Sean Pitman: As I’ve already explained to you at least a …

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

Sean Pitman: As I’ve already explained to you at least a dozen times now, both the Bible and Ellen White reference the weight of empirical evidence as a basis for faith.

Give me a quote where either Scripture or Ellen White use the phrase “empirical evidence.” Just one. Again, the evidence they spoke of was more often experiential than scientific. The workings of the Holy Spirit is anything but “empirical.”

The same is true for the writings of Mrs. White. And, as you well know, she also cites evidence in geology as well to support a rational faith in the Biblical account of origins.

Where does Ellen White say she believed in God because of geological evidence? Does she state that her understanding of God was informed by geology, or that her understanding of geology was informed by her understanding of God, as portrayed in Genesis?

Sean Pitman: The New Testament writers cite the physical resurrection of Jesus, and the evidence for it, as the linchpin of their faith. Biblical prophecy is also constantly cited as a basis for faith throughout the Bible. The Biblical authors also cite various features of the natural world as evidence of God’s signature and claim to Authorship.

I have no problems with these being evidence of our faith, but Adventists accept what Scripture says even if contemporary evidence is contradictory. Adventists do not change their faith capriciously based on the latest human knowledge.

A personal experience with God, all by itself, will certain establish faith in God’s existence.

Of course. Stop calling it as useless as belief in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Even a “cachectic holy hermit” (pardon the inane verbage) who discovers God in this manner can experience salvation.

Professor Kent Also Commented

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop

Sean Pitman: Again, what is your understanding of the difference between fideism and your views on faith?

Let’s start with my understanding of something they have in common. They both annoy the heck out of a lot of people.

I’ve been waiting this entire time for you to share your understanding. You go first.

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop

Sean Pitman: All hypotheses are “opinions” or educated guesses. They are not facts. Science isn’t based on definitive knowledge, but upon what one considers to be “the weight of evidence” with the most predictive value given the limited information that is currently in hand.

So, pray tell, is there a distinction between “weight of evidence” and personal opinion?

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop

Sean Pitman: The church is not fideistic like you suggest.

I don’t think the Church is fideistic. I think it is serious about sola scriptura (plus some wriggle room with Ellen White). The Church holds to many views that are rejected by science, like the virgin birth and resurrection of a dead body. But I’m sure you’ll find this statement (like everything else I write) objectionable.

Peanut butter tastes good with chocolate.

Recent Comments by Professor Kent

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: Science isn’t about “cold hard facts.” Science is about interpreting the “facts” as best as one can given limited background experiences and information. Such interpretations can be wrong and when shown to be wrong, the honest will in fact change to follow where the “weight of evidence” seems to be leading.

Much of science is based on highly technical data that few other than those who generate it can understand. For most questions, science yields data insufficient to support a single interpretation. And much of science leads to contradictory interpretations. Honest individuals will admit that they have a limited understanding of the science, and base their opinions on an extremely limited subset of information which they happen to find compelling whether or not the overall body of science backs it up.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The process of detecting artefacts as true artefacts is a real science based on prior experience, experimentation, and testing with the potential of future falsification. Oh, and I do happen to own a bona fide polished granite cube.

Not from Mars. Finding the cube on Mars is the basis of your cubical caricature of science, not some artefact under your roof.

Sean Pitman:
Professor Kent: If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The question is not if one will catch a fish, but if one will recognize a fish as a fish if one ever did catch a fish. That’s the scientific question here. And, yet again, the clear answer to this question is – Yes.

I think I’m going to spend the afternoon with my favorite scientist–my 8-year-old nephew. We’re going to go fishing at Lake Elsinore. He wants to know if we might catch a shark there. Brilliant scientist, that lad. He already grasps the importance of potentially falsifiable empirical evidence. I’m doubtful we’ll catch a fish, but I think he’ll recognize a fish if we do catch one.

While fishing, we’ll be scanning the skies to catch a glimpse of archaeopteryx flying by. He believes they might exist, and why not? Like the SETI scientist, he’s doing science to find the elusive evidence.

He scratched himself with a fish hook the other day and asked whether he was going to bleed. A few moments later, some blood emerged from the scratched. Talk about potentilly falsifiable data derived from a brilliant experiment. I’m telling you, the kid’s a brilliant scientist.

What’s really cool about science is that he doesn’t have to publish his observations (or lack thereof) to be doing very meaningful science. He doesn’t even need formal training or a brilliant mind. Did I mention he’s the only autistic scientist I’ve ever met?

As most everyone here knows, I have a poor understanding of science. But I’m pretty sure this nephew of mine will never lecture me or Pauluc on what constitutes science. He’s the most humble, polite, and soft-spoken scientist I’ve ever met.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: I don’t think you understand the science or rational arguments behind the detection of an artefact as a true artefact. In fact, I don’t think you understand the basis of science in general.

I’m amused by this response. I don’t think you understand the limits of a philosophical argument based on a hypothetical situation, which is all that your convoluted cube story comprises, and nothing more. Whether the artefact is an artefact is immaterial to an argument that is philosophical and does not even consider an actual, bona fide artefact.

Sean Pitman: You argue that such conclusions aren’t “scientific”. If true, you’ve just removed forensic science, anthropology, history in general, and even SETI science from the realm of true fields of scientific study and investigation.

Forensic science, anthropology, and history in general all assume that humans exist and are responsible for the phenomenon examined. Authorities in these disciplines can devise hypotheses to explain the phenomenon they observe and can test them.

SETI assumes there might be non-human life elsewhere in the universe and is nothing more than an expensive fishing expedition. If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The search for a granite cube on Mars is nothing more than an exercise in hypotheticals. Call it science if you insist; I don’t see how it is different than a child waiting breathlessly all night beside the fireplace hoping to find Santa coming down the chimney.

I guess the number of science colleagues I acknowledge needs to grow exponentially. I apologize to those I have failed to recognize before as scientists.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The observation alone, of the granite cube on an alien planet, informs us that the creator of the cube was intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence – that’s it. You are correct that this observation, alone, would not inform us as to the identity or anything else about the creator beyond the fact that the creator of this particular granite cube was intelligent and deliberate in the creation of the cube.

Your frank admission concedes that the creator of the cube could itself be an evolved being, and therefore you’re back to square one. Thus, your hypothetical argument offers no support for either evolutionism or creationism, and cannot distinguish between them.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
I have taken much abuse by pointing out the simple fact that SDAs have specific interpretations of origins that originate from scripture and cannot be supported by science (if science is “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence”). The beliefs include:

o fiat creation by voice command from a supernatural being
o all major life forms created in a 6-day period
o original creation of major life forms approximately 6,000 years ago

None of these can be falsified by experimental evidence, and therefore are accepted on faith.

Sean Pitman’s responses to this are predictably all over the place. They include:

[This] is a request for absolute demonstration. That’s not what science does.” [totally agreed; science can’t examine these beliefs]

The Biblical account of origins can in fact be supported by strong empirical evidence.” [not any of these three major interpretations of Genesis 1]

Does real science require leaps of faith? Absolutely!

I think it’s fair to say from Pitman’s perspective that faith derived from science is laudable, whereas faith derived from scripture–God’s word–is useless.

Don’t fret, Dr. Pitman. I won’t lure you into further pointless discussion. While I am greatly amused by all of this nonsense and deliberation (hardly angry, as you often suggest) for a small handful of largely disinterested readers, I am finished. I won’t be responding to any further remarks or questions.