killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. I believe in hara-kiri. I do not believe in its militaristic connotations, but it is a heroic method.”

      “You think,” I said, “that the Jews should have committed collective suicide?”

      “Yes,” Gandhi agreed, “that would have been heroism. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to the evils of Hitler’s violence, especially in 1938, before the war. As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”

      Do you believe that it was a moral failure when Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto fought against the Germans who are trying to kill them? Was it a moral failure when the French Resistance fought the German occupation of France? – an occupation that involved rounding up Jews and other French people and sending them to die in concentration camps? Is it a moral failure if a mother shoots an evil man who is tryin to kidnap or molest her children? Is it a moral failure when a person fights back (even lethally) against a rapist? Gandhi said that such actions would indeed be moral failures.

      I don’t agree. There are situations where a ruthlessly evil enemy cannot be stopped by non-violent tactics and it is not a “moral failure” to stop such an enemy with the use of physical force.

      “Nonviolent tactics will fail when faced with an absolutely ruthless enemy. Gandhi suggested that the Jews should have used nonviolence against the Nazis. This would have been pointless. The Holocaust could have only been prevented by a workers’ revolution in Germany. Instead, it was finally ended through the Allied military victory. Similarly, a Nazi occupation of India — or a Japanese invasion, which could have happened — would have killed Gandhi and the membership of the Congress Party. Also, successful nonviolent methods require publicity, so the rest of the world knows about it and can put pressure on the oppressors. The Nazis or Imperial Japanese would not have let nonviolent campaigns be reported. Gandhi and Nehru would have vanished without the world’s knowledge. The same can be said of nonviolence methods when used against other ruthless and secretive regimes.

      The two most famous nonviolent campaigns are the independence struggle in India and the civil rights movement of African-Americans. In India, the movement succeeded due to the weakness of the British imperialists. In the past, they had been willing to simply massacre the Indians, as they did with the Amritsar massacre (shown in the movie “Gandhi”). But they were being replaced by the U.S. (and the Soviet Union) as the world’s greatest imperialists. They no longer had the power or wealth to hold down India. The Japanese army softened them up in World War II. Had they repressed Gandhi’s movement, they knew they would have faced an armed struggle instead (after all, the Chinese revolution was happening next door). Finally, they knew that the issue was not all-or-nothing for British capitalism; after independence they had more investments in India than before.

      Nonviolence worked in the African-American civil rights struggle because the South was part of the larger U.S. The national capitalists, while not supporters of Black people, had no essential need for Southern racial segregation. National politicians were embarrassed internationally as they competed with the Communists. Internationally and domestically their pretense of “democracy” and “freedom” were being given the lie. So they put pressure on the Southern racists to clean up their act and end overt Jim Crow. African-Americans remained on the bottom of U.S. society but were freed from legal segregation.

      But if the Southern racists had been left to themselves, uncontrolled by national forces, they would have drowned the nonviolent movement in blood.

      Nonviolence was always limited. Nonviolent demonstrators were often protected at night by local Black people patrolling their neighborhoods with rifles. As mentioned, boycotts and strikes were also means of coercion against the local power structure, not just means of appealing to their consciences. Efforts to use courts and to get laws passed are only seen as nonviolent because we are taught to ignore the violence of the state. Actually, court rulings for integration and laws against discrimination only work if they are backed by the armed power of the state. This became clear when the federal government had to call up the National Guard to integrate colleges and schools.

      A test case came in South Africa after World War II. As parts of Africa won independence, the Afrikaners imposed a system of apartheid on South African Blacks. The Blacks organized a mass nonviolent movement. The apartheid regime brutally repressed the movement, shooting down demonstrators in cold blood at Sharpesville and elsewhere. The movement was disorganized and driven underground. Nelson Mandela and others had to give up nonviolence in favor of armed struggle. The system lasted for decades more, until economic weakness, combined with a violent rebellion forced the rulers to give up apartheid (although they kept the capitalist system under which Black workers remain oppressed and exploited). South Africa demonstrated that a ruthless enough power structure can defeat nonviolent methods.” Link




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        You are of course right non-violence doesnt consistently win. If our Lord was killed why should we expect any different outcome. How many anabaptists were killed by protestant and Catholics? But do they then do as the world does. I think not.

        While there are ever conscienceless soldiers “just following orders” of psychopaths and leaders playing political war games from the comfort of their palaces and white houses there will be regimes that can overcome any non-violent protest. Does that mean to be on winning side we support the harlot with body and soul. I think not but you have obviously already voted with your feet in a goosestep for good or God.




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        • This isn’t a matter of personal revenge for a personal slight or injustice. I’m talking about maintaining civil society and avoiding anarchy within and between governments. That can’t be done in this world without a police force and a military.

          Again, the Biblical authors agree with me here. Paul writes:

          “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For [good] rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” – Romans 13:1-4

          And Peter writes:

          Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. – 1 Peter 2:13-14

          Now, I know that this goes against your “gestalt” feelings of truth, and therefore there’s really no way to change your mind. However, for those who may be following this thread, a government that protects the God-given civil rights of its own citizens, and even the citizens of other nations, with the use of force is not evil nor is it acting in an evil manner. Such a protection of true civil order and moral justice by a national government is ordained by God.

          What you’re promoting, in comparison, is a complete lack of civil government with no enforcement of civil laws – otherwise known as anarchy.




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        • @Sean Pitman:
          Sorry Sean your tired arguments for force and military action belie your ignorance about pacifism.

          You are incensed that I should consider the perfect creation had death as an intrinsic property but are quite happy to export to heaven the use of force and military action occasioning death as the basis for peace in heaven and on earth.

          As to God appointed governements Peter and Paul were talking of all governments as Christians had no interest in making and removing governments. Why do you corrupt the intent of the text by inserting good when it is not there? Every anabaptists knows from experience of their history that they live by Gods Grace in a world where governments good or bad, henious or sublime equally provide order and security but that does not dictate the order in their own communities. They know that a Government can destroy them as protestants and catholics have done in the past but this does not mean they must comprise their principles for the sake of efficacy. This appreciation of order does not mandate that they should be soldiers or policepersons who use death, force or threat of force for stability. The most visible of the anabaptist traditions Amish Mennonites and Quakers are not soldiers. Adventist non-combatancy stems from appreciation of the arguments against violence and force that these communities have articulated. Ted Wilson’s recent compromise on this Adventist stance of non-combatancy is clearly a political response to the popularity of combatancy among US Adventism rather than any new understanding of war as authorized murder.

          If you accept Peter and Pauls statements where is your justification for removing any governemnt that is providing stability. No WMD and removal a highly stable and ruthless government much like that Peter and Paul were extolling. Tell me again the virtue of that war. I think you should perhaps chalk that one up to the pacifist like Peter and Paul.




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        • As Abraham Lincoln pointed out, you anarchists depend upon stable governments for your very existence and way of life. Without a military or police force, what you would have is anarchy and chaos – which is clearly opposed to the support of the Bible for civil order and government maintained by the threat of civil force. You claim that Peter and Paul wouldn’t hurt a fly for any reason. How do you explain the story of Ananias and Sapphira who died at the word of Peter by the power of the Holy Spirit? – and how “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:1-11)?

          God most definitely has, as described throughout the Bible, placed limits on the action of evil people and governments with the use of civil force – and He expects modern governments to do the same when evil threatens innocent lives. These governments, where they exist, “have been established by God.” Paul does not at all support your extreme view of pacifism. Paul affirms the government’s right to use force in two ways. First, he says that it “does not bear the sword for nothing.” Second, he states that government is a “minister of God” when it executes civil penalties against evildoers (Romans 13:1-4).

          You, on the other hand, are an anarchist – opposed to all governmental control or restriction of evil actions against the innocent. In my opinion, although I do sympathize and used to be a pacifist myself, yours is an untenable position.

          Even Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a famous pacifist and someone whom you clearly respect and admire, seemed to have changed his mind about opposing Hitler with pacifism alone. Eberhard Bethge, a good friend of Honhoeffer’s remembered that Bonhoefer said, “that if it fell to him [Bonhoeffer] to carry out the deed [to kill Hitler], he was prepared to do so, but that he must first resign, formally and officially from his church. The church could not shield him, and he had no wish to claim its protection. It was a theoretical statement, of course, since Bonhoeffer knew nothing about guns or explosives.” Bethge also claims that, “Bonhoeffer… was already pleading the need for assassination” when talking to others involved in the resistance. This is specifically in contrast to resistance leader Helmuth von Moltke of the “Kreisau Circle” who urged non-violent resistance to Hitler. Of course, Bethge clearly thought, from personal conversations with Bonhoeffer, that Bonhoeffer thought the Krisau Circle, von Moltke, and non-violent resistance to Hitler was useless.

          This is also in line with the biblical concept of a need to maintain civil order for any viable government. It is significant that John the Baptist did not tell the soldiers to leave the military when they asked him what it meant to repent: “And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, ‘And what about us, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages'” (Luke 3:14). Jesus also never asked any soldier to leave the military nor did He in any way condemn military service – nor did any of His disciples or any of the biblical writers in the Old or New Testaments.

          I’m not the only one to interpret these passages in this way. Thomas Aquinas, writing on Christian charity, cites Augustine, who in a sermon also cites the passage where John the Baptist gave ethical direction to soldiers (Luke 3:14). Augustine concludes, “If he [John the Baptist] commanded them [the soldiers] to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering.” Aquinas goes on to argue: “Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace, which Our Lord ‘came not to send upon earth’ (Matthew 10:34).” His view harmonizes with St Paul (Romans 13:3-5). Aquinas again cites Augustine: “We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace.” (Aquinas, St. Thomas. The Summa Theologica. [Ep. ad Marcel. cxxxviii])

          Also, C.S. Lewis, writing in the same vein, understands Christ’s teaching to turn the other cheek in a very literal and practical manner that does not do away with and and all forms of violence, but simply the right of personal retaliation. He interprets this command to turn the other cheek as an uncomplicated command without a secondary conclusion or effect. What is relevant is the personal injury and the Christian’s response. The believer must submit individual desire for retribution to God (Deuteronomy 32:35). Lewis maintains that when we read into this command any other conditions than the interaction between two individuals we have moved beyond the command. “Does anyone suppose that Our Lord’s hearers understood Him to mean that if a homicidal maniac, attempting to murder a third party, tried to knock me out of the way, I must stand aside and let him get his victim?” He denies this is contained in Jesus‘ words. Lewis sees consistency with this viewpoint in the whole of Jesus teaching and the entirety of scripture. He cites Jesus praise of the Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:6-10) ‘without reservation’; the Apostle Paul‘s teaching on the right of the sword (Rom. 13:4ff) and St. Peter‘s confirmation of governmental authority (1 Pet. 2:14). Lewis does not find a universal principle of non-resistance that applies in all circumstances, but one that Christ‘s hearers would plainly understand as a personal ethic and not more. (Lewis, C.S. The Weight of Glory: (Why I Am Not A Pacifist), (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1980); p.85-87)

          Now, it is true that a church organization should not be involved with controlling civil government (John 18:36). There should be a distinct and uncrossable “separation between church and state.” However, the state government may use civil force to enforce civil laws (John 18:36; Romans 13:3-4; etc.). So, a Christian who joins the military may fight, not as an agent of the church, but as an agent of the government of his country to maintain civil order and to protect the citizens of that country from evil that may strike from within or without. Both church and state are ultimately under the authority of God, but each has a distinct role to play.

          When it comes to Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, which is often cited by Christian pacifists, remember that Jesus was speaking primarily to individuals. He was not addressing governments. This text, then, shows that an individual’s primary response to evil should be to “turn the other cheek” (more accurately the “left check” so as to at least force a full slap – as compared to a demeaning “back-handed” slap to the right cheek) while the other texts (e.g., Romans 13:3-4) show that the government’s God-given responsibility is to defend its citizens, with the use of lethal force if necessary, against those who commit civil crimes (murder, terrorism, acts of war, etc.). While it is sometimes appropriate even for individuals to use self-defense, it is never appropriate for individuals to seek to punish others. But it is right, however, for state governments both to take measures of self-defense and to execute civil penalties for various types of civil crimes against its citizens.

          After all, what did Abraham do when his nephew Lot was taken prisoner? He went after them and attacked and killed them – all to rescue one family from the evil that had overtaken them (Genesis 14:14). He didn’t just leave Lot and his family to die or be sold into slavery because of some requirement of God to be passive against evil in all situations.

          God Himself is not always passive either when evil presents itself in apparently overwhelming force. God acts, on occasion, to destroy the wicked – and will make a final end of the those who choose to be evil at the “End of Time”.




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        • You are incensed that I should consider the perfect creation had death as an intrinsic property but are quite happy to export to heaven the use of force and military action occasioning death as the basis for peace in heaven and on earth.

          Isn’t it ironic that the “pacifist” believes that endless suffering and death for sentient creatures is “ok” and even necessary in a “perfect creation” while the “military man” is the one who is most pained by all forms of death and suffering and would like to see all of it done away with? – who would not recognize any place as “perfect” where sentient creatures are still suffering and dying?

          Why do you think that is? Perhaps because it is possible, even in this world, to reduce the suffering and death of the innocent with the use of civil force against the evil efforts of wicked men and governments?

          For example, I don’t hunt. I don’t like to see intelligent animals die. It really bothers me. However, would I hunt and kill animals if my family were hungry and that was the only viable option? Yes. Absolutely I would. It involves striving for the best possible option given a bad situation. However, in an ideal world one would not be forced to choose the best among various bad options. One would not be forced to do things that one would rather not do in order to maintain the good that still remains.




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  41. Sean Pitman: It has everything to do with it… even if some are initially converted for emotional reasons, these warm fuzzy feelings won’t keep them going when the going gets tough.

    Indeed what could be tougher than the staunch believer in the supremacy of empirical evidence finding that he had to accept that the earth may be more than 6000 years old? Your response

    “…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

    Is completely consistent with your denigration of any virtue in a faith that is based on things that are not empirical.

    As I have indicated to Wesley I have no issue with appealing to logic and evidence as support for a religious view. What I do take issue with is
    1] your confusing of terminology and equivalence of evidence with empirical evidence. Your imagination that any old observation or “empirical evidence” is somehow scientific and appealing to that as the basis for accepting or rejecting a theological or religious position with complete exclusion of any value of a faith position that may conflict with scientific or empirical evidence.
    2] Your introduction of supernaturalism into science with religious concepts and divine interventions equally as part of the explanators rather than accept that science is a specific part of human knowledge operating by some basic principles that are accepted by that community. Related to this is a pervasive poorly defined method of science that includes God and pretending that none of these are faith positions.

    I have made these points many times before. I am really only a messenger reminding you what is the accepted definitions in religions and science. That you have responded “yes but” on every occasion and persist in idiosyncratic definitions and perspectives suggests you are more interested in destroying what is, rather than trying argue for Christian beliefs in the public square.




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    • [Your stated position] is completely consistent with your denigration of any virtue in a faith that is based on things that are not empirical.

      Tell me. What would have happened to the “virtue” of the faith of the disciples if Jesus had not been physically raised from the dead and shown Himself, as an empirical demonstration of His Resurrection, to them? Do you think the Christian hope would exist today? – even if Jesus had in fact been Resurrected in some spiritual form? – and even if God still existed and planned to take us all to Heaven someday? Be honest now. Without this original empirical demonstration of the Resurrection, where would be the basis the disciples faith and hope? – and of your faith and hope today?




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        • @Sean Pitman: I did even if it was a little too cryptic for you. Hope springs eternal. I happen to thing that the incarnation of God was so extrordinary that the resurrection was largely irrelevant but of course you have said on numerous occasions that they only were convince by the “empirical evidence” of an empty tomb.




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        • Wow! If you actually believe that, I suppose we have nothing further to talk about. It just blows my mind that you actually believe that the Resurrection was essentially irrelevant to the faith of the disciples following the death of Jesus. Why did God provide such a demonstration then? I’ve never before heard anyone else argue that the Resurrection had no real impact in the faith of the disciples. It goes completely contrary to how the Bible describes the reaction of the disciples. It also goes completely against what Paul said about the importance of the Resurrection as a basis for faith:

          “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” – 1 Corinthians 15:14.

          Anyway, given that this is your true position, we have nothing more to talk about. You’re in a completely different universe from where I am. I don’t think we can possibly understand each other.




