GC Votes to Revise SDA Fundamental #6 on Creation

By Educate Truth Staff:

June 30 2010, during GC session general vice president Gerry D. Karst introduced the following motion to the floor:

Part A, I move that the [59th] session of the General Conference endorse the 2004 Annual Council statement, reaffirmation of creation. Part B, further, that the General Conference administration be requested to initiate a process to integrate Fundamental Belief Number 6 and the statement ‘A [Response to An Affirmation] of Creation’ as provided for in the 2005 General Conference Session protocol for amending a Fundamental Belief.

Both motions passed despite being split at the suggestion of Southern Adventist University president, Gordon Bietz.

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An article by Keith Lockhart, published by Spectrum, is quite interesting concerning more details of this vote.  Here are a few excerpts from his article:

[New GC President Ted] Wilson appealed to delegates to allow the General Conference to initiate a process to integrate the 2004 affirmation with the church’s current fundamental belief no. 6. This states that in “six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth and all living things upon the earth and rested on the seventh day.” But the leadership now thinks it is too ambiguous on biblical origins.  The president said: “It is absolutely critical that we accept Scripture as it reads. Personally, and I know in the Seventh-day Adventist Church we believe, that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not allegorical, not symbolic in some abstract way, but they represent an authentic, a true literal explanation of how God created this earth and also those events following creation, including a global flood of massive proportions.”

Holding up a Bible he added: “We are facing a critical time. The devil is trying his best to undermine the very foundations of our beliefs that are derived from this Word.”…

Southern Adventist University president Gordon Bietz urged that the vote be split into two sections. The first would be a vote on the reaffirmation of the affirmation of creation, and the second, which he opposed, would be opening up the doctrine for a rewrite.

 

Ben Clausen of the Geoscience Research Institute said that Ted Wilson’s statement put science teachers in Adventist schools in an untenable position. Quoting from the statement, Dr. Clausen said that “it is impossible,” to teach students “scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation.”

He added: “There are no available models.”…

With very little time set aside for debate and only a few delegates publicly opposing any modification of the church’s current statement on creation, the proposals easily cleared the floor…

As a participant in the International Faith and Science Conferences in Colorado in 2002-2004, Larry Geraty, president emeritus of La Sierra University… was responsible for drafting the original fundamental belief 6 when he taught at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary thirty years ago. He adds:

I fear that the proposal will result in a more literalistic interpretation that will serve to exclude members who love the church, believe in the authority of the Bible, but interpret it in harmony with accepted standards of interpretation for God’s revelation in both nature and Scripture.

(read the full article)

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277 thoughts on “GC Votes to Revise SDA Fundamental #6 on Creation

  1. Hello Shane

    Thank you for your comprehensive reply.

    Regarding analogies did not Christ use parables to teach? Speaking of apples and oranges, does the teaching of evolution really equate to theft from an employer? Does not LSU have the legal ability to fire their biology teachers if they stole from it? Are the employees those of the SDA Church or La Sierra?

    I do agree, however that the funders of La Sierra have the right not to endow the university and students have the freedom not to go if they do not value what is being taught. It will be interesting to see if the enrollment drops next year in light of the debate.

    Also I want to say, apart from the detractors of your site, that it is doing a great service to debate the serious issues. You are showing great leadership to let all, pro and con, have a voice.

    Congratulations and please keep up the good work.

    Best regards
    Ken

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  2. What is wrong with my definition of “micro” vs. “macro”? – with a dividing line at gene pools with qualitatively unique systems that require a minimum of at least 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues? What do you not understand about this concept?

    Here is something else I do not understand. You wrote this at Spectrummagazine.com:

    It isn’t a change of 1000aa, it is any change, even a single amino acid change in any pre-existing sequence, that ends up hitting upon a new 1000aa system that has an attached function which itself requires at least 1000 fsaars to work.

    Are you saying that a single amino acid change in a pre-existing sequence could lead to macroevolution? And that this single amino acid change would require “trillions upon trillions” of years to occur?

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  3. @Ken: Thank you for your quick response.

    Regarding analogies did not Christ use parables to teach? Speaking of apples and oranges, does the teaching of evolution really equate to theft from an employer? Does not LSU have the legal ability to fire their biology teachers if they stole from it? Are the employees those of the SDA Church or La Sierra?

    Yes, Christ did teach in parables, but I think that is irrelevant to making apples to oranges analogies. No, the teaching of evolution does not equate to theft. Promoting the theory of evolution as the truth at a Seventh-day Adventist University is misrepresentation. In one sense though the professors who are receiving a pay check are robbing those who are paying for a Seventh-day Adventist education. Of course LSU has the right to fire its biology professors. The professors are employees of the university which is owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ultimately, the SDA church is their employer.

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  4. @Sean Pitman:

    Regarding transitions, the key statement in your reply is this: “The actual series of transitions is not needed before the problem can be known to be insurmountable”. Let’s be clear. You acknowledge that you are not in a position to exhaustively enumerate the possible transitions between bacterial species, and thereby demonstrate that there is no path through which natural selection could travel with reasonable probability. Nevertheless, you claim to know that there exists no such path. That is, it’s not just that you believe there exists no such path, or have some evidence that there exists no such path; rather you claim to know that there exists no such path. Well, as I said before, I invite you to submit your reasons to a peer reviewed scientific journal, and if you do I would very much like to see the reports of the referees.

    Regarding design rationale, you wave your hands at design reasons and aesthetic reasons. But I want you to provide a specific hypothesis that you think is credible. Why would the designer have made the flagellar system so that it looks for all the world like it was assembled piece by piece in evolutionary sequence? Did they want to fool us?

    PS. Just curious. Have you really read the Rudwick book?

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  5. You seem very clearly to be saying that because the church contains one–indeed, many–types of sinners, that therefore we can’t discipline anyone or we will all be thrown out. Surely you recognize the peril in such reasoning. Using this logic, we could argue for the retention of pedophiles, wife beaters, and members of the Ku Klux Klan in the church. After all, we’re all sinners, so if one sin excludes a person from the fellowship of faith, what about all the other sins that remain unrebuked?

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I am not saying that at all. I am merely pointing out that one can readily use inspiration to argue virtually any point one wishes and establish virtually any criterion one desires as a test of fellowship. Gluttony is a good example. Should Seventh-day Gluttons be excluded from church leadership? Ellen White makes abundantly clear they are not Christians, so the answer seems to be an unequivocal “yes.”

    There is a big difference between dealing with one who by voice or pen espouses error of belief, such as theistic evolution, and one who indulges a sin such as overeating. In the latter case, God alone is often the determiner of when and how one has indulged in this regard. This is not to diminish the egregious nature of the sin of gluttony, which as you say Ellen White is very clear about. But the fact remains that regarding certain sins, only God can determine when wrong has been committed because only He knows when innocent pleasure gives way to harmful indulgence. That is a far, far cry from one who teaches false doctrine, which can be determined simply by comparing a person’s statements to the written counsel of God.

    I am sorry, but opening one’s mouth and inserting food in it is no less deliberate than opening one’s mouth and asking questions that challenge our understanding of origins. I haven’t met a Seventh-day Glutton who became overweight by “accident”. The interesting thing is that one can often look at an individual and know with 100% certainty they are a glutton, whereas one cannot know with 100% certainty that another’s interpretation of the Bible is incorrect. The Bible simply does not say the “days” are literal 24-hour periods. You and I happen to believe the support is there, but apart from Ellen White’s statements which you folks have canonized, one cannot know this with certainty. Further, you have failed to show support from inspiration of the claim that theistic evolutionists are less qualified for leadership than gluttons. Where does scripture or Ellen White state that a theistic evolutionist is a non-Christian, which a Seventh-day Glutton unmistakably is. You are being highly selective in declaring what one can determine from human judgement versus what one must allow God to judge.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t believe there is inspired support for Christian intolerance of theistic evolutionists, homosexuals, and other sinners and complete tolerance of gluttons.

    I propose the Church Manual be revised immediately to include a body mass index criterion for employment. Those who cross the threshold of obesity must resign their jobs. To do anything differently undermines the authority of Ellen White. Seventh-day Gluttons are not Christians, much less Adventists.

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  6. Re Sean’s quote

    “P.S. I do consider myself to be far far less graceful and even ethical compared to many agnostics and atheists that I personally know or know of. The only sense that I think of myself as being more blessed is in the sense that I have a conscious hope in a bright future, as undeserving as I am, whereas they do/did not (though they may be saved anyway and be very surprised to find themselves in the reality of heaven someday). It is, therefore, my goal to share this conscious hope with everyone who does not yet have it because I think it makes life much more tolerable and bearable here and now… Sean Pitman(Quote)”

    Dear Sean

    Your sentiments are laudable. But please understand that many others, not necessarily of your mind set, not only think life is tolerable or bearable, but truly wonderful. Part of that feeling for me is because of the integrity of science not coloured by faith or non-faith. And just because one does not support six day literal creation and sees evolution as a marvelous mechanism, does not negate creation. It just means there is likely more than meets the eye to the nature of origins and the force behind it.

    Do I believe in theistic evolution? Honestly I do not know but I certainly want to explore its possibilities just as I wish to explore whether there is evidence to support six day literal creation. What I can’t understand is why such honest inquiry could ever conceivably be considered a sin unless someone is trying to inculcate me into one way of thinking. Does this make any sense to you?

    Regards
    Ken

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  7. In terms of answering your questions. I can only suggest the scientific approach. I have previously suggested that if you want to provide compelling scientific evidence or test your hypothesis on a recent creation or some aspect of the extraordinary genetics of the original inhabitants of the ark you should propose a model and be prepared to test it. Ted Wilson I am sure would be only too happy to sack someone like Ben Clausen and repurpose some money to pursue this evidence. But did you propose a model to which you would commit and perform the necessary experiments? No you simply return to the SOP of creationists.

    Pauluc, I thought your proposed approach was brilliant and I too have been eager to see Sean Pitman address it. Since our faith must be based on evidence (which no church other than Adventism can claim, according to Pitman) because anything else is as phony as the tooth fairy or flying spaghetti monster, surely he has no fear of testing your model. The question I have is what to do if the model is wrong? Do we alter our beliefs to conform with the result of science, or do we reject the science and concede that we may not, after all, have correct understanding regarding things that God chose not to make known?

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  8. @Geanna Dane:

    Here is something else I do not understand. You wrote this at Spectrummagazine.com:

    It isn’t a change of 1000aa, it is any change, even a single amino acid change in any pre-existing sequence, that ends up hitting upon a new 1000aa system that has an attached function which itself requires at least 1000 fsaars to work. – Sean Pitman

    Are you saying that a single amino acid change in a pre-existing sequence could lead to macroevolution? And that this single amino acid change would require “trillions upon trillions” of years to occur?

    Yes, it is possible that a single amino acid change could produce a “macro” evolutionary change since a single amino acid change could produce a qualitatively novel functional system that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues to work. It is just very very unlikely that such a thing would happen this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time.

    For example, lets just say that a 1000aa system already existed within the gene pool doing one particular type of function. Now, let’s say that a single point mutation happens to come along and change the system so that it gains the ability to do a completely different type of function. Let’s also say that this qualitatively unique function just so happened to require, at minimum, 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues. Such a scenario would indeed qualify as “macroevolution” in my book.

    The problem is, of course, that such an observation has never been made and is, statistically, very unlikely to be made this side of a practical eternity of time (outside of deliberate design that is).

    Such events have been assumed by mainstream scientists based on phylogenetic similarities, but have never been observed in real time. Lower level evolution has been commonly observed at levels below 300-400 fsaars, but not even close to the 1000 fsaar level of functional complexity. The reason for this stalling out effect of observable evolution in action is due to the exponential decline in the ratio of beneficial vs. non-beneficial sequences in sequence space at higher and higher levels of functional complexity…

    You also misquote me in your discussion of the evolution of fangs and venom. I never said that teeth or heat-sensing pits required less than 1000 fsaar at minimum. They require more. However, getting bigger or sharper teeth is not a qualitative change, but a quantitative informational change. It is like modifying an enzyme, like lactase, so that it has greater activity. Such a modification is a quantitative change, not a qualitative change – as in going from a lactase enzyme to a nylonase enzyme.

    Quantitative modifications are relatively easy to achieve via the mechanism of RM/NS in very short order. The same is not true of qualitatively unique functional changes and the difficulty increases exponentially with each step up the ladder of functional complexity.

    If you actually viewed the lecture video I gave on the origin of carnivores and parasites you would note that such highly complex structures were based on front-loaded information. The qualitative informational complexity needed to produce these structures was already there, pre-loaded, in the original gene pool of options.

    The sticking point that I noted in Spectrum, AToday, and here in this forum was over the origin of venom. Venom isn’t very functionally complex – not nearly as functionally complex as heat-sensing pits. The enzymatic activity needed for venom production is based on enzymes that require no more than a few hundred averagely specified amino acids at minimum. Such enzymatic activities evolve all the time in real time because, statistically, this level of evolutionary progress is very likely to be achieved in short order due to the relatively high ratio of potentially beneficial vs. non-beneficial sequences in sequence space at such low levels of functional complexity.

    So, in the future, please try not to confuse the relatively simplistic venom of snakes with the far greater structural complexity of heat-sensing pits etc.

    Regarding the mainstream notion that the far more complex heat-sensing pits evolved in snakes after venom evolved, such notions are not based on a statistical understanding of the functional changes that would have to be realized over time. They are based on the mere assumption that RM/NS would be able to do the job since their interpretation of phylogenetic data cannot, in their mind, be interpreted in any other way besides common evolutionary descent over time.

    No one even considers the idea that perhaps original intelligent design had to have been involved with not only the high-level functional system, but with the phylogenetic patterns as well…

    Remember also that God is not the only creative intelligence in this universe that had the potential to manipulate gene pools on this planet…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  9. @Sean Pitman:

    However, this conscious Christian hope is only worthwhile when it is based on solid empirical evidence. Without the reality of this evidence, there really is no basis for the conscious Christian hope over the non-hope of the atheist – besides a hefty dose of wishful thinking I suppose.

    What ‘solid empirical evidence’ are you talking about my friend? I thought faith was the evidence of things ‘not seen'(not tangible, material, empirical). How is ‘our conscious hope in a bright future’ based on ’empirical evidence?’

    The apostles may have been ‘eye-witnesses of His majesty’ when He was glorified on the mount of transfiguration. They may have handled His resurrected body. Paul may have seen Him on the Damnascus road. They may of had the same empirical privilege as doubting Thomas did – yet the lions-share of Christians since the apostles must take God’s Word for the reality of the resurrection – without empirical evidence. ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.’ On what basis did the early Christians believe? Do you or I have ’empirical evidence’ that the resurrection took place? Did they? We may have circumstantial evidence, but not empirical. The prima facie evidence for the Christian is the Word of God. Other forms of evidence are only corroborating.

    The final test will involve a host of Satanic miraculous ’empirical evidences’ presenting themselves in direct contradiction to the raw Word of God. Eve in the garden was presented with empirical evidence contrary to God’s Word. The serpent ate of the tree of knowledge without dieing and also spoke intelligently – both signal empirical proofs that the fruit would not kill you and it would also make you wise.

    The inordinate emphasis on empirical evidence is the reason that we have theistic evolutionists who have lost faith in the prima facie Word of God.

    Adventists are in the strictest sense of the term ‘Biblical Creationists’; not ‘Scientific Creationists.’ This means that our ‘a priori’ interpretation of reality is taken from Scripture, not from a scientific examination of ’empirical evidence.’ This does not mean that we are not also vigorously engaged in scientific endeavor to help corroborate the prima facie evidence. What it means is this. If a seeming contradiction arises between Science and Scripture – we place our faith in the Bible, not ’empirical science.’

    P.S. I do consider myself to be far far less graceful and even ethical compared to many agnostics and atheists that I personally know or know of. The only sense that I think of myself as being more blessed is in the sense that I have a conscious hope in a bright future, as undeserving as I am, whereas they do/did not (though they may be saved anyway and be very surprised to find themselves in the reality of heaven someday). It is, therefore, my goal to share this conscious hope with everyone who does not yet have it because I think it makes life much more tolerable and bearable here and now…

    Few atheists will be in heaven since:
    ‘…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Heb. 11:6

    Hence the importance of our sharing the gospel with atheists so they might accept and be saved – not just so they may have a more tolerable life here.

    Also:
    ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’- Jn 3:3

    The new birth should make a man more graceful and ethical – but it must also give them a new heart. The well-springs of our behavior must be cleansed and purified. The text doesn’t say you must be outwardly graceful and ethical to enter the kingdom. It says that you must be ‘born from above.’ Few atheists will experience the inner spiritual transformation that Jesus says is necessary to enter the kingdom. There will be few ‘born-again atheists’ in heaven.

    Victor

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  10. @Victor Marshall:

    What ‘solid empirical evidence’ are you talking about my friend? I thought faith was the evidence of things ‘not seen’(not tangible, material, empirical). How is ‘our conscious hope in a bright future’ based on ‘empirical evidence?’

    Without empirical evidence, what, besides wishful thinking, do you have left? How do you know that the Bible is really the Word of God, while other religious texts, like the Book of Mormon, is not? How do you tell the difference? My LDS friends tell me that God gives them a warm feeling deep within themselves when they see or hear the truth. That is how they know that the Book of Mormon is from God. For me, I don’t find this approach very helpful when it comes to establishing a solid hope or confidence in the Bible as God’s word.

    The apostles may have been ‘eye-witnesses of His majesty’ when He was glorified on the mount of transfiguration. They may have handled His resurrected body. Paul may have seen Him on the Damnascus road. They may of had the same empirical privilege as doubting Thomas did – yet the lions-share of Christians since the apostles must take God’s Word for the reality of the resurrection – without empirical evidence.

    Not true. There is a great deal of empirical evidence that has been available to support the reliability of the Bible throughout history – especially today. The argument that there is simply no empirical support for biblical authority and Divine origin simply isn’t true. There are many lines of support to include historical validation of many biblical statements, historical support for dramatic biblical prophecy fulfillment, geologic and fossil record support for the Genesis account of origins, etc…

    ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.’ On what basis did the early Christians believe? Do you or I have ‘empirical evidence’ that the resurrection took place? Did they? We may have circumstantial evidence, but not empirical. The prima facie evidence for the Christian is the Word of God. Other forms of evidence are only corroborating.

    Faith is based on the weight of evidence, not demonstration. Did the faith of Jesus’ disciples increase or decrease after they saw Him resurrected from the grave?

    In this line, consider the following statement from Mrs. White in this regard:

    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.

    Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p 105
    http://whiteestate.org/books/sc/sc12.html

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  11. So, in the future, please try not to confuse the relatively simplistic venom of snakes with the far greater structural complexity of heat-sensing pits etc.

    I have’nt (more typical misplaced advice). That’s why you’ve got a problem showing empirically that the heat-sensing pits of rattlesnakes, boas, and pythons pre-existed. All the empirical data says otherwise unless, as you conceded, supernatural intervention became involved. But now you are appealing to faith, not evidence. So in the future, please try not to confuse empirical evidence with supernatural tinkering.

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  12. Dear Kevin,Sean and Shane

    Should Ben Clausen be cleansed from the ranks for the statements he made at the GC regarding no working short creation model?

    Is he in any better position than the biology professors at LSU?

    Regards
    Ken

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  13. Sean, there was an informative discussion at another thread which illustrates your profound disrespect for conventional science and your arrogant preference for your own definitions.

