@Eddie: To pretend that the administration of LSU are completely …

Comment on The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop by pauluc.


To pretend that the administration of LSU are completely secular as Sean seems to do is to miss the subtleties of the situation. It is essentially a religious institution containing a science department seeking to convey the accepted content of science. I would contend that we have many instances of the way in which a Church handles controversy or criticism. I recently watched the documentary “Silence in the House of God”. I would recommend for all Adventist. It is an extremely chilling account of how a religious institution handles error and criticism.

The SDA Church has not been immune to suboptimal administrative responses. Several come to mind There was disfellowshipping of JH Kellogg despite having completely edited his “Living Temple” in response to contention that it was pantheistic. We have the exiling of EG White to Australia after disagreement with the then GC president Butler who had disagreed with Waggoner and Jones and EG White and who is reported to have said he by virtue of being GC president had special insights.
How did the Church handle Ballinger, the role of EG White at the 1919 bible conference, the criticisms of Walter Rea, the biography of EG White by Ronald Numbers and the sanctuary doctrine reformulated by Desmond Ford?

The events of 1980 are within my memory and I know that the administration was torn between the integrity of its structure and orthodoxy supported by highly literalist interpretations favoured by the concerned brethren and a desire to acknowledge there was some new understanding of the celestial events of 1844. As always someone needs to be sacrificed.

Just so, at LSU there is an army of footsoldiers guided by generals such as David Read and Sean Pitman and cadre of armchair general who automatically respond with green for Sean and red for me. LSU has a predominance of non-SDA students from whence most of its income derives. They must be seen be and in reality must remain a university. It cannot afford to become a madrassa.

Into this complex political and educational environment rides a feted athlete fresh from the school of certainty that is Amazing Facts and assumes a take no prisoners approach in his zealous campaign to save LSU. That Wisbey suggests his apologies were insincere is telling and I must say I am having trouble generating a lot of sympathy for him. I do appreciate that he has felt wounded but unfortunately that is nothing unique in Adventism or religion.

Why kick against the pricks? Perhaps what befell him is indeed from God. After all as Rom 5 says

“And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Unfortunately all the events are largely predictable in the presence of hubris and certainty and the absence of christian charity.

pauluc Also Commented

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
@Sean Pitman:

Sean. Be honest with the data please.

I accept the SDA 28 fundamental as the description of Adventist thought about the bible, the canonical literature of Christianity, but I also accept the preamble that states that this may change from time to time. I therefore accept the Adventist positions in the same way as I accept the scientific understandings. A tentative description of reality that we can change. As such I argue against the current understanding in some fields of both science and religion. In this I think I am consistent with the intention of both the scientific and the religious communities to which I belong. I do not see any conflict between the 2 but I do see conflict between a myopic fundamentalist and literalistic understanding and the objective canonical literature of science. I am like you attempting to honestly articulate the way I reconcile my engagement with the spiritual dimensions of my life and my medical and scientific vocations.

I accept the Adventist position on inspiration that says that God spoke through the writers of scripture but see these spokesmen as fallible mortals who had a context and worldview. My basis for understanding God is the Bible and the community of faith as it is lead by the spirit in understanding that word. I accept that community of faith includes Adventists but is not exclusively Adventist so am happy to gain insight from Christians writing over the last 2000 years.

You are of course correct in that I do not see that a literalistic 7 day creation has support in reality and do not accept that it is any more foundational to Christian or Adventist belief than is a geocentric model of the universe.

Like you I do not accept that there was no death in the beginning but accept that it is part of all carbon based life and the escape from death intrinsic to life comes only with a change in the nature of life to something we do not understand but which is not what we know now. This I think is the biblical position accepted by most Christians. We move from a natural to a supernatural world

I accept Christ as God incarnate and his resurrection by faith but do not think the bible teaching is that his form was of a mortal man.

I accept the virgin birth by faith and do not accept that there is or likely to ever be any physical or scientific evidence to support this belief.

I believe in miracles in the sense that God has intervened but have a much more expansive view of how God intervenes in the life of man than you do. I believe that God can intervene in my life in both explicable and inexplicable ways. I do not discount that inexplicalbe interventions do occur but they are by definition beyond the the purview of science which operates on the premise of methodological naturalism as a explanation of the natural not the supernatural world.

You certainly mis-characterize me in contending that I believe in Christ as a great moral teacher. I do not. As I have contended repeatedly, theologically I am closest to the neo-orthodox tradition and accept that Jesus as God reveals himself to us by revelation not reason and the follower of Christ must take that leap of faith to be born again, born or the spirit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The corollary of that leap of faith is the acceptance that we can never truly know. One must honestly examine all literature including scriptural writing using the brains and methods we have available to us which legitimizes the process of historic criticism. To quarantine the bible from scrutiny is inconsistent and to my mind dishonest.

In a word I am thoroughly and expansively Christian but I am not a fundamentalist who accept a selective inconsistent literalism

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
@Sean Pitman: I cannot let this sort of nonsense pass without some comment about reality.

1] Science is personal opinion? You claim;

“Ultimately science is done on the individual level. One may consider the evidence available to him/her and make a personal determination as to what the weight of evidence indicates is most likely true.”

