What are your “criteria for the rejection of Christianity”? – …

Comment on Ted Wilson: No Room for Evolution as Truth in Adventist Schools by Sean Pitman.

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.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

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


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


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


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.

Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).

As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.

I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?