God (and Truth) never changes. However, our understanding of …

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

God (and Truth) never changes. However, our understanding of Truth does change over time.

We learn and grow in our understanding of truth – to include our understanding of Biblical truth. One is not automatically born with the knowledge that the Bible is the real Word of God or how, exactly, to interpret it and all of its statements and passages. On the contrary, this requires effort and careful investigation and rational thought on our part.

Again, there’s nothing to fear from subjecting the Bible to careful investigation against the weight of evidence. God is the author of the Bible and true science…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
When I talk about the concept of science, I’m talking about how any new information is learned in a useful manner that is superior to wishful thinking (aka blind faith). One’s understanding of the Bible as the Word of God can be and I believe should be based on the weight of evidence that is currently in hand. Coming to the conclusion that the Bible is God’s Word requires work. It is not inherent knowledge, but must be learned based on evidence, not direct revelation.

“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 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, 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 . . .” Steps to Christ, p. 105;

Consider also that, “perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” Letter 19d, 1892, cited in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

“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

God does not desire blind faith or blind obedience without the input of rational thought and understanding (which is also God-given by the way). Our faith in the Bible should be based on something more than some kind of internal warm fuzzy feeling or personal desire. Our faith in the Bible as the Word of God should be a rational faith that is based on the weight of evidence and its established predictive power – i.e., a form of scientific reasoning and understanding which forms the basis for a logical, rational leap of faith. It is in this manner that faith and science can, and I think must, walk hand-in-hand.

Sean Pitman

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop
Hi Phil,

I appreciate your desire to uphold the Bible regardless of what the external evidence might say about it. However, I think this is a mistake. The Bible has nothing to fear from true science (vs. “science falsely so called”) or from a truly rational investigation into its claims. The Biblical authors always provide empirical evidence and rational arguments as a basis for faith (as does Mrs. White). We should not be like my LDS friends who believe in the Book of Mormon regardless of the weight of evidence against it. The Bible is to be believed because of the weight of evidence in its favor – because it is the most rational choice that the intelligent candid mind can conclude. Our faith need not be blind to the weight of evidence. Rather, faith and evidence can and should walk hand-in-hand.

Sean Pitman

The Full History of La Sierra University vs. Louie Bishop

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.” – Sean Pitman

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.

Science is by no means entirely “objective”. There are objective elements, to be sure, but there is always a leap of faith and subjectivity involved when accepting any scientific hypothesis or theory as “most likely true.” Read Thomas Kuhn. Science is dependent upon the subjective interpretations of those using various scientific methodologies. Science is also affected by the backgrounds and biases of those involved. And, one can disagree with the conclusions of the majority based on one’s own personal background, experiences, and evaluation of the data without ever convincing another soul – and still be right.

I’ve given you several illustrations of this, but you constantly argue that these are “exceptions” to the rule. Well, my friend, such “exceptions” are important because they actually say something about what science is and isn’t – about what it is capable of achieving outside of majority opinion. That it can in fact be done, just fine, on the individual level.

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.

The sample size in support of the 1000 specifically arranged amino acid limit to evolutionary progress is enormous – to include all evolutionary experiments to date. There is no recorded example of evolutionary mechanisms producing anything close to this level of functional complexity – not a single example in untold millions of observations. That’s pretty good evidence in and of itself – not to mention the statistical impossibility if you sit down and actually do the math.

You yourself have admitted that you have no idea how the evolutionary mechanism works at various levels of functional complexity. You base everything on blind leaps of faith in the bold claims of scientists who also have no idea how the mechanism could do what they claim it did.

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.

I don’t discount expertise unless that expertise starts saying and/or doing things that don’t make any sense. If a bunch of experts told you that there was absolutely no hope for your son dying of some rare genetic disease, would that do it for you? Or, would you try to find a solution for yourself despite that the experts were telling you? There are numerous examples of individuals challenging the “expert” opinion of the day and being right – despite being ridiculed at first (or even dying without the recognition that they were actually right).