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        • @Sean Pitman:
          You asked me a hypothetical question and I gave you a hypothetical answer. Paul wrote after the events we are talking about and reflects the fact that there was evidence of a resurrection. This is completely analogous to 1844. Do you not think that Paul would have had a different view of the bodily resurrection if it has been the equivalent of 1860?
          I would have thought given your complete indifference to any conventional scientific understanding that you would understand how one can by virtue of confirmation bias continue to hold a view after it is apparent to everyone else that it is unsustainable.
          Absent the bodily resurrection there would have been a different interpretation of the prophecy of rising on the 3rd day just as absent the evidence of a second coming there was a different interpretation of 1844.




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        • The chickenhearted disciples weren’t about to put their lives on the line, none of them, until they saw the empirical evidence of the Resurrection. Without the evidence of the Resurrection they would have simply believed that Jesus was a good man, but not the Messiah much less God incarnate. Without the Resurrection He fulfilled none of their ideas of what the Messiah should be, and they would have simply assumed that they’d gotten it wrong and kept looking for the real thing. It was because of the evidence of the Resurrection that all of them suddenly became very bold for the faith of Jesus and put their lives on the line for their story that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah – the unique Son of God. James “The Just”, the brother of Jesus, did not believe in Jesus at all until Jesus physically appeared to him and talked with him after the Resurrection. The same is true for Paul.

          This is as clear as it gets. If you don’t agree with at least this much, if you continue to argue that a Divine miracle as powerful as the Resurrection, if it really happened as described, would and should have had no real impact on the faith of Jesus’ disciples (or you if you happened to have been there), we really have no basis for further conversation on this topic. It’s hard for me to imagine how you’re not just being deliberately obtuse and disingenuous at this point? I’m just not interested…




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  42. Sean Pitman: This is as clear as it gets. If you don’t agree with at least this much, if you continue to argue that a Divine miracle as powerful as the Resurrection, if it really happened as described, would and should have had no real impact on the faith of Jesus’ disciples (or you if you happened to have been there), we really have no basis for further conversation on this topic. It’s hard for me to imagine how you’re not just being deliberately obtuse and disingenuous at this point? I’m just not interested…

    Do you not agree that the cleansing of the Sanctuary and the 2300 days had different meanings in 1844 and 1860 or are you concerned that I do not think the resurrection occurred. In terms of the latter I accept it not as empirical evidence but as the hearsay of the faithful. I accept that as a basis for belief but it is by faith not by verifiable physical evidence. It is not empirical evidence it is at most hearsay of physical evidence ascertained by the observers and written down 30-40 years later. Where we disagree is in distinguishing between hearsay and objective or physical evidence. You seem to think they are equivalent and all under your rubric of science.




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    • The point is that the Resurrection wasn’t just “hearsay” to the disciples who saw it. It was their empirical reality and they claim that it had a huge impact on them and their faith. Yet, perhaps because you feel yourself being backed into a corner, you predictably claim that you don’t believe that such an empirical demonstration of Divine power would or should have had any significant impact on their faith. You’re sticking with a very pure form of fideism where no empirical evidence of any kind that could ever be presented to you would have any affect on you or your gestalt-based faith (“They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” – Luke 16:21).

      In short, I don’t think you’re being honest with me or even with yourself. I see the claims of the biblical authors as self-evident – that the physical demonstration of the Resurrection would have had a huge impact on their faith (as it would anybody’s faith who saw what they claim to have seen) which helped them change the world.

      Your comparison of what would have happened if here had been no Resurrection to the Great Disappointment of 1844 is patently ridiculous. If Jesus’ body had remained dead in the tomb, if he had not been raised from the dead, no one could have come up with a “different meaning” to this reality that would have been able to rescue Jesus as the true Messiah, much less God incarnate, for the disciples or for anyone else with a rational mind. Pardon the pun, but the empirical reality of a dead Jesus with his body still in the tomb today would have been the nail in the coffin for Christianity. It would have died right there along with Jesus. It would not have changed the world. If you ever decide to be honest with yourself, you have to admit this is true.

      If you refuse to admit this reality, we simply have nothing further to talk about.




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  43. Sean Pitman: Anyway, given that this is your true position, we have nothing more to talk about. You’re in a completely different universe from where I am. I don’t think we can possibly understand each other.

    I find it interesting that you should claim to believe by empirical evidence but when you write on sites where there is any adherence to criteria for empirical evidence or science you get the same response. You are understood by fundamentalists and people of faith that understand positions based a priori on the fundamentalist unquestioned acceptance of the veracity of the scripture and the prophets. Why do you think that is and why do you think most of us think you are in denial of the true source of your beliefs. You become completely discombobulated when there is any attempt to explain Christianity by first principles of either science of religion.




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    • When you “explain” something using what you yourself call non-logical “gestalt” feelings-based fideistic arguments how is anyone with a rational mind supposed to understand you?

      Also, you don’t need any “a priori” religious commitments in order to know that the evolutionary mechanism is untenable as a creative force beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. In order to ignore this reality what you do need is an a priori commitment to philosophical naturalism.




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  44. Sean Pitman: Pardon the pun, but the empirical reality of a dead Jesus with his body still in the tomb today would have been the nail in the coffin for Christianity. It would have died right there along with Jesus. It would not have changed the world. If you ever decide to be honest with yourself, you have to admit this is true.

    Nail in the coffin? No more than never being able to physically demonstrate the golden plates of the Angel Morani has been the death of LDS or the lack of a physical evidence of his return in 1844 has been the death of Adventism. That is my point if I must spell it out. Most if not all Religions exist based on something other than the products of a “rational mind”. That is one of the ugly truths of reality. One has only to look at scientology or one of the favourites in last Australian census “Jedi” to appreciate this. Rational minds may have begun the sects but the constructs were far from rational but there will be followers with and “irrational” faith in the product.
    The rational mind can explain it as they do as a delusion that enables the human race to survive and prosper or that enables mental stability and function in a world of uncertainty where risk of death was ever-present.

    And this is where I think you are a much better advocate for atheism than for religious belief. You do not carry through on any threat to pursue the empiricism and rationality through to its logical conclusion (“..If I ever…”) for the reality is on one hand you claim the high ground of strict rationality and adherence to acceptance only of empirical evidence, a position that denies that there is anything of value in intuitive understanding and faith without scientific evidence. A faith justified by action alone.
    On the other hand you mire yourself with the dross of unquestioned assumptions, revel in your cultural and religious heritage and the comfort of conservatism that is middle class USA with its affluence, political conservatism, military power and religious fundamentalism.
    I am happy for you to do all these things but it would be helpful to any discussion if you were self-aware enough to acknowledge that you are doing it and stop characterizing anyone else who does not have the same culturally determined “world view” dishonest, fools or naive.

    Enough is enough and I will move off. Grace to you. I am really pleased that you do not pursue rationalism and reject the Christian or Adventist “faith”. I pray that few see your words and follow your trajectory of empiricism to its conclusion of atheism




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    • No more than never being able to physically demonstrate the golden plates of the Angel Morani has been the death of LDS…

      You’re comparing eleven chickenhearted men quivering in hiding being converted by the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection (and going on to put their lives on the line, all of them, to change the world with this message) to a single man, the known confidence man and charlatan Joseph Smith, claiming to have been given some golden plates by some man-angel named Moroni? Surely you jest!?

      The disciples would have been immediately called out on their claims for the Resurrection by a simple demonstration of the dead body of Jesus. What would the disciples have said then? That there was some kind of “spiritual resurrection of Jesus?” – where all of them would have put their lives on the line for this metaphysical story? I don’t think so. Joseph Smith, on the other hand, conveniently lost the golden plates (not that their demonstration would have proved anything anyway – unlike the empty tomb). So, why did people believe him? Because, fideists don’t need any rational basis or argument for what they choose to believe. They, like you, just “feel” what the want to be true and that’s it. The disciples of Christ didn’t act like this or they wouldn’t have been hiding in fear when Jesus was killed. You also don’t get eleven sensible guys who aren’t at all looking for martyrdom (plus a few others who also claimed to have seen and spoken with Jesus after the Resurrection) all being so suddenly willing to put their lives on the line for a made-up story, the same story, that they all know to be a lie or some figment of the imagination.

      Beyond this, I asked you a hypothetical question: Given the hypothetical reality that Jesus was in fact physically raised from the dead, and given the hypothetical reality that many people saw, touched, and talked with Him after the Resurrection, would such a demonstration have a significant effect on the faith those who saw such a thing?

      Amazingly, you answered (and I’m paraphrasing a bit):

      “No. The resurrection was largely irrelevant. The disciples would have continued to believe and have faith in Jesus as the Messiah and God incarnate, even if His body had remained dead in the grave.”

      That’s where I have my problem with your sincerity since pretty much everyone would in fact be significantly impacted if shown such an empirical demonstration of divine power – even you. I honestly don’t understand, at all, how you can sincerely argue otherwise?




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  45. Sean Pitman: You’re comparing eleven chickenhearted men quivering in hiding being converted by the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection (and going on to put their lives on the line, all of them, to change the world with this message) to a single man, the known confidence man and charlatan Joseph Smith, claiming to have been given some golden plates by some man-angel named Moroni? Surely you jest!?

    Ah the “chickenhearted disciples” argument we have I fear heard a few times before. As a soldier I am absolutely astounded that you do not know anything about what compels people to war. In an earlier book “How to win a cosmic war” Reza Aslan wrote something about the Zealots at the time of Christ. He has now written a book on Jesus that puts him in the culture of the apocalyptic expectation that was prevalent in first century Palestine “Zealots, The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth” http://www.amazon.com/Zealot-Life-Times-Jesus-Nazareth/dp/140006922X

    Who was Simon the Zealot of Act 13:1? Who was Theudas and Simon referenced in Acts 5? What were the Zealots? Do you not think that martyrdom is at all a motivator to those who consider the executed man a spiritual leader.
    If you can answer that question you perhaps have some insight into why I do not think the bodily resurrection was essential to the survival of the Christian sect of the first century.

    Your claim to rationalism and empiricism I think is empty if you are unwilling to start investigating your account of Jesus from beyond the confines of the biased account of the believers. From a scientific perspective that looks for objective data. Of course if you are like me, willing to admit that you have a faith position that the biblical account as written is probably true then you really dont have to pursue any external sources at all and can say that Reza Aslans perspective is popular account based on little evidence. You also have to say the Biblical account is also a popular account with little if any data verifiable by anyone except the interested parties. Such is our dilemma. Either admit we operate by faith in the very sources themselves or pretend they are objective and scientific.




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    • First off, you’re claiming that if you actually saw the Resurrection with your own eyes and spoke with and even touched Jesus personally that it would have essentially no effect on your faith or actions – and that it had nothing much to do with what the disciples, James the brother of Christ, 500 others who personally met with Jesus, and Paul did after the death of Jesus. That’s extraordinarily unlikely. If Jesus’ body had been produced after the claimed “Resurrection”, these men, not even the zealots, would have continued to promote Jesus as the Messiah, much less God incarnate – and very very few would have believed such a story given the existence of the dead body of Jesus.

      If your faith would not be affected by such evidence, nothing else that I can possibly say or that even God could possibly present to you as an empirical demonstration, is going to change your mind. If you base everything on what you feel, regardless of what is going on in the real world, there’s nothing outside of your own mind that can affect you.

      For those who do live outside of their own minds, however, I will point out, yet again, that even zealots are generally not willing to die for something they know to be a hoax. What Pauluc is arguing here is that a fairly large and diverse group of guys who initially ran and hid out, afraid for their own lives, would have sudden become willing to die for a story that they knew had no empirical basis in reality. That’s extremely unlikely. Fairly large groups of sane people with diverse backgrounds just don’t volunteer to put their lives on the line for what they all know is a lie – not even zealots.

      Now, this is evidence that was available to the disciples in their day (which Pauluc claims wouldn’t have mattered anyway). What do we have as evidence in our day? Pauluc claims that it is essentially nothing more than what the LDS believers have – the sole testimony of the shady character of Joseph Smith. Well, that’s just not true. Christians have the testimony of prophecy, for one thing, which demonstrates a fantastic match to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. No other religion has this type of empirical evidence that is open to all to investigate. Christianity also has independent historical accounts as to the life and death and even the reported resurrection of Jesus. Few other historical figures have so much existing documentation from numerous independent sources from so close to the actual period in time when the events took place. No one doubts the generally accuracy of the accounts of the Battle of Issus between Darius III and Alexander the Great even though the written account(s) of this battle weren’t produced for hundreds of years after. Christianity also has the independently verified accounts of the deaths of all of the disciples of Jesus, save for John, who were martyred defending the truth of their story. Again, it is very very unlikely that numerous men with wide backgrounds would voluntarily choose to die painful martyr’s deaths for what they knew, for a fact, was a lie.

      Is this evidence “proof” that the story of Jesus within the Bible is true? There is no such thing as absolute proof. But, it is based on very good evidence – even the weight of evidence for those who consider it with a candid mind. It isn’t simply a matter of wishful thinking or some vague “gestalt” feeling of what one hopes to be true (unlike the position of my LDS friends on the claims of Joseph Smith). There is a solid rational basis for the Christian to put his/her faith in Jesus and His claims for His own Divinity and His promises for a very bright future for those who live according to the Royal Law of Love for their fellow man.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Lets not change the goal posts. You have been arguing that absent empirical evidence of the resurrection Christianity would not exist. Whether or not if I witnessed and were moved by evidence of the resurrection is irrelevant.

        My argument is

        1] Any candid observer applying the usual criteria for empirical evidence would have to concede that the empirical evidence for the resurrection is hearsay.

        2] Religion including your own is based on other than unequivocal and verifiable physical evidence and that it can exist in the absence of such evidence.

        I accept both of these points. There is no certainty of the resurrection other than the writings of the interested parties. My Christianity is based on the prophet not the genius. On the witness of the community of faith, both the tradition and the writings accepted as canonical selected as they were from a range of gospels and apocalypses.




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        • The goalposts haven’t changed. I originally asked you if you thought that the empirical demonstration of the Resurrection, if it really happened as described, had an affect on the faith of the disciples in Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah and God incarnate? Unbelievably you said, “No. The resurrection was largely irrelevant.”

          As usual, you seem to require some form of absolute demonstration, not the weight of empirical evidence. Not even the most solid scientific hypotheses or theories are based on absolutely “unequivocal” evidence or “certainty”. Why then do you use such words to raise the bar far higher for religion than you would for any scientific hypothesis or theory? If an empirical demonstration as dramatic as the Resurrection wouldn’t affect your faith (since your faith is “absolutely certain”), nothing else will – even though all scientists would be ecstatic to get such a level of empirical support for their theories…

          In any case, there’s just no point in discussing other less dramatic forms of evidence with you when your faith would be immune to something as fantastic and conclusive as the Resurrection – if you saw it with your own eyes. Of course, if you’re honest with yourself you must know that such a demonstration would in fact have a very dramatic affect on the vast majority of people – to include the majority of scientists and even the disciples of Jesus. Your argument that the disciples could have maintained their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and God incarnate while his body was rotting in the grave is not a logical argument. Arguing that some scenario is possible isn’t the same thing as demonstrating that it is remotely probable – which is the basis of rationally accepting any hypothesis or theory as “most likely true”.

          The modern evidence for the birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, while not absolutely “certain”, does indeed go well beyond mere “hearsay” – as previously explained.




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        • Hearsay?

          I don’t think so.

          Hearsay noun:

          1. Unverified information heard or received from another; rumor.
          2. Law Evidence that is not within the personal knowledge of a witness, such as testimony regarding statements made by someone other than the witness, and that therefore may be inadmissible to establish the truth of a particular contention because the accuracy of the evidence cannot be verified through cross-examination.

          The Minimal Facts Method:

          For more than 35 years, I have argued that, surrounding the end of Jesus’ life, there is a significant body of data that scholars of almost every religious and philosophical persuasion recognize as being historical. The historicity of each “fact” on the list is attested and supported by a variety of historical and other considerations. This motif began as the central tenet of my PhD dissertation.2 This theme has continued in virtually all of my other dozens of publications on this subject since that time.3 Interestingly, my second
          http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/southeastern_theological_review/minimal-facts-methodology_08-02-2012.htm

          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-resurrection-of-jesus




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  46. In conclusion, Licona counts only three historical facts as part of the historical bedrock: Jesus’ death by crucifixion, the disciples’ experiences that they believed to be appearances of the risen Jesus, and Paul’s experience that convinced him similarly (p. 468). As Licona states, “These facts form the historical bedrock, facts past doubting, on which all hypotheses should be built” (p. 617).