As I have repeatedly said science is not subjective opinion it is what has been agreed by the community of scientists examining and arguing about the data recorded in the canonical literature of science. It is objective. You can clearly disagree with the conclusion but you must then propose a model and test it to convince others using the agreed methods and data.

2] You have expanded the concept of science with your idiosyncratic view of what is science to include all contemplation of human activity. That is absurd. Where is the rigor of statistical analysis you are so fond of when it comes to your pet idea of 1000 fsaar threshold and arguments about evolution. What is the statistical significance of a sample size of 1. Was Gideons sample size adequate? I suspect you would not suggest so unless you are being obtuse.

3] How much cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery bone marrow transplants do you personally do on a daily basis. I suspect none but why is that? It is because of a thing called credentially and specialization.
You readily seem to accept that but why do you then distort science to make it personal opinion and discount expertise. It is like you pushing aside Ben Carson and attempting to remove a glioblastoma from and the thalamus of a child with your bare hands. To do so is negligent in the extreme. For you to dismiss expertise in science and claim that personal experience trumps deep and expert study of an area of science is disrespectful in the extreme and as David Read would say makes you a “bad man”. A person whose hubris completely subjugates any care for the intellectual and religious development of anyone else.

4] You say
“So, personal opinion can be scientific, based on the weight of evidence as one personally understands it. But, what does that mean to someone else? Not much if you can’t present a rational reason for your faith or “personal opinion.””

You are of course right that a person can think rationally and use hypothesis testing method of science but that is not scientific as understood by anyone but yourself. Scientific thinking has to include acknowledgement of the facts and constructs of science based as they are on methodological naturalism. You do a great disservice by your wooly thinking about what is empirical evidence and what is science. If you continually invent idiosyncratic definitions it is little wonder as Jeff Kent has suggested you are considered ludicrous by most Adventist scientists. I would certainly be interested to hear if event a heterodox scientist like Art agrees with your definition of science.

5] You arguments would be more compelling if you actually recognized what is the accepted meaning of science [from wikipedia]

“Science (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.[1][2] In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied.”


In modern use, “science” more often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself. It is “often treated as synonymous with ‘natural and physical science’, and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use.”

Your definition of science may be loosely derivative of the more modern understanding but you should honestly acknowledge that your definition of science to include the supernatural is a private interpretation that flies in the face of the accepted definitions.

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
@George Evans:
Well at this point I should retire defeated and allow you all to get back into your self congratulatory huddle in piece.

As Wesley would perhaps contend; perchance as Chaucer utrd wyse

For He that is the formere principal
Hath maked me his vicaire general,
Right as me list, and ech thyng in my cure is
And for my werk right no thyng wol I axe;
My lord and I been ful of oon accord.
Heere may men seen how synne hath his merite.
Beth war, for no man woot whom God wol smyte
In no degree, ne in which manere wyse;
The worm of conscience may agryse
Of wikked lyf, though it so pryvee be
That no man woot therof but God and he.
For be he lewed man, or ellis lered,
He noot how soone that he shal been afered.
Therfore I rede yow this conseil take:
Forsaketh synne, er synne yow forsake.

Recent Comments by pauluc

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Bob Helm: With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.

You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away. It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views. It very hard to get to the science when we cannot even agree on what is science. What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous. I think Roger’s paper may well be relevant to Adventist that believe that Christianity has and must respond to a careful study of physical reality by reconsidering its interpretations of the word of the Lord, but as Sean has indicated you are exception to that characterization. I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science. It seems a bit messy to worry about facts. It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.

Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Sean Pitman: So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath

On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”

You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.

Lets for a moment step back from lala land. Where are we and where did we come from on this thread?

1] You posted a rehash of all your usual arguments in response to an article about the more mainstream Adventist positions that may impact the way Adventism reacts to conventional science. All very straight forward.
2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets. This is where it gets really strange.
3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.
4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.
5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.
6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.

I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.


Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman: sorry but your curious amalgam of magic and biology is not really comprehensible to me as a biologist or as a Christian . it. is neither logical or biologically feasible

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Sean Pitman: However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death.

And this interpretation is precisely why you need a theodicy. Where is the justice in killing all for the sake of the sins of one woman+man? It makes no sense logically. If they were conditionally immortal because of eating of the tree of life then did all the animals in all the world congregate around this tree like beasts around a water hole on the serengeti. how exactly do you as you are wont to do translate the account into a literal reality. And which beast had to come and eat. Or was it symbolic? Oh now that’s a thought.

Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?

Sean Pitman: Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…

Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead.

Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others. Just as in the biological world so in the spiritual. By his death we have life. Just as God sanctified the practice of sacrifice of appeasement practiced by most cultures for thousands of years before and showed that in the Judeo-Christian tradition these same acts of sacrifice were emblematic of a monotheistic God that would become incarnate and bring life from death. So also he took the preceding accounts of creation derived as they were of the mesopotamian valley and recast it as an account of the monotheistic God who is above all but comes and dwells among us to become one of us. Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.

That is the message I get from the images and visions of the Canon and EG White. But of course I read it for the message that it conveys not as a scientific text. That is where we fundamentally differ.