    Here is a pathetically informed view on species from Michael Prewitt:

    I believe all 500 subspecies/species of plethodontids are in fact one in the same “kind” (in the biblical sense), which should rationally be grouped together under the same species designation, with the variations described as races or breeds or variations or some other term that does not equate their differences with the differences between totally unrelated species. As to flycatchers and such, I direct your attention to the various breeds of dogs and cats. They sport all kinds of differences — in size, shape, color, hair length and texture, build, and many other things. Yet they are all of one genetic stock; though once considered a separate species, all dogs have been reclassified as subspecies of the gray wolf. I read recently that until some years/decades ago, it was thought that the various kinds of dogs (wolf, coyote, etc.) were separated by unique chromosomes. However, recently it was found that they all had exactly the same chromosomes, only the grouping of the chromosomes was different.

    To say animals are different species simply because they look distinctly different, and even because they mate independently or even because they can no longer produce offspring together, is poor science in my estimation.

    To which you added your remarkable response:

    @Michael Prewitt:
    I agree with this general line of reasoning…
    Sean Pitman

    The reasoning reflects total and complete ignorance on how any practicing scientist views a species and how they are delineated. In many parts of North America, many species of Plethodontid salamanders and tyranid flycatchers coexist within the same range (that is they are sympatric or even syntopic) but do not interbreed. There is absolutely NO PARALLEL whatsoever with dogs, different “breeds” or “races” of which interbreed quite freely. To use this absurd Prewitt-Pitman Logic, one could reasonably conclude that humans, chimps, orangutans, and babboons are all one and the same species.

    This bizarre logic does completely away with any science whatsoever. What then constitutes a species? Prewitt offers absolutely nothing for an alternative definition or any scientific approach to apply a definition. But Pitman, on the other hand, appeared to offer his own unique one-of-a-kind definition (see next post).

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  14. Sean belittled the basic criteria scientists use to delineate species (including reciprocal monophyly, reciprocal diagnosability, and comparison genetic distance) and argued for his own definition: species should differ from one another in terms of a functional qualitative difference. Otherwise, they are a part of the same functional gene pool. This cannot suffice for a species criterion for numerous reasons, including the following:

    1) Within any gene pool–say that of the Baltimore Oriole (a very pretty bird)–there would then be a minimum of two distinct species, one comprised entirely of males and the other comprised entirely of females. These two species would differ both genetically and functionally for obvious reasons.

    2) Within many gene pools polymorphisms abound. Animals with caste systems illustrate this well. If we look at a single beehive, we simply cannot classify the queen, brooders, foragers and soldiers all as separate species. That would be silly.

    Because scientists equate “macroevolution” with levels of change resulting in new species, genera, families, and higher-order changes, speciation as a process and species delineation become important for us to understand. To claim that macroevlution (change exceeding the 1000 fsaar level, according to Pitman) is impossible, as Sean established with his definition, creates a false disagreement with systematists who study the speciation process. The two camps (Pitman versus real scientists) are arguing apples and oranges.

    If one cannot agree to use the same terms, whether they are for “speciation”, “macroevolution” (which includes speciation in the minds of essentially all scientists), or “species,” there is no common ground for discussion. One might as well create a new language and use it to negotiate a trade agreement with Iran. Good luck!

    Perhaps I am wrong, Sean. Perhaps you agree with the conventional methods used to delineate species and just couldn’t bring yourself to admit it. If you insist that you know of a better definition for a “species” and their proper delineation inquiring minds would like to know. Hint: perhaps Bob Ryan can help you in this regard.

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  15. Sean,

    You mentioned that you would be lecturing at a Northern California university in your town which only had Biology professors teaching from an evolutionary perspective. I’m only aware of one university in Redding, CA which is the town where you practice medicine. Could you mention the name of the university where you will be lecturing and who sponsors them? How would you characterize them in the world of faith based institutions?

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  16. @Sean Pitman:

    We may just be arguing apples and apples. I am certainly not advocating ‘blind faith’ as you have had cause to address frequently on this sight. I am arguing against an over-dependence on extra-biblical evidence for our faith walk.

    How do you know that the Bible is really the Word of God, while other religious texts, like the Book of Mormon, is not? How do you tell the difference? My LDS friends tell me that God gives them a warm feeling deep within themselves when they see or hear the truth. That is how they know that the Book of Mormon is from God. For me, I don’t find this approach very helpful when it comes to establishing a solid hope or confidence in the Bible as God’s word.

    I actually had the opportunity to study many of the world’s so-called sacred texts before accepting the Bible as the true one. The Bible’s internal testimony coupled with the convicting witness of the Holy Spirit is what finally tipped the scales for me. Yes, I did do a bit of reading about historical and archeological and logical reasons why this testimony was credible – but it was the testimony of the Bible itself (coupled with the personal witness and testimony of Christians and the witness of the Holy Spirit) that helped me experience a saving faith. Most people are not as analytical as you or I. Most read the Bible and are convicted that it is true – without undertaking an extensive research project into the scientific reasons that may be so. Poor uneducated people in the third world experience a more vital faith than you or I, without such in-depth confirmatory knowledge. Doug Batchelor did not have a computer and a library full of data to assist him in that cave outside of Palm Springs – only the Bible! Most people who are converted to Christ testify that it was through influence of friends who witnessed to them about their relationship with Christ (a very subjective thing scientifically) – not through a rigorous scientific examination of the empirical data.

    Once again, most people have no empirical evidence that the resurrection took place – they have only the testimony of those who witnessed that it took place. Yes, there are logical inferences that confirm that it must have taken place. But when you say empirical I’m assuming you are saying something that can be observed in present time reality and scientifically tested.

    “Empirical evidence is a fancy way of describing facts that can be experienced and tested only through the senses.”
    Faith has to do with learning to trust our spiritual senses above our physical ones. How else would you explain the numerous persons who testify that they were ‘deeply impressed’ to take a certain path when all the empirical data seemed to say otherwise – later to find out that their life depended on this ‘spiritual sense’ choice! Of course I’m not arguing for pentecostalism here, but you get the idea.

    Did the faith of Jesus’ disciples increase or decrease after they saw Him resurrected from the grave?

    Of course it was strengthened. Christ said however that it was a more blessed experience to believe without such empirical experience. What was He saying? I think He was saying that it is more blessed to take God at His Word than to demand or depend upon empirical evidence. The story of Gideon is a powerful testimony to this principle.

    Victor

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  17. @Geanna Dane:

    The reasoning reflects total and complete ignorance on how any practicing scientist views a species and how they are delineated.

    I am well aware of how mainstream scientists view and define “species”. I just don’t agree that the mainstream definition is at all helpful in this discussion since the mainstream definition is not based on functional differences.

    In many parts of North America, many species of Plethodontid salamanders and tyranid flycatchers coexist within the same range (that is they are sympatric or even syntopic) but do not interbreed. There is absolutely NO PARALLEL whatsoever with dogs, different “breeds” or “races” of which interbreed quite freely. To use this absurd Prewitt-Pitman Logic, one could reasonably conclude that humans, chimps, orangutans, and babboons are all one and the same species.

    Oh really? Since when have you seen chihuahuas and Great Danes interbreeding?

    You see, there are many reasons why groups of animals from the same functional gene pool might not readily interbreed even though they technically could if they would…

    And, by the way, humans cannot produce viable offspring with other primates – even if they wanted to. The gene pools are functionally different in many important ways at high levels of functional complexity (mostly due to the high level information in non-coding DNA). This is why there are no human-ape hybrids…

    This bizarre logic does completely away with any science whatsoever. What then constitutes a species? Prewitt offers absolutely nothing for an alternative definition or any scientific approach to apply a definition. But Pitman, on the other hand, appeared to offer his own unique one-of-a-kind definition (see next post).

    Yes, a functional definition…

    Sean belittled the basic criteria scientists use to delineate species (including reciprocal monophyly, reciprocal diagnosability, and comparison genetic distance) and argued for his own definition: species should differ from one another in terms of a functional qualitative difference. Otherwise, they are a part of the same functional gene pool. This cannot suffice for a species criterion for numerous reasons, including the following:

    1) Within any gene pool–say that of the Baltimore Oriole (a very pretty bird)–there would then be a minimum of two distinct species, one comprised entirely of males and the other comprised entirely of females. These two species would differ both genetically and functionally for obvious reasons.

    Very funny, but you can’t be serious ; )

    While some have argued, tounge-in-cheek, that males and females of the same breeding group are “different species”, the fact remains that males and females are clearly part of the same gene pool in every respect except for the Y-chromosome. If you want to make a big deal out of the Y-chromosome you’re really reaching…

    2) Within many gene pools polymorphisms abound. Animals with caste systems illustrate this well. If we look at a single beehive, we simply cannot classify the queen, brooders, foragers and soldiers all as separate species. That would be silly.

    The same gene pool is responsible for these polymorphisms within a breeding group where different aspects of the genome are turned on or off. This doesn’t change the fact that the same gene pool of functional options produced them all…


    Because scientists equate “macroevolution” with levels of change resulting in new species, genera, families, and higher-order changes, speciation as a process and species delineation become important for us to understand. To claim that macroevlution (change exceeding the 1000 fsaar level, according to Pitman) is impossible, as Sean established with his definition, creates a false disagreement with systematists who study the speciation process. The two camps (Pitman versus real scientists) are arguing apples and oranges.

    The disagreement between mainstream scientists and creationists/IDists is over the claim of mainstream science that the mechanism of RM/NS can produce very high levels of qualitativley novel functional information within just a few billion years. It isn’t over the notion that neutral evolution can happen very rapidly. We all beleive that non-functional changes, or functional changes that are not qualitatively unique, can and do occur very very rapidly.

    So, it is you and mainstream scientists who are trying to argue for a definition that is irrelevant to this particular debate.

    If one cannot agree to use the same terms, whether they are for “speciation”, “macroevolution” (which includes speciation in the minds of essentially all scientists), or “species,” there is no common ground for discussion. One might as well create a new language and use it to negotiate a trade agreement with Iran. Good luck!

    The functional concept is not a new langauge Geanna. Everyone knows that I’m talking about when I talk about qualitative functional differences. And, macro differences on the functional level (beyond 1000 fsaars) would also include all mainstream definitions of “species” as well.

    I have’nt (more typical misplaced advice). That’s why you’ve got a problem showing empirically that the heat-sensing pits of rattlesnakes, boas, and pythons pre-existed. All the empirical data says otherwise unless, as you conceded, supernatural intervention became involved. But now you are appealing to faith, not evidence. So in the future, please try not to confuse empirical evidence with supernatural tinkering.

    All the “empirical” data which you are talking about are based on phylogenetic sequence comparisons for the evaluation of the relative timing of events – comparisons which are notoriously subjective and unreliable and which assume common descent a priori.

    Beyond this, the hypothesis of intelligent intervention behind such high-level systems would not be based on blind faith, but on the empirical evidence that no non-deliberate process of nature is remotely likely to be able to produce such high levels of functional complexity this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time (and yet is within the known powers of deliberate design).

    That is very good evidence for design – not blind faith.

    Perhaps I am wrong, Sean. Perhaps you agree with the conventional methods used to delineate species and just couldn’t bring yourself to admit it. If you insist that you know of a better definition for a “species” and their proper delineation inquiring minds would like to know. Hint: perhaps Bob Ryan can help you in this regard.

    What do you not yet understand about a functional definition of “species” or unique “kind” of gene pool?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  18. @Sean Pitman:
    Sorry,
    The empirical data at the top of my last post contradicts the data at the bottom. You will have to accept my testimony that it is actually I, Victor who wrote the last post (not my wife). Of course you could also deduce this from the internal evidence in the actual document as well.
    Victor
    P.S. if you are able to change the title to fit reality that would be helpful 😉

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  19. Not only do evolutionists suffer the embarassment of no new coding genes added to eukaryote genomes resulting in new thriving genomes, but Dr Standish told the “Yes, Creation” group that even prokaryote systems developing immunities to drug therapy are merely using existing genetic code already present in their ancestory to do it, rather than acquiring new coding genes to solve the problem.

    That was a bit of a surprise.

    The evolutionist argument seems to go from dead to more-dead as the light of day comes to the subject.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  20. @Richard Osborn:

    Sean,

    You mentioned that you would be lecturing at a Northern California university in your town which only had Biology professors teaching from an evolutionary perspective. I’m only aware of one university in Redding, CA which is the town where you practice medicine. Could you mention the name of the university where you will be lecturing and who sponsors them? How would you characterize them in the world of faith based institutions?

    Simpson University is sponsored by a Christian organization. However, all of the biology professors at SU are naturalistic evolutionists and several are agnostic. They seem like very nice people to me and are evidently very sincere and are as concerned for the appropriate education of their own students as are the LSU science professors.

    You see, I don’t oppose the LSU science professors because I don’t like them personally. I do like them. I just don’t think they are accurately representing what their employer is paying them to do. I don’t think they are accurately representing the ideals and goals of the SDA Church in particular – views which I personally think are vitally important as a basis of the Gospel’s “Good News”.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  21. @Ken:

    Dear Sean

    Your sentiments are laudable. But please understand that many others, not necessarily of your mind set, not only think life is tolerable or bearable, but truly wonderful.

    I doubt this is true for those who are starving or who have just lost a little child to sickness or who have just been diagnosed with a terminal malignancy…

    Part of that feeling for me is because of the integrity of science not coloured by faith or non-faith. And just because one does not support six day literal creation and sees evolution as a marvelous mechanism, does not negate creation. It just means there is likely more than meets the eye to the nature of origins and the force behind it.

    The idea that everything that we see around and within us can evolve via apparently mindless mechanisms from nothing or from very simplistic component parts removes the need for God to explain much of anything that exists within this universe. I call this idea the “turtles all the way down” idea (and have written a book with this same title). As Dawkins and Provine and many others put it, “turtles all the way down” thinking makes atheism logically tenable since it removes the need for God. In essence then, Darwinism is essential atheism since there is nothing to which one can point and say, “God had to have done that.” If everything can be explained by a mindless nature, where is the evidence for God?

    Do I believe in theistic evolution? Honestly I do not know but I certainly want to explore its possibilities just as I wish to explore whether there is evidence to support six day literal creation. What I can’t understand is why such honest inquiry could ever conceivably be considered a sin unless someone is trying to inculcate me into one way of thinking. Does this make any sense to you?

    I do not consider honest inquiry to be a sin. I don’t consider an honest sincere belief in Darwinism to be a sin. For me morality is not based on knowledge or the lack thereof. Morality is based entirely on motive – the motive of love toward one’s neighbor. Do you treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated? That is the only question that God will ask in the end of time.

    However, this does not mean that knowledge is therefore unimportant. Knowledge has the power to provide a solid hope in the future to those who are suffering and perishing in this life. That is very important for me.

    All the best to you in your continued search. God has promised that you will indeed find Him if you search for Him with all of your heart…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  22. Oh really? Since when have you seen chihuahuas and Great Danes interbreeding?

    Probably as recently as you watched an adult man impregnate a girl child. You’re a physician. Tell me how a physician can deliver a child from a young girl who was never “penetrated.” It happens. So what’s your point: do you agree with Prewitt that domesticated dogs are a single species or are there many? Scientists recognize that clinal variation occurs within a species. Individuals at one end of the cline (like at the colder northern portion of a range) may be very different from those at the other end of the cline (like at the warmer southern portion of a range), such as in size (as in dogs). But there is continuous gene flow at the points in between (as in dogs).

    And, by the way, humans cannot produce viable offspring with other primates – even if they wanted to.

    Thank you for making my point…though one could wonder how factual your claim is…

    The functional concept is not a new langauge Geanna. Everyone knows that I’m talking about when I talk about qualitative functional differences… What do you not yet understand about a functional definition of “species” or unique “kind” of gene pool?

    What do I not understand? Everything you don’t understand! Tell me a “functional difference” between a Timber Rattlesnake and an Eastern Diamondback that live in the same forest but don’t interbreed. Tell me a “functional difference” between an Eastern Meadowlark and a Western Meadowlark that live in the same corner of prairie but don’t interbreed. Tell me a “functional difference” between a Green Sea Turtle and a Loggerhead Sea Turtle that live in the same reef and breed on the same beach. Tell me a “functional difference” between an Eastern Red-backed Salamander and a Northern Dusky Salamander that coexist under the same log and don’t interbreed. You can’t come up with any “functional differences”, Sean, because, quite simply, your imagination fails you as quickly as your definition does. If everyone else understands your “definition” based on a functional concept please point us to the literature–inquiring minds want to know. But you can’t do so. Why? Because no one else lives by or takes seriously your happy fiction (except for Ron Stone and Bob Ryan and Michael Prewitt and others who can’t read real science for themselves).

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  23. Just for the record, the post above that appears with my name that begins with the following, was written by Victor:

    @Sean Pitman:

    We may just be arguing apples and apples. I am certainly not advocating ‘blind faith’ as you have had cause to address frequently on this sight. I am arguing against an over-dependence on extra-biblical evidence for our faith walk.

    How do you know that the Bible is really the Word of God, while other religious texts, like the Book of Mormon, is not? How do you tell the difference? My LDS friends tell me that God gives them a warm feeling deep within themselves when they see or hear the truth. That is how they know that the Book of Mormon is from God. For me, I don’t find this approach very helpful when it comes to establishing a solid hope or confidence in the Bible as God’s word.

    I actually had the opportunity to study many of the world’s so-called sacred texts before accepting the Bible as the true one. The Bible’s internal testimony coupled with the convicting witness of the Holy Spirit is what finally tipped the scales for me.

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  24. @Richard Osborn: Simpson University is sponsored by a Christian organization. However, all of the biology professors at SU are naturalistic evolutionists and several are agnostic. They seem like very nice people to me and are evidently very sincere and are as concerned for the appropriate education of their own students as are the LSU science professors. Sean Pitmanhttp://www.DetectingDesign.com  (Quote)

    Wow! You were asked to give a talk on religion to a group of religious people. Your growing reputation makes me think rethink my boldness in debating you.

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  25. Uh, Geanna, I am not a fan of “happy fiction” such as you allege. In fact, I have a medical degree and have practiced real science for over 32 years. I also have a Masters Degree in Biology with an emphasis on Systematic Zoology. So, I know “fiction” when I see it, and Darwinian Evolution is pure fiction, since it has no empirical evidence that can be submitted.

    Even Gould knew this and came up with his baloney theory of “punctuated equilibrium!” Crick also had his pet baloney theory of “panspermia” which is not only pure baloney but hilarious.

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  26. Dear Ken:

    You asked about Ben Clausen. I was deeply ashamed of the statements he made during the debate at the GC on the creation resolution. And if in fact he is not prepared to defend the scientific credibility of a literal six-day creation as taught by inspired writings, the Geosciemce Research Institute–and the church which sponsors that Institute–would be far better served without him.

    God bless!

    Pastor Kevin Paulson

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  27. Sean,

    My point in asking about where you would be presenting is that Simpson University, like many very conservative faith based universities, teaches evolution and still maintains a belief in a literal interpretation of the Bible which I’ve found of interest. I’ve actually visited Simpson University attending the inauguration of their President and found that it is very conservative with a strong Evangelical orientation very centered on overseas missions. They are sponsored by The Christian and Missionary Alliance and began as the Simpson Bible Institute in 1921 named after the denomination’s founder. Billy Graham began his ministry in Tampa in one of their churches. Only a handful of regionally accredited conservative faith based colleges offer a biology major centered around a young earth course content but still maintain conservative Biblical doctrines in similar areas as Adventism. I’ve just wondered in observing these institutions how they’ve been able to maintain such strong and vibrant young adult commitments to their doctrines and Christian outreach while it’s suggested here that if students learn too much about evolution they’ll stop being Adventists or should probably leave the church even if they are committed to Adventism in all other areas of traditional belief.

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  28. I have followed this site with great interest, and occasionally posted. The discussion regarding the basis for our belief is one of special interest to me. As a mathematician/statistician (taught at La Sierra, PUC, and Southwestern) and a pastor I have thought about these things a great deal. Long ago in graduate school I faced strong questions from a variety of very smart people about my beliefs. I praise God that I came out of those conversations a stronger Christian than I had been before, and with the respect of the other conversants.