Experts aren’t always right. Remember that. It is possible for the individual to know more than the experts on occasion – and for very good reasons.

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.

There is nothing in any scientific methodology, outside of personal philosophy, that says that real science must be limited to proposing only mindless naturalistic hypotheses to explain various phenomena in nature. That’s nonsense. Science is fully able to discover the signature of intelligent design behind various artifacts – to include very very high levels of intelligent design reaching the level of a God or God-like Design. I’ve given you many examples of this already…

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.”

I have no problem with these definitions as they can be, and ultimately must be, fulfilled by the individual. No one else can do your science for you. The only rational reason to accept the conclusions of a majority of experts is that experts are usually right. That, in itself, is a scientific conclusion from the individual perspective with testable predictive value. However, it is not true that the experts are always right or that a single individual cannot discover how the experts are wrong from time to time – even if no one else agrees.

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.

Not that it really matters, but in this case I am not remotely alone in my thinking that various features of the universe can best be explained by intelligent design on a God or God-like level of intelligence – a form of intelligence that cannot be detected, from our human perspective, as being less than God-like. The majority of physics, for example, believe that the anthropic features of the universe strongly suggest an origin in God-like intelligent design. Such is simply not beyond the realm of rational scientific detectability.

Sean Pitman

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Are mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19 helpful or harmful?
I know that various European countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain, have reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in mink pelt farms – leading to the culling of more than a million animals. From laboratory experiments, it’s also clear that ferrets (a relative of the mink) are also readily infected with the “novel coronavirus”. Aside from this, however, I’m not aware of any “issues” with animal experiments regarding COVID-19 in particular. However, in 2008 there was an interesting experiment involving ferrets that were given the flu vaccine against the H1N1 virus – who then became sicker once exposed to the live virus as compared to those ferrets that weren’t vaccinated. The reason for the effect was unclear, and Skowronski, the lead author, urged other research groups to take up the question.

“Skowronski likened the mechanism to what happens with dengue viruses. People who have been infected with one subtype of dengue don’t develop immunity to the other three. In fact, they are more at risk of developing a life-threatening form of dengue if they are infected with one of the other strains.”

Skowronski called the second theory the infection block hypothesis. Having a bout of the flu gives the infected person antibodies that may be able, for a time, to fend off other strains; flu shots only protect against the strains they contain. So under this theory, people who didn’t have flu in 2008 because they got a flu shot may have been less well armed against the pandemic virus.”

While interesting, such an effect has not been identified in the animal or human trials for the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Also, subsequently updated flu vaccines to the H1N1 strain haven’t had this problem either (Link).

“For such a time as this”
Again, while a good diet and great health are important, this just isn’t enough to effectively prevent disease during a viral pandemic. As I’ve already explained, this is why Ellen White took the smallpox vaccine herself and advised the others who were with her to do the same. Such vaccines are, in fact, part of the most effective ways of “keeping well” rather than “curing disease” after the fact…

Are mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19 helpful or harmful?
Regarding the recent situation where 23 nursing home patients died in Norway following vaccination the mRNA vaccines of Pfizer and/or Moderna (given to 30,000 people so far), these patients were all over the age of 80, were very frail. It is also somewhat difficult to determine a link in this particular population between the vaccine and any other potential cause of death – since around 400 nursing home patients die in Norway every week. However, at this point, it is not ruled out that adverse reactions occurring within the first days following vaccination (such as fever and nausea) may contribute to a more serious course and fatal outcome in patients with severe underlying disease and general frailty.

Steinar Madsen, medical director with the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said: “We are not alarmed by this. It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients.” (Link)

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said concluded that “for very frail patients and terminally ill patients, a careful balance of benefit versus disadvantage of vaccination is recommended.” (Link)

Consider this also in the light that more than 30% of nursing home residents are likely to die if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs. So, weighing the risks and benefits of taking the vaccine vs. being exposed to a potential COVID-19 outbreak seems to weigh heavily in favor of taking the vaccine – with the exception, perhaps, of those who are already very frail.