    But Licona also thinks that there are four additional facts which, while they are not part of the historical bedrock, are still close enough that they should be considered as “second-order facts.” Two of these have just been mentioned: the conversion of James, the brother of Jesus, which was probably due to an experience that he also considered as a resurrection appearance of Jesus, and, slightly less likely, the empty tomb. The other two second-order facts include Jesus’ predictions of his violent, imminent death as well as his resurrection afterwards, and that the earliest apostles held that Jesus appeared in a bodily form, both also mentioned briefly above (pp. 468-9).

    Still, it should be noted carefully that Licona proposes that only the three bedrock historical facts be considered when weighing the critical hypotheses. The other four “second-order facts” would only be utilized in cases where “no clear winner emerges” among two or more competing views. This leads directly to his examination of the five naturalistic hypotheses that occupy the remainder of the book (p. 469).

    Licona also addresses potential objections to the Minimal Facts argument. One is particularly intriguing and deserves mention: could we, in a sense, be “doctoring” the bedrock historical facts by, perhaps even subconsciously, not including some events which could also meet our criteria and be in our list, because they might upset our approach, or because these facts might somehow militate against our own preferred view? But as Licona correctly notes, many critical scholars might be highly motivated to find precisely such additional data, “and yet do not identify other facts for which a nearly unanimous majority approval exists” (p. 280).

    Why is this so? It is simply the case that no other facts which would fulfill our criteria but somehow oppose the overall conclusion of historicity appear to be on offer. Think of it this way: Licona is being very strict when James’ experience does not make the grade, even though it is held virtually unanimously among scholars, and for several good reasons, but it is still relegated to the second tier of data simply because not enough scholars address the subject!

    Licona concludes with a lengthy discussion (chapter 5) where he works carefully through each of the critical hypotheses and then compares them to the historical case favoring the resurrection. In the end, he determines that Jesus having risen from the dead is a far superior historical thesis than the agnostic or natural suggestions that he also investigated (pp. 606-10, including chart). This treatment is one of the many places where countless gems are to be found throughout.

    For example, I would like to single out very briefly one of Licona’s chief responses to a major skeptical comeback. Perhaps more commonly than any other retort, we often hear that, since the resurrection thesis requires a supernatural cause, it is thus a lesser view than natural hypotheses, or a variation of a similar rejoinder. As a result, any natural response is superior.

    Among other comments, Licona replies that this is one reason why, in this volume, so much attention was focused on bracketing our worldviews when participating in particular historical studies (p. 602). Metaphysical naturalism is “no less a philosophical construct than supernaturalism and theism” (p. 604). Basically, when previous conceptions of reality are thus bracketed, the resurrection thesis is superior (p. 602-5). There is much more to be said here than I have singled out, to be sure, but it is still helpful to indicate the general direction of Licona’s response on this particular issue.

    Thanks for the article. Very good points with which I almost entirely agree. But his discussion of worldview and his and Licona’s conclusion that Jesus rising from the dead by a miracle is a far better thesis than the alternatives is not really science as any modern scientist would consider it. Its supernaturalism puts it outside science. He concludes with a supernaturalistic conclusion that is a faith position which is precisely what I have been arguing all along. The resurrection of Christ is contingent on a certain world view and belief not on anything that would approach forensic science. We cannot come to or understand God by science, forensic or otherwise and we cannot then reject God because of some perceived discordance between scientific facts and faith. Ie Reject Christianity because we think the world is more than 6000 years old. A position that unfortunately has dramatically more scientific evidence as the best hypothesis than that the resurrection may be the best hypothesis.




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    • The resurrection of Christ is contingent on a certain world view and belief not on anything that would approach forensic science.

      What would “approach forensic science” as far as evidence is concerned? According to you, nothing. It would be impossible, according to you, for God to present any kind of evidence that could possibly convince the candid mind of the reality of God’s own existence or of the Divinity of Jesus.

      After all, it was you who shockingly claimed that even if you personally saw the Resurrection with your own eyes it wouldn’t matter – and it therefore wouldn’t have mattered to the disciples one way or the other. Yet, such an empirical demonstration would be far beyond what qualifies as the “weight of evidence” in forensic science. You see, you’re setting the bar so high that it would be unattainable by any standard. What you’re asking for (some kind of absolute demonstration that goes beyond even something like the Resurrection), goes far beyond that which would be accepted as valid by pretty much everyone – including scientists. Anyone who saw anything like the Resurrection as described in the Bible would consider it “blinding obvious” empirical evidence of a Divine miracle… but not you? What do you want?! You seem to be taking very much the same position as Pharaoh did when he kept resisting the numerous empirical evidences that Moses presented to him over and over again for the Divine origin of the commands being presented to him.

      As already noted, the evidence that is available to us today, regarding the credibility of the Bible, goes far beyond “hearsay” or what the Book of Mormon offers the Latter-day Saints – or any other religious text or document. If not, Christianity is nothing but meaningless wishful thinking. Your notion that you can determine various empirical truths (such as the reality of the incarnation of Christ or the Virgin Birth) by some “gestalt” feeling deep down inside of yourself is utter nonsense.




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  47. gene fortner: 2. Law Evidence that is not within the personal knowledge of a witness, such as testimony regarding statements made by someone other than the witness, and that therefore may be inadmissible to establish the truth of a particular contention because the accuracy of the evidence cannot be verified through cross-examination.

    Number 2 sounds suspiciously like account of the resurrection if viewed from the point of objectivity expected of sceince. Habermas and Liconas accept

    …. historical bedrock: Jesus’ death by crucifixion, the disciples’ experiences that they believed to be appearances of the risen Jesus, and Paul’s experience that convinced him similarly

    The accepted historical facts concern the evidence that Jesus existed. The evidence that the disciples believed that he appeared to them and Pauls conviction that Jesus appeared to him in a vision that was not even verifiable by the people with him.
    Believing or citing someone that believed certain things is not evidence of the events themselves and is clearly within the domain of hearsay.
    We accept these things by faith knowing from experience that the most likely is not always what is.




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    • @pauluc:

      Believing or citing someone that believed certain things is not evidence of the events themselves and is clearly within the domain of hearsay.

      This is true, but it’s not the whole story (thank God). I would totally agree with you if this was in fact all the evidence available. If this was in fact the best that the Bible had going for it, there would be absolutely no logical reason to have faith in the superior credibility of the Bible. However, as previously explained, there are numerous very good lines of evidence that go well beyond hearsay and form a solid basis for a very rational faith in the credibility of the biblical claims – far beyond an appeal to your “gestalt” feelings of truth that aren’t any more reliable than wishful thinking.




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        • This is because Judge Jones didn’t have a personal understanding of the science or scientific claims involved. He thought that all “intelligent design” arguments were about presenting some kind of proof of God when it is in fact impossible for the finite to conclusively “prove” the infinite. However, what science can do is show that certain phenomena are best explained with the hypothesis of deliberate design where at least human-level intelligence or beyond is required. There are many modern scientific disciplines that are based on the ability to rationally proposed intelligent design to explain various phenomena – sciences such as forensic science, anthropology, and even SETI science.

          For example, you yourself admit that something like a highly symmetrical polished granite cube would be a “blindingly obvious artifact of creative intelligence” – even if found on an alien planet like Mars. Could a God make such a cube? Of course. However, would such a cube require God-like intelligence to explain? Of course not. However, such a cube does require deliberate intelligence of some kind to explain its origin – regardless of where it happens to be found.

          That’s really all that Judge Jones had to realize – but didn’t. He became too worried about what people would conclude if certain phenomena in nature were determined to most likely be “true artifacts” of deliberate design. He was worried that some people would take the extra leap of faith and conclude that God was probably the one who did it. Who cares of some come to such a conclusion? As far as the science is concerned, the fact that intelligent design (or “creative intelligence” if you prefer) can be detected by methodological naturalism is a non-debatable reality.




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        • paul,

          I see that your problem is that you just don’t understand Intelligent Design or what really happened at Dover.

          FYI
          Definition of Intelligent Design

          What is intelligent design?
          Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds 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. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago.

          http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php

          PS:
          The Dover policy did not involve teaching intelligent design in science class. It involved reading a one minute statement only once at the beginning of the semester in each biology class.

          “Students will be made aware of the gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.”

          Note: Origins of life is not taught.”

          A month later, they added a statement to be read to all ninth grade biology classes. That statement referred again to “gaps” in the theory of evolution and to “intelligent design” as an alternative. It also pointed students to copies of Pandas available in the 9th grade science classrooms.




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  48. Sean Pitman:…. there are numerous very good lines of evidence that go well beyond hearsay and form a solid basis for a very rational faith in the credibility of the biblical claims – far beyond an appeal to your “gestalt” feelings of truth that aren’t any more reliable than wishful thinking.

    Sean I really dont think this line of argument and mischaracterization is very helpful. We do not really disagree on the value of evidence and need for some reasons for faith. I am concerned with your overzealous use of rationalism and your willingness to reject Christianity on the basis of a rigid view of scriptural interpretation and a view of rationalism as the sole criteria for belief. I happen to agree with McGath in his assessment of the value of rationality in Christian belief and apologetics and its evolution with time.

    Yet Christian apologists generally responded well to the challenges of rationalism, and developed new approaches to apologetics that chimed in with the “spirit of the age.” This age produced some landmark works of apologetics. Edward John Carnell (1919– 67) produced a work that became a classic evangelical reasoned defense of the Christian faith. [7] Yet the passing of time has made the continued use of such works problematic, for two reasons: Each age generates its own specific concerns and critiques of the Christian faith. Many of the issues seen as important by Carnell and other apologists of this age now seem of little significance. Indeed, reading older works of cultural context using approaches they believed would resonate with their audiences— such as an appeal to rational argument as the basis for a trustworthy faith. As we shall see, the hallmark of good apologetics is an ability to engage specific audiences. Yet the modernist assumption of the primacy of rationality has now been called into question, raising difficulties for apologetic approaches based upon or appealing to it. One of the problems here is that rationalist approaches to apologetics tend to minimize the element of mystery within the Christian faith in order to make Christianity appear more accessible to reason. Yet the Christian gospel expresses some God-given ideas that lie far beyond the capacity of the human mind to discover by itself. In trying to win arguments with particular opponents, apologists sometimes buy into the assumptions of their adversaries. A tactical advantage can easily become a strategic liability. The danger of forms of apologetics that respond to
    rationalism is that they often end up importing rationalism into Christianity, rather than exporting the gospel into a rationalist culture.
    McGrath, Alister E. (2012-01-01). Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith (p. 29). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    I do not hold it against you that you as a Christian committed to a modern paradigm for all knowledge cannot understand either my commitment to science as restricted only to what can be understood based on methodological naturalism or my understanding of apologetics as an exercise in making Christianity intelligible in a post-modern culture.

    It is unfortunate that your zeal and commitment means you are very keen to destroy academics who may think differently but I am powerless to convince you of any alternative approach and we will simply have to agree that we are different in our understanding and in our criteria for rejection of Christianity.




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    • What are your “criteria for the rejection of Christianity”? – beyond a change in your subjective “gestalt” feelings of truth? And, how have I “mischaracterized” your position? Is this not how you yourself described how you arrive at an understanding of various empirical truths described in the Bible (the divinity of Jesus, etc) regardless of what the empirical evidence may or may not be saying?

      You say that you’re committed to “methodological naturalism” as the basis of science. And, you argue, that therefore God cannot be detected by science. This argument makes no sense. How can you say that God could not reveal Himself to scientists who restrict themselves to a process of methodological naturalism if He so chose? You yourself say that some phenomena are “blindingly obvious” artifacts of deliberate design. How then is God unable, by definition, to reveal such “blindingly obvious” artifacts of deliberate design and creative power on such a high level that the only reasonable conclusion as to their origin would be a God or God-like being?

      You argue that the apologetic arguments for God and for the Divine origin of the Bible “do not approach forensic science”. How would you know that since you do not apply the same basis for the “weight of evidence”? What would “approach forensic science” as far as evidence is concerned? According to you, nothing. It would be impossible, according to you, for God to present any kind of evidence that could possibly convince the candid mind of the reality of God’s own existence or of the Divinity of Jesus.

      After all, it was you who shockingly claimed that even if you personally saw the Resurrection with your own eyes it wouldn’t matter – and it therefore wouldn’t have mattered to the disciples one way or the other. Yet, such an empirical demonstration would be far beyond what qualifies as the “weight of evidence” in forensic science. You see, you’re setting the bar so high that it would be unattainable by any standard. What you’re asking for (some kind of absolute demonstration that goes beyond even something like the Resurrection), goes far beyond that which would be accepted as valid by pretty much everyone – including scientists. Anyone who saw anything like the Resurrection as described in the Bible would consider it “blinding obvious” empirical evidence of a Divine miracle… but not you? What do you want?! You seem to be taking very much the same position as Pharaoh did when he kept resisting the numerous empirical evidences that Moses presented to him over and over again for the Divine origin of the commands being presented to him.

      As already noted, the evidence that is available to us today, regarding the credibility of the Bible, goes far beyond “hearsay” or what the Book of Mormon offers the Latter-day Saints – or any other religious text or document. If not, Christianity is nothing but meaningless wishful thinking. Your notion that you can determine various empirical truths (such as the reality of the incarnation of Christ or the Virgin Birth) by some “gestalt” feeling deep down inside of yourself is utter nonsense. You’re just driven to this irrational position because of your view that scientific thinking must somehow be uniquely different compared to religious thinking. That just isn’t the case. The very same arguments can be used both ways.

      If God does in fact exist He is, obviously, the creator of science and the ability to think scientifically/rationally as well as everything else. Why would God create a mental ability that does not lead to an enhanced detection of Him and a better appreciation of who He is? Again, you’re simply being inconsistent in your beliefs and arguments as far as I can tell. You’re trying to define things in irrational ways in order to maintain your belief in the superiority of fideism when it is fact no more useful or credible than wishful thinking.




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  49. Pingback: Believing the Disproven – An Adventure in Science | Educate Truth

  50. Sean Pitman: As already noted, the evidence that is available to us today, regarding the credibility of the Bible, goes far beyond “hearsay” or what the Book of Mormon offers the Latter-day Saints – or any other religious text or document. If not, Christianity is nothing but meaningless wishful thinking.

    So this is your bottom line. Either or. Its scientific based on empirical or its wishful thinking.

    Why are you so upset that I choose the third option.




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    • Just because I can’t tell the difference between your subjective “gestalt” option and wishful thinking doesn’t mean I’m upset. After all, you’re the one coming after me on my own website. No one is twisting your arm to be here. Why do you think I keep posting your arguments if I’m so upset with you or if I thought your arguments would be generally convincing to those who might read them here?




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  51. Sean Pitman: What’s the difference between your “gestalt” and wishful thinking?

    It seems apparent that you are beyond reading books to understand what is the thesis of the author and are more interested in books as fodder for quote mining but I have given you reference to some books that have pointed out the limitations of the modern Christian apologetic. Have you read them? Have you actually tried to engage with post-modernism in any way? To say a wholistic view of life and human experience outside your “science” based on empiricism is wishful thinking give the lie to the claim that you are anything but a neophyte to anything other than modernism with it claim to one absolute truth.




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    • @pauluc:

      You claim a worldview that you would jettison if your current paradigm does not fit with one fact on age of life. How is this (your if I ever…) statement even scientific? Most scientists would propose a new or modified hypothesis that would fit the facts not jettison all of their previous understanding and knowledge as irrelevant on the basis of one discordant fact. But I have asked many times if you really think this “…if I ever…” is your considered view and each time you stand by your approach of preferencing Atheism as the only alternative to your current Christian belief. And Wesley questions why I think you are better advocate for Atheism than for Christianity.




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      • The potential to undermine an entire hypothesis or even theory with “one ugly fact” is the nature of real science – and all meaningful notions of empirical truth that go beyond wishful thinking.

        The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.

        Thomas Henry Huxley, Presidential Address at the British Association, “Biogenesis and abiogenesis” (1870); later published in Collected Essays, Vol. 8, p. 229.

        Of course, contrary facts may be discovered that do not fundamentally undermine the existing hypothesis. This means that some relatively minor adjustments to the current hypothesis are all that are needed to explain the new information. However, there are certain claims of the hypothesis that, if effectively falsified, would indeed completely undermine it in favor of an opposing or competing hypothesis.

        As far as your charge that I’m arguing for atheism, I don’t understand why you keep claiming that I said that “atheism is the only alternative to Christianity”? – especially when I’ve specifically corrected you on this in this very thread? As I’ve previously explained, atheism is not the only alternative to Christianity – not by a long shot. Rather, your argument that fideism, or entirely subjective feelings-based faith, is the only alternative to philosophical naturalism is a huge argument in favor of the rationality or reasonableness of full-blown atheism.