    I base my belief in Scripture on several things.

    1. It correctly states the condition of mankind, even though acknowledging that condition never has been, and never will be popular.

    2. Prophecy. The prophecies of scripture are amazing — enough so that skeptics have done all they can to post date some of them.

    3. Jesus Christ clearly laid out the only correct “rules” on how people should live. Unselfishness is the only basis for governing intelligent life that makes any sense.

    4. The marvelous complexity of life belies chance origins. Even if one is not a biologist or even educated, the beauty of life even in its damaged state speaks of a Creator.

    5. A personal friendship with Jesus Christ is the ultimate evidence. It is largely non-transferable and scoffed at by infidels, but it is the bottom line.

    6. Jesus Christ claimed to be God. Either He was, or He was the greatest fraud ever.

    Faced with these facts, I must make a decision. I choose to believe that Jesus Christ was who He said He was. Whether or not a “complete” model for how we got from the creation to the present is ever put together I will stay with Jesus and believe He is who He said He is.

    I respect all who work toward a better understanding of how the world has arrived at its current state in 6,000 or so years since creation. However, it is not necessary to achieve anything near a perfect explanation to have faith. There are many other springs from which to draw. It also strikes me that most of the arguments about the evidence are fruitless. Most people will either find God or lose Him as the result of a private, personal journey. This is not to say that we should not do all we can to defend our positions, but we needn’t have high expectations of the numbers we will “convince.” In the end I don’t think this is about science anyway. It’s about ways of knowing. The physical world and the spiritual world (according to Paul) don’t have much intersection. The things of the Spirit are truly spiritually discerned. I believe that just as certainly as “the Spirit moved on the face of the waters,” our belief in the creation will find its highest evidence in the gentle prompting of that same Spirit.

    Aside from issues of evidence there is one thing that I totally can’t understand (and I’ve tried). I don’t understand how so many of my brilliant and distinguished colleagues can’t see the impossibility of having their cake and eating it too. Over and over Jesus healed, raised the dead, created bread and fish from nothing, walked on water, referenced the creation, referenced the flood, and ultimately rose from the dead. In all that He did He operated by the principle that the Strong must die so that the weak might live. How can anyone deny biblical creation and believe Jesus was the Word through whom all was created? How can the God who notices with pain the fall of every sparrow be the one who used eons of death and pain to create? And who could possibly think of a system of thought more antithetical to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ than any form of long ages macro evolution? While we are accused of denying evidence, those who embrace theistic evolution deny logic.

    I just don’t get it!

    Pastor George Hilton

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  29. @Richard Osborn:

    I’ve just wondered in observing these institutions how they’ve been able to maintain such strong and vibrant young adult commitments to their doctrines and Christian outreach while it’s suggested here that if students learn too much about evolution they’ll stop being Adventists or should probably leave the church even if they are committed to Adventism in all other areas of traditional belief.

    As you know, as the retired President of PUC, the problem isn’t with learning “about” various theories of evolution. Our young people should be very well informed “about” evolutionary theories so as to know how best to answer the challenges that such theories bring against the SDA position on origins.

    The problem is when an SDA school starts promoting evolutionary theories as the “true” story of origins while also openly discounting the Church’s position on a literal creation week. Given your background, I am surprised and disappointed in your comments in this forum… in your seeming lack of support for the importance of the SDA position on a literal creation week…

    Of course, there are a lot of Christians who do not seem to comprehend the cognitive dissonance that is clearly evident for those who actually consider what it takes to actually mix evolutionary thinking with the Christian Gospel message of hope. I’m not talking about people being Christ-like here. Even atheists can be Christ-like in how they deal with other people. I’m talking about the evidence that supports the Christian message of a real solid hope in a bright physical future reality after this life of pain, sorrow, and death…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  30. @Geanna Dane:

    Wow! You were asked to give a talk on religion to a group of religious people. Your growing reputation makes me think rethink my boldness in debating you.

    I was asked to talk to the biology department by naturalist evolutionists on the topic of the potential and limits of the mechanism of evolution – RM/NS. I’d hardly say that this qualifies in most people’s mind as a talk on “religion”.

    I’ve also debated many other evolutionists, some well known, and many unknown, over the years. But, this doesn’t really matter. The ideas are what are important and should stand or fail under their own weight – not being judged according to who presents them.

    I think you are overly impressed by who a person is rather than the substance of the arguments presented.

    As far as my reputation, who am I? – nobody of any consequence. My ideas are my own. If you find them interesting or helpful, great. If not, oh well. It really isn’t my job to convince anyone. It is my job to share what I’ve found to be personally helpful…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  31. @Geanna Dane:

    Oh really? Since when have you seen chihuahuas and Great Danes interbreeding? – Sean Pitman

    Probably as recently as you watched an adult man impregnate a girl child. You’re a physician. Tell me how a physician can deliver a child from a young girl who was never “penetrated.” It happens.

    Oh really? Please list any reference to a successful mating between a chihuahua and a Grate Dane…

    The point is that even though it could happen in theory, there are many reasons why interbreeding may not occur that are not based on functional gene pool differences when it comes to the informational content of the original ancestral gene pool of options.

    So what’s your point: do you agree with Prewitt that domesticated dogs are a single species or are there many?

    All dogs, to include non-domesticated wolves and even foxes, share the same functional gene pool. In other words, they came from the same ancestral gene pool of functional options – the gene pool itself having sustained no significant change in qualitatively unique functionality over time.

    Scientists recognize that clinal variation occurs within a species. Individuals at one end of the cline (like at the colder northern portion of a range) may be very different from those at the other end of the cline (like at the warmer southern portion of a range), such as in size (as in dogs). But there is continuous gene flow at the points in between (as in dogs).

    Great! Again, however, the lack of continuos gene flow does not a unique gene pool make with regard to qualitative functionality.

    And, by the way, humans cannot produce viable offspring with other primates – even if they wanted to. – Sean Pitman

    Thank you for making my point…though one could wonder how factual your claim is…

    What was your point? It seemed to me like you suggested that according to my functional definition of gene pool boundaries that all primates should be classified in one gene pool or “species”. That’s not true at all. The gene pools between humans and other primates are qualitatiely unique with regard to many high level functions and cannot be intermixed to produce viable offspring because of these qualitative differences (unlike your “cryptic” species and other species defined only by non-functional phylogenetic differenes).

    So, what was your point again?

    The functional concept is not a new langauge Geanna. Everyone knows that I’m talking about when I talk about qualitative functional differences… What do you not yet understand about a functional definition of “species” or unique “kind” of gene pool? – Sean Pitman

    What do I not understand? Everything you don’t understand! Tell me a “functional difference” between a Timber Rattlesnake and an Eastern Diamondback that live in the same forest but don’t interbreed.

    I don’t think there is one. I think that both of these animals came from the very same ancestral gene pool and that there has been no significant qualitative change in the functionality of the current gene pools of these animals compared to that original gene pool.

    Yet again, there are many reasons why various groups of animals that share the very same qualitatively functional gene pool would not mate with each other – reasons which are not based on qualitative functional differences and certainly not differences beyond very very low levels of functional complexity.

    Tell me a “functional difference” between an Eastern Meadowlark and a Western Meadowlark that live in the same corner of prairie but don’t interbreed. Tell me a “functional difference” between a Green Sea Turtle and a Loggerhead Sea Turtle that live in the same reef and breed on the same beach. Tell me a “functional difference” between an Eastern Red-backed Salamander and a Northern Dusky Salamander that coexist under the same log and don’t interbreed. You can’t come up with any “functional differences”, Sean, because, quite simply, your imagination fails you as quickly as your definition does. If everyone else understands your “definition” based on a functional concept please point us to the literature–inquiring minds want to know. But you can’t do so. Why? Because no one else lives by or takes seriously your happy fiction (except for Ron Stone and Bob Ryan and Michael Prewitt and others who can’t read real science for themselves).

    It isn’t like I’m not speaking English here Geanna. Everyone understands the concept of functional differences. Just because this concept is not yet used to defined species in mainstream scientific circles does not mean that it is not an understandable concept or that it is not relevant to the real disagreement between creationists/IDists, and evolutionists.

    You’re trying to use definitions that are simply irrevant to this particular discussion Geanna and then pretend like you don’t even understand the very basis for the disagreement. Why are you being so obtuse here?

    Do you really not understand that the disagreement between me and my evolutionist friends is not over non-functional differences between different kinds of creatures? Do you not understand that I and other creationists and IDists agree that it is very easy for RM/NS to explain non-functional differences over relatively short periods of time? What do you still not grasp regarding the real disagreement in play here Geanna? Do you really not understand that the disagreement is over the origin of functional differences? – at various levels of functional complexity?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  32. @Brad:

    @Sean Pitman:

    Regarding transitions, the key statement in your reply is this: “The actual series of transitions is not needed before the problem can be known to be insurmountable”.

    Let’s be clear. You acknowledge that you are not in a position to exhaustively enumerate the possible transitions between bacterial species, and thereby demonstrate that there is no path through which natural selection could travel with reasonable probability. Nevertheless, you claim to know that there exists no such path. That is, it’s not just that you believe there exists no such path, or have some evidence that there exists no such path; rather you claim to know that there exists no such path. Well, as I said before, I invite you to submit your reasons to a peer reviewed scientific journal, and if you do I would very much like to see the reports of the referees.

    I invite you to explain the statistical odds that such a path really exists, a path that is actually crossable via RM/NS this side of a practical eternity of time, beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

    You are the one arguing that the existence of such a path is scientifically supported. Where? Where is the existence of such a path supported as being statistically likely beyond very low levels of functional complexity? The evolution scenarios you referenced for the assumed flagellar evolution pathways suggest steppingstones that are not remotely close enough together for RMs to step across in a reasonable amount of time (i.e., this side of trillions of years of time). Nowhere in these papers are any statistical analyses given for the time it would likely take to produce the functional changes needed to get from one steppingstone to the next in their proposed pathway.

    Oh, but perhaps there are more steppingstones within the pathway that are yet to be discovered? – undiscovered steppingstones within sequence space that are in fact much closer together? This is a possibility, but the odds of such a situation are extremely poor given the extremely tiny ratio of viable vs. non-viable sequences at these higher levels of functional complexity.

    Science isn’t based on what might be discovered in the future. Science is based on what is known right now. And, what is known right now is that beneficial sequences are distributed in an essentially uniform manner throughout sequence space and that they experience an exponential decline in relative numbers compared to non-viable sequences with each increase in minimum structural threshold requirements.

    This problem, though quite real and seemingly obvious, is the reason why there have been no observed examples of evolution in action at such levels of functional complexity. None of the proposed steppingstones for flagellar evolution, for example, have been crossed in real time. Why not? Because, the gap distances between these steppingstones are statistically huge – very unlikely to be crossed, even with very large population numbers, this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time.

    It is somewhat of a mystery, therefore, why this exponential non-beneficial gap problem is not discussed in mainstream literature?

    Regarding design rationale, you wave your hands at design reasons and aesthetic reasons. But I want you to provide a specific hypothesis that you think is credible. Why would the designer have made the flagellar system so that it looks for all the world like it was assembled piece by piece in evolutionary sequence? Did they want to fool us?

    The “evolutionary sequence” is a nested hierarchical pattern (NHP). Common descent is not the only reason for the existence of such patterns. Such patterns are deliberately produced by design as previously noted – to include the designs of interacting functional elements as in object oriented computer programming. I fail to see how I’m just “waving my hands” by referring to such examples of NHPs?

    And, yet again, the existence of a pattern that can be explained by a particular mechanism does not explain how this same mechanism produced all aspects of the phenomenon in question that are associated with the pattern.

    Again, both intelligent design and common descent can explain NHPs. In determining the need to invoke an ID-only hypothesis, one does not need to know anything about the actual motive of the designer. All one needs to know is that some aspect of the phenomenon in question is far beyond any known non-deliberate force of nature while being well within the creative powers of intelligent design.

    For example, say that the Mars Land Rover happened to come across a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring 10 x 10 x 10 meters. Such a cube, if actually discovered, would be hailed by scientists themselves as clear evidence of a deliberately produced artifact. Such a cube would be clearly artifactual even if the actual process by which it was made and the motives for why the intelligent agent(s) made it remained unknown.

    How can I be so sure? Because, such a cube is well beyond the known creative processes of non-deliberate forces of nature, yet is well within the known creative potential of intelligent designers.

    The very same thing is true of biosystem complexity. Beyond very low levels of functional complexity there is no force of mindless nature that can be used as a rational explanation. RM/NS has simply proven untenable and there is no other known mindless force to take its place. All that is left to explain higher levels of functional complexity is very high level ID.

    PS. Just curious. Have you really read the Rudwick book?

    I have only read excerpts and reviews of this particular book, but I would like to read the whole thing eventually.

    From what I understand of Rudwick’s main arguments for now, however, is that he sees the geologic and fossil evidence as clearly indicating that “species had died out in piecemeal fashion and not as the result of one main catastrophe.” He also heavily discusses Charles Lyell’s approach to geology. Of course, Lyell viewed the evolution of the Earth as a slow and continuous/uniform process. Also, as Rudwick points out, Lyell’s uniformitarian views and “actual causes” heavily influenced Darwin’s own thinking. And, Rudwick suggests that William Buckland’s “diluvianism” notions and the concept of a world-wide biblical flood were clearly falsified by mainstream science though the discoveries of the 1800-1900s.

    As far as I am aware, Rudwick does not discuss the many problems with uniformitarian thinking or the massive problems for the current mainstream model of the geologic column and fossil records representing hundreds of millions of years of time. While catastrophic concepts are finally beginning to reemerge within mainstream thinking, vast periods of time are still thought to exist between those layers that were clearly deposited in a catastrophic manner. Such modern theories also seem to me to have enormous problems when it comes to explaining many features of the geologic column and fossil record – and even certain genetic features.

    So, between now and the time that I actually get to read Rudwick, why don’t you explain to me at least some of the various features I have listed on my website that seem to challenge modern interpretations of the geologic column and fossil record? – and strongly favor a catastrophic model of origins?

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Counter
    http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  33. Sean,

    You write —

    “Given your background, I am surprised and disappointed in your comments in this forum… in your seeming lack of support for the importance of the SDA position on a literal creation week…”

    This comment illustrates exactly what I knew would happen on this web site. I’ve posted three comments thus far after resisting the urge because of the attacks you and others regularly engage in. My first comment was to point out that some very conservative individuals at the G.C. Session supported reaffirming a very conservative position on creation but didn’t vote to rewrite Fundamental Belief #6. My second was to ask where you were speaking. My third was asking a question about how some conservative faith based institutions such as Simpson University teach evolution and do not offer a short earth chronology in their Biology majors but still maintain the loyalty of their young adult members to their denominations. Since I’ve become involved with quite a few faith based institutions in my portfolio at WASC, it was a sincere observation and question. Based on these three comments, you draw the conclusion cited at the beginning of this post. It seems that some have a problem with any question or disagreement that doesn’t accord directly with their own opinions to the point that you and others immediately begin judging motives, thoughts, and viewpoints far beyond anything in the mind of the person posting.

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  34. @George Hilton:

    Aside from issues of evidence there is one thing that I totally can’t understand (and I’ve tried). I don’t understand how so many of my brilliant and distinguished colleagues can’t see the impossibility of having their cake and eating it too. Over and over Jesus healed, raised the dead, created bread and fish from nothing, walked on water, referenced the creation, referenced the flood, and ultimately rose from the dead. In all that He did He operated by the principle that the Strong must die so that the weak might live. How can anyone deny biblical creation and believe Jesus was the Word through whom all was created? How can the God who notices with pain the fall of every sparrow be the one who used eons of death and pain to create? And who could possibly think of a system of thought more antithetical to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ than any form of long ages macro evolution? While we are accused of denying evidence, those who embrace theistic evolution deny logic.

    I just don’t get it!

    Pastor George Hilton

    you have made some good points there Pastor Hilton.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  35. I’ve just wondered in observing these institutions how they’ve been able to maintain such strong and vibrant young adult commitments to their doctrines and Christian outreach while it’s suggested here that if students learn too much about evolution they’ll stop being Adventists or should probably leave the church even if they are committed to Adventism in all other areas of traditional belief.  

    As you well know, Richard, we are NOT talking about teaching “about” evolution (Erv Taylor tried to pull this old “switcheroo” stunt on AT). We are addressing the problem of teaching “evolution as fact” at LSU, which has been well documented on this website.

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  36. Re Sean’s comments

    “I do not consider honest inquiry to be a sin. I don’t consider an honest sincere belief in Darwinism to be a sin. For me morality is not based on knowledge or the lack thereof. Morality is based entirely on motive – the motive of love toward one’s neighbor. Do you treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated? That is the only question that God will ask in the end of time.

    However, this does not mean that knowledge is therefore unimportant. Knowledge has the power to provide a solid hope in the future to those who are suffering and perishing in this life. That is very important for me.

    All the best to you in your continued search. God has promised that you will indeed find Him if you search for Him with all of your heart…”

    Dear Sean

    Thanks for what I consider to be your very Christian response. I think your ideas on ID are very interesting and I think you should have the opportunity to teach or lecture about about them at secular institutions. No one should be worried about teaching ideas only the repression of same. That’s why I don’t think the biology professors at LSU or Dr.Clausen should be ‘cleansed’ from the ranks.

    And yes I understand the nature of master/servant relationships in employment law and the right of the employer to set the terms of employment. Point taken.

    But, with respect, I think there is a far deeper issue going on here about repressing science and making it the tool of faith, or non faith for that matter. I don’t think science should ever be the tool of faith or non faith, rather it should be free, objective inquiry. Evolution cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. That is beyond the ken of science. Who knows there may well be a design to naturalistic science that no one has yet to discern. Why not leave the door open rather than having a shut door doctrine on it or ID?

    Lets keep the faith of open minds and good shall prevail.
    Ken

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  37. @Sean Pitman:

    Regarding transitions, a good summary of the current evidence for the existence of an evolutionary pathway is contained in this review paper:

    Liu, Renyi. 2009. “Origin and Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellar System”, in Kenneth F. Jarrell (Ed), Pili and Flagella: Current Research and Future Trends, Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, pp. 207–214.

    Even a casual glance at the literature of the last twenty years reveals that the recent history here is one of accumulating evidence concerning the intermediate stages of flagellar evolution. To adapt a famous quote from the sociology of science literature: you can either debate the possibility of reconstructing evolutionary histories or you can do it. I am serious about suggesting that you send your work to the contrary for scientific review.

    Regarding the design hypothesis, you admit that you do not have a specific hypothesis, and simply rest again on your in-principle argument against the possibility of an alternative. If you admit that the probability of the soundness of your in-principle argument is not 1, this is to admit that this particular piece of evidence supports the evolutionary hypothesis over the design hypothesis. This isn’t a big admission, since different pieces of evidence often conflict with each other. But it’s an admission none the less. (In passing, I note that if you do not furnish specific design hypotheses, your theory threatens to have zero predictive power).

    On Rudwick, I really strongly recommend you read the book. It will situate your position in a historical context that I hope will help you to better see where you stand in relation to the mainstream current of scientific thought. In the meantime, I will try to look at your essays on geology and get back to you.

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  38. @Richard Osborn:

    It seems that some have a problem with any question or disagreement that doesn’t accord directly with their own opinions to the point that you and others immediately begin judging motives, thoughts, and viewpoints far beyond anything in the mind of the person posting.

    I’m not judging your motivations at all. I’m sure you are very honest and sincere and have the highest and purest motives behind what you do and say. However, I am still disappointed when I hear some of the top educators in our Church, like you and Dr. Bietz, oppose the addition of clarifications to FB#6 regarding the “literal” creation week. I’m not making a moral judgment here, but I do think it is a mistake. As honest and sincere as it may be, it is still a mistake from my own perspective.