“For such a time as this”
It’s a serious mistake to compare the advances of modern medicine to the prophecies of Ellen White regarding the activity of Satan during the Last Days – where Satan appears as a powerful angel of light, even taking on the form, appearance, and attitude of Christ (making fire come down from the sky and healing the sick and speaking words of grace and comfort in order to deceive the world). Are you really suggesting that the modern mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 are actually part of these final “benevolent” works of Satan? How is this anything but extremist nonsense? – a rejection of a gift of God to help humanity by claiming that it is actually the work of Satan himself? This sort of thing reminds me of this passage in Matthew:

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” (Matthew 12:24)

You do realize, after all, that Ellen White took the smallpox vaccine herself during an outbreak? as did her son William White? and that she recommended that all of the others who were with her at the time take the vaccine as well? (Link) Contrary to some claims that I’ve heard regarding her actions here, it wasn’t that the vaccines in her day were less risky or more “pure” than they are today. They were actually riskier compared to modern vaccines, but still far far less risky compared to getting the actual infection itself. That’s why she took the vaccine. She also recommended that missionaries in areas infested with malaria take quinine – that we should, “do the best we can” in such situations (Link). When medications are beneficial and are appropriate, they may be used. When surgery is called for, it should be performed. In 1905 Ellen White wrote:

“Those who seek healing by prayer should not neglect to make use of the remedial agencies within their reach. It is not a denial of faith to use such remedies as God has provided to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work of restoration…. God has put it in our power to obtain a knowledge of the laws of life. This knowledge has been placed within our reach for use. We should employ every facility for the restoration of health, taking every advantage possible, working in harmony with natural laws… It is our privilege to use every God-appointed means in correspondence with our faith, and then trust in God,… If there is need of a surgical operation, and the physician is willing to undertake the case, it is not a denial of faith to have the operation performed… Before major surgery, the entire body is saturated with a powerful and, in a sense, harmful drug [the anesthetic], to the point of complete unconsciousness and to complete insensibility. By the same token, after surgical procedures, the physician may find it necessary to administer medications that almost certainly include drugs to give relief and prevent the patient from lapsing, from sheer pain, into a state of surgical shock and, in some instances, possible death.” (Link)

Ellen White also recognized that blood transfusions could save lives. She herself had radiation therapy — X-ray treatments at Loma Linda for a skin problem. In short, she was not opposed to reasonable advances of modern medicine, accepting them as gifts of God, not sinister plots of Satan. We should remember her example in this regard and no turn away from the gifts of God that He has granted us through the advances of modern medicine.

Are mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19 helpful or harmful?

As promised, I took a look at Sangers Sequencing and I found a 43 page PDF from the FDA who is complicit in the scam–it’s simply the entirety of the PCR test they all are using…

You don’t know the first thing about PCR or genetic sequencing. Did you even watch the video about Sanger Sequencing that I recommended?

Why would I need to study science for years to be able to break down all of these 43 pages of information, and critically analyze it?

Because, you don’t know the first thing about these scientific tests, not even the basics. Yet you feel yourself free to make claims about them that are absolutely false. You even claim that you’re guided by the Holy Spirit when you make these false claims – which is a very dangerous thing to do. You’re treading on holy ground with your presumptuous claims.

John_16:13 However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit gives you knowledge about things that you are unwilling to seriously study or investigate or that He will guide you when you are unwilling and too arrogant to change when errors are revealed to you. You’re simply wrong with your understanding of PCR and how it is used. You don’t understand the first thing about genetic sequencing, and you’re even wrong about Mrs. White and her own use and recommendation of vaccines for others. Almost nothing you’ve said is true. Yet, you claim to be guided directly by God in this nonsense of yours? Please…

There’s simply no point in discussing these things further with you. It’s just no longer useful to me.