        As Richard Dawkins put it:

        “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist” – Dawkins, Richard. 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: Norton.

        I don’t see that you have any challenge to this argument? Richard Dawkins is not at all challenged in his atheistic perspective by your internally-derived “gestalt” feelings of faith. He doesn’t care about your subjective desire for the validity of the incarnation of Christ or a Heavenly reward in the life to come. And, neither does anyone else who is considering the atheistic perspective. They would all just smile sympathetically at you and then dismiss you with a wave of the hand. The only meaningful counterargument to those proposed by Dawkins and the other “new atheists”, a counterargument to which they would actually take some notice, is an argument from the weight of empirical evidence that is equally available to all to objectively consider… something that goes beyond what anyone may or may not feel or want to be true or what may or may not seem to anyone to be a “beautiful hypothesis”. Short of this, you have no rational or logical reason to argue against atheism – by your own admission. You just subjectively “feel” that atheism is wrong… not convincing.

        For me, on the other hand (and for the biblical authors), I see very good reasons, that are both logical and rational, to argue strongly against atheism as an intellectually tenable position and for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity as expressed by the Bible.




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      • @pauluc:

        And Wesley questions why I think you are better advocate for Atheism than for Christianity.

        Not a quiver of gestalt much less a nanomilligram of faith as only you could define it, does it take to question why such a proposition is a jaw-dropper.

        That settled, seriously, Paul, you do write elegantly and syllogize as sportively as Protagoras, and really don’t need all those quotes, which, truth to tell, I just skim over, as I would guess most do. It’s you I am here to read. Authorities I can get from Google and Wiki. Reading you is a highlight of the day, a great reason to follow this blog, as well as Wiki.




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    • Why can’t you explain, in your own words, the difference between your proposed “third option” (which you have described as some kind of subjective “gestalt” feeling in this thread) and wishful thinking? You’re fond of listing off numerous books and papers, but seem unable to summarize your own views in a reasonable way. Given the advantage of having read so much on this topic, it should be easy for you to explain the difference so that someone as limited and uninformed as I am could understand it.




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  52. Sean Pitman: Why can’t you explain, in your own words, the difference between your proposed “third option” (which you have described as some kind of subjective “gestalt” feeling in this thread) and wishful thinking?

    Baby steps Sean. We have to at least have some similarity in vocabulary. Until you accept at least some of the usual and conventional definitions of what is modern science, what is empiricism, what is evidence, what is faith, what is a prophet what is the basis of religion, it is very hard if not impossible to present any position that is not subject to your ridicule and scorn. Why should I bother. My only role here is to try to defend the Adventist academe against your attacks and to see and understand what fundamentalist Adventist are thinking.




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    • If you can’t explain the difference between your “third option” and wishful thinking so that most people can understand you, just say so. I’m sure most people reading this thread understand English well enough to understand you if your really put your mind to explaining yourself in a reasonable way.

      As far as the definitions of various words and concepts, that’s exactly what the discussion is about: The proper definition of concepts like “faith”, “science”, “evidence”, etc. You’ve made it quite clear that you define faith as entirely independent of the need for any kind of empirical support or logical argument. For you, faith is something that can and should be derived by entirely subjective means without any necessary influence by what is happening outside of your own mind. You’ve just explained that “Christianity [isn’t] an intellectually sound position.” Perhaps that is why you describe faith as a strong feeling or even a “gestalt” as to what is or isn’t “true”? – independent of any need for intellectual meaning or rational argument? If I’m mistaken, by all means correct me.

      Now, if your position holds true for all religious perspectives, why not be an atheist? What argument could you possibly use to counter the popular arguments presented by the “new atheists” – that goes beyond an appeal to wishful thinking? Remember, you’re not just talking to me here. Why not present your “baby steps” as to why your “third option” is somehow superior to wishful thinking? I’m sure many would find it most interesting. I might even find it interesting enough to turn it into an article all its own…




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  53. Sean Pitman: As far as your charge that I’m arguing for atheism, I don’t understand why you keep claiming that I said that “atheism is the only alternative to Christianity”? – especially when I’ve specifically corrected you on this in this very thread? As I’ve previously explained,

    You are of course right I have interpreted your writings and statements but in the absence of a clear statement I am left to surmise.

    As I understand your position;

    1] You have argued for empirical evidence and science are the basis for all your religious views and that anything not based on empiricism is no more than wishful thinking. Is that true or not?
    2] I am assuming that your religious views are consistent with Adventism which I understand to be a subset of Christianity which is in turn a subset of religions which most people would consider spiritual or supernatural beliefs
    Is that true? If not give me the caveats and provisos
    3] You have claimed that because of your understanding based as it is, on science and empiricism you consider the only honest view is that God intervenes in history on a regular basis including by creating all life 6000 years ago. Is that true?
    4] You claim the bulk of the empirical evidence supports a particular model of 6000 year history for life on Earth. This is based on science which as you define it is hypothesis testing so therefore religious views must be falsifiable by empirical data. Is that true?
    5] You then conclude that if you in the course of testing your hypothesis of a religion totally dependent on life being 6000 years old you discover a fact that unequivocally indicates to any reasonable person that life is indeed more than 6000 years old then you must reject your YEC/Adventism/Christian hypothesis. Is this right?
    6] Because you believe that religion is based on empirical evidence and science then you must reject religion based on the veto power of science. Am I parsing your “if I ever” statement correctly?
    7] If you reject the 6000 year scenario and a monolithic view that is Adventism then you must also reject Christianity any maybe all religion because of the science.
    Is that true?
    8] In rejecting YEC, Adventism and Christianity because of empirical evidence and the science do you not think that people might be tempted to think that you place empirical and scientific knowledge above all other ways of knowing or understanding God.
    9] In the absence of any stated alternative your “…if I ever…” statement can only logically be understood as advocacy for empiricism at the expense of any experiential aspects of Christian knowlege, of philosophical naturalism and a process that leads to a rejection of any God less that the almighty creator God. A position most people would consider indistinguishable from atheism.




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    • You are of course right I have interpreted your writings and statements but in the absence of a clear statement I am left to surmise.

      How many times do I have to give you a clear statement that leaving Christianity isn’t the same thing as accepting atheism? – before you’ll remember?

      1] You have argued for empirical evidence and science are the basis for all your religious views and that anything not based on empiricism is no more than wishful thinking. Is that true or not?

      If all you have are subjectively derived “gestalt” feelings, then yes, I see no difference between such feelings and wishful thinking when it comes to believing in such things as the “Virgin Birth” or the “Resurrection of Jesus” or the reality of an empirically real place called “Heaven” after this life is done.

      2] I am assuming that your religious views are consistent with Adventism which I understand to be a subset of Christianity which is in turn a subset of religions which most people would consider spiritual or supernatural beliefs
      Is that true? If not give me the caveats and provisos

      As you already know, I do subscribe to the Adventist perspective on Christianity – because of what I see as the weight of empirical evidence that rationally leads me to this conclusion.

      3] You have claimed that because of your understanding based as it is, on science and empiricism you consider the only honest view is that God intervenes in history on a regular basis including by creating all life 6000 years ago. Is that true?

      I do believe that God created all life on this particular planet within recent history (i.e., less than 10,000 years ago). However, this is the only honest view for me given what I know of empirical reality. Others may honestly subscribe to a very different view. I believe that the significant majority of neo-Darwinists and even atheists are honest in their views. They’re just honestly ignorant – as are you.

      4] You claim the bulk of the empirical evidence supports a particular model of 6000 year history for life on Earth. This is based on science which as you define it is hypothesis testing so therefore religious views must be falsifiable by empirical data. Is that true?

      If you want to move beyond wishful thinking, then yes, your “religious” views (at least those which include empirical claims) must be open to testing with at least the potential for effective falsification.

      5] You then conclude that if you in the course of testing your hypothesis of a religion totally dependent on life being 6000 years old you discover a fact that unequivocally indicates to any reasonable person that life is indeed more than 6000 years old then you must reject your YEC/Adventism/Christian hypothesis. Is this right?

      If a fundamental concept of a hypothesis or theory is effectively shown to be false, then yes, it should be rejected in favor of an alternate hypothesis that actually explains the data in hand. That’s the only rational position to take. In my view, Christianity is fundamentally dependent upon the recent arrival of life on this planet. The falsification of this concept effectively falsifies numerous fundamental Christian concepts – such as the idea that the suffering and death of all sentient creatures on this planet was the result of the moral Fall of Adam and Eve and that this current state of affairs will one day be ended when God recreates this world back to how it was originally intended to be.

      6] Because you believe that religion is based on empirical evidence and science then you must reject religion based on the veto power of science. Am I parsing your “if I ever” statement correctly?

      If the empirical claims of your religion end up being effectively falsified by the weight of empirical evidence (such as the LDS concept that the American Indians descended from the “Lost Tribes of Israel”), then yes, the credibility of your religion should rationally take a hit – at least for those who wish to have their religion based on something more rational and useful than wishful thinking.

      7] If you reject the 6000 year scenario and a monolithic view that is Adventism then you must also reject Christianity any maybe all religion because of the science.
      Is that true?

      No. That’s not true. Christianity can be rejected without rejecting the concept of a God of some kind. There are many non-Christian views of God that are far more compatible with neo-Darwinism. Christianity is, however, rationally incompatible with neo-Darwinism. It’s fundamental claims simply make no rational sense given the reality of neo-Darwinism.

      8] In rejecting YEC, Adventism and Christianity because of empirical evidence and the science do you not think that people might be tempted to think that you place empirical and scientific knowledge above all other ways of knowing or understanding God.

      There are a few aspects of God that can be determined and understood by entirely subjective means (such as the existence of ethical standards and the truth of the Royal Law of Love). However, such a subjective understanding of God need not lead one toward Christianity or an understanding of the superior credibility or Divine origin of the Bible or any of the empirical claims of the Bible. Such objective knowledge must be learned through intellectual means. It cannot be determined on a subjective basis alone.

      9] In the absence of any stated alternative your “…if I ever…” statement can only logically be understood as advocacy for empiricism at the expense of any experiential aspects of Christian knowlege, of philosophical naturalism and a process that leads to a rejection of any God less that the almighty creator God. A position most people would consider indistinguishable from atheism.

      Again, you should already know that there are many alternatives to Christianity besides atheism. I should hope I wouldn’t have to go into detail here. However, given your argument that faith is by definition illogical, without any need for logical argument outside of your own personal subjective experience, then such a definition of faith would most certainly play into the hands of the “new atheists”. An entirely subjective religion offers absolutely no threat to atheistic arguments. That is why atheists are not at all threatened by those who think like you do. They simply dismiss you with a sympathetic wave of the hand…

      So, let me ask you a question:

      How do you tell the difference between wishful thinking and your “third option” for a useful definition of “faith” in at least some of the empirical claims of the Bible?




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  54. I use the word gestalt for a reason Sean. There is a image that is useful in explaining the principles of gestalt.

    http://www.moillusions.com/young-lady-or-old-hag/

    You cannot see both the beautiful woman and the hag. You will see one or the other. Just so, you cannot see the beauty of faith while you hang on to the hag of science. Christianity is more than the sum of its parts. If you try to understand Christianity through the lens of science as the products of empiricism, demand hypothesis testing and naturalism you will only see Christianity as the hag as Dawkins does. Dawkins is absolutely right in that if you take empiricism and the enlightenment devotion to reason and reductionism as your world view you will logically arrive at atheism and a rejection of the hag. Look at history and the world around us and you will see this. Secularism and atheism are unequivocally the legitimate progeny of the the enlightenment and of the supremacy of reason. You can only make science the basis of religion if you distort the notion of science to deny its very basis in methodological naturalism. This you do at the same time as you gloss over your Adventist heritage with its inherent supernaturalism and apocalyptic vision. You pretend they have nothing to do with your beliefs.

    The conversion and the switch to seeing the beautiful woman can only occur if you throw off the shackles of the atomistic vision of empiricism and appreciate the beauty ethic and morality that is inherent in the Christian message of God incarnate. That message comes from God and I appreciate that without at all being concerned that to the believer in the hag sees it as a nasty fideism and a retreat to irrationalism.




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    • You can only make science the basis of religion if you distort the notion of science to deny its very basis in methodological naturalism.

      Oh please. Some of the greatest scientists in literature saw scientific methodologies as a way to study the very Mind of God – a method of thinking and reasoning designed by God Himself as a way to reveal various aspects of Himself to us. Even using the rules of “methodological naturalism” alone, you yourself would conclude that certain phenomena in nature are “blindingly obvious artifacts” of high level intelligence and creative ability. It is only a small rational leap of faith to conclude that a God or God-like being was most likely responsible for certain features of the universe and of living things (and even for various features of the Bible). Scientific thinking is a gift of God to be used to support and compliment faith. Faith, on the other hand, it a key element of scientific investigation. One cannot use scientific methodologies without being willing to take a leap beyond what can be absolutely demonstrated or proven. Science doesn’t work without faith. Science and faith, the young lady and the hag if you prefer, can and should therefore walk hand-in-hand.

      This you do at the same time as you gloss over your Adventist heritage with its inherent supernaturalism and apocalyptic vision. You pretend they have nothing to do with your beliefs.

      I do believe in the supernatural – but for what I consider to be very good rational reasons built upon what I see as the clear weight of empirical evidence that exists outside of my own mind and subjective “gestalt” feelings as to what I might want or wish to be true.

      The conversion and the switch to seeing the beautiful woman can only occur if you throw off the shackles of the atomistic vision of empiricism and appreciate the beauty ethic and morality that is inherent in the Christian message of God incarnate. That message comes from God and I appreciate that without at all being concerned that to the believer in the hag sees it as a nasty fideism and a retreat to irrationalism.

      Again, recognizing moral right and wrong, true ethics, isn’t the same thing as recognizing the Divine origin of the Bible or the truth of the Bible’s historical or futuristic claims. Ethical truths can be internally determined (as previously explained). There are lots of ethical truths within many of the world’s religions. That doesn’t make all of their other empirical claims true as well. A lovely story can be appreciated as ethically beautiful by all. That doesn’t mean that it is anything more than a nice fairy tale. In order to determine that the story really happened, that it is not just a beautiful fairy tale, you have to have something more than a “gestalt” feeling about it.




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  55. Sean Pitman: They simply dismiss you with a sympathetic wave of the hand…

    This is the supreme irony. How do you think you are perceived?
    By Bill Sorensen who is a spokesperson for fundamental and historical Adventism
    By commenters at Adventist today and Spectrum drawn as they are from among better educated Adventists
    By those sympathetic to Christianity at talk origins and
    by those less sympathetic at pharyngula,

    I will not give citation less it George is offended but you must have some self awareness to know there is very little traction for your arguments against faith and your arrogant contention that your knowledge based on empiricism surpasses any previous scientist and justifies an Adventism based only science alone.




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    • We all know that my position isn’t popular. However, the difference between my position and yours is that my position can at least be understood and argued against in a rational manner. With your position, on the other hand, there is no basis for any kind of rational argument whatsoever; for or against your position – because your position is entirely subjectively determined. You present no argument at all beyond your internal “feelings” or “gestalt” as to what must be true. No one can argue with that.

      Now, that’s great for you, but it isn’t at all helpful for anyone considering opposing sides of an issue – – because no one on the opposite side of an issue is at all challenged by your “gestalt feelings” of truth.




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  56. Sean Pitman: How many times do I have to give you a clear statement that leaving Christianity isn’t the same thing as accepting atheism?

    Indeed that is true but what I ask is not what everyone else might do I want you to articulate what YOU would do. I have made it abundantly clear that I remain an Adventist and a Christian while I accept that the evidence for old age of life is abundant and clear. You reject this as somehow unscientific.
    Please provide a clear statement on the position you take if you cannot reconcile Adventism with old life and reject Christianity as you have said you will.

    1] Do you reject all notion of God and accept the evidence from the existence of evil and from the sufficiency of natural mechanisms to explain almost all we know. ie do you accept atheism.

    2] Do you reject atheism as a positive position that cannot be sustained by simply a lack of evidence. Ie do you accept agnosticism

    3] Do you reject a notion of a personal interventional God but accept that there is an anthropic principle and accept that there is a God like characteristic at least at this point. Ie do you like Davies accepting Deism.

    4] Do you reject the idea that Christianity is the only religion that reveals the divinity of God Ie do you accept one of the many theistic non-Christian religions including Islam, Jewish.