    Now, I do understand that Dr. Bietz personally believes in and expresses support for non-fundamental belief statements in favor of a literal creation week. However, I also know that he made this suggestion because of his efforts to allow for those who believe in and wish to promote long-age models of origins to remain in positions of responsibility within the Church. I believe this effort is a mistaken effort on his part which will end up causing harm to the Church that he loves.

    Of course, I may may not understand something important behind the rational of Dr. Bietz or your own intent or rational behind your statements in this forum. So, if you and Dr. Bietz really do support the idea that paid representatives of the SDA Church should actually support the Church’s position on a literal 6-day creation week, then I do sincerely apologize for misreading you and/or Dr. Bietz so badly.

    In this line, it would help tremendously if you would clarify your position by giving a statement of support for the idea that all paid SDA representatives, pastors and teachers in particular, support all of the fundamental pillars of the SDA faith – – specifically to include support for a literal 6-day creation week for the origin of all life on this planet.

    Would you be willing to make such a public statement? If so, I would be very much encouraged. If not, I will remain “disappointed”… though I will still respect you for your honesty and sincerity. Remember, this is not a moral judgment on my part. One can be “disappointed” in the position of another while, at the same time, still liking and respecting the other as a person of the highest moral character…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  39. @Brad:

    @Sean Pitman:

    Regarding transitions, a good summary of the current evidence for the existence of an evolutionary pathway is contained in this review paper:

    Liu, Renyi. 2009. “Origin and Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellar System”, in Kenneth F. Jarrell (Ed), Pili and Flagella: Current Research and Future Trends, Caister Academic Press, Norfolk, pp. 207–214.

    Yes, this paper was recommended earlier in this same thread. Yet again, the authors of this paper simply assume evolutionary pathways based on phylogenetic similarities without considering what it would take to produce the required functional differences between one steppingstone and the next. The authors do not consider the statistical problem of crossing these non-beneficial gap distances. This problem isn’t even discussed.

    Even a casual glance at the literature of the last twenty years reveals that the recent history here is one of accumulating evidence concerning the intermediate stages of flagellar evolution. To adapt a famous quote from the sociology of science literature: you can either debate the possibility of reconstructing evolutionary histories or you can do it. I am serious about suggesting that you send your work to the contrary for scientific review.

    You evidently do not understand the overwhelming bias against ID theories within the mainstream scientific community. The last time a journal editor published a paper supportive of a theory of ID, the editor got so much flack that he had to resign…

    Regarding the design hypothesis, you admit that you do not have a specific hypothesis, and simply rest again on your in-principle argument against the possibility of an alternative.

    A null hypothesis is a specific hypothesis and it can carry a great deal of predictive power since it can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. Remember, my hypothesis isn’t that intelligent design could have done the job, my hypothesis is that only intelligent design could have done the job. The ID-only hypothesis is testable and potentially falsifiable and therefore can gain predictive value over time…

    In fact, it is this very same ID hypothesis that forms the basis of several branches of mainstream science that are involved with the detection of intelligent design – such as forensic science, anthropology, and even SETI.

    If you admit that the probability of the soundness of your in-principle argument is not 1, this is to admit that this particular piece of evidence supports the evolutionary hypothesis over the design hypothesis.

    No scientific hypothesis or theory or even law has a probability of soundness of 100%. Hello! All scientific theories are potentially falsifiable given additional testing. This is because no scientific hypothesis can be perfectly known to be true with 100% predictive power.

    Therefore, your conclusion that a remote possibility of failure of the ID-only hypothesis suggests the validity of the non-ID hypothesis is nonsense. Science is based on the weight of evidence – not on absolute demonstration.

    This isn’t a big admission, since different pieces of evidence often conflict with each other. But it’s an admission none the less. (In passing, I note that if you do not furnish specific design hypotheses, your theory threatens to have zero predictive power).

    Tell me, what do you think the scientific hypothesis is for the detection of a true artifact in anthropology? – or in SETI? Hmmmm? What is the scientific basis of their ID-only hypothesis/theory in these fields of mainstream science?

    Hint: It is the very same as mine…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  40. Pastor Kevin Paulson,If you are overweight, you and every other overweight church employee is a sinner actively undermining the church’s doctrine on health, showing complete disregard for Biblical and spirit of prophecy counsel, and setting an inexcusable example of idolatry to food. You should immediately resign from the church because you are actively undermining the church’s doctrines on the church’s dime.If you eat chocolate, which contains caffeine, you and every other caffeine-consuming church employee is a sinner actively undermining the church’s doctrine on health, showing complete disregard for Biblical and spirit of prophecy counsel, and setting an inexcusable example of idolatry to food. You should immediately resign from the church because you are actively undermining the church’s doctrines on the church’s dime.I could go on and on. Why would the sin of gluttony be any less than sexual sin? But then you have set yourself up as one qualified for godly rebuke and chastisement and have declared me deserving of the same. Who am I to tell a Church leader he is a sinner? That’s your self-appointed job! And that of dozens or hundreds of others who applaud your judgements.  

    I’m sorry, but you are thoroughly confused! The difference is that mild excess in eating (or even grosser excess) has never been made a test of fellowship in the SDA church, and is not considered fundamental to our whole system of beliefs. On the other hand, drinking or doing drugs can and should be grounds for church discipline. Yes, they are all violations of the same principles, but certainly different in degree. Likewise, someone is unlikely to get disfellowshipped for looking at a woman the wrong way, but can and should be disfellowshipped for committing adultery.

    Denying the historicity of Genesis is about as bad as anything else that a person can do in the spiritual/intellectual category of sins, short of cursing God. Genesis, understood in the historical-grammatical sense, is fundamental to our whole system of beliefs, and those who cannot see that are just proving how poorly they understand Adventist beliefs. Denying the historicity of Genesis is a near denial of faith in the Bible itself, for all practical intents. It can and should be grounds for disfellowshipping.

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  41. Sean,

    You describe me as one of the top educators in the church. On April 9, 2009, I was fired (forced resignation) by the PUC Board as President after eight years of service and 39 1/2 years of denominational service. I no longer work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was too young (62 years old) to retire although I am receiving retirement from the church for my years of service which is available to any church employee — all $1,348 a month for 26 years on the defined benefit plan and another $100,000 in the defined contribution plan for 13 1/2 years which represents half from my own contributions and the other matching from the church for which to plan on 20-30 years of retirement. My annual pay as PUC President was a little over $70,000 a year probably making me the lowest paid college President in California. None of us who choose on a sacrificial basis to work for the church do that well financially but none of us do it for the money. We work for the mission of the church at great financial sacrifice. That’s why it’s a little difficult to hear the abuse some are giving church workers from their well remunerated work.

    Thanks for your affirmation of my standing but that is no longer the case. I was not offered any meaningful jobs within the church but the senior college/university commission of the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC) hired me as an Associate Director. I have 40 universities in my portfolio of this regional accreditation agency serving California, Hawaii, one institution in Mexico, and other Pacific islands. My portfolio includes large UC campuses like San Diego and Santa Barbara, several California State University campuses including Chico in your area, East Bay, San Francisco State, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, several faith based institutions such as the Universities of San Diego and San Francisco, Azusa Pacific University, Hawaii Pacific University, Cal Lutheran, Claremont School of Theology, independents such as Pitzer, Menlo, Woodbury, and Mills Colleges, specialty institutions such as The Scripps Research Institute, The American Conservatory Theater, and Laguna College of Art & Design. Others at WASC have LLU, LSU, and PUC in their portfolio.

    Because I no longer work for the church, I have no obligation to state my position on either issue and did not speak publicly during the debate. You are making assumptions. I also have a responsibility to maintain neutrality in my public positions since I do provide confidential advice within our office.

    You’ll need to judge me by those I was involved in hiring for PUC’s science departments during my eight years. Thus far I haven’t heard any concerns expressed about those teachers nor what is taught at PUC.

    Have you written Dr. Bietz before you posted your comments? Or were you basing your view on what you surmised or speculated about or heard from second hand sources? If so, that’s a very low standard for a Christian where the New Testament outlines clear procedures when you have a disagreement with a brother. First, you go to that brother or sister in private and don’t rely on second hand accounts. I think the Mormon writer, Steven Covey, in his “Seven Principles of Highly Effective People” set a standard that should be emulated by Christians in one of his principles which parallels the Golden Rule — “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” And I don’t think he meant go on a public blog first nor would Jesus Christ nor Paul advocate such an approach.

    After one of my work colleagues read some of the church articles on LSU, she asked this question as I left her office. “Why do Christians treat each other in such unChristian ways? I’m a fallen Catholic but I was raised to believe in such values as charity, kindness, goodness, and understanding. Why do Christians behave like this?” It was one of my more embarrassing moments since leaving denominational work.

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  42. In this line, it would help tremendously if you would clarify your position by giving a statement of support for the idea that all paid SDA representatives, pastors and teachers in particular, support all of the fundamental pillars of the SDA faith – – specifically to include support for a literal 6-day creation week for the origin of all life on this planet.

    I’m not Dr. Osborn but I’ll say this much: if there are any paid SDA representatives who agree to the Pitman checklist but are overweight, they simply cannot remain on the church’s dime. Mrs. White makes VERY CLEAR that they are not Christians, much less Adventists. If you fail, Sean, to speak out against this, you are undermining Ellen White and the SDA fundamental belief on Christian behavior. How can possibly allow Seventh-day Gluttons to remain within the church’s employ? Why have so far remained silent on this important issue? What part of “those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be, and however exalted their profession” [CD 133.2] do you not understand?

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  43. I fear that the proposal will result in a more literalistic interpretation that will serve to exclude members who love the church, believe in the authority of the Bible, but interpret it in harmony with accepted standards of interpretation for God’s revelation in both nature and Scripture.

    Larry, if you are around, the above quote allegedly from you does not seem to make sense to me.

    The account of creation as given in Gen. 1 and Ex. 20 says that God created everything in heaven and earth and the sea in 6 days, each consisting of a morning and an evening.

    You appear to be saying that it is a matter of interpretation. So then, is the meaning of “sea” a matter of interpretation? The meaning of “earth”? The meaning of “God”? The meaning of “created”? The meaning of “everything”? The meaning of “morning”? The meaning of “evening”? Or is it only the meaning of “6” and the meaning of “days” that is the problem?

    “… interpret it in harmony with accepted standards of interpretation for God’s revelation in both nature and Scripture.” Within Adventism, the only acceptable way to interpret is that which subjects the hypotheses of science to the revelations of Scripture.

    By the way, Larry, what did you think of the last lecture of the Yes! Creation series on the disparity between rates of protein decay and the anomalously high levels of protein in fossil bone?

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  44. @Geanna Dane:

    I’m not Dr. Osborn but I’ll say this much: if there are any paid SDA representatives who agree to the Pitman checklist but are overweight, they simply cannot remain on the church’s dime. Mrs. White makes VERY CLEAR that they are not Christians, much less Adventists.

    You’re actually trying to compare those who are openly attacking fundamental Pillars of the SDA faith on the Church’s dime with those who are struggling with a very personal issue of diet and weight? – not promoting their own lifestyle as the ideal? Come now…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  45. @Richard Osborn:

    Have you written Dr. Bietz before you posted your comments? Or were you basing your view on what you surmised or speculated about or heard from second hand sources?

    I suppose if you call my own father a “second hand source” you may have a point, but I think he is a pretty reliable source in any case.

    The fact is that I know what Dr. Bietz publicly proposed. I also have a very good idea as to why he made his proposal and why he does not support any modification to FB#6 and why he made his views on this issue known publicly. I believe this for two reasons: 1) Because of my knowledge behind the history of the current wording of FB#6, which I know Dr. Bietz is also aware, and 2) because of Bietz’s own comments on this issue as relayed to me by my father – a very reliable source in my personal opinion. Therefore, such longstanding actively brazen attacks on Fundamental Doctrines from within one of our own schools, despite many many failed efforts on my own part and on the part of many others over many years, decades in fact, to substantively address and correct this issue privately (in line with Matthew 18; despite the public nature of the attacks on the Church), must be publicly addressed and opposed by those who value the Fundamental Pillars of the SDA Faith.

    The parents and Church constituents at large have the right to know, at the very least, what we are really paying for with our hard-earned dollars. Mrs. White herself actively and publicly opposed those SDA Church schools in her day that were undermining the fundamental doctrines of the Church (see the following: Link ).

    Let me make it clear, however, that I do not include Dr. Bietz in the camp of those who are deliberately attacking the Pillars of the SDA Faith. That’s not true at all. I’m only disappointed in Dr. Bietz’s position, but I do not accuse him of any moral wrong or of active subversion against the Pillars of the SDA Faith while in the employ of the SDA Church. Dr. Bietz’s position is not at all like the brazen attacks against the very Pillars of the SDA faith coming very openly from the science professors, and even some of the religion professors, at LSU. Such professors cannot, in my opinion, be maintained in the employ of the SDA Church and expect the Church, as an organization, to remain viable.

    As far as your leaving the Presidency of PUC and denominational work, I knew that this was not voluntary on your part. I do sympathize with you regarding your missionary service to the SDA Church because I know that what you say is the truth in this regard. I deeply respect anyone who has chosen the life of sacrificial service that you’ve chosen. After all, my own father is a recently retired pastor and trust services director for the Gulf States Conference (as well as a teacher and one time principal of BMA) and didn’t make near the money he was offered to work outside of the Church.

    Although I do not know the specific details surrounding the request for your resignation, I still appreciate your motivation and your dedication – even if I may not have agreed with your positions on various issues that I personally consider to be vitally important for the Church to actively uphold and defend. Regardless of any differences of opinion on doctrinal or organizational issues I may have relative to yours, I do admire your obvious dedication and sincerity of purpose with regard to what you believe is true, right, and important. I don’t think one can expect any more of anyone on this planet than that…

    Sincerely yours,

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetecingDesign.com

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  46. @ Dr. Osborn

    It’s so good to hear from you! A friend of mine was browsing this blog and told me that you had posted, so I came to check it out. I hope things are going very well with your work at WASC.

    I understand your aversion to these kinds of blogs; I used to write for Spectrum, and I just got so exhausted by the comments that did not reflect Christ that I had to give it up. Many times, it seemed like the disagreements were based mostly on misunderstandings and a sense of anonymity that led to offensive words. I hope everyone here and on Spectrum’s site can strive for Christ-like words, while at the same time giving each other the benefit of the doubt that misunderstandings occur. I would hope that for both you and Sean Pitman, of course.

    I want to share my thoughts on the matter at hand. First of all, it is interesting that students at schools like Simpson are committed to a literal interpretation of the Bible, while being taught by professors that believe in macro evolution, some of which “professing” agnosticism. Understanding first-hand how students can come to revere their brilliant professors–soaking in nearly everything they say–it truly puzzles me how a student taught that evolution is the answer to our origins enigma would maintain the belief in a literal six-day creation. It would be fascinating to sit down with some students from Simpson and talk about these matters.

    My stance on the matter is that we should be as knowledgeable as possible about evolution, but also about the science behind creationism. I took a class at River Plate College in Argentina entitled Science and Religion. It was taught by a geologist and a geneticist (Robert Biaggi was the principle professor; he studied at WWC and LL––do you know him?). We studied about evolution, but it was no secret that the scientists firmly believed that there were serious flaws in the evolutionary theory, and they gave many many reason why creationism makes more scientific sense. In short, it was the best class that I ever took in college; it’s kept me interested and reading about creation and evolution.

    I know many of the science professors at PUC, and I find them to be very supportive of the Biblical creation account. However that is not to say that I have not had some negative experiences with a couple of other unnamed professors in other disciplines. During my freshman year, I was in a class taught by an individual that was Adventist, but clearly opposed to the literal nature of the Bible. By the end of the year, we had all thrown out most literal aspects of the Bible, and I was directly told that I could be a Christian without believing in Christ––and I even bought it!! Argentina saved me from that slippery slope, but basically every classmate of mine from that year either left PUC and Adventism prior to graduation, or has openly told me that they no longer believe in the Bible. The class was designed to make us think critically, but I found that as students––even collegiates––we are extremely weak in finding flaws in the teachings of our professors. I am in no way advocating that we don’t teach about evolution; we should know everything possible. But it is incredible how destructive one professor that does not believe in the integrity of the Bible can lead students away from even the Gospel.

    I’m not making any judgement on what you believe in this matter. As a student who has witnessed first-hand nearly my entire class of about 20 students lose their belief in the God of the Bible due to one professor’s unbelief, I hope my testimony can provide a little more light on the matter of how we teach what we teach and why.

    Again, it’s so good to hear from you! I wish both your wife and you the absolute best. God bless, and I hope to see you around sometime.

    Sincerely,

    Kirsten

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  47. @Sean Pitman: And speaking of Sean’s father’s sacrificial service, Sean’s grandmother, Dr. Naomi Kime-Pitman, and grandfather [Dr. Theron Pitman] were missionaries in South America. He sacrificed his life in an airplane crash down there.

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  48. After one of my work colleagues read some of the church articles on LSU, she asked this question as I left her office. “Why do Christians treat each other in such unChristian ways? I’m a fallen Catholic but I was raised to believe in such values as charity, kindness, goodness, and understanding. Why do Christians behave like this?” It was one of my more embarrassing moments since leaving denominational work.

    Thank you Dr. Osborn for making this point that is so obvious to many of us and yet so strangely justified by the majority here. I have tried to make this point myself though with much less grace than you. (Ut-oh…I just used that pilloried word…”grace”)

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  49. @Dr. Osborn,

    I do not doubt your sincerity about thinking that the things being taught at PUC merit no complaints. First of all, I’ve taken two science classes with two different professors, and thank God that they’ve been honest in discussing the challenges to a Biblical model of science, whilst still upholding our Fundamental Beliefs as delineated by scripture. No complaint there. However, I beg to differ that there are no complaints concerning what is taught there in other areas. We must stop pretending that everything is ok and admit that there are major problems. People have been afraid to say so,and have even been slandered when standing for truth; but it is true, nonetheless. This is not just about La Sierra; it’s about all our institutions.

    I have seen the results on students, the spiritual struggles brought on from the confusion wrought from discrediting the plain truths of the Bible, and the loose interpretation to suit human fancy. It elevates human wisdom over what the Lord so plainly states. I’ve seen, and I’ve been shocked to hear professors and “others” say things which I never ever imagined would be said at an Adventist institution. Furthermore, when students have spoken up, they’ve been dismissed as pestering children, or even as far as liars and troublemakers.

    There are wonderful professors at PUC whom I love and will dearly miss.I’m indebted to them for enriching my spiritual life. However, serious revival and reformation is needed throughout all our colleges to take us back to the Word of God and away from elevating human wisdom above that. To do otherwise would be folly. I have high hopes that this will happen. If only we all unite under a plain, “Thus saith the Lord.” God bless you, sir.

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  50. Reading this blog I am not infrequently moved to address the routinely raised issue of how Adventists universities must not be afraid to actually teach in detail the the theory of evolution so that Adventist creation-believing students can knowledgeably argue against it, as, oh yes, LSU is breaking loose and doing at last. Wrong again. Another straw issue. La Sierra has never not thoroughly taught Evo. I know; I graduated from La Sierra College with a BA in biology in 1948. My major professor, Lloyd Downs, went to what seemed to me at the time tedious lengths to detail, fearlessly detail, exhaustively detail, every evidence Evolution uses, clearly not to promote Evo but from an avowedly 6-day Genesis perspective. Let the record show that not teaching ABOUT evolution has never been LSU’s failing.

