Sean Pitman: I had to do all in my power for …

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

Sean Pitman: I had to do all in my power for this very serious problem within our church to be directly confronted and addressed, if possible, in the most definitive manner.

May I remind you that you appointed yourself to this task, and chose to pursue it by your own means rather than established Church channels.

Sean Pitman: Should I be sorry for trying to defend the church against those who are attacking it from within? for trying to defend students who are being attacked by one of our own schools when they try to stand up for church doctrines on our own campuses?

It’s the means that is the problem, not so much the end. I’m totally onboard with the need to resist those who attack the church. But two wrongs–in your case, publicly attacking others, often with hearsay and exaggerated claims, and publically in ways that make our Church look like infighting idiots–do not make a right. But I don’t think you fear judgement given the high level of confidence you place in your intelligence and reasoning.

Sean Pitman: You, on the other hand, seem to get angry whenever anything comes along that seems to favor the church’s claims. You get upset whenever any evidence is presented which appears to support the church’s positions. That seems very strange coming from someone who claims to believe in all of the fundamentals of Adventism. However, it’s not so strange once one realizes that you are a fideist who does not believe that evidence should be given a prominent position or much of any platform for that matter within the church.

When have I expressed anger over prophetic interpretation? When have I expressed anger over the witness of the lives of the apostles? When have I expressed anger over the internal evidences that support scripture? When have I expressed anger over the verses in scripture which support scripture’s positions?

Just because I have a high regard for God’s word and the Church’s position regarding higher criticism of it, and believe much of the so-called science supporting origins is grossly exagerated, does not mean I don’t value evidence. Evidence and interpretation of it has its limits.

You and your cronies are perfectly welcome to call me a fideist. Doing so says more about your tactics and how you choose to treat fellow believers than it says about me.

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.