    5] Do you reject a Christian fundamentalism that accepts
    literalism and a canonical text that is inerrant but accept that there is a personal God revealed in Jesus Ie do you accept Christianity as understood by most Christians.

    6] Do you reject Adventism as understood at least by the fundamentalists that says that Bible is inerrant and that 6 day creation is the core of Adventism; Do you accept an Evangelical Christianity that accepts a personal God and that acts of God may be revealed and even be understood by science




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    • 1] Do you reject all notion of God and accept the evidence from the existence of evil and from the sufficiency of natural mechanisms to explain almost all we know. ie do you accept atheism.

      No. As long as I saw evidence for a designer behind the fundamental constants of the universe and various features of living things, I would not accept atheism. Given the truth of long ages of the evolutionary struggle for life on this planet, I would probably be a deist of some kind, but not a Christian.

      2] Do you reject atheism as a positive position that cannot be sustained by simply a lack of evidence. Ie do you accept agnosticism

      I think agnosticism is not as rational as atheism. It’s kind of a cop-out in my opinion. If you see no positive evidence for a God or God-like being of some kind, why be agnostic about God when you’re not agnostic about Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Celestial Teapot? – to highlight a few of Dawkins’ arguments…

      3] Do you reject a notion of a personal interventional God but accept that there is an anthropic principle and accept that there is a God like characteristic at least at this point. Ie do you like Davies accepting Deism.

      Yes, given the truth of neo-Darwinism, I would strongly favor Davies’ deistic position (or at least what once was his position).

      4] Do you reject the idea that Christianity is the only religion that reveals the divinity of God Ie do you accept one of the many theistic non-Christian religions including Islam, Jewish.

      Judaism is too close to Christianity to be compatible with neo-Darwinism. However, other religions, like Buddhism or Hinduism for example, are much more compatible with neo-Darwinism.

      5] Do you reject a Christian fundamentalism that accepts literalism and a canonical text that is inerrant but accept that there is a personal God revealed in Jesus Ie do you accept Christianity as understood by most Christians.

      Given the truth of neo-Darwinism, the story of Christ would make no sense. His claims to be God would be effectively falsified by His lies regarding the historical truth of the Genesis account of creation and His personal witness of the fall of Satan from Heaven “like lightening”. His death on the cross would have made no sense given a lack of a moral Fall of the historical Adam and Eve – originally created perfect in a perfect garden. In short, given the truth of neo-Darwinism, Jesus would just be a “nice madman” as C.S. Lewis put it.

      6] Do you reject Adventism as understood at least by the fundamentalists that says that Bible is inerrant and that 6 day creation is the core of Adventism; Do you accept an Evangelical Christianity that accepts a personal God and that acts of God may be revealed and even be understood by science

      Given the truth of neo-Darwinism, Adventism would make absolutely no rational sense and the Bible would be nothing more than a collection of good moral fables and fairy tales – with some historical background as an interesting backdrop to some of the fables. However, it would carry no real credibility regarding the truth of many of its historical or futuristic claims.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Sean

        I have been following your comments here and at spectrum. I think we need some clarification. I have already expressed some disquiet while endorsing your robust defense of Christianity against people like pauluc. You can read my comments here; http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/the-full-history-of-la-sierra-university-vs-louie-bishop/#comment-41693

        I dont think you have really responded to my concern about subjugation of the bible to scientific evidence. You may not accept higher criticism but I think that arguing for belief in scientific evidence as a basis for rejecting the Bible you are effectively practicing it. Though I think pauluc is foolish on this point he may be right.

        You recently said in the comments at
        http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/ted-wilson-no-room-for-evolution-as-truth-in-adventist-schools/#comment-53274
        and
        http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/ted-wilson-no-room-for-evolution-as-truth-in-adventist-schools/comment-page-1/#comment-53367
        that “No. As long as I saw evidence for a designer behind the fundamental constants of the universe and various features of living things, I would not accept atheism. Given the truth of long ages of the evolutionary struggle for life on this planet, I would probably be a deist of some kind, but not a Christian.”

        It seems that Pauluc has some sort of vindetta against you so I think it would be good if you clarified these statements in particular against what you claimed in your lecture at LSU in 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3JLSvNp-bqE
        at 8.15 “They argue for their beliefs in Christianity more on internal inspiration or some sort of ethereal seinse of the divine, Grand magesteria. Other terms like that. They cant really put their finger on it they cant test it they cant quantify it. They just have the sense of God. That is more a warm fuzzy feeling that Ive never had I have had indigestion that has given me more stimulus perhaps than those sort of arguments. And they just dont cut it for me. I am speaking to those people like me who dont have this warm fuzzy feeling of God in them. God has not spoken to me I have never not had any divine impression that I can point to and say that is God speaking to me. What cuts if tor me is the physical evidence. If I didnt have the physical evidence I would be an atheist. I tend to sympathize more and agree with those like Richard Dawkins and Provine, William Provine that argue that atheism is the more logical course. And I tend to spympathize with that view more than those views of Collins even though I respect his view I tend to sympathize with Richard Dawkins and Provine and those guys. I think that is more logical of a view if theres no physical tussle of scientific evidence for your religious experience to me that doesnt do much for me. If that makes any sense”.

        Have you really changed your mind in terms of atheism as the logical alternative to Christianity? If so I do applaud you. I think you are coming back closer to what I would consider the Adventist position of faith in the Bible as the word of God that has precedence over scientific understandings.




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        • I haven’t changed my mind. I still see atheism as the most logical alternative to Christianity and any other view of God if such views of God are only based on a wishful-thinking type of fideistic faith. Why should one be a Christian or believe that the Bible is anything more than a good moral fable? – or believe that God exists any more than Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists? For me, it’s because I see real empirical evidence for God’s existence as well as His Signature within the pages of the Bible and within the universe and the world in which I find myself.

          You see, we are called to have an “intelligent trust” in God’s Word – a trust that is based on something more than a deep feeling or internal gestalt. Otherwise, you’re really in the same boat as my LDS friends with their “burning in the bosom” argument for faith in what is or isn’t true.

          Now, it is possible to doubt the Divine origin of the Bible while still recognizing the Divine origin of the universe – based on the weight of empirical evidence. This is where quite a number of modern physicists are in their view of God. And, it is a reasonable position given the honest conviction that life and its diversity can evolve via the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selection over long periods of time to produce what we have today on this planet.

          So, there are different “levels” of recognition when it comes to seeing God’s hand behind various phenomena. And, once His Signature is recognized at a different level, the implications and responsibilities change for us. It’s a “first step” toward God to recognize a Divine Signature behind the origin of the universe and the natural laws that govern it. However, once one recognizes the Divine Hand behind the origin of the Bible and the credibility of the Bible’s empirical claims, one is called to experience different responsibilities and privileges in a higher level walk with God – “in Spirit and in truth”.




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  57. Sean Pitman: when it comes to believing in such things as the “Virgin Birth” or the “Resurrection of Jesus” or the reality of an empirically real place called “Heaven” after this life is done.

    If you accept any standard definition of empirical which of course there is a high probability you will not then I have a hard time imagining what is your empirical data for Heaven as a real place must be. We have heard your defense of hearsay as the empirical evidence for the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus but Heaven?

    If you accept the wiki definition; “Empirical evidence (also empirical data, sense experience, empirical knowledge, or the a posteriori) is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation”

    Please provide this empirical evidence (experimentation, sense experience or observation) that I may be persuaded.

    Perhaps you are thinking of the words of the prophet.

    “Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. The atmosphere parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, whence came the voice of God. The Holy City will come down through that open space.”

    But do you really think that such a statement when prefaced by “I was shown” does rise to the level of empirical evidence within your conception of science. What is the evidence that this Nebula is heaven itself as empirically understood.




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    • What I asked is how your “gestalt” sensations give you confidence in the claims of the Bible regarding what it says are historical or future realities? – physical realities? The Virgin Birth is claimed to have been a real historical event. The same is true of the Resurrection. Heaven is also described in the Bible as an physically real place – not just some ethereal place in the mind that doesn’t actually exist in the real world outside of your mind.

      So, here’s the question: How then does your “gestalt” tell you that such empirical realities actually exist? – independent of any appeal to empirical evidence or rational argument for the credibility of the source of such information (i.e., The Bible)?




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        • You say that you have empirical evidence for heaven. What is it please?

          That’s not what I said. What I said is that you believe that Heaven is an empirical reality – i.e., a real physical place that can be appreciated through the use of the senses (for those who are actually there of course). Likewise, you believe in the empirical Resurrection and the empirical truth of the Virgin Birth as real events in real history.

          What I’m asking you is: How can you determine the truth of such empirical realities via entirely subjective means? – through some “gestalt” feeling alone? How do you know that Heaven is in fact an empirical reality and not just some imagined fairy tale place in someone’s mind? – beyond an appeal to wishful thinking?

          Personally, as I’ve already explained pretty clearly, I believe that Heaven is an empirical reality, a real physical place, based on the established credibility of the Bible which describes such a place – credibility that is established based on the Bible’s empirically testable claims. I quote myself here because you seem to have missed it:

          How then does your “gestalt” tell you that such empirical realities actually exist? – independent of any appeal to empirical evidence or rational argument for the credibility of the source of such information (i.e., The Bible)?

          Notice how I explain here that my own basis for believing that Heaven is a real place, and empirical reality, is what I view as the clearly established credibility of the Bible.

          Since you cannot appeal to such an argument, upon what do you base your belief that Heaven is anything more than wishful thinking on your part?




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  58. Sean Pitman: this is the only honest view for me given what I know of empirical reality.

    What is empirical reality for you? Do you include in this “empirical reality” the thoughts that are a product of your brain that may have had sensorty input and been influenced by your upbringing and education or is it that which you can test by experiment and direct sensory observation outside your own brain? Of course science gets around such private definitions of empirical reality by simply saying what is objective data is what has been demonstrated by experiment and published in the peer-reviewed literature. But you have already precluded that approach by your personal definition and approach to the practice of the scientific method that is independent of the community of scientists or their accepted texts.




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    • We’ve been through this several times before. Even you admit that it is possible to do real science without the need for peer-review or journal publication. You just think that those like Galileo and Leonardo Da Vinci are rare examples that are not relevant to how modern science is done. However, rare examples are quite useful in showing what is possible when it comes to effectively using scientific reasoning and methodologies on an individual basis.

      The fact is that one’s peers, even one’s scientific peers, can be wrong – painfully wrong. How is it possible to know? Can one know outside of what one’s peers might think? I say yes. You say no. You will always follow the crowd even when it doesn’t make sense to you. I will not follow the crowd when it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a simple as that. I’d rather be honest with myself.

      Could I be wrong? Sure. Am I biased? Yes. But, at least I’m aware of my biases and am trying to overcome them by admitting that I might actually be convinced of my wrongness given some evidence that I can actually understand. You, on the other hand, are unwilling to admit even the possibility of error when it comes to what you choose to believe “by faith”. Your beliefs and “gestalt” sensations are somehow absolute…




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  59. Sean Pitman: If a fundamental concept of a hypothesis or theory is effectively shown to be false, then yes, it should be rejected in favor of an alternate hypothesis that actually explains the data in hand. That’s the only rational position to take.

    Your hypothesis seems to be based on biblical inerrany so Usshers derivation of a chronology or 6000 years and the poetry of Geneis 1 mean that this can be the only reality. Further your hypothesis seems to be that everything in the account of the next 65 books that we have selected as canonical stands totally dependent on this primary assumption about the literal nature of the text and an enumeration by Ussher. Why not just assume you are wrong on these assumptions and work out the rest in that light. Its not that hard and there is abundant precedent.

    Your response to finding out that maybe your hypothesis and Ussher may have been wrong is then to reject a whole world view and a tradition and literature that has developed over 2000 years. Historically what has happened in Judeism and in Christianity is to wonder perhaps if we may not have a scientific document at all and that the account in Genesis may not have been meant to be literal and that we have been less than omniscient in out interpretation of the text.

    You are clearly very smart but I have to confess your “..if I ever..” statement besides suggesting you are overly dependent on modernism with it commitment to and baggage from its origins in the age of enlightenment strikes me as surprisingly immature, emotionally and intellectually lacking in historical perspective or understanding of the breadth of Christian thought outside your enclave in Southern California. If I cant have the ball of science and literalism I will take my bat and leave it all and go home. What I am not sure of is where is home for you. For me it is with the children of God who privilege the Grace of God and the way of the Cross above the Wisdom and hubris of the World.




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    • Your hypothesis seems to be based on biblical inerrany

      If the Bible is in fact the “Word of God” then it should be reliable in the information that it claims came from God. Of course, God did not dictate the Bible directly. As Ellen White argues, prophets are God’s penmen, not His pen. As with any witness, one can expect variations depending upon perspective with various “errors” regarding certain details. However, if the observations are in fact of a Divine origin (that’s the hypothesis to be tested), then the main claims should be reliable – regardless of the nature and educational background of the “witness”.

      For example, one doesn’t have to be very bright to understand the concept of “evenings and mornings” or be able to know when it got dark and when it got light again. You’d have to be a dense as a stump to get that one wrong. See what I mean?

      Why not just assume you are wrong on these assumptions and work out the rest in that light.

      If I’m wrong in these assumptions then the primary hypothesis (that the Bible has a Divine origin) loses useful predictive value.

      the account in Genesis may not have been meant to be literal

      Oh please. Even modern secular scholars of Hebrew are in general agreement that the intent of the author of the Genesis account of creation intended it to be read as a literal historical account of real history. Take, for example, the comments of well-known Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr:

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

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

      So, you see, this argument of yours really isn’t very likely.

      What I am not sure of is where is home for you. For me it is with the children of God who privilege the Grace of God and the way of the Cross above the Wisdom and hubris of the World.

      Let’s say, hypothetically, that I wanted to leave Christianity in favor of Buddhism. What would you tell me to try to show how Christianity is the better choice? that the “way of the Cross” is the wiser decision? What is your reason beyond wishful thinking?




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        I agree totally with James Barr. The writers of Genesis and the canon unequivocally thought of it in terms of literal days when they wrote it or more likely compiled it some thousands of years after the supposed events. They inherited certain ideas about origins from their own and the surrounding cultures and there was absolutely no reason to develop any other explanation other than an account based on theism. You are projecting back onto their religious writings a need for those writings to address a scientific question that would not be asked until 2000 years later.

        You completely miss the point of inspired writing if you imagine they are scientific writing about empirical events that demand scientific verification. Like Moby Dick their value is independent of their ability to be verified as empirically or scientifically accurate.

        I guess if you think Genesis is scientific it is then not at all unexpected that you will lift Barre’s comment about the original understanding of Genesis out of context of his understanding and writing on biblical exegesis. Quote mining is not helpful and is I think intellectually dishonest and lazy when it does not acknowledging the larger argument about the nature of Hebrew writing that Barre discusses in his books on fundamentalism “The scope and authority of the bible” , “Fundamentalism”, and a more recent book “Escaping from fundamentalism”.

        “Fundamentalism begins when people begin to say that the doctrinal and practical authority of scripture is necessarily tied to its infallibility and in particular its historical inerrancy, when they maintain that its doctrinal and practical authority will stand up only if it is in general without error, and this means in particular only if it is without error in its apparently historical remarks” Scope and Authority of the Bible pg 65

        He further argues must one “…accept as factual and correct and theologically valid everything that is to be found within the pages of this volume? The result would then be that one had either to accept everything as the Bible tells it–creation in seven days, changing of water into wine, the 969 years that Methuselah lived–or else admit that one could not be Christian.” He suggests one then have to choose between being a fundamentalist and being an atheist (p55)

        “Christian faith is not faith in the Bible, not primarily: it is faith in Christ as the one through whom one comes to God, and faith that through the Bible we meet him, he communicates with us. The Bible is thus the instrument of faith and the expression of faith, rather than the object of faith” (55)

        “Christian faith is not faith in the Bible, not primarily: it is faith in Christ as the one through whom one comes to God, and faith that through the Bible we meet him, he communicates with us. The Bible is thus the instrument of faith and the expression of faith, rather than the object of faith” (55)

        Though you may claim otherwise it appears you follow the Intellectual tradition of fundamentalist Sean. And like almost all fundamentalists are largely impervious to new thoughts. You think in terms of either or and your ..If I ever.. statement is the refrain of the fundamentalist not the scientist; The scientist who rather than breaking can hold incompatibilities in tension as they slowly resolve these with a continued search for new models and paradigms based on data.