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  51. Larry, if you are around, the above quote allegedly from you does not seem to make sense to me.
    The account of creation as given in Gen. 1 and Ex. 20 says that God created everything in heaven and earth and the sea in 6 days, each consisting of a morning and an evening.You appear to be saying that it is a matter of interpretation. So then, is the meaning of “sea” a matter of interpretation? The meaning of “earth”? The meaning of “God”? The meaning of “created”? The meaning of “everything”? The meaning of “morning”? The meaning of “evening”? Or is it only the meaning of “6″ and the meaning of “days” that is the problem?“… interpret it in harmony with accepted standards of interpretation for God’s revelation in both nature and Scripture.” Within Adventism, the only acceptable way to interpret is that which subjects the hypotheses of science to the revelations of Scripture.By the way, Larry, what did you think of the last lecture of the Yes! Creation series on the disparity between rates of protein decay and the anomalously high levels of protein in fossil bone?  

    yes..the meaning of “evening” and of “morning” are open to interpretation.
    If the sun is not made until the 4th day, on what time-scale are the “evening” and “morning” measured?
    And we all accept that God “rested” on the 7th day not because He needed to recharge, but as an example to us. Why must the rest of the story be so rigid?

    Clearly you are convinced on a certain view, but what if I am not? Am I not welcome in the to celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus with you; to keep the Sabbath as set in example by our Creator; or to work side by side to share the joy we have in our hearts under the Adventist umbrella merely because I am unsure of our origin story? Has adding these extra details to our fundamental beliefs helped us come closer to God or reach salvation for us or those we influence? Or does it squeeze out people who aren’t like you?

    The first Chapters of Genesis are clear on these things:
    -God created the Earth and everything else we know of
    -He did it intentionally and with an increasing level of detail
    -He “rested” as a symbol to us, which He reinforces through examples and a direct request elsewhere in our history with Him.

    How does demanding a higher level of detail than this show us the incredible power of God? Or in some-way make us more right?

    Explain how GPS works to a person who has never seen a battery (I tried this as a missionary). Whatever you tell them will necessarily be incomplete. So we all know we don’t have full knowledge of the story, why must we use this to exclude each other?

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  52. In Ex 20:8-11 we have “SIX DAYS you shall labor… for in SIX DAYS the LORD MADE”.

    In 3SG 90-91 we have theistic evolutionism as the “worst kind of infidelity”.

    By contrast we have ceaseless efforts to misdirect and obfuscate the points raised above – and one of the methods for doint so is an appeal to the fallacy of equivocation as in the following nonsense.

    @Geanna Dane:

    I’m not Dr. Osborn but I’ll say this much: if there are any paid SDA representatives who agree to the Pitman checklist but are overweight, they simply cannot remain on the church’s dime.

    Surely this is not difficult at all for the objective unbaised reader to discern. Where is the challenge?

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  53. @J. Knight:

    yes..the meaning of “evening” and of “morning” are open to interpretation.
    If the sun is not made until the 4th day, on what time-scale are the “evening” and “morning” measured?

    Or, rather, the Sun, Moon, and stars became visible on the 4th day from an Earth-bound perspective, having been there all along. The reading of passages in Job where the “sons of God sang together” at the creation of our world suggests, very strongly, that the universe existed prior to the creation of our planet in the understanding of the biblical authors, to include the stars and even our Sun. The notation in the first verses of Genesis describing the Earth before creation week as formless and empty also suggests pre-existing material that only needed some serious modification before it could support life…

    And we all accept that God “rested” on the 7th day not because He needed to recharge, but as an example to us. Why must the rest of the story be so rigid?

    There are also different understandings of “rest” in English. One can rest from doing a particular task without being physically or mentally “tired”.

    Clearly you are convinced on a certain view, but what if I am not? Am I not welcome in the to celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus with you; to keep the Sabbath as set in example by our Creator; or to work side by side to share the joy we have in our hearts under the Adventist umbrella merely because I am unsure of our origin story?

    Certainly all who so desire should be welcome to worship with the SDA Church in Sabbath celebration – regardless of their views on origins. However, we are talking about paid representation here. Those who publicly oppose a Pillar of the SDA Faith should not be paid to undermine the Church’s primary goals and ideals. How can someone actually expect money from the Church while undermining the very things the Church is striving to achieve?

    Has adding these extra details to our fundamental beliefs helped us come closer to God or reach salvation for us or those we influence? Or does it squeeze out people who aren’t like you?

    It’s Ok if you are convinced of some form of theistic evolution. You can still have a living relationship with God and still be saved. However, I believe that it is far better to have a clear understanding of the evidence in support of a literal Creation week because I think it paints a much better, much more hopeful, and more consistent picture of God. I think this picture is far more attractive compared to the theistic view where God deliberately uses the very painful, even evil, mechanism of “survival of the fittest” to create and modify new forms of sentient life over vast periods of time. For me, this is not consistent with a God who instantly turned water into wine, who instantly raised in the past and will do so again in the future, and who cares for human and even animal suffering – – noticing with concern when even a little sparrow falls wounded to the ground…

    The SDA perspective, if one sees the evidence for it, makes a big difference…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  54. In 3SG 90-91 we have theistic evolutionism as the “worst kind of infidelity”.
    By contrast we have ceaseless efforts to misdirect and obfuscate the points raised above – and one of the methods for doint so is an appeal to the fallacy of equivocation as in the following nonsense.

    Very good Bob. We have two statements from Ellen White:

    (1) theistic evolutionism as the “worst kind of infidelity”.

    (2) “those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be, and however exalted their profession” [CD 133.2]

    Are you suggesting Ellen White was lying when she declared gluttons to be non-Christians? Are you saying, as Sean Pitman did, that Ellen White is wrong because gluttons really are Christians after all who are merely struggling with a personal issue? Are you saying that we should not take Ellen White’s inspired words at face value? Are you saying that Ellen White views an “infidel” as something worse than someone who is “not a Christian”? (If so, where does she make this statement?) What exactly are you saying, Bob, about inspiration? As you so often note, inquiring minds want to know.

    Are you yourself a glutton, because if you are, you should not be posting here at this website where only Adventists–who are by definition Christians–are allowed to post.

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  55. To clarify, the quote “those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be, and however exalted their profession” [CD 133.2] refers specifically to gluttony.

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  56. @Geanna Dane:

    Are you suggesting Ellen White was lying when she declared gluttons to be non-Christians? Are you saying, as Sean Pitman did, that Ellen White is wrong because gluttons really are Christians after all who are merely struggling with a personal issue?

    I never said that gluttony is Ok or that it isn’t a sin – it is a sin. And, those who indulge in this activity without seeking help or considering themselves in error are not living the Christian life. They are not living in line with the view that their bodies are temples of God.

    Mrs. White, in the passage you reference, says:

    “None who have a sense of their accountability to God will allow the animal propensities to control reason. Those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be and however exalted their profession.”
    – Mrs. White, Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 455.

    This statement is not just referring to gluttony, but to all forms of deliberate rebellion against God-given reason and control over one’s impulses and actions. In other words, this statement is in reference to deliberate unapologetic sin which strives to cause injury to ones own self and/or to others. Mrs. White is not talking here about those who are actually striving with the aide of God to overcome personally failings and weaknesses.

    Please, you’re comparing completely different situations. You seem to be suggesting that open, decided, long-standing rebellion and attacks against the Pillars of the SDA Faith by paid representatives should be tolerated without comment or corrective action. This apparent notion of yours is simply mistaken. Mrs. White herself publicly opposed Battle Creek when the professors there started undermining Church doctrines. Paul did the same thing when false teachers in his day started to infiltrate the early Christian Church.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  57. @Sean Pitman:

    Yes, this paper was recommended earlier in this same thread.

    You must not actually be looking at these papers. This is a later review paper, from a recent book, that summarises the state of the art on flagellar evolution.

    Yet again, the authors of this paper simply assume evolutionary pathways based on phylogenetic similarities without considering what it would take to produce the required functional differences between one steppingstone and the next. The authors do not consider the statistical problem of crossing these non-beneficial gap distances.This problem isn’t even discussed.

    Of course it is not discussed, because no-one except you thinks there is such a problem, and you have yet to have your work pass muster in the scientific community. What we have here is enormous momentum in reconstructing the actual evolutionary trajectory. This provides an increasing volume of evidence that the flagellum was constructed piece by piece from materials that were already present in earlier bacterial species, involving processes that include gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer, and gene loss. You do not need to remind me that you think this is impossible (indeed, you use the same wording every time you say so). You just need to recognise that the evidence is building up against you.

    You evidently do not understand the overwhelming bias against ID theories within the mainstream scientific community.The last time a journal editor published a paper supportive of a theory of ID, the editor got so much flack that he had to resign…

    You evidently do not understand that an argument against the possibility of natural selection constructing a certain kind of system is not an argument for design. A paper delimiting the bounds of what selection in a certain environment can achieve in a certain amount of time falls squarely within the tradition of population genetics and ought to be publishable if it sound. Indeed, your arguments, if good ones, ought to be capable of being formulated in the mathematical framework of population genetics. So, I invite you to do so.

    A null hypothesis is a specific hypothesis and it can carry a great deal of predictive power since it can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. […] Therefore, your conclusion that a remote possibility of failure of the ID-only hypothesis suggests the validity of the non-ID hypothesis is nonsense. Science is based on the weight of evidence – not on absolute demonstration.

    You seem to have misunderstood the challenge here (which is ironic, given that you then presume to give me a little lecture on how scientific evidence works). The situation is this. Our evidence is that the phylogenetic history of the flagellar system maps smoothly onto the physical structure of the system. The evolutionary hypothesis is that the flagellar structure evolved, which neatly explains this congruence. You have admitted that there is no design hypothesis capable of explaining this evidence. Therefore, this particular piece of evidence supports evolution over design.

    (The reason I mentioned your in-principle argument here is that it provides no reason to reject this claim. Instead, even if sound, it just provides separate evidence for the design hypothesis. I have no idea why you thought that my saying “if you admit that the probability of the soundness of your in-principle argument is not 1” means that I think the probability of a scientific hypothesis is ever 1. It was, I think, blindingly clear that I was just being careful to specify an assumption of the argument).

    I am interested in your claim that the design hypothesis makes predictions. Can you specify some? Note that if they are predictions that are supposed to tell against evolutionary theory, they must be predictions about which evolutionary theory would disagree.

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  58. Dear Geanna,

    There’s a reason no one has spent much time on your argument. Can’t you see it? Nobody can quite believe that you yourself believe in your latest case. There’s more important things to discuss. I can’t count the many laughs I’ve had over this – but they’re sad chuckles. I find it hard to believe that you have convinced yourself that this is a valid reasoning process 🙁

    Are you suggesting Ellen White was lying when she declared gluttons to be non-Christians?

    No my sister, Ellen White was not lying… *sigh*

    Are you saying, as Sean Pitman did, that Ellen White is wrong because gluttons really are Christians after all who are merely struggling with a personal issue?

    Sean Pitman never said that Ellen White was wrong… Please try not to put words in other peoples mouths. =)

    Are you saying that we should not take Ellen White’s inspired words at face value?

    Here is where you are, may I say, so profoundly confused. I can hardly accept the fact that you really believe this.
    Let’s look at it logically.

    1. What did Ellen White say? What is Ellen White’s *definition* of gluttony? *”…who would not be restrained on the point of appetite, but would gorge himself with anything his taste might crave.”* That’s the definition.

    2. Is being fat a sign of gluttony?! *Where did you get that from?* P-l-e-a-s-e tell me where Ellen White said that being fat is a sign of gluttony. Please try to use logic here. I say it gently: don’t get so upset that it messes with your thinking process, sister. *Being Fat is NEVER a sign of gluttony!!!!!!!!!* And… =) I’m not an old fat man saying this. Just in case you forgot, I’m 20 years old, exactly 10 percent body fat, 30 inch waist, cholesterol 117, and have run a multiplicity of marathons, half-marathons, and even an ultra-marathon. How about you? 😉

    Ellen White was fat. Willie White was fat. Read Deuteronomy 31:20. The implication is that God’s blessings will cause fatness, with a warning about consequent departure from God. Read Psalm 92:14, Proverbs 11:25 and on and on. Think: does anyone really need to spend time on this? I simply don’t want to be fat because it doesn’t look very nice or feel very nice.

    OK. So here’s the Bottom Line. Not that you really needed someone to explain it to you… 😉

    ************

    1) I CAN NOT TELL if my fellow adult is a glutton. There is no way for me to be able to tell if my brother is eating more than he should!!!!! That is a personal matter between the individual adult and God – God alone can impress the individual with the amount of food he should eat!!!
    2) Ellen White says the ONLY exception is between the parent and kid: the parents have a responsibility to train their kids not to be gluttons, carefully watching their eating habits. Now Look. Watch this.
    3) If, however, a guy comes along, finds a happy haven at LSU, and sets up a class called, ‘Gluttony 101: how to succeed at being a glutton’ … … … WOAH! We’re dealing with a whole nother ball of wax!!!
    4) What should be done with that guy?? *HE IS TEACHING CONTRARY TO INSPIRATION: he is to be punished immediately.

    *********

    OK, Ellen White says “Evolution” is the worst form of infidelity.

    1) Is there any way I can tell if my brother believes in Evolution?
    2) If he doesn’t want to talk, NO!!! That is between Him and God! Now…
    3) What if my brother goes to LSU and sets up his Biology 101 class that promotes evolution? Woah!!! HE IS TEACHING CONTRARY TO INSPIRATION! He needs to be punished ASAP!

    Now come come. Do I really need to write all this? Do you really believe what you are saying? I HAVE NOT YET SEEN A ‘GLUTTONY 101’ CLASS AT ANY OF OUR UNIVERSITIES OR SCHOOLS. Therefore, NO ONE is making an issue of that.

    There ARE, however, “Evolution 101” classes going on all around. Educate Truth is, very successfully, making an issue of, and changing that.

    Just remember: there is no way to tell if someone is a glutton. Being fat does NOT equal gluttony, according to Inspiration. I hope we don’t see any classes on how to be a glutton popping up anytime soon at our schools. We need to take care of the Evolution teachers that are there, though.

    Hey, just one more bit of brotherly advice. If you want to grow your logic abilities, learning disciplines like Calculus well help a lot. Trust me, it’s very mind-expanding — I’ve experienced that first hand.
    I’m back to my Physics. If you have any more questions feel free to ask. Take Care. God Bless.

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  59. So just a 1 paragraph clarification. EducateTruth exists because our teachers are teaching evolution, contrary to Inspiration. If a group of teachers really got together, said, “Let’s go against Inspiration and teach how to be dedicated gluttons,” there would, again, be huge remonstrance.

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  60. @Brad:

    Yes, this paper was recommended earlier in this same thread. – Sean Pitman

    You must not actually be looking at these papers. This is a later review paper, from a recent book, that summarises the state of the art on flagellar evolution.

    Indeed, but by the same author as the 2007 paper and with the same basic ideas and conclusions…

    What we have here is enormous momentum in reconstructing the actual evolutionary trajectory. This provides an increasing volume of evidence that the flagellum was constructed piece by piece from materials that were already present in earlier bacterial species, involving processes that include gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer, and gene loss.

    I have no problem with the arguments for horizontal transfer or gene loss. The mechanisms for such events are well within the powers of known mindless biological processes. The only problem I have here is with the concept that gene duplications combined with other types of mutations can produce, from a single ancestral gene mind you, such high levels of functional complexity without the direction of deliberate design.

    Phylogenetic arguments based on nested hierarchical patterns do not solve this problem nor do they favor the common descent hypothesis over common design given that NHPs are produced by humans all the time for various reasons.

    You evidently do not understand that an argument against the possibility of natural selection constructing a certain kind of system is not an argument for design.

    Yes, it is. The demonstration that no known mindless force of nature can produce a phenomenon that is known to be within the creative potential of intelligent minds is a very good argument in favor of ID as the most likely explanation of origin.

    Yet again I ask you to tell me that basis for the hypotheses of design behind the sciences of anthropology, forensics and even SETI. Can you tell me the scientific basis argued for ID in these scientific disciplines?

    A paper delimiting the bounds of what selection in a certain environment can achieve in a certain amount of time falls squarely within the tradition of population genetics and ought to be publishable if it sound. Indeed, your arguments, if good ones, ought to be capable of being formulated in the mathematical framework of population genetics. So, I invite you to do so.

    I have formulated the argument in a mathematical framework with the assumption of vary large populations, high reproductive rates, and maximum viable mutation rates. The problem is that any argument that is seen to be challenging the fundamental dogma of Darwinism, the mechanism of RM/NS, is not going to be received favorably by any mainstream publication.

    Consider the comments of John C. Sanford, Cornell University in this regard. Sanford is a well known geneticist, inventor(gene gun), and former atheist, theistic evolutionist, then creationist, who wrote a controversial book, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome (2005). In this book he writes:

    “Late in my career, I did something which for a Cornell professor would seem unthinkable. I began to question the Primary Axiom [random mutation/natural selection]. I did this with great fear and trepidation. By doing this, I knew I would be at odds with the most “sacred cow” of modern academia. Among other things, it might even result in my expulsion from the academic world…
    To my own amazement, I gradually realized that the seemingly “great and unassailable fortress” which has been built up around the primary axiom is really a house of cards. The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory, in fact it is essentially indefensible. Its apparent invincibility derives mostly from bluster, smoke, and mirrors. A large part of what keeps the Axiom standing is an almost mystical faith, which the true-believers have in the omnipotence of natural selection…
    Furthermore, I began to see that this deep-seated faith in natural selection was typically coupled with a degree of ideological commitment which can only be described as religious. I started to realize (again with trepidation) that I might be offending a lot of people’s religion!…
    If the Primary Axiom is wrong, then there is a surprising and very practical consequence. When subjected only to natural forces, the human genome must irrevocably degenerate over time. Such a sober realization should have more than just intellectual or historical significance. It should rightfully cause us to personally reconsider where we should rationally be placing our hope for the future.”

    – John C. Sanford

    Sanford is right you know. There is a great deal of passion generated in the scientific community when anyone tries to challenge the sacred cow of mindless natural selection combined with random mutations as the amazingly creative force that it has been trumped up to be.

    The situation is this. Our evidence is that the phylogenetic history of the flagellar system maps smoothly onto the physical structure of the system. The evolutionary hypothesis is that the flagellar structure evolved, which neatly explains this congruence. You have admitted that there is no design hypothesis capable of explaining this evidence. Therefore, this particular piece of evidence supports evolution over design.

    Where have I “admitted that there is no design hypothesis capable of explaining [NHPs]”? Have I not explained over and over again that such patterns are well within the production capabilities of ID? – and are in fact produced by human designers? Did I not refer you to Object Oriented Computer Programming? – which does in fact produce NHPs? – without the use of common descent?

    There are reasons to produce NHPs in functionally integrated designs. Such patterns aid in the conservation of design and reduce the overall size of the program or genome content needed to code for the functional systems in question. They also have their own symmetry or beauty which some designers find inherently logical, predictable, and even structurally attractive.

    Beyond this, phylogenetic tree building for bacteria and other single-celled organisms are notoriously contradictory – dependent upon the sequence chosen for analysis.

    When full DNA sequences opened the way to comparing other kinds of genes, researchers expected that they would simply add detail to this tree. But “nothing could be further from the truth,” says Claire Fraser, head of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland. Instead, the comparisons have yielded many versions of the tree of life that differ from the rRNA tree and conflict with each other as well . . . ”

    Elizabeth Pennisi, Is It Time to Uproot the Tree of Life? Science, vol. 284, no. 5418, 21 May 1999, p. 1305

    In 1998 biologist Carl Woese, an early pioneer in constructing rRNA-based phylogenetic trees, lamented the problem by writing:

    “No consistent organismal phylogeny has emerged from the many individual protein phylogenies so far produced. Phylogenetic incongruities can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves. . . Clarification of the phylogenetic relationships of the major animal phyla has been an elusive problem, with analyses based on different genes and even different analyses based on the same genes yielding a diversity of phylogenetic trees.”

    In 1999 Philippe and Forterre wrote an article entitled, “The rooting of the universal tree of life is not reliable” in which they made the following comments:

    “The addition of new sequences to data sets has often turned apparently reasonable phylogenies into confused ones. . . In general, the two prokaryotic domains were not monophyletic with several aberrant groupings at different levels of the tree. Furthermore, the respective phylogenies contradicted each others, so that various ad hoc scenarios (paralogy or lateral gene transfer) must be proposed in order to obtain the traditional Archaebacteria-Eukaryota sisterhood.”

    In other words, the phylogenetic trees for various aspects of the supposed “roots” of the “Tree of Life” are not rooted in the same place and produce different contradictory “relationships” that do not form nice NHPs. Therefore, the argument that the timing of the evolution of various component parts of various bacterial systems can be reliably determined based on phylogenetic analysis is called into question.

    To put it another way, the basic problem is that evolutionary mechanisms are used to explain both hierarchical and non-hierarchical patterns. No matter how high up the tree this lack of hierarchy goes, the theory of common descent via RM/NS would still be used to explain the origin of such patterns. For focal problems in the tree between branches at higher levels, a change in mutation rate, or notions like convergence, divergence, or lateral gene transfers are used.

    The fact is that the theory of evolution cannot be falsified by either a universal or a focal lack of nested hierarchy. Beyond this, the hierarchical classification method was first introduced by creationists, not evolutionists. So, to say that hierarchical patterns, when present, definitely support the the theory of evolution over intelligent design theory is erroneous. The theory of evolution does not predict hierarchical patterns more than does intelligent design theory.

    Again, nested hierarchies can be found all the time in human designs.

    However, the death knell to this whole thing is the fact that most of these phylogenetic trees are based on functional genetic sequences. That messes everything up. Evolutionists would have a much stronger case if the sequences in question were actually neutral with regard to phenotypic function, but they aren’t. That is why the notion of “pseudogenes” was so popular for such a long time – until recently when pseudogenes were actually found to be functional. What this means is that the differences are clustered or nested because of the different functional needs of different organisms in different environments.

    Many types of functional proteins shared between very different creatures, like cytochrome c, are quite similar overall. In fact, certain key positions are highly conserved. The differences are also quite interesting in that they are maintained over thousands and even millions of generations. This means that most of the differences for such sequences are not neutral, but are indeed functional. In such a protein, that is otherwise so similar, it wouldn’t take much to get to a new sequence if the new sequence was more functionally beneficial or “optimal”.

    Biologist Leonard Brand makes this point quite eloquently in the following excerpt:

    “Anatomy is not independent of biochemistry. Creatures similar anatomically are likely to be similar physiologically. Those similar in physiology are, in general, likely to be similar in biochemistry, whether they evolved or were designed. An alternate, interventionist hypothesis is that the cytochrome c molecules in various groups of organisms are different (and always have been different) for functional reasons. Not enough mutations have occurred in these molecules to blur the distinct grouping evident. If we do not base our conclusions on the a priori assumption of megaevolution, all the data really tell us is that the organisms fall into nested groups without any indication of intermediates or overlapping of groups, and without indicating ancestor/descendant relationships.”

    Brand, Leonard. 1997. Faith, Reason, and Earth History. Andrews University Press, Berrien Springs, MI.

    So, classification models of living things that are based on molecular similarities and differences are quite limited as far as their use as evidence of common ancestry beyond very recent times. Many differences that are maintained seem to be function based. Because of this, certain differences in sequences cannot be used as a “molecular clock” since natural selection fixes certain sequences based on functional needs so that random drift is not allowed. Beyond this, very different phylogenetic relationships can be hypothesized depending upon which sequence is subjectively chosen for analysis. These different trees are often outright incompatible with each other or, at best, inconclusive.

    I am interested in your claim that the design hypothesis makes predictions. Can you specify some? Note that if they are predictions that are supposed to tell against evolutionary theory, they must be predictions about which evolutionary theory would disagree.

    What predictions does the SETI hypothesis for ID make? What predictions do forensic hypotheses for ID make? What about anthropology predictions for the recognition of ID?

    The common “prediction” is that a particular phenomenon that is hypothesized to be a true “artifact” will not be shown by later discoveries to have a non-artificial origin via some as yet unknown non-deliberate force of nature…

    For example, what “prediction” can be made about the most likely origin of a highly symmetrical polished granite cube that measures one meter on each side?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  61. Being Fat is NEVER a sign of gluttony!

    Let me re-word that. I was meaning to say, *Being fat is NEVER _proof_ of gluttony.* To make such a wild, sweeping claim would not only be cruel, but foolish. Inspiration never makes that statement. How could we?

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  62. @Sean Pitman:

    Yes, it is.The demonstration that no known mindless force of nature can produce a phenomenon that is known to be within the creative potential of intelligent minds is a very good argument in favor of ID as the most likely explanation of origin.

    But your argument isn’t that no known mindless force of nature can produce these structures, it is that natural selection can’t. Your argument does not, for instance, rule out the possibility that flagellar structures are produced by self-organisation rather than by selection. Stuart Kaufmann, for instance, has argued that self-organisation is more ubiquitous than biologists tend to recognise. I think he is wrong. But the point here is just that a scientific journal will not reject a paper that shows the limits of natural selection on the grounds that it must constitute an argument from design. If you like, I can provide references to as many papers as you like that do so—the literature on adaptive landscapes, for example, is full of them. So your pleading that no-one will publish your work because the scientific establishment has a conspiracy against design arguments will not fly. Once again, I invite you to send your work to a journal in order to discover what the real reason is.

    The problem is that any argument that is seen to be challenging the fundamental dogma of Darwinism, the mechanism of RM/NS, is not going to be received favorably by any mainstream publication.

    I invite you to consider the hypothesis that this is because none of the arguments so far have been any good. In any case, there are exceptions (to the reception, not to the quality of the arguments). Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini recently published a book which challenges this “dogma” (what an amusing use of that word, to a neutral bystander), and have had associated articles published in New Scientist (not peer reviewed) and Mind and Language (peer reviewed, but a philosophy and cognitive science journal rather than a biology journal). Their work has also been widely reviewed in scientific journals. There’s no need for conspiracy-theorising; if you really want to know why scientists don’t like your work, send it to them.

    Where have I “admitted that there is no design hypothesis capable of explaining [NHPs]“?

    You haven’t. You have admitted that you do not have a design hypothesis capable of explaining the congruence between phylogeny and physical structure in the flagellum.

    Beyond this, phylogenetic tree building for bacteria and other single-celled organisms are notoriously contradictory – dependent upon the sequence chosen for analysis.

    I’m certainly not going to undertake a generalised defence of phylogenetic inference, but your throwing around quotes about their limitations from scientists is certainly amusing. For every one you provide, I can provide thousands, as you well know. I will say for those watching (if there be such) that the best analysis of the logical structure of the evidential situation I know of is:

    Elliott Sober, Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science, Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    Beyond this, the hierarchical classification method was first introduced by creationists, not evolutionists.

    Are you referring to Linnaeus? This is hilarious.

    However, the death knell to this whole thing is the fact that most of these phylogenetic trees are based on functional genetic sequences. That messes everything up. Evolutionists would have a much stronger case if the sequences in question were actually neutral with regard to phenotypic function, but they aren’t.That is why the notion of “pseudogenes” was so popular for such a long time – until recently when pseudogenes were actually found to be functional. What this means is that the differences are clustered or nested because of the different functional needs of different organisms in different environments.

    This is an intriguing claim. Perhaps I can extract a prediction from you. Suppose that there is a group of species which are discovered to have enough pseudogenes to ground a phylogenetic inference made purely on that basis. Do you predict that this phylogeny will disagree with the phylogeny produced by whole genome analysis? The argument you give here suggests that you will. As you know, evolutionary theory predicts agreement.

    Moreover, the most recent statistical test of universal ancestry did in fact rely on adaptively neutral data, in the sense that it relied on sequence alignments in proteins all of which are highly conserved across life, but the specifics of which are themselves non-adaptive:

    Douglas L. Theobald, “A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry”, in Nature, Vol. 465, 13 May 2010, pp. 219–222. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09014

    Once again you can say the designer chose to do things this way, but there isn’t any obvious reason why they should have done so.

    What predictions does the SETI hypothesis for ID make? What predictions do forensic hypotheses for ID make?What about anthropology predictions for the recognition of ID? The common “prediction” is that a particular phenomenon that is hypothesized to be a true “artifact” will not be shown by later discoveries to have a non-artificial origin via some as yet unknown non-deliberate force of nature…For example, what “prediction” can be made about the most likely origin of a highly symmetrical polished granite cube that measures one meter on each side?

    You were the one who said it made predictions, I merely asked you for examples. The prediction you offer is not empirical, since it is about what science will do, not about what the world is like. I’m after an empirical prediction. I offered you one above. Are there others? Instead of offering rhetorical questions, just tell me yes or no.

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  63. Dear Robert S:

    Let me thank you for your excellent argument on this fallacious comparison between the open advocacy of evolution on an Adventist campus and a person who struggles with overeating. At exactly what point the latter occurs is rarely the same for different people. But your point is devastating about what it would mean to hire a teacher who advocated gluttony. That is the proper parallel to the issue being addressed on this Web site.

    It is rapidly becoming clear that those seeking to justify the denial of our faith at the hands of so-called scholars will stop at nothing to fabricate arguments in their defense, no matter how absurd.

    God bless!

    Pastor Kevin Paulson

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  64. @Brad:

    Since these exchanges are getting a bit long, let’s see if I can summarize your arguments:

    You seem to be suggesting that very high levels of functional complexity can evolve in a reasonable amount of time via the mechanism of genetic duplication and other forms of random mutations combined with natural selection. You believe this without any appeal to statistical analysis regarding minimum likely non-beneficial gap distances at various levels of functional complexity. You simply assume, as most scientists do, that the gap distances must be small enough since everyone knows that everything is related via evolutionary descent from a common ancestor of all life.

    How are you so sure without statistical analysis of the likely gap distances? Because of the existence of nested hierarchical patterns within the Tree of Life. The quotes I’ve presented that this NHP doesn’t actually exist at the root level of the ToL don’t seem to cause you pause since you are sure that you can find thousands of papers for every one paper I reference that claim just the opposite (I challenge you to find just one recent paper that claims to show the the roots of the ToL actually produce a consistent NHP – and produce an actual relevant quote from that paper which addresses and counters the arguments presented by the authors I’ve quoted).

    You go on to suggest that there is “no viable design hypothesis capable of explaining the congruence between phylogeny and physical structure in the flagellum” when it is quite clear that an intelligent designer could easily produce whatever congruence you see between phylogeny and structure – especially given that such congruence only makes sense from the perspective of preservation of design – using similar sequences to produce similar structures for similar functions within similar creatures. This sort of conservation of design also allows for the reduction of genomic size. Again, what do you think about NHPs found in human-designed systems such as Object Oriented Computer Programming?

    But, you argue that such is not an “empirical prediction” of the design hypothesis since empirically predicting what a designer will specifically do without having close personal knowledge of the designer in question is very difficult.

    This does not mean, however, that it is unscientific to propose the hypothesis that intelligent design is required to explain certain types of phenomena which go well beyond any known non-deliberate process of nature while being within the known potential of ID. Such is the basis for the proposed detection of true artifacts in various mainstream science such as anthropology, forensics, and SETI. Such an ID-only hypothesis is also testable in a falsifiable manner and can therefore gain high levels of predictive value.

    I’m sure you have many more references that you can recommend (I find that many evolutionists I get into discussions with are very fond of quoteless “reference mining”), but what I’m most interested in at this point is if you have any of your own arguments that you can present in your own words, or based on relevant quotes, that clearly address my own questions regarding the expanding non-beneficial gap problem or your reasons why NHPs can only be explained via common descent? I may get around to submitting my ideas to mainstream journals, but until then do you wish to present some sort of actual counter argument of your own? You could save me a lot of hassle you know if you could present something that I could actually understand along these lines. ; )

    Sincerely,

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  65. What we have here is enormous momentum in reconstructing the actual evolutionary trajectory. This provides an increasing volume of evidence that the flagellum was constructed piece by piece from materials that were already present in earlier bacterial species, involving processes that include gene duplication, horizontal gene transfer, and gene loss. You do not need to remind me that you think this is impossible (indeed, you use the same wording every time you say so). You just need to recognise that the evidence is building up against you.

    So let me get this straight. An apparatus that Dr. Burg of Harvard calls ‘the most efficient machine in the universe’ was “constructed” by unintelligent processes using parts that were not originally used for this purpose?!

    Let me remind you that this is a machine with at least 40 working parts which must be assembled in a perfect sequential assembly process by other complex machinery which are themselves constructed by other complex machinery. Let me remind you that this is a machine with a very effective environmental sensory unit built into it.
    Let me remind you that this machine has an operating speed of 100,000 rpm. A machine that can stop within a quarter turn while travelling at that speed and completely reverse to full speed within less than a turn.

    Forgive me. I’m just a poor layperson who happened to have been watching and stumbled into the Christ-less atmosphere of scientific skepticism. Since I am a Christian seeking to die daily and have my intellectual pride laid in the dust, I tend to view creation as created. I also tend to try not to bend logic to the breaking point in seeking to rule out God.

    Is it possible that Jesus can help us both?

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  66. @Sean Pitman:

    I may reply to the bulk of your post another time. For now, I want to focus on this challenge:

    I challenge you to find just one recent paper that claims to show the the roots of the ToL actually produce a consistent NHP – and produce an actual relevant quote from that paper which addresses and counters the arguments presented by the authors I’ve quoted.

    Now, among others, you provided the following quote, which you attribute to Carl Woese:

    “No consistent organismal phylogeny has emerged from the many individual protein phylogenies so far produced. Phylogenetic incongruities can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves. . . Clarification of the phylogenetic relationships of the major animal phyla has been an elusive problem, with analyses based on different genes and even different analyses based on the same genes yielding a diversity of phylogenetic trees.”

    However, there is no such quote in Woese. Instead, the quote you provide is cobbled together from two sources.

    This quote is from Carl Woese, “The universal ancestor”, PNAS June 9, 1998 vol. 95 no. 12 pp. 6854-6859:

    No consistent organismal phylogeny has emerged from the many individual protein phylogenies so far produced. Phylogenetic incongruities can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves

    And this quote is from Michael Lynch, “The Age and Relationships of the Major Animal Phyla”, in Evolution, Vol. 53, No. 2, April 1999, pp. 319-325:

    Clarification of the phylogenetic relationships of the major animal phyla has been an elusive problem, with analyses based on different genes and even different analyses based on the same genes yielding a diversity of phylogenetic trees.

    A quick search for places providing both of these quotes turns up The Jonathan Wells book Icons of Evolution, which has been thoroughly discredited in the scientific community for the selective and biased way in which it has extracted quotes from scientists that appear to support a conclusion they would not endorse (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icons_of_Evolution ). And indeed it turns out that even the description of Woese you provide (“an early pioneer in constructing rRNA-based phylogenetic trees”) has been lifted straight from Wells.

    Finally, when I attempted to find the original source of the error of attributing both of these quotes to Woese, it turns out that the single place online featuring the error is an essay called “Genetic Phylogeny” by none other than Sean Pitman M.D (see: http://naturalselection.0catch.com/Files/geneticphylogeny.html ). Moreover, in this essay Wells is not cited. I guess it is easier to maintain the illusion of scientific objectivity when you refer to the primary literature itself rather than a piece of hackwork produced by the Discovery Institute.

    So, in answer to your request that I provide you with “just one recent paper that claims to show the the roots of the ToL actually produce a consistent NHP – and produce an actual relevant quote from that paper which addresses and counters the arguments presented by the authors I’ve quoted”, I refer you directly to the place in Nick Matzke’s detailed review of Wells’ book where he addresses the quotes you have taken from him. It can be found here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/wells/iconob.html#root — here is a quote:

    “If it turns out our remotest ancestors are a community of gene-trading bacteria rather than a single one (and it should be remembered that it is also possible that a community of gene-trading bacteria could still be descended from one bacteria), then this will be significant but hardly something that overthrows the evolutionary view of life. And as mentioned before, there are good reasons to think that the traditional tree model will basically work even down near the root”.

    Incidentally, I believe you should at least let us all know which, if any, of your other arguments are taken from uncredited sources, so that I don’t have to waste my time replying to other arguments that have already been addressed in the scientific literature.

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  67. @Sean Pitman:

    Since these exchanges are getting a bit long, let’s see if I can summarize your arguments:

    You seem to be suggesting that very high levels of functional complexity can evolve in a reasonable amount of time via the mechanism of genetic duplication and other forms of random mutations combined with natural selection. You believe this without any appeal to statistical analysis regarding minimum likely non-beneficial gap distances at various levels of functional complexity. You simply assume, as most scientists do, that the gap distances must be small enough since everyone knows that everything is related via evolutionary descent from a common ancestor of all life.

    The evolutionist needs to find a way to explain away the fact that we do not see new thriving complex genomes in eukaryote life forms arising from simpler ones today. You have chosen one small aspect of the problem for focus. But there are many others.

    1. Eukaryotes require a homologous match before anything is expressed. A one lucky shot sequence gets you nothing.
    2. You cannot simply duplicate “a gene in a cell” – the dupication event must take place in a gamete and must find a paired match for offspring to express the trait. So dozens of lucky viral shots that miss the gametes – gets you nothing.
    3. The new coding gene – coding for that “new feature” protein must also be transmitted, properly folded for the new protein, and delivered to the right site for expression in phenotype. Without the epigenome and infrastructure designed to deliver the protein in it’s properly folded form — you have nothing.

    Simply “having” an unexpressed gene – does not allow natural selection to “favor the trait”.

    Hence – no evidence at all for new coding genes in eukaryote systems of simple genomes giving rise to thriving complex genomes today – or ever.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  68. @Brad:

    But your argument isn’t that no known mindless force of nature can produce these structures, it is that natural selection can’t. Your argument does not, for instance, rule out the possibility that flagellar structures are produced by self-organisation rather than by selection

    This argument is of the form “The reptile’s gamete cells WANTED to produce feathers and a complete system designed for flight — and so they did”.

    As Colin Patterson observed – evolution is promoted as if it were “revealed truth”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  69. @Richard Osborn:

    After one of my work colleagues read some of the church articles on LSU, she asked this question as I left her office. “Why do Christians treat each other in such unChristian ways? I’m a fallen Catholic but I was raised to believe in such values as charity, kindness, goodness, and understanding. Why do Christians behave like this?” It was one of my more embarrassing moments since leaving denominational work

    Point taken. Our condemnation of theistic evolution as the worst form of infidelity (3SG 90-91) for a Christian – should be carefully affirmed so as not to go beyond the point that needs to be made there.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  70. @Sean Pitman:
    Thank you for your considered response. You’ve been doing a lot of work in this forum, all reasoned and passionate without anger.

    It’s Ok if you are convinced of some form of theistic evolution. You can still have a living relationship with God and still be saved. However, I believe that it is far better to have a clear understanding of the evidence in support of a literal Creation week because I think it paints a much better, much more hopeful, and more consistent picture of God. I think this picture is far more attractive compared to the theistic view where God deliberately uses the very painful, even evil, mechanism of “survival of the fittest” to create and modify new forms of sentient life over vast periods of time. For me, this is not consistent with a God who instantly turned water into wine, who instantly raised in the past and will do so again in the future, and who cares for human and even animal suffering – – noticing with concern when even a little sparrow falls wounded to the ground…

    I’m not proposing an alternative model, and have made no mention of Evolution. This issue is much bigger than 2 sides. For those not steeped in the sciences (the vast majority of people), they will not see the merits of a particular argument being waged in our forums; they will more likely see our attitude towards members and leaders. To narrow our Fundamental Belief to add an extra layer of exclusion show just that – an exclusion.