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        • You completely miss the point of inspired writing if you imagine they are scientific writing about empirical events that demand scientific verification. Like Moby Dick their value is independent of their ability to be verified as empirically or scientifically accurate.

          Kind of like a good moral fable? Is there an echo in here? 😉

          The problem here, as I’ve already mentioned, is that you’re not just claiming that the Bible is a good moral fable and that’s it. If you were, we’d be having a completely different discussion. I agree that moral fables have their value – no doubt. However, you believe that the Bible’s claims regarding things like the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the story of Heaven to come aren’t just moral fables – they’re literally true stories about real events that either did happen in real history or will happen in the future!

          Don’t you see how that’s a good bit different than getting something good out of a moral fable like Moby-Dick?

          I guess if you think Genesis is scientific it is then not at all unexpected that you will lift Barre’s comment about the original understanding of Genesis out of context of his understanding and writing on biblical exegesis.

          Oh please. My use of Barr’s quote was strictly limited to addressing your original claim that the author of the Genesis account didn’t necessarily intend to present a literal historical narrative – when that’s obviously what he did in fact intend to do.

          Of course Barr never did believe that the Genesis account represents real history. Barr was an evolutionists just like you are. However, what Barr did believe is that the author of Genesis did in fact intend to present real history. Barr just believed that the author of Genesis was wrong. These are very different arguments you understand.

          Though you may claim otherwise it appears you follow the Intellectual tradition of fundamentalist Sean.

          You’re far more in the mindset of a fundamentalist than I am. How so? Fundamentalism is strongly associated with fideism. While you may not believe many of the historically Christian doctrines, you are still a fundamentalist in the way you approach your Christian faith and your own religion. As with all fundamentalists, your position is impervious to testing and cannot be falsified by any kind of empirical evidence – no matter how strong. You base everything on your own personal “gestalt” as a way to determine truth – as do all my fundamentalist friends of various faiths.

          So, regardless of the fact that your version of Christianity is not traditional, you’re still a “fundamentalist” in how you think to defend your religion and your faith.

          The scientist who rather than breaking can hold incompatibilities in tension as they slowly resolve these with a continued search for new models and paradigms based on data.

          But you don’t base your “gestalt” type of faith on empirical data at all. Like any true “fundamentalist”, you base your faith and your religion entirely on subjective internally-derived feelings of truth.

          Again, I ask you, what is the difference between your faith and wishful thinking? How can any kind of meaningful paradigm about the empirical world that exists outside of the mind be based on entirely subjective feelings?

          I’ve responded to numerous questions from you. Why not address my one question?




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  60. Sean Pitman: If I’m wrong in these assumptions then the primary hypothesis (that the Bible has a Divine origin)

    Excellent. Now you have at least articulated the hypothesis. “The bible has a Divine origin”.

    Problem is it now seems apparent that you think the predictors from this hypothesis is that it will be inerrant historically and scientifically. This is the fundamentalist position and you have assumed that the Divine origin is disproved if there is inaccuracy. This is inconsistent with your previous statements and with the Adventist position on inspiration. Almost all non-fundamentalist Christians would accept that Divine origin has nothing to do with accuracy or with its borrowing from surrounding myths but with its role as an account of Gods dealings with humanity expressed in human terms.




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    • Almost all non-fundamentalist Christians would accept that Divine origin has nothing to do with accuracy or with its borrowing from surrounding myths but with its role as an account of Gods dealings with humanity expressed in human terms.

      If the historicity of the Bible can be shown to be fundamentally in error (comparable to the empirical claims of the Book of Mormon) what does that do to the hypothesis that God personally dealt with humans at all? – that the stories of God “acting” in the Bible aren’t just made up fairy tales attributed to some made-up “Divine” deity?

      If all you have are your subjective “gestalt” feelings to go on, upon what do you make a determination between these competing hypotheses? – beyond wishful thinking that you’d like the “beautiful woman” to be real rather than the “old hag”?

      Again, I’m fine with God interacting with humans and letting humans write about that interaction in their own limited ways. What I’m not fine with is the notion that anyone could have gotten what God actually said or did so fundamentally wrong. If someone says, “I saw it get light and then dark again, and God called that a ‘day'”, that’s pretty hard for anyone smarter than a rock to get wrong I would think (aside from deliberate reasons). If someone who is honestly interacting with God can’t get that much right, then nothing else that person says about God can possibly be meaningful, trustworthy, or useful to me – beyond what I could get out of a good moral fable that is…




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  61. Sean Pitman: Could I be wrong? Sure. Am I biased? Yes. But, at least I’m aware of my biases and am trying to overcome them by admitting that I might actually be convinced of my wrongness given some evidence that I can actually understand. You, on the other hand, are unwilling to admit even the possibility of error when it comes to what you choose to believe “by faith”. Your beliefs and “gestalt” sensations are somehow absolute…

    No Sean I would call you on this. I dont think you are aware of your fundamentalism.
    You are also being dishonest in suggesting I am unwilling to admit possibility of error. Read my statement about the ugly truth again please. http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/ted-wilson-no-room-for-evolution-as-truth-in-adventist-schools/comment-page-1/#comment-52339
    What is so hard to follow about a statement that admits we can never know?




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    • You are also being dishonest in suggesting I am unwilling to admit possibility of error. Read my statement about the ugly truth again please.

      http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/ted-wilson-no-room-for-evolution-as-truth-in-adventist-schools/comment-page-1/#comment-52339

      What is so hard to follow about a statement that admits we can never know?

      But you say, with what appears to be supreme conviction, that you do in fact know quite a few things. Your “gestalt” type of faith informs you that Jesus was God incarnate, born of a virgin, was Resurrected, and that you will one day go to Heaven to live eternally with Jesus. And, this faith-based knowledge of yours cannot be subject to testing or even the potential for falsification in favor of some “ugly truth” regardless of the evidence that may be brought against your notions of reality – because this knowledge of yours is internally verified by your “gestalt”. What then could possibly get you to recognize your position as a “beautiful lie” and then trade it in for an “ugly truth”? I don’t see that anything could do this… at least not that you’re willing to publicly admit.

      I’m sorry, but your faith-based knowledge seems pretty absolute to me.




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  62. gene fortner: I see that your problem is that you just don’t understand Intelligent Design or what really happened at Dover.

    Thanks but I do not think you accept the definition of intelligent design that you have given. As far as I can see you do not accept the theistic evolutionary concept that cambrian explosion occurring 530 million years ago was a point at which God intervened in the evolutionary process.

    As for Dover I have read Humes “Monkey Girl” read Jones decision in full and followed the relevant articles in the scientific journals. If you look at the case what Jones concluded was that the method of science is and has been from the time of Newton methodological naturalism and supernaturalism is not part of science. Of course supernaturalism was and is accepted by many scientists but it is not a basis for science. All Jones decided was that ID is supernaturalism and shouldn’t be introduced now as part of science. It is by definition religious since supernaturalism is the domain of religion.




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    • This is nothing but semantics and you know it. You yourself recognize that science can detect the very rational need to invoke deliberate intelligence to explain various phenomena that may be found in nature. This is the basis of SETI science as well as anthropology and forensic science. Of course, you don’t call this an “intelligent design” hypothesis. You call it a “creative intelligence” hypothesis. So, if you prefer, the detection of “creative intelligence” can be achieved via scientific methodologies… which I think all IDists would be fine with. Judge Jones, on the other hand, wouldn’t have approved either concept because he doesn’t really understand the science involved in this debate.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Of course there is nothing but semantic difference between the DI definition that Gene has given us and theistic evolution. Both postulate external intervention in the perceived absence of an adequate explanation based on natural law. The irony is that Gene rails against evolution including Theistic evolution that at least is upfront in attributing to God but apparently gives a free pass to ID which wants to preserve some pretence of “science” by calling it a designer and hiding their true views.

        As for SETI and identification of design if you haven’t followed what I have said before you obviously do not want to and anything I say is wasted ink. Recognition of artefacts of creativity is not science or magic it is simply pattern recognition in a brain adapted to recognize something as an artefact of creative intelligence. Biological purpose has a natural explanation and that is a process of natural selection.




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        • It is a prejudicial mistake to use judgments as to the supposed motives of those proposing any scientific hypothesis as a basis for evaluating the hypothesis itself. How is the science affected by the various motives a scientist may or may not have that may or may not go beyond the hypothesis being presented? Such potential motives are completely irrelevant as far as determining the credibility of the actual hypothesis that is being forwarded. Who cares if someone wants to call the designer “God” or “Gertrude”? That’s irrelevant as far as determining that whomever was responsible for a particular phenomenon, he/she/it was clearly very intelligent. Such a conclusion is not at all outside of the realm of science.

          Recognition of artefacts of creativity is not science or magic it is simply pattern recognition in a brain adapted to recognize something as an artefact of creative intelligence.

          This is like saying that forensic science isn’t really a science or that anthropology and SETI aren’t real sciences. They’re all just “pattern recognition”. That’s patently absurd. The very same pattern exhibited in one type of material or medium may not require intelligence to explain its origin, while in another material intelligence is required to explain the origin of the pattern. Determining what patterns most likely mean in various contexts requires real science.

          For example, consider highly symmetrical cubes of pyrite pictured below.

          This pattern, in the form of pyrite, requires no hypothesis from deliberate design to explain its origin. However, this very same pattern, if created with the material of granite, would all of a sudden require the hypothesis of deliberate intelligence to reasonably explain its origin. You see, it’s a bit more than simple pattern recognition. Additional experience is needed with the material in which the pattern is exhibited and how this material interacts with various forces of nature…

          So yes, the hypothesis of deliberate intelligent design (or creative intelligence if you prefer) is a real scientific hypothesis. It is testable and potentially falsifiable. Any demonstration of a non-intelligent mechanism producing a similar result would effectively falsify the hypothesis that only ID can reasonably explain the phenomenon in question. That is why SETI is a valid scientific enterprise.

          Biological purpose has a natural explanation and that is a process of natural selection.

          This “natural explanation” simply doesn’t work beyond very very low levels of functional complexity (like the difference between explaining the potential origin of a very rough granite cube vs. a very highly symmetrical polished granite cube). Natural selection is a preserving force, helping to maintain what already exists. It simply is not a creative force beyond very low levels of functional complexity. When it comes to multipart complex systems that require the fairly specific arrangement of a minimum of several hundred parts or fundamental building blocks (such as the “alphabet” of 20 amino acids forming protein-based systems), the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selection doesn’t create anything that is qualitatively new. It just doesn’t happen and is extremely unlikely to happen this side of trillions times trillions of years of time. There are no observable examples published anywhere nor is there a rational explanation as to how the vastness of sequence space at such levels can be effectively searched in a reasonable amount of time.

          As I’ve explained to you before in some detail, such systems are located in truly enormous “sequences spaces” of options – the vast majority of which would not produce any benefit that could be positively selected by natural selection. The rare clusters of potentially beneficial sequences within such higher level sequence spaces are clustered together in extraordinarily isolated islands where the next closest island is universes away. It would be a star in an empty universe where the next closest star is not remotely visible, being hundreds of billions of light years away. Natural selection is absolutely no help in such a situation because natural selection cannot work, not at all, until something new and beneficial is actually discovered by random chance – i.e., by a purely random walk or leap into the vast surrounding ocean of non-beneficial sequences.

          This is the very same reason that even you would recognize a highly symmetrical polished granite cube as a “blindingly obvious artifact” of creative intelligence. Because, such a pattern exhibited in the material of granite is found in only a tiny region of the “space” of options that could have been produced by mindless natural mechanisms – such a tiny space that the hypothesis of mindless natural production is very unlikely to be true this side of a practical eternity of time. However, such a “pattern” in granite can easily be explained by the hypothesis of deliberate intelligence guiding the formation of the piece of granite to such a high degree of symmetry within “structural space”. That is why the hypothesis of intelligent design would gain superior predictive value in such a situation – and thus be the most reasonable scientific explanation for its origin.

          I’m sorry, but you just don’t seem to understand the math or the statistical problem for the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS beyond the lowest levels of functional complexity that exist within every living thing – or at least you don’t want to understand it. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that taking just a few steps up the ladder of functional complexity leaves one with absolutely no rationally tenable “natural explanation” anymore – outside of intelligent design/creative intelligence that is.




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        • Why not do the math for yourself and actually try to understand the concept of what happens to sequence space at various levels of functional complexity? You’re not convinced because you refuse to personally deal with the argument.

          And, while you’re at it, explain to me the difference between your faith position and wishful thinking?




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        • Why don’t you explain it to me then? If the “science” is so clear? Where is the scientific explanation for the creative potential of RM/NS beyond very low levels of scientific complexity? I’ve never ever seen it. You make bold claims that RM/NS effectively falsifies the design argument for living things, but you have no idea how? Does anyone else know how it works? Where, specifically, might I learn how extraordinarily vast sequence spaces with extraordinarily rare beneficial islands within those spaces are so effectively searched out by a mindless mechanism like RM/NS?

          Also, your claim that the detection of design is based only on “pattern recognition” is patently false. It’s a real testable science and it forms the basis of real sciences such as anthropology, forensics, and SETI.

          You’re the one making extraordinary claims. It’s up to you, and mainstream scientists at large, to back up your claims with some real evidence for your mechanism. Otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke… not science.




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        • Paul,
          “there is nothing but semantic difference between the DI definition that Gene has given us and theistic evolution. ”

          What nonsense, your ignorance of Intelligent Design is astounding.

          Introducing The College Student’s Back to School Guide to Intelligent Design

          Casey Luskin September 25, 2009 3:07 PM | Permalink

          There are a lot of false urban legends promoted in academia about intelligent design (ID). They often start with myths promoted by misinformed critiques in scientific journals, court rulings, or even talks by activists at scientific conferences. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for this misinformation to then be passed down to college students, who may know very little about ID and lack the resources to correct their professors’ misinformed and misplaced attacks on ID. Not anymore.

          If you’re a college student, recently gone back to school and expecting to hear a lot of anti-ID views from your professors, we’re pleased to present this “Back to School Guide” for students as follows:

          The College Student’s Back to School Guide to Intelligent Design

          The guide contains suggestions for helpful pro-ID books, articles, and websites for students to read when investigating the issue. Additionally, it contains “Answers to Your Professor’s Most Common Misinformed Objections to Intelligent Design.” Nine answers are given to common but false arguments against ID like “Intelligent Design Proponents Don’t Conduct or Publish Scientific Research” or “Intelligent Design Is a Science Stopper” or “Intelligent Design Has Been Refuted by the Overwhelming Evidence for Neo-Darwinian Evolution.”

          There are three easy tips to remember as a student with an anti-ID professor:

          • Tip #1: Never opt out of learning evolution. In fact, learn about evolution every chance you get
          • Tip #2: Think for yourself, think critically, and question assumptions.
          • Tip #3: Proactively learn about credible scientific viewpoints that dissent from Darwinism on your own time, even if your classes censor those non-evolutionary viewpoints.
          http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/09/introducing_the_college_studen025841.html




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    • Paul “I do not think you accept the definition of intelligent design that you have given.”

      It is obvious you just don’t understand the Theory of Intelligent Design.

      Try reviewing the literature and thinking again.

      Theistic evolution is an oxymoron.

      Monkey Girl was fiction, little in the way of objectivity.

      I too have downloaded and read the entire Dover trial.

      Miller creates a Strawman definition of irreducibly complexity

      IMO that is a lie.

      Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, an evolutionist and the plaintiff’s lead-expert biology witness during the trial. Dr. Miller testified that irreducible complexity is refuted if one can find any use for some sub-part of the total system:”Dr. Behe’s prediction is that the parts of any irreducibly complex system should have no useful function. Therefore, we ought to be able to take the bacterial flagellum, for example, break its parts down, and discover that none of the parts are good for anything except when we’re all assembled in a flagellum.”6

      The definition of IC

      Irreducible Complexity is defined by Behe as a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribrute to the basic function, and where removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

      Miller implies that if a part of an irreducible system ( think mousetrap) could be used for something else, it wasn’t irreducibly complex.




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    • Paul,

      Re Dover:

      FYI

      Lets review Dover so we know what the issues really were. I don’t think Dover was going to teach ID.

      ACLU’s complaint

      I have enclosed the complaint with @

      @ Introduction

      On Oct 18, 2004 the defendant Dover Area District Board of Directors (“Dover School Board”) passed by a 6-3 vote the following resolution:

      Students will be made aware of gaps/problems
      in Darwin’s theory and of pother theories of evolution
      including, but not limited to intelligent design. Note
      Origins of Life is not taught.

      On November 19, 2004, the defendant Dover Area School Board
      announced that teachers would be required to read a statement to students in the
      ninth grade biology class at Dover High School that includes the following language;

      Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being
      Tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not
      a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no
      evidence. A theory is defined as a well tested explanation
      that unifies a broad range of observations.

      Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life
      that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, “Of
      Pandas and People” is available for students to see if they
      would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an
      understanding of what intelligent design actually
      involves. As it is true with any theory, students are
      encouraged to keep an open mind. @

      What the resolution says is that the theory of evolution has problems and gaps (all true) and since it doesn’t address “Origins of Life”, perhaps, if they are interested, they could check out The reference book, “Of Pandas and People” and learn about Intelligent Design. .”

      The ACLU’s allegation as to what the above statement really say;

      @ Thus, the Dover Area School District intends to teach students that there are gaps
      and problems in the scientific theory of evolution and present “intelligent design”
      to students in a public school science class as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution. @

      That is not what the “resolution says! Lets review!

      What the resolution says is that the theory of evolutions has problems and gaps (all true) and since it doesn’t address “Origins of Life”, perhaps, if they are interested, they could check out The reference book, “Of Pandas and People” and learn about Intelligent Design. .”

      To continue with the complaint…

      @ Intelligent design is a non-scientific argument or assertion, made in
      opposition to the scientific theory of evolution, that an intelligent, supernatural
      actor has intervened in the history of life, and that life “owes its origins to a master
      intellect.” @

      ……. Much history of ID……

      @ The effect of the defendant Dover School District Board’s District
      (defendants’ intelligent design policy”) will be to compel public school science
      teachers to present to their students in biology class information that is inherently
      religious, not scientific, in nature. This resolution is in clear and direct
      violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits the
      teaching or presentation of religious ideas in public school science classes. @

      What was the “(defendants’ intelligent design policy”)? Lets review!!

      What the resolution says is that the theory of evolution has problems and gaps (all true) and since it doesn’t address “Origins of Life”, perhaps, if they are interested, they could check out The reference book, “Of Pandas and People” and learn about Intelligent Design. .”

      So, where is it that students actually learn about intelligent design?
      Apparently not in the classroom. No discussion of the issue is even allowed, let alone encouraged.

      “After students heard the statement, they were told that if they had any questions, they should speak to their parents or contact district administrators, students said. They were also told they could refer to one of 60 copies of the book, “Of Pandas and People,” kept in the high-school library.”

      It is a “violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause”

      How does it violate it?

      Here is the Establishment Clause of the First Amending that the ACLU says is being violated by the above resolution.

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; “

      Pretty clear, not one word about “public, or school, nothing about WHERE you can practice your religion”, and very, very clear about prohibiting free exercise thereof;

      What if someone made a law that you couldn’t pray in public school? Would not that violate the “free exercise thereof;?

      “Dover Area School District’s Web site says ninth-grade biology students will spend 19 days studying natural selection, the mechanism of evolution and the origins of biodiversity. According to the instruction guide:
      ¬? Students will be able to list evidences used to support Darwin’s theory of the Origins of Species.
      ¬? Students will be able to make a timeline that demonstrates evolutionary changes during the history of Earth.
      ¬? Students will be able to define natural selection and artificial selection and demonstrate the process.
      ¬? Students will be able to describe how speciation takes place, using Darwin’s finches as an example.
      ¬? Students will be able to list how species change due to reproductive isolation.”
      So, where is it that students actually learn about intelligent design?
      Apparently not in the classroom. No discussion of the issue is even allowed, let alone encouraged.
      “After students heard the statement, they were told that if they had any questions, they should speak to their parents or contact district administrators, students said. They were also told they could refer to one of 60 copies of the book, “Of Pandas and People,” kept in the high-school library.” Nothing about ID in the classroom.

      The whole trial was because the establishment is terrified of Intelligent Design.

      Much of Miller’s testimony in support of evolutionary dogma has since been proven wrong.




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    • Paul

      ” All Jones decided was that ID is supernaturalism and shouldn’t be introduced now as part of science.”

      Jones was wrong. he got duped by strawman arguments and his lack of education.

      He prepared for the trial by watching “Inherit the Wind”.

      LOL




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  63. Sean Pitman: What I’m not fine with is the notion that anyone could have gotten what God actually said

    There are 2 issues here. You first of all make certain assumptions about how we can ever know what God “actually said”,
    You assume that the Bible is the Word of God and is effectively inerrant in the original autograph (don’t complicate this by silly claims that minor inconsequential errors are present and you therefore don’t view it as inerrant)
    You assume that the words as written down in Hebrew convey directly information from God which you then assume as empirical evidence.
    So Moses (and you of course know it was Moses) in talking of the first day was shown an evening and a morning.
    What you never talk about is the physical processes or “empirical realities” involved in the showing by God. Moses was not of course an eye witness since in your view creation happened Oct 4004 BC while Moses lived 1391–1271 BCE (according to the Rabbinical tradition) and 1451 BC according to Ussher, The book of Genesis probably was compiled in the 6th century BC as an antiquarian history under Persian reign around the time of the captivity. Did God show Moses and or the compiler/s the events you think were direct from God? Of course the fundamentalist argument is that God preserved this with absolute fidelity throughout the process.

    But is this a warranted belief.

    This gets to my second point. You seem to claim religious positions are warranted under the assumption of hegemonic evidentialism. Your accusation that I am a fideist is really a distortion of the reality just as much as is your claims that your beliefs are based on the “weight of empirical evidence” is an appeal to evidentialism.
    I would call your attention to the entry on religious epistemology in the Stanford dictionary. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-epistemology/#RejEnlEvi

    Your claims to science and evidence as a basis for your religion seems to lay claim to the enlightenment evidentialism largely rejected by most Christians living in a post-modern era. Even defences of natural theology can only conclude that “…on probabilistic terms belief is justifed but not fully justified”. This I think is at best all you can claim with your evidentialism.

    I am sympathetic to reformed epistemology:
    “While the details of grounding might be controversial it may be assumed that reformed epistemologists assert that ordinary religious experiences of awe, gratitude, contrition, etc., ground the beliefs implied by the believer’s sincere reports of such experiences, provided they can be said to cause those beliefs. Such grounded beliefs are warranted provided they can be defended against known objections. They can then be used as evidence for further religious beliefs. Thus if religious experience grounds the belief that God has forgiven you for doing what is wrong to other humans beings, then that is evidence for a personal God who acts in a morally upright fashion.”

    But I will admit I am probably closer to Wittgensteinian Fideism
    “The incommensurability thesis tells us that religious utterances are unlike scientific or metaphysical claims and so we are confusing different uses of language if we judge religious utterances by the standards of science or metaphysics (Phillips 1992). Stress on the autonomy thesis brings Wittgensteinian fideism close to the fideism of many religious conservatives, but stress on the incommensurability thesis brings it close to the extreme liberal position of Braithwaite (1955), namely that religion is about attitudes not facts, which would, of course, be rejected by religious conservatives.”

    ” Even if you reject Wittgensteinian fideism you might still take a lesson from it. For it must surely be granted that religious utterances are not made in a purely intellectual way. Their entanglement with commitment to a way of life and their emotional charge might help to explain the fact, if it is one, that those who take religion seriously, whether believers or not, do not in fact have a continuous range of degrees of confidence but operate instead with full belief or full disbelief.”

    In reality we are both somewhere on the spectrum from Enlightenment Evidentialism to Fideism but you imagine you embrace evidentialism which in its purest form of Enlightenment evidentialism leads to atheism as the only warranted belief. But I dont really think you do; you have a conservative fideism that does not allow you to examine with any sort of rigour the evidence for the canon in any sort of scientific way.

    Perhaps I am glad of that even if it does mean you misinterpret my conversation




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    • There are 2 issues here. You first of all make certain assumptions about how we can ever know what God “actually said”, You assume that the Bible is the Word of God and is effectively inerrant in the original autograph (don’t complicate this by silly claims that minor inconsequential errors are present and you therefore don’t view it as inerrant).

      It’s the same as any group of witnesses viewing a crime scene. You’ll get different perspectives and different abilities to describe what was observed and different minor errors. However, given that the witnesses are trying to be honest about what they saw, you’ll still get a very good idea about what really happened.

      You assume that the words as written down in Hebrew convey directly information from God which you then assume as empirical evidence.

      No. There is a difference between an empirical claim and empirical evidence. The Bible makes many empirical claims about the world. These claims may or may not show themselves to be true after testing them against available empirical evidence. However, once the claims demonstrate themselves against the evidence to be reliable, the witness gains credibility. This credibility can then be used as a rational argument in favor of the validity of those claims, from the same witness, that cannot be directly tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.

      So Moses (and you of course know it was Moses) in talking of the first day was shown an evening and a morning.

      That’s the empirical claim… which may or may not be true. The likely truth of this claim must be based on the established credibility of the witness.

      What you never talk about is the physical processes or “empirical realities” involved in the showing by God. Moses was not of course an eye witness since in your view creation happened Oct 4004 BC while Moses lived 1391–1271 BCE (according to the Rabbinical tradition) and 1451 BC according to Ussher, The book of Genesis probably was compiled in the 6th century BC as an antiquarian history under Persian reign around the time of the captivity. Did God show Moses and or the compiler/s the events you think were direct from God? Of course the fundamentalist argument is that God preserved this with absolute fidelity throughout the process.

      That is the claim – suggested by the Bible itself (even by Jesus Himself). Moses is described as a prophet who talked “face to face” with God and was shown, by God, the past and the future of the world with perfect “fidelity” – like a 3D video of the events. Of course, that’s just a claim. The credibility of this claim must be supported by evidence that goes beyond wishful thinking or some entirely subjective “gestalt” sensation.

      But is this a warranted belief.

      Not without empirical evidence to support it’s credibility.

      This gets to my second point. You seem to claim religious positions are warranted under the assumption of hegemonic evidentialism. Your accusation that I am a fideist is really a distortion of the reality just as much as is your claims that your beliefs are based on the “weight of empirical evidence” is an appeal to evidentialism.

      I would call your attention to the entry on religious epistemology in the Stanford dictionary. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religion-epistemology/#RejEnlEvi

      I don’t see where this explains how you’re not a fideist or how the weight of empirical evidence is not required to reasonably argue for the truth of one position among many competing options?

      Your claims to science and evidence as a basis for your religion seems to lay claim to the enlightenment evidentialism largely rejected by most Christians living in a post-modern era. Even defences of natural theology can only conclude that “…on probabilistic terms belief is justifed but not fully justified”. This I think is at best all you can claim with your evidentialism.

      Science itself is all about presenting hypotheses that are “justified, but not fully justified”. Again, as I’ve mentioned many times before, there are no absolutes in science. It’s all about the weight of the small amount of evidence that is currently in hand. That is why scientific hypotheses and theories are always open to the potential for falsification given additional empirical evidence.

      You, on the other hand, continually ask for some kind of absolute demonstration – something that goes even beyond your personal observation of someone being raised from the dead (which still wouldn’t do it for you). Otherwise, you argue that all that is left to determine truth are your entirely subjective “gestalt” feelings that are not open to testing or the potential for falsification – regardless of the weight of empirical evidence that might be presented to you. This is the very definition of extreme fideism.

      I am sympathetic to reformed epistemology:

      “While the details of grounding might be controversial it may be assumed that reformed epistemologists assert that ordinary religious experiences of awe, gratitude, contrition, etc., ground the beliefs implied by the believer’s sincere reports of such experiences, provided they can be said to cause those beliefs. Such grounded beliefs are warranted provided they can be defended against known objections. They can then be used as evidence for further religious beliefs. Thus if religious experience grounds the belief that God has forgiven you for doing what is wrong to other humans beings, then that is evidence for a personal God who acts in a morally upright fashion.”

      We’ve already gone over this. I’ve already agreed that morality or the “Royal Law” is internally derived and can actually be used as subjectively derived evidence for the existence of God. This particular argument has convinced a number of atheists of the existence of God. However, this internally derived truth, as previously explained multiple times, cannot be used to determine that the Bible is true or of its Divine origin any more than some other book that claims to be Divinely inspired, like the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon. A subjectively derived truth cannot tell you if various empirical claims of the Bible, such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, or a real place called Heaven are actually true.

      But I will admit I am probably closer to Wittgensteinian Fideism

      “The incommensurability thesis tells us that religious utterances are unlike scientific or metaphysical claims and so we are confusing different uses of language if we judge religious utterances by the standards of science or metaphysics (Phillips 1992). Stress on the autonomy thesis brings Wittgensteinian fideism close to the fideism of many religious conservatives, but stress on the incommensurability thesis brings it close to the extreme liberal position of Braithwaite (1955), namely that religion is about attitudes not facts, which would, of course, be rejected by religious conservatives.”

      This is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. Your definitely a fideist. It is just that you emphasize moral or ethical truths as the basis of your fideistic religion – which you then think to extrapolate to pick out which empirical claims of the Bible to believe as true. As far as your fideism is concerned, you’re just like any other religious “fundamentalist” who claims that their faith, even in the empirical claims of the Bible or the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an or whatever is internally derived and is therefore not subject to testing or the potential for falsification. Your faith-based knowledge is quite absolute and your confidence in your position supreme.

      “Even if you reject Wittgensteinian fideism you might still take a lesson from it. For it must surely be granted that religious utterances are not made in a purely intellectual way. Their entanglement with commitment to a way of life and their emotional charge might help to explain the fact, if it is one, that those who take religion seriously, whether believers or not, do not in fact have a continuous range of degrees of confidence but operate instead with full belief or full disbelief.”

      This is not true of me or my religion. There most certainly is a range of degrees of confidence for my beliefs. Some I hold with a very high degree of confidence while others are much more tentatively held – being based on lesser degrees of evidence.

      In reality we are both somewhere on the spectrum from Enlightenment Evidentialism to Fideism but you imagine you embrace evidentialism which in its purest form of Enlightenment evidentialism leads to atheism as the only warranted belief. But I dont really think you do; you have a conservative fideism that does not allow you to examine with any sort of rigour the evidence for the canon in any sort of scientific way.

      I think you’re projecting here. The fact is that I do reject fideism and see no use for it. I think fideism is completely irrational and illogical and no better than wishful thinking. Unlike you, I would never think to use fideistic arguments to explain my position or why I’m a Christian. In fact, you yourself cannot explain the difference between your faith and wishful thinking. It seems to me that this is why you refuse to even address this question.

      Perhaps I am glad of that even if it does mean you misinterpret my conversation

      How have I misinterpreted your conversation or position? I ask you yet again, what is the difference between your faith in the reality of empirical claims like the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Incarnation, a real place called Heaven – and wishful thinking?




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  64. Fred: At the conference Ed Zinke and Richard Davidson gave close to a dozen talks between them that extolled a historical-grammatical hermeneutic devoid of any form of criticism. In their view the Bible ABSOLUTELY takes precedence above science and human reason. During several lectures Zinke even had the audience repeat after him “Scripture AND…” referring to the (presumably dangerous) alternative hermeneutics. Davidson answered a question during a panel session about whether their approach, the proclaimed “official” approach of the SDA church, constituted fideism to which he insisted it did not because the evidence considered derives from scripture rather than blind faith. At the end of the conference Ted Wilson forcefully endorsed the historical-grammatical hermeneutic during his final lecture.

    If their beliefs derive from scripture, how do they know scripture is correct? If they eschew the use of science, history, or culture to interpret scripture, then why are they not fideists according to the definition all you people are using here, accepting scripture at face value? How do they accept the claims of scripture any differently than Pauluc?

    Most of you here at Educate Truth are opposed to the church’s official historical-grammatical hermeneutic. You can deny it all you want, but your view absolutely contradicts the church’s official position. If you don’t get in line with Ted’s position, then you should have the integrity to leave the church and form one of your own that espouses your own critical hermeneutic.




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    • The position of some of the church leaders on how to interpret the Bible via the “historical-grammatical hermeneutic” is not a “fundamental belief” or doctrine of the church as an organization. Therefore, there is no reason to “leave the church” over different views as to how the Bible’s credibility should be established.




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  65. Sean Pitman:
    The position of some of the church leaders on how to interpret the Bible via the “historical-grammatical hermeneutic” is not a “fundamental belief” or doctrine of the church as an organization.Therefore, there is no reason to “leave the church” over different views as to how the Bible’s credibility should be established.

    Have you not read the church’s official fundamental beliefs? Here they are: http://bit.ly/1y9b2CS. The very first statement in the prelude to the beliefs reads, “Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the only source of our beliefs. We consider our movement to be the result of the Protestant conviction Sola Scriptura—the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice for Christians.”