    It is possible that other models exist, one that could coincide with scientific data (not common interpretation, but actual data),and with the actual words written in Genesis (not our current interpretation of them). To limit our church to a position that excludes all available models, and to close the discussion so sharply -as I believe this measure does- dashes our ability to witness in communities of intelligence and learning, not to mention the mark of incredibility and close-minded-ness this leaves on our institutions. Our #1 job given my Jesus was to draw people in, not to make exclusionary rules like the Pharisees.

    People arguing for <144hrs of work by God seem to think that any other process would be.. less magical, less glorious, or less powerful. That it would in some way diminish the awesome power of God (you allude to this in your wine-miracle comment, and His attention to sparrows). However – consider bowling: If I run down the lane and knock the pins over with my hand directly, is it not less impressive than if I can set something into motion – very deliberately that has an intended outcome. To me this does not remove intention, glory, or attentiveness. I'm not saying that God bowled us into existence, but I strikes me as rather rigid to insist on the first thing we pictured when we read the words. The Bible itself is FAR less specific than our proposed Fundamental Belief amendment – in these details I think we've gone too far.

    There are also different understandings of “rest” in English. One can rest from doing a particular task without being physically or mentally “tired”.

    I agree that God was not tired but my point is that He rest is symbolic, as He is the ultimate power of the Universe “rest” is somewhat meaningless… We are used to this symbolism so it doesn’t strike us unusual.

    Even the most traditional believer must admit the few verses in the beginning of Genesis do not give us much detail. And how could they? I can’t explain half the things I own and use daily (nor my job) to most people. If it was explained fully, we still wouldn’t understand more. The story is kept simple for a reason: it has a couple points that should not be drowned in details.
    -God did this on purpose
    -God did this in and order, not randomly
    -God set an example for Sabbath
    It would seem wiser to me if our Church focused on the important themes rather than adding detail.

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  71. @Brad:

    “If it turns out our remotest ancestors are a community of gene-trading bacteria rather than a single one (and it should be remembered that it is also possible that a community of gene-trading bacteria could still be descended from one bacteria), then this will be significant but hardly something that overthrows the evolutionary view of life. And as mentioned before, there are good reasons to think that the traditional tree model will basically work even down near the root”.

    – Nick Matzke

    Incidentally, I believe you should at least let us all know which, if any, of your other arguments are taken from uncredited sources, so that I don’t have to waste my time replying to other arguments that have already been addressed in the scientific literature.

    I thank you for correcting an inappropriately concatenated and referenced quote on my part – which has now been corrected on my website (just a rough-draft collection of notes and ideas by the way). However, the individual quotes produce the same idea and are supported by numerous other references that present pretty much the same argument.

    I’m just wondering how your current admission of very common gene-trading within bacteria at the root of the ToL remotely counters my original argument? – that there is no consistent NHP in the root of the assumed ToL? – or any of the other referenced arguments presented along these same lines? – such as this one from Stiller and Hall in their 1999 Science article:

    “A precipitous acceptance of such widespread LGT places evolutionary biologists in the untenable position of adopting an unfalsifiable hypothesis, at least in terms of the techniques of comparative sequence analyses that currently dominate the field of molecular evolution. Any phylogenetic pattern inferred from any given gene can be fit to some suitable mix of conventional intraspecies gene transmission and interorganismal genetic promiscuity. Thus, unless more reliable evidence is uncovered, the scientific method requires that we invoke the idea of ubiquitous LGT only as a last resort.” ( Link )

    In this article Stiller and Hall are suggesting that LGT may not be as common as some, like you, are suggesting. They pose other artifactual problems such as “long arm attraction” and other methodological problems. Either way, such problems, artifactual or not, suggests that “much of the ancient topology of the universal tree seems, therefore, unreliable.” – at least for now.

    I also find it rather amusing that you reference the work and opinions of Matzke (I’ve had a few exchanges with him on Talk.Origins regarding his flagellar evolution scenarios), while at the same time promoting the work and conclusions of Liu on sequential flagellar evolution from a single common ancestor gene/protein. You do realize that Matzke thinks Liu’s conclusions are ludicrous – right?

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/04/update-on-pnas.html

    For once I agree with Matzke. Liu’s argument that all the core structural proteins in a system as complex as the flagellar motility system could have arisen via gene duplication and modification starting from a single gene/protein is completely contrary to even mainstream thinking and assumptions. It isn’t remotely tenable that such a series of events would be able to be sequentially beneficial in a manner that could be favorably influenced by NS. The odds of the success of Lui’s story are so slim as to be not even remotely reasonable much less scientifically testable in a falsifiable manner. Lui’s ideas are therefore not really “scientific” – even by mainstream standards!

    And the ID community has not been slack in noticing the over-the-top claims of the Liu paper and many are having a field day with them. Even Behe pointed out the opinions of Matzke as opposed to Liu:

    The PNAS paper reaches conclusions that other workers find very questionable. Nicholas Matzke of the pro-Darwinian National Center for Science Education and Panda’s Thumb blog declares the work to be of “canine quality”, that is, “a dog.” (2) (Although a geographer by training, Matzke has acquired some skills in the area and earlier published his own sequence comparisons of flagellar proteins in Nature Reviews Microbiology.) The bottom line is that Matzke is quite skeptical that the two dozen kinds of proteins in the flagellum core could be derived from a single protein. His point is well taken. Yet neither of the scientists that Science magazine journalist Jennifer Cutraro called for comments expressed any curiosity concerning that startling claim.

    Michael Behe
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/04/darwinism_gone_wild_neither_se003517.html

    Moreover, analysis of protein sequence space by Douglas Axe suggests that even away from the active site certain enzymes can tolerate very little variability before loss of selectable function of their original type. This seems to challenge the idea of continuous variability within sequence space, even for nominally closely related sequences. Because of this, Axe concludes:

    “Contrary to the prevalent view, then, enzyme function places severe constraints on residue identities at positions showing evolutionary variability, and at exterior non-active-site positions, in particular. Homologues sharing less than about two-thirds sequence identity should probably be viewed as distinct designs with their own sets of optimizing features.”

    Douglas D. Axe, “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,” Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 301:585-595 (2000).

    http://home.comcast.net/~mkent595/islands.gif

    See also:
    Douglas D. Axe, “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology, 1-21 (2004).

    So, tell me again about the reliability of making conclusions of evolutionary ancestry and the order of evolutionary progress based on “congruence between phylogeny and structure”…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  72. @J. Knight:

    It is possible that other models exist, one that could coincide with scientific data (not common interpretation, but actual data),and with the actual words written in Genesis (not our current interpretation of them). To limit our church to a position that excludes all available models, and to close the discussion so sharply -as I believe this measure does- dashes our ability to witness in communities of intelligence and learning, not to mention the mark of incredibility and close-minded-ness this leaves on our institutions. Our #1 job given my Jesus was to draw people in, not to make exclusionary rules like the Pharisees.

    It is also possible that it is all just a big fairytale too – that God doesn’t really exist at all. Why be so closed minded toward the possibility of atheists being right? After all, as a subjective creature you don’t know anything for sure, with 100% confidence and predictive value, regarding anything in the world that you think exists outside of your own mind and imagination.

    The point is that we have to make exclusionary rules based on what we think we know about reality or there would be no “organization”. Organizations are defined by rules. Rules are not inherently bad things. The rules that define a religious organization or order are not inherently bad either. It is only a bad thing if those in a religious group think to impose their rules and regulations with the use of civil power upon those who do not voluntarily subscribe.

    People arguing for <144hrs of work by God seem to think that any other process would be.. less magical, less glorious, or less powerful. That it would in some way diminish the awesome power of God (you allude to this in your wine-miracle comment, and His attention to sparrows). However – consider bowling: If I run down the lane and knock the pins over with my hand directly, is it not less impressive than if I can set something into motion – very deliberately that has an intended outcome. To me this does not remove intention, glory, or attentiveness. I'm not saying that God bowled us into existence, but I strikes me as rather rigid to insist on the first thing we pictured when we read the words. The Bible itself is FAR less specific than our proposed Fundamental Belief amendment – in these details I think we've gone too far.

    I disagree. The wording of the Genesis account is very specific. In fact most Hebrew scholars, even liberal Hebrew scholars (like James Barr for example) agree that the author(s) of the Genesis account clearly intended to convey a literal historical account of origins. Only the evangelical theologians are trying to warp the obvious intended meaning of the text into something that the original authors clearly did not intend to convey.

    Now, it would have been wonderful indeed of God had produced some way to have the universe and much in it operate without his direct hand being obviously visible driving every little thing. And, this is in fact the case. God has set up some very wonderful machines that do a lot of really neat stuff. However, these machines have clear limitations beyond which they cannot go and the universe itself follows very specific rules beyond which it cannot go as far as we know. One of the most obvious rules of the universe is thermodynamic entropy. And, another very real, though perhaps less obvious rule, is informational entropy.

    You can suppose all day long that things might be different than they appear to be, but given the evidence that is currently available as to how the universe works and how this interplays with the description of the biblical authors, the SDA interpretation of the Bible makes the most sense to me and I think the SDA interpretation and fundamental belief statements along these lines are extremely valuable and should be defended.

    Now, I know you and many more do not agree. And, you are certainly free to your opinions in this wonderful country of ours. You are even free to start your own “organization” where there are no exclusive rules (good luck with that lasting very long). However, a person is not, or at least should not be, free to promote his/her fundamentally contrary views on the SDA Church’s dime.

    Is this a form of exclusion? Sure it is. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as one is free of any civil penalties to leave the SDA Church at will.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  73. @Sean Pitman:

    I thank you for correcting an inappropriately concatenated and referenced quote on my part – which has now been corrected.

    You have not indicated which of your other arguments are also taken from uncredited sources. You have not properly acknowledged Wells (you say he also provides the quotes, but you do not acknowledge that he is the source for both your quotes and your argument). In passing, I note that this is not the first time you have engaged in plagiarism: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/carlos_cerna_will_someday_dema.php — it is hard to take you seriously when you rely on such thoroughly discredited sources and engage in such blatant academic dishonesty.

    I’m just wondering how your current admission of very common gene-trading within bacteria at the root of the ToL remotely counters my original argument?

    Apparently you did not read the section of Matzke’s review to which I referred. Here is the relevant quote:

    What Wells does not point out is that this entire controversy has precious little to do with eukaryote phylogeny (which is coming along just fine, thank you, see e.g. Baldauf et al., 2000), and nothing to do with metazoan phylogeny (previously discussed), all of which will remain perfectly traditional and tree-like no matter who wins the debate over rooting the tree.

    See also the recent paper in Nature I referred to above, which argues for common ancestry independently of assumptions about the ubiquity of gene transfer. In short, you are arguing, following Wells, that problems pinning down the root of the tree infect the whole practice of phylogenetic inference. They do not, and I challenge you to find me a peer-reviewed paper in which it is claimed that they do (none of those you have so far quoted fit the bill).

    I also find it rather amusing that you reference the work and opinions of Matzke (whom I’ve debated extensively myself on Talk.Origins regarding his flagellar evolution scenarios), while at the same time promoting the work and conclusions of Liu on sequential flagellar evolution from a single common ancestor gene/protein. You do realize that Matzke thinks Liu’s conclusions are ludicrous – right?http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/04/update-on-pnas.html

    The topics are completely unrelated. The fact I cite Matzke on this matter, who disagrees with Liu on another completely independent matter, is irrelevant.

    Nevertheless, the link you provde is interesting. And no, I hadn’t read the exchanges on the Liu and Ochman paper before now. Having now read most of the reactions, especially by Pallen and Matzke here: http://ttaxus.blogspot.com/2007/05/jcvi-evolutionary-genomics-journal-club.html it seems that there are serious problems with the paper (though not the ones you state; see below). Unfortunately, Liu and Ochman do not appear to have replied in print yet, though the recent review paper by Liu repeats the claim of homologies among the whole set of core flagellar proteins. Also, a letter Pallen and Matzke initially sent to Science seems never to have appeared anywhere. So the jury is out, though I agree that the weight of evidence looks like it tilts against the paper at this point. (You could have mentioned this earlier, since it undermines the argument I had been making about congruence between phylogeny and physical structure). It is worth noting that one of the reasons Matzke disputes the paper is because of the presence of better attested homologies with other non-flagellar proteins. The best published review paper I was able to find on the matter is:

    Doolittle, W. Ford and Olga Zhaxybayeva. 2007. “Evolution: Reducible Complexity—The Case for Bacterial
    Flagella”, in Current Biology, Vol. 17, No. 13, 3 July 2007, R510–R512. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.003

    For once I agree with Matzke. Liu’s argument that all the core structural proteins in a system as complex as the flagellar motility system could have arisen via gene duplication and modification starting from a single gene/protein is completely contrary to even mainstream thinking and assumptions.

    You are hilarious. Matzke does not argue that they could not have arisen in this way, he argues that the evidence suggests that they in fact did not. To make it seem as if Matzke based his criticism on a general criticism of the possibility of evolution by single gene duplication is ridiculous, and you know it.

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  74. @Brad:

    You have not indicated which of your other arguments are also taken from uncredited sources. You have not properly acknowledged Wells (you say he also provides the quotes, but you do not acknowledge that he is the source for both your quotes and your argument).

    Since you were so kind to point out the error to me, I have obtained the papers and reviewed the quotes in context. If you will notice I also added substantially to the Woese quote in order to provide more context.

    Would this qualify, in your book, as a direct reference?

    And, aren’t you more interested in the actual arguments made? – especially since the quotes presented did in fact correctly represent the arguments of the authors? I’d much rather you quote from your references, even if second hand, in support of your arguments rather than the common practice of simply listing off a bunch of references without actually presenting an argument…

    In passing, I note that this is not the first time you have engaged in plagiarism: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/carlos_cerna_will_someday_dema.php — it is hard to take you seriously when you rely on such thoroughly discredited sources and engage in such blatant academic dishonesty.

    Ah yes, the time someone caught me trying to take credit for some common knowledge regarding opsins and tubulins… Kinda like not not referencing something like “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” There I go again, “plagerizing” common knowledge. Oh, and the horrible thing I did by thinking that a couple references used by Wells were interesting and quite relevant to the current discussion here. It isn’t like you’ve recently appealed to discredited primary sources yourself – like the Liu paper? Or is that somehow different or “irrelevant”?

    In any case, I stand corrected. I shall try to do better in the future. I really have no need to produce easily falsifiable arguments or bogus “evidence” that really isn’t valid. I want to know or at least strive for the real truth – even if I don’t like what I find.

    I’m also not here to convince you of anything. That’s not my calling. I’m just curious as to why you have come to the conclusions you seem to hold? – to see if you have actually thought of something that makes sense to me given what I think I understand of this issue…

    See also the recent paper in Nature I referred to above, which argues for common ancestry independently of assumptions about the ubiquity of gene transfer.

    I believe that a common origin for all of life is quite obvious as well. I just believe that the common origin was a common designer – not common descent beyond very low levels of functional complexity. What is the basic argument in your Nature article that necessitates common descent over common design? And where is the NHP in the roots of the presumed ToL?

    In short, you are arguing, following Wells, that problems pinning down the root of the tree infect the whole practice of phylogenetic inference.

    I never made this argument. I specifically limited my challenge to a consistent NHP within the roots of the proposed ToL. I admit that NHPs are much more clear at higher level branches within the proposed ToL. The argument is that common descent is used to explain both nested and non-nested patterns. It can explain anything and everything it seems… even the occasional aberrancies that are noted at higher levels.

    You do realize that Matzke thinks Liu’s conclusions are ludicrous – right? – Sean Pitman

    The topics are completely unrelated. The fact I cite Matzke on this matter, who disagrees with Liu on another completely independent matter, is irrelevant.

    Oh really? Interesting…

    So the jury is out, though I agree that the weight of evidence looks like it tilts against the paper at this point. (You could have mentioned this earlier, since it undermines the argument I had been making about congruence between phylogeny and physical structure).

    So you agree with Matzke anyway then? – despite him being an irrelevant source here?

    In any case, you support my point. Apparent congruence between phylogeny and physical structure can be used to support completely different phylogenetic trees – especially in the “roots” of the “ToL”.

    Beyond this, you don’t seem to understand that the odds are extreme against the notion of duplication and divergence from one common ancestral protein producing all core structural proteins in a high level integrated system like a flagellar motility system. The Douglas Axe data essentially falsifies this concept beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity.

    How does this not make the Liu conclusion doubly dubious?

    It is worth noting that one of the reasons Matzke disputes the paper is because of the presence of better attested homologies with other non-flagellar proteins. The best published review paper I was able to find on the matter is:

    Doolittle, W. Ford and Olga Zhaxybayeva. 2007. “Evolution: Reducible Complexity—The Case for Bacterial Flagella”, in Current Biology, Vol. 17, No. 13, 3 July 2007, R510–R512. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.003

    Indeed. This is why I was very surprised that you would be so supportive of the Liu paper – a paper which contradicts most prior arguments for flagellar evolution through co-opting other homologous proteins and systems to do new jobs as part of the evolving flagellar system. This has long been the argument of those like Matzke and Kenneth Miller.

    You are hilarious. Matzke does not argue that they could not have arisen in this way, he argues that the evidence suggests that they in fact did not. To make it seem as if Matzke based his criticism on a general criticism of the possibility of evolution by single gene duplication is ridiculous, and you know it.

    Do you not understand Axe’s argument?

    I only agree with Matzke’s point that the Liu paper contradicts even mainstream beliefs regarding flagellar evolution. Beyond this, however, the Liu paper contradicts current understanding regarding the nature of sequence space and the enormous odds against the conclusions of Liu remotely representing reality outside of invoking ID.

    Of course Matzke suffers the same problem against his arguments for flagellar evolution. Although Matzke’s arguments are a bit more sophisticated than Liu’s, they are still just as fatally flawed for the very same reason. As Behe pointed out in the reference I listed for you previously, nested phylogenetic similarities say absolutely nothing about the likelihood that the mechanism of RM/NS, or any other naturalistic mindless mechanism, did the job…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  75. 1. What did Ellen White say? What is Ellen White’s *definition* of gluttony? *”…who would not be restrained on the point of appetite, but would gorge himself with anything his taste might crave.”* That’s the definition.
    2. Is being fat a sign of gluttony?! *Where did you get that from?* P-l-e-a-s-e tell me where Ellen White said that being fat is a sign of gluttony.

    Sorry, Robert. Only an idiot believes people get fat by gorging themselves on things they do not crave. And only an idiot would suggest that being fat is not a sign of gluttony. There is no question what Ellen White is referring to as “gluttony”.

    “Men and women now carry their eating and drinking so far that it ends in gluttony and drunkenness.” {TSDF 157.3}

    “Many who discard flesh-meats and other gross and injurious articles think that because their food is simple and wholesome they may indulge appetite without restraint, and they eat to excess, sometimes to gluttony. This is an error. The digestive organs should not be burdened with a quantity or quality of good which it will tax the system to appropriate.” {TSDF 157.3}

    All you people who believe gluttons (whom Ellen White unmistakably identifies as those who eat to excess) are indeed Christians have declared Ellen White a liar. She says very clearly “Those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be, and however exalted their profession.” {CD 133.2}

    If this is a “non-issue” then why did Ellen White devote so much comment to this condition? She writes much, more more about this hideous sin that so many Adventist employees indulge and which you are so quick to excuse.