    Obviously, the 28 fundamental beliefs are based on this premise. You couldn’t get any more “fundamental” than this.

    I do admire your willingness to challenge the church’s official hermeneutic, though many of its leaders would see your philosophy and approach as dangerous. In his recent sermon before the Annual Council, Ted Wilson said Satan was using every means at his disposal to try to destroy the Adventist Church and neutralize its mission of proclaiming Jesus’ soon coming. According to the Adventist News Network (http://bit.ly/1wiTqmI):

    He singled out the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation as undesirable, saying it clouded the themes and topics of the Bible. ‘As we seek to know God’s will through a study of His Word, we must not place strange interpretations and employ interpretive gymnastics to draw out conclusions that are not evident from a plain reading of the Word,’ he said.

    Have you tried sending an article to the Adventist Review to present your arguments why the historical-critical approach is essential to establish faith in Scripture, and that accepting Scripture on its own merits (blindly) constitutes fideism? Somehow I don’t believe the church’s leaders or the editors of AR would tolerate your views.




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    • Have you not read the church’s official fundamental beliefs? Here they are: http://bit.ly/1y9b2CS. The very first statement in the prelude to the beliefs reads, “Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the only source of our beliefs. We consider our movement to be the result of the Protestant conviction Sola Scriptura—the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice for Christians.”

      I agree with this statement. However, this statement does not tell a person how one should come to a belief that the Bible is in fact the Word of God, worthy of such a high degree of credibility and confidence. In this line, the writings of Mrs. White are pretty clear.

      “God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. We are thus led to adore the Creator and to have an intelligent trust in His word.” – Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 115

      So, you see, the historical Adventist position is in fact a view of science and faith walking hand-in-hand “shedding light on each other”, each working with the other to give us “an intelligent trust in His word”.

      Have you tried sending an article to the Adventist Review to present your arguments why the historical-critical approach is essential to establish faith in Scripture, and that accepting Scripture on its own merits (blindly) constitutes fideism? Somehow I don’t believe the church’s leaders or the editors of AR would tolerate your views.

      Some may, some may not. I know that there are many leaders within the church who do in fact reject the fideistic position as ultimately unhelpful – akin to wishful thinking. Many do accept that the study of history and other forms of science can and does shed light on the claims of the Bible. I do however agree with the concerns of those who wish to avoid applying the “philosophical naturalism” view of science to the Bible – where the possibility of God directly interacting with this planet in any detectable way is excluded a priori.

      This is where historical criticism has been abused. Many practitioners take a “purely scientific” [aka: philosophical naturalism – which isn’t a scientific, but a philosophical position] view which excludes any possibility of the supernatural and results in a purely naturalistic interpretation of Biblical events and people. Because of these presuppositions, this view is prevented from saying anything at all about God or the miracles and supernatural works of Jesus Christ (Black & Dockery 1991, p. 74). These scholars hold that all supernatural events described in the Bible are inventions of the early church. Therefore they attempt to get behind this mythology and get at the “real” historical Jesus. Schaeffer (1985, v. 1 p. 52) highlights the problem with this approach: “Naturalistic theology has ….. begun by accepting the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. Thus they rejected everything miraculous and supernatural including …. the life of Jesus Christ. …. they still hoped to find an historical Jesus in a rational, objective, scholarly way by separating the supernatural aspects of Jesus’ life from the ‘true history’. But they failed ….. Their search for the historical Jesus was doomed to failure. The supernatural was so intertwined with the rest that if they ripped out all the supernatural, there was no Jesus left!”

      Many liberal theologians have used critical methods to show the Bible is not historically accurate. The authors were primarily theologians not historians so the “Jesus of history” is nothing like the Jesus of the Bible. This means that if there is a discrepancy between the Bible and other historical material, it is the Bible that is most probably in error. A Biblical account must be ‘proved’ historically accurate rather than accepted as so (Black & Dockery 1991, p. 82). But this scepticism is unwarranted since the Bible has shown itself time and again to be historically accurate. Historical criticism should pursue without restriction the explanation that best explains the phenomena in question. This includes supernatural explanations (Black & Dockery 1991, p. 89). – Link




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  66. I have three immediate questions for you, Sean:

    First, was the statement from Ellen White that you quoted (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 115) divinely inspired, or was it her opinion?

    Second, were her opinions on science always correctly informed?

    Third, do all of Ellen White’s opinions represent the “historical Adventist position?”

    There were instances when Ellen White gave incorrect statements about science for reasons we have yet to understand, but clearly her personal understanding of science was, in some cases, incorrect.

    There was a time, for example, when Ellen White wrote of “for nearly” 6,000 years and “over 6,000 years.” Which was correct? Both could not have been. She clearly referred to Bishop Ussher’s widely discredited chronology, which at that time was in the margin of virtually every Christian’s KJV Bible. How would those in her day have accepted a direct revelation giving a different time? Willie White even acknowledged that his mother did not consider herself an authority in the areas of dates and chronology. But if Ellen White’s understanding of science was 100% correct, we would have to accept that the earth was no older than 6,000 at some point during the later years of her life.

    Further, when Joseph Bates questioned her authenticity, she once went into a vision in his presence. During the vision, she described regions in space having beautiful belts and rings, and planets having six and seven moons. Bates understood some astronomy and recognized the planets she described as Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus. What was the purpose of this vision? It was to convince Bates that she was for real. But do the numbers agree with what we know about those planets. Heavens no! She clearly UNDERSTATED the number of moons present, which we now number in the dozens for those planets. Could she have understated other numbers, like 6,000 years, or should we accept her words as de facto science. You might argue she was not shown all of the moons, and someone else might argue she was not show the full length of time since the creation.

    Consider two more examples. Ellen White had it all wrong when she described how buried coal beds occasionally ignited to produce earthquakes and volcanoes. This concept was largely believed in her day, but now has no credibility. The same can be said regarding how masturbation causes mental illness, which we now politely smile at.

    So if her own understanding of certain scientific ideas was misinformed, how could she possibly “know” (without also being misinformed) that science NEVER contradicts Scripture? Her views were often culturally conditioned and sometimes were flat out wrong. This doesn’t delegitimize her prophet calling, but we should be cautious in how dogmatic we are in the use of her quotes.

    There is yet another problem. If we accept her statement that you often quote at face value, we would have to conclude that Satan has never been permitted to intervene in human history or in nature in ways that might lead to contradictions between real data and Scripture. Do you accept this conclusion that logically follows if her statement is 100% correct? Either her statement is wrong (to some extent), or there is no circumstance under which real data, properly interpreted, could ever contradict Scripture. Which way will you have it?




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    • First, was the statement from Ellen White that you quoted (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 115) divinely inspired, or was it her opinion?

      Well, she claims that it was Divinely inspired since she says that she was shown, in vision, the events of Genesis – to include Adam and Eve in the Garden, the Fall, the degeneration of the morality of the human race before the Flood, Noah and his preaching for many years to try to save the pre-Flood world, and the worldwide nature of the Flood itself.

      Second, were her opinions on science always correctly informed?

      Not always. God didn’t tell her everything. She wasn’t omniscient. She was human like the rest of us.

      Third, do all of Ellen White’s opinions represent the “historical Adventist position?”

      No. However, what she said she was shown “in vision” is accepted as given by the Holy Spirit by the Adventist Church as an organization.

      There was a time, for example, when Ellen White wrote of “for nearly” 6,000 years and “over 6,000 years.” Which was correct? Both could not have been.

      She often used the phrase “about six thousand years”. She only used the phrase “over six thousand years” once. The phrase “nearly six thousand years” could mean either less than or more than by a little bit. Either way, she never did say exactly how long – probably because she didn’t know. The specific date of creation evidently wasn’t revealed to her. So, she simply went by what seems to be suggested by the Biblical account of origins.

      Further, when Joseph Bates questioned her authenticity, she once went into a vision in his presence. During the vision, she described regions in space having beautiful belts and rings, and planets having six and seven moons. Bates understood some astronomy and recognized the planets she described as Jupiter and Saturn and Uranus. What was the purpose of this vision? It was to convince Bates that she was for real. But do the numbers agree with what we know about those planets. Heavens no! She clearly UNDERSTATED the number of moons present, which we now number in the dozens for those planets.

      Ellen White never provided the names for what she was seeing. Bates provided the names. Perhaps this particular vision was given for his benefit. I have no problem with that since, if she had said something beyond what he knew at time, he would not have accepted her as speaking for God. Either way, what she was seeing was well beyond her own educational level and I’m sure we can all understand what God was doing here.

      Could she have understated other numbers, like 6,000 years, or should we accept her words as de facto science. You might argue she was not shown all of the moons, and someone else might argue she was not show the full length of time since the creation.

      That’s right. She only claims to have been shown episodes or snapshots of history since the creation of the world – key events if you will.

      Consider two more examples. Ellen White had it all wrong when she described how buried coal beds occasionally ignited to produce earthquakes and volcanoes. This concept was largely believed in her day, but now has no credibility. The same can be said regarding how masturbation causes mental illness, which we now politely smile at.

      Again, she claims no Divine vision in regard to her idea of a relationship between earthquakes and volcanoes (although there is obviously a relationship between volcanoes and crust movements). As far as the masturbation comments, I don’t recall her claiming that she was shown anything in regard to this in vision. However, recent scientific evidence has demonstrated a link between pornography and a loss of gray matter in the brain (link), which appears to vindicate her statements that overindulging the sexual lusts does have a negative affect on body and mind.

      So if her own understanding of certain scientific ideas was misinformed, how could she possibly “know” (without also being misinformed) that science NEVER contradicts Scripture? Her views were often culturally conditioned and sometimes were flat out wrong. This doesn’t delegitimize her prophet calling, but we should be cautious in how dogmatic we are in the use of her quotes.

      She didn’t say that scientists would never contradict scripture. What she said is that true scientific discoveries and interpretations of these discoveries would never contradict a true understanding of Scripture. She highlighted this point by explaining that science and Scripture “shed light on each other.”

      There is yet another problem. If we accept her statement that you often quote at face value, we would have to conclude that Satan has never been permitted to intervene in human history or in nature in ways that might lead to contradictions between real data and Scripture. Do you accept this conclusion that logically follows if her statement is 100% correct? Either her statement is wrong (to some extent), or there is no circumstance under which real data, properly interpreted, could ever contradict Scripture. Which way will you have it?

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking here? The argument is that God is the only one who is absolutely perfect. Everyone else makes mistakes – to include those who wrote the Bible and Ellen White as well. God did not write the Bible Himself. However, God did give a perfect vision which was then viewed and written down by imperfect people. That means that there will be at least minor errors in the translation of what was shown vs. what was written. And, this is why science and Scripture shed light on each other.




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  67. Sean Pitman: What she said is that true scientific discoveries would never contradict a true understanding of Scripture. She highlighted this point by explaining that science and Scripture “shed light on each other.”

    indeed and why should not an understanding of evolution shed light on the reading of Genesis as most non-fundamentalist Chrsitians today suggest?




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    • Again, there are somethings that, if seen in vision, cannot be easily misinterpreted. If you see that “there was light” then “there was darkness” and that this pattern of was used to mark off a series of seven days, that’s pretty hard to get wrong or misinterpret. Mrs. White also confirms these biblical claims by arguing that God specifically showed her that the creation week was a literal week “like any other”.

      So, what needs to happen now is see which claims among competing claims are most likely true. Where does the “weight of evidence lie”? If the claims of neo-Darwinism are true, then the claims of the Bible aren’t just a matter of honest misinterpretations – they are either completely made up fabrications or they are outright lies – from God.

      I will say, however, the Darwins observations did help to shed light on the Bible. For example, there were those who believed in the absolute fixity of the species – that nothing could change and that no new species of any kind could be produced by natural mechanisms. Darwin showed, quite clearly, that this interpretation of the Bible was false. So, Darwin’s discoveries did shed light on the Bible’s comments about reproduction “after their kind”. However, the Bible sheds light on Darwin’s claims by showing the clear limitations of Darwinian-type evolution – to very low levels of functional complexity over a short period of time (i.e., not hundreds of millions of years of evolution).

      Again, we have science and Scripture shedding light on each other…




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    • why should not an understanding of evolution shed light on the reading of Genesis as most non-fundamentalist Chrsitians today suggest?

      Definition of Evolution

      When we talk about “evolution,” we don’t mean, “any kind of change.” Nor do we mean minor variations that result from natural selection. We use the term “evolution” to mean;

      “The doctrine that unguided natural forces caused chemicals to combine in such a way that life resulted; and that all living things have descended from that common ancestral form of life.”

      This not supported by any empirical evidence, only by pure speculation.

      BTW,

      The universal scientific laws of Biogenesis and Heredity complete refute Neo-Darwinism.

      End of Discussion




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      • @Gene Fortner:

        I am sure that is not how you have pursued your work as an engineer. In science there is never an end to discussion. It is always an iterative process and there is always another question and a new idea. Usually in science we start by saying what are our definitions and framework and what is the historical antecedents and understanding.
        You might define Evolution is a doctrine rather than a theory or hypothesis but unless you start from the same position as everyone else there is absolutely no chance that your ideas, meritorious though they may be, will every get any traction. As I have indicated before this is a very idiosyncratic definition of evolution. You are arguing against abiogenesis and conflating that with an argument against evolution. It really is not helpful.




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  68. Sean Pitman: I haven’t changed my mind. I still see atheism as the most logical alternative to Christianity and any other view of God if such views of God are only based on a wishful-thinking type of fideistic faith. Why should one be a Christian or believe that the Bible is anything more than a good moral fable? – or believe that God exists any more than Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists? For me, it’s because I see real empirical evidence for God’s existence as well as His Signature within the pages of the Bible and within the universe and the world in which I find myself.

    Sean

    I may be a little obsessional but I cannot let this argument go without trying to clarify what you really believe. I am still not following the logic of your argument

    You still seem to be saying that Atheism is the most logical alternative to Christianity if that Christianity is not based on science but on some emotion.
    You seem to say that if the science does not support the empirical claims of the Bible ie that the earth is around 6000 year old then you will reject the bible and Christianity for;
    – on one hand you say atheism (lecture at LSU I have referenced)
    – on the other hand you say some Deist position and you have never claimed that you would be an Atheist if you should rejected Adventism and Christianity because of the science. (claims on this thread)

    I still see that these are inconsistent despite your response to my initial question.

    As I have said before I am a traditional Adventist that accepts historical Adventism claims. These include a high view of scripture that says you can never examine the word of God by science as it is tantamount to making yourself God and assuming you can make a critique of God and His word. We are fallible man subject to sin and cannot assume that infidel position. We are called to accept it and following that acceptance we can properly understand science and the world around us. This means that science is not the all pervasive method that we use to examine our religion but is a way of understanding that depends on our acceptance of the Word of God as the basic way in which we understand the world and any true science. Understood in this way science subservient as it is to the Word of God can never provide a mechanism that would allow us to reject the Word of God. Our defense is always in the Word of God. Do you accept that or not? I worry that you put science above the Bible and to even allow that you could reject the word of God based on science is effectively to deny a high view of scripture, one of the pillars of our faith.




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    • As I’ve pointed out before, there are a lot of books claiming to be “The Word of God”. How do you know that the Bible’s claim, among so many competing options, is true? – based on a feeling? That’s how you know? Did an angel show up and tell you that the Bible’s claims are true? – or how to interpret it? Were you born with this knowledge? or did you have to learn it? If you had to learn that the Bible’s claims are true, upon what did you base your learning? – and how did this basis of your learning help you distinguish the true from the false?

      At first approximation, the Bible is just a book making a bunch of claims. How can you tell the difference between the origin of the Bible and the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? In order to determine that God had anything to do with its creation, you have to read it and make judgments about it. If you base your judgments on some kind of deep feeling or gestalt sensation of truth, I say that this isn’t a reliable basis for a leap of faith. However, if you base your acceptance of the claims of the Bible on rational arguments that make sense given what you already think you know to be true, then you have yourself a much more useful and helpful basis for faith… as the Bible itself recommends.

      God does not expect us to believe or have faith without sufficient evidence to establish a rational and logical faith in the claims of the Bible. Have you not read where the Bible challenges the honest seeker for truth to “test” even the claims of God? (Judges 6:39; Malachi 3:10; John 14:11; etc…). We are not called to blindly accept anything as true, not even the Bible. The claims of the Bible must be tested to see if they truly are what they claim to be – i.e., the Words of God.




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