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  76. @Geanna Dane: A very good point has been made. Not everyone who is overweight is gluttonous; however, gluttony can lead to being overweight. Our health is not a non-issue, but it is an issue that Educate Truth is not addressing. This website is intended to focus on LSU and it’s problem with promoting the theory of evolution as fact.

    If you or anyone else would like to continue talking about aspects of the health message as it pertains to the Christian life, please contact each other privately. Further comments on this topic will not be posted.

    Shane Hilde

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  77. The point is that we have to make exclusionary rules based on what we think we know about reality or there would be no “organization”. Organizations are defined by rules. Rules are not inherently bad things. The rules that define a religious organization or order are not inherently bad either. It is only a bad thing if those in a religious group think to impose their rules and regulations with the use of civil power upon those who do not voluntarily subscribe.

    I fear you’re not hearing my intent. Of course we need to establish a property line to demark our organization, otherwise we are nomads and not a body of believers. And we HAVE this in the current Fundamental Belief(s). But to tighten it down further is to say that our interpretation of the Words of God is the only correct one, and if you don’t like it you are out! At least I fear that is how it will be seen.

    Any organization must exists to serve a purpose. If the purpose fades, so does the org. Our purpose is to respond to Jesus’s call of discipleship. We are not save through the church – but as individuals, so the job of the church is to support and educate. Creating an increasingly limited view of – one full of interpretive details, not the pure word of the Bible – does not serve this purpose but works against it.

    People arguing for <144hrs of work by God seem to think that any other process would be.. less magical, less glorious, or less powerful. That it would in some way diminish the awesome power of God (you allude to this in your wine-miracle comment, and His attention to sparrows). However – consider bowling: If I run down the lane and knock the pins over with my hand directly, is it not less impressive than if I can set something into motion – very deliberately that has an intended outcome. To me this does not remove intention, glory, or attentiveness. I'm not saying that God bowled us into existence, but I strikes me as rather rigid to insist on the first thing we pictured when we read the words. The Bible itself is FAR less specific than our proposed Fundamental Belief amendment – in these details I think we've gone too far.

    I disagree. The wording of the Genesis account is very specific. In fact most Hebrew scholars, even liberal Hebrew scholars (like James Barr for example) agree that the author(s) of the Genesis account clearly intended to convey a literal historical account of origins. Only the evangelical theologians are trying to warp the obvious intended meaning of the text into something that the original authors clearly did not intend to convey.

    I agree that the author(s) of Genesis is intended to convey a literal, historical account, and would not posit otherwise. Faced with the task of explaining possibly the largest action of all time (2nd to the vanquishing of sin? that’s another topic) in under 800 words (KJV) what would you choose? Well.. I’d focus on getting my point across – that this thing happened in order and not by chance, and it was the direct result of God’s intent. Without directly mentioning it, you get the idea that God the Creator is a pretty big deal, powerful and organized, and sending a direct message – He rested. But to say that it’s limited to 24 hour periods, when the KJV mentions the invention of day in verse 14, is imposing your own interpretation.

    However, these machines have clear limitations beyond which they cannot go and the universe itself follows very specific rules beyond which it cannot go as far as we know. One of the most obvious rules of the universe is thermodynamic entropy. And, another very real, though perhaps less obvious rule, is informational entropy.

    Agreed. I’m still not proposing evolution. Just discouraging a close-minded view of scripture, and trying to point out what effect that might have outside of theological debate. It’s fine to be convinced of the answers, and to live with conviction based on those answers. But, especially in matters outside of salvation, it’s a tricky thing to apply those in a way that serves our main purpose. I think the existing Fundamental Belief #6 does this, and to modify it is to destroy that.
    Our pre-Adventist history is an excellent example. Here we have a group of people who were fervently praying and studying – seeking the truth. They found VERY CLEAR evidence that God would be returning soon, and living like true believers they acted on it. Only.. they had to go back and read it again later to realize their evidence wasn’t so clear. It’s not just science that makes “laws” that are open to revision, it should be everything in our lives.

    given the evidence that is currently available as to how the universe works and how this interplays with the description of the biblical authors, the SDA interpretation of the Bible makes the most sense to me and I think the SDA interpretation and fundamental belief statements along these lines are extremely valuable and should be defended.

    I agree completely. Which is my point – they should be defended, not modified. #6 is good like it is.
    If you read Genesis, already believing that Creation happened in 6 days (days as we currently experience them), then if very much supports that belief. If you read Genesis, believing something slightly different, it also supports that belief. In a case where this is true, I think a level of ambiguity is our only responsible choice. We’re saying “We’re sure of this much (the major themes of the story), and many of us also thing this (6-days as we experience them now)”. I know the 28 Fundamental Beliefs are not a test of membership (check what you signed when you got baptized), nor a test of employment (check with HR), but they are our broadcast statement to the world. Must we use them to beat people? Can we please use them to attract people?

    You also are in the science community – publishing original research. You know that things are dis-proven and revised all the time. Any paper is a presentation of direct observation filled in with interpretation, and sometimes we get the interpretation wrong.
    In LLU’s own labs, many of our employed researchers are unreachable for evangelism because of our strong stance on 6-literal days. I worked among them in 2005, and was unable to have a meaningful conversation about our religion (INSIDE the walls of hospital) because of this sticking point. Must we present ourselves as so rigid?

    And, you are certainly free to your opinions in this wonderful country of ours. You are even free to start your own “organization” where there are no exclusive rules (good luck with that lasting very long). However, a person is not, or at least should not be, free to promote his/her fundamentally contrary views on the SDA Church’s dime.

    Well.. I’m in China, so maybe not so much.

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  78. @J. Knight:

    I’m not proposing an alternative model, and have made no mention of Evolution. This issue is much bigger than 2 sides. For those not steeped in the sciences (the vast majority of people), they will not see the merits of a particular argument being waged in our forums; they will more likely see our attitude towards members and leaders. To narrow our Fundamental Belief to add an extra layer of exclusion show just that – an exclusion.

    It is possible that other models exist, one that could coincide with scientific data (not common interpretation, but actual data),and with the actual words written in Genesis (not our current interpretation of them). To limit our church to a position that excludes all available models, and to close the discussion so sharply -as I believe this measure does- dashes our ability to witness in communities of intelligence and learning, not to mention the mark of incredibility and close-minded-ness this leaves on our institutions. Our #1 job given my Jesus was to draw people in, not to make exclusionary rules like the Pharisees.

    People arguing for <144hrs of work by God seem to think that any other process would be.. less magical, less glorious, or less powerful.

    Evolutionists have a very simple and naive playbook – it starts with rule 1 “pretend that the wording in genesis that flatly debunks evolutionism is just some preference that somebody invents and not actually a problem in the text”.

    And it ends with “avoid any discussion that looks at the actual text and shows rule 1 to be flawed”.

    What amazes me – is that they keep hoisting that flag for all to see – as if it is not as transparently flawed as … well as it is.

    What am I missing?

    How do they ever succeed with anyone on that basis?

    As Romans 1 says – “they are without excuse”.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  79. @J. Knight:

    I agree that the author(s) of Genesis is intended to convey a literal, historical account, and would not posit otherwise. Faced with the task of explaining possibly the largest action of all time (2nd to the vanquishing of sin? that’s another topic) in under 800 words (KJV) what would you choose? Well.. I’d focus on getting my point across – that this thing happened in order and not by chance, and it was the direct result of God’s intent. Without directly mentioning it, you get the idea that God the Creator is a pretty big deal, powerful and organized, and sending a direct message – He rested. But to say that it’s limited to 24 hour periods, when the KJV mentions the invention of day in verse 14, is imposing your own interpretation.

    How am I imposing my own interpretation when even you admit that the very first chapters of Genesis make it very clear that this was also the intended meaning of the author of Genesis? It seems to me like you are the one trying to modify the intended meaning of Genesis by removing some of the specific ideas that the author of Genesis intended to convey. You are voting to modify the clearly intended meaning of “God’s Word”, while I’m trying to support it and make it clear within our own fundamental statements of belief…

    By the way, a great deal of presenting God as an ordered and powerful Creator is based on the literal interpretation of the creation week. Without this literal interpretation and the scientific support that goes with it, you really have no logical basis with which to defend your own argument that God is obviously a powerful and orderly Creator.

    What you have is an open door to evolutionary thinking and all the “intellectually tenable atheism” that is able to come through the very same door. Even Darwin died as an agnostic, and probably an outright atheist, because of his beliefs regarding evolution. He started out as a Christian, trained in the seminary, but lost his faith because of the very clear implications of evolutionary theories.

    Think about that…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  80. Bob Ryan says:

    Evolutionists have a very simple and naive playbook – it starts with rule 1 “pretend that the wording in genesis that flatly debunks evolutionism is just some preference that somebody invents and not actually a problem in the text”. … As Romans 1 says – “they are without excuse”.

    Literalists have a very simple and naive playbook – it starts with rule 1: “pretend that the wording in Genesis that suggests literal days and a short-term chronology is supported in numerous places in the Bible”. Please tell us what evidence is spoken of in Romans 1. Does this statement in Romans say anything about literal 24-hour days? Does it say anything about theistic evolutionists? Does it mean that our fundamental beliefs require a literal interpretation of every single word in Genesis? Or are you simply cobbling verses together to make your personal judgement of theistic evolutionists sound as if the Bible supports you.

    In your response, please leave Ellen White out of this unless you believe firmly she is canonical and that “sola scriptura” is a fallacy Adventists should avoid.

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  81. What you have is an open door to evolutionary thinking and all the “intellectually tenable atheism” that is able to come through the very same door. Even Darwin died as an agnostic, and probably an outright atheist, because of his beliefs regarding evolution. He started out as a Christian, trained in the seminary, but lost his faith because of the very clear implications of evolutionary theories.

    Think about that…

    I thought about it.

    If you are suggesting that “evolutionary thinking” will cause all to lose their faith as Darwin did, your logic is totally flawed and you know exactly why.

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  82. Literalists have a very simple and naive playbook – it starts with rule 1: “pretend that the wording in Genesis that suggests literal days and a short-term chronology is supported in numerous places in the Bible”. Please tell us what evidence is spoken of in Romans 1. Does this statement in Romans say anything about literal 24-hour days? Does it say anything about theistic evolutionists? Does it mean that our fundamental beliefs require a literal interpretation of every single word in Genesis? Or are you simply cobbling verses together to make your personal judgement of theistic evolutionists sound as if the Bible supports you.In your response, please leave Ellen White out of this unless you believe firmly she is canonical and that “sola scriptura” is a fallacy Adventists should avoid.  

    You like that word, “literalists”, and like to have fun with it. But not one of the people that you argue with on this website believes that everything in the Bible is to be taken literally. They just happen to know that the wording of the Bible is so clear, and further references by later Bible writers are so clear, there is no other sensible way to understand Genesis 1. And moreover, there is certainly no other way to understand it that aligns with Adventist theology.

    Genesis 1 is clear that they days were successive, evening-and-morning style days. Genesis 2 makes it clear that God rested on the 7th day, an obvious bridge to our current 7-day week, which has always been composed of literal, consecutive, 24-hour days. Exodus 20 makes it clear that the days in Genesis 1 correspond directly to the days in the time of early Israel, which by all accounts were literal, 24-hour days (“for in 4.5 billion years God made the heavens and the earth, therefore remember the seventh day to keep it holy” … doesn’t quite line up, does it?). References to Genesis 1 and 2 by Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers indicate that they understood the book in a literal, historical way. References in Psalms and Hebrews indicate that God created things by His word, miraculously, not out of things which currently exist by natural processes … which is very different from the evolutionary model, as well as to the naturalistic cosmological model to which is it closely tied.

    Apparently you’ve already thrown out Ellen White as a reliable source, since you are no longer willing to hear her testimony on the subject. First Ellen White, next certain passages of the Bible, then the whole Bible, and then…?

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  83. By the way, a great deal of presenting God as an ordered and powerful Creator is based on the literal interpretation of the creation week. Without this literal interpretation and the scientific support that goes with it, you really have no logical basis with which to defend your own argument that God is obviously a powerful and orderly Creator.

    My argument through this whole thread has been consistent, but I fear you’ve assigned me to a “camp” and have brought in other ideas from this group.
    1. I’m not arguing for evolution – I agree that death as a selector is incompatible with our idea of sin it’s origins on earth and it’s consequences as far as I understand it.
    2. I agree that the first 34 versus (including through Sabbath creation) of Genesis are intended to describe what happened and are not a made-up story.
    3. I believe the story is intended to show God’s ordered intent in creation. That He did it on purpose.

    My point is this: by insisting that creation happened in a week identical to those we experience now you’re adding a detail that’s not written into the story explicitly – the story leaves more room than you’re offering. This is a seemingly small addition, and as I said before if you read Genesis with the pre-conceived idea that it is a literal week, it reads fine. But also if you think any of several other things when approaching the story, it reads fine under those preconceptions as well. So if you have a support other than “that’s exactly what it says”, I’d be interested to hear that. Specifically scriptural support – as we claim to be people of the book, not scientists, and as technical people you and I both accept that science is constantly revisionary. My point is that it doesn’t say, specifically and exclusively that creation happened in a week as we experience it now. Charged with a monumental task -explaining one of the biggest actions ever, to all humans to follow him- he is doing his best to show that this happened in an order.

    Consider some of the effects of adding this small addition to our church Fundamental Beliefs:
    – To the less scientifically-interested members: This doesn’t add anything to their salvation, their reason for remaining in the church, their ability to fellowship, or their ability to witness. They gain nothing that I can see.
    – Those in the Science community: This is not consistent with anything they observe. We are putting up a rigid wall and essentially destroying our chance to witness to them. I know that “even the very elect” will be fooled, but it shouldn’t be for our lack of trying.
    – Potential members or those without a strong commitment – see all this as a big whiney fight over nothing, and can’t believe all the name calling and extremism being thrown around. This debate, and the insistence on increasing level of exclusion in our principles threatens to shake many of them out of a position where they could strengthen their faith.
    So what IS the benefit of this change?

    You argue from the perspective that this has always been what people believe, but I would challenge that. I know a large set of elderly Adventists that entertain other ideas – and though their ideas vary, most of them site the reason for not being more vocal as fear of the losses the debate would cause. It has been better for them to quietly live with their own conviction, but do not allow this to fool you into thinking that anything longer than 166 hours of God’s work is a new or fringe idea.

    #6 is good.. it already says what you believe – just as the Bible does (to you). But it also says what I believe, and what the Bible says to me. In adding what you read into the story, you are unnecessarily excluding other believers.

    I know your argument rightly centers around the search for the truth and to define it. But take a step back and consider what you are saying by taking it to the GC to codify it. What does that say to those of us that hold very close but slightly different views of the words of Genesis? Are you telling us to go away; that we can have no part in the SDA church? Whether that’s your intention or not, the volume and fervor with which this argument is being waged makes it seem that way. If this is your intent, please clarify so directly or address your actual intent.

    As I have laid out, I do not believe in many of the things you are arguing against (any?), but I stop short of accepting the full measure of your interpretation. Still your position makes me unwelcome in the church I have worked to build. If there are parts of it that must be accepted – God’s power, God’s personal involvement and intent in creation – please Yes! let’s emphasize those. But to require extra divides us.

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  84. “#6 is good.. it already says what you believe – just as the Bible does (to you). But it also says what I believe, and what the Bible says to me. In adding what you read into the story, you are unnecessarily excluding other believers.”

    This is faulty reasoning. On the objective givens, the bible says the same thing to everyone. No one is free to believe what ever they want to or to interpret the bible independent of the body.

    In these areas of “objective givens”, you either agree with the group, or, you simply eventually “hit the road.”

    And this is the issue of creation and how it is understood by the SDA community. It is a “non-negotiable”.

    A clarified statement is in complete harmony with this principle and is needful in light of the present attack on this non-negotiable truth. When people argue for ambiguity, there is a reason. They want to challenge and change a “given” and so look for obscurity and defend the idea as commendable.

    If they can pull it off, then they can defend Pluralism on the basis that the bible is not definitive enough to demand a singular interpretation and understanding.

    In this light, the theory is bogus and will be rejected by any and all loyal bible believing SDA’s.

    Anyway, this attack on the bible and creation is about as subtle as a freight train. How dumb do you liberals think people are, anyway? I suppose more than a few are ready, willing and able to be deceived, but not any serious student of the bible who takes the bible seriously and understands the intensity necessary to defend the truth.

    This age of so-called, “higher enlightenment” coupled with Pluralism and academic freedom would not be so readily accepted in bible Adventism by some if the Spirit of Prophecy had been respected and taught clearly in our schools and churches.

    Study and read the last 8 or 10 chapters of the Great Controversy, and you will see what is happening in Adventism today. I suggest few spend much time either in the bible, or the Spirit of Prophecy. Small wonder the devil has made such powerful inroads into the SDA church. Unconditional election is a terrible delusion that holds a church community in error and leads to apostacy and history affirms it again and again.

    Modern Adventism has degenerated to where it is today because of this subtle false idea that people accept subconsciencely without really thinking they are doing so. One final thrust against this error in the “loud cry” and then the end will come.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen

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  85. @J. Knight:

    My point is this: by insisting that creation happened in a week identical to those we experience now you’re adding a detail that’s not written into the story explicitly – the story leaves more room than you’re offering.

    How does the story leave more room than I’m offering when you yourself admit that the author of the story very clearly intended to convey the idea of a literal creation week? – and that this idea was supported by other biblical authors – even Jesus Himself?

    Beyond this, do you not understand that it is this literal understanding of the creation week that backs up the very idea that God exists and is a powerful Creator? Allowing room for other interpretations of the creation “week”, which are contrary to the clear intent of the author of Genesis, only opens the door to weaken the very basis for belief in the creative powers and even Divine character of God.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  86. @Geanna Dane:

    If you are suggesting that “evolutionary thinking” will cause all to lose their faith as Darwin did, your logic is totally flawed and you know exactly why.

    You are incorrect. Anyone who harbors ‘evolutionary thoughts’ will not simply ‘lose their faith’ — they Already Have lost their faith — whether they know it or not. I’m not just speculating here: this is what God has told us. Read the following Inspired statement:

    “The assumption that the events of the first week required thousands upon thousands of years…is infidelity in its most insidious and hence most dangerous form… It is one of Satan’s devices to lead the people to accept the fables of infidelity.” CE 190

    God has told us that this theory is a fable of infidelity. Anyone who believes it has surrendered his pure faith for the worst and most insidious fables of infidelity. God has said it; I believe it.

    In your response, please leave Ellen White out of this unless you believe firmly she is canonical

    Your Adventist infidelity is shocking. My Oxford dictionary defines the word ‘canonical’ as “sacred books officially accepted as genuine.” Of course, absolutely, Ellen White is canonical! Her books are both sacred and genuine — They are inspired by the same Spirit who inspired the Bible. If a person does not believe this, he has deceived himself into thinking He is a Christian while in fact he is simply deluded.

    please leave Ellen White out of this unless you believe firmly…that “sola scriptura” is a fallacy Adventists should avoid.

    If someone honestly believes “sola scriptura” he must, of necessity, believe in the Spirit of Prophecy; the Bible tells him he must: Revelation 12:17, Revelation 19:10. The only people who have lost their faith in the Spirit of Prophecy are those who have lost their faith in Sola Scriptura.

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  87. @Sean Pitman:

    How does the story leave more room than I’m offering when you yourself admit that the author of the story very clearly intended to convey the idea of a literal creation week? – and that this idea was supported by other biblical authors – even Jesus Himself?

    Beyond this, do you not understand that it is this literal understanding of the creation week that backs up the very idea that God exists and is a powerful Creator? Allowing room for other interpretations of the creation “week”, which are contrary to the clear intent of the author of Genesis, only opens the door to weaken the very basis for belief in the creative powers and even Divine character of God.

    Clearly we just disagree about what the words actually say. As I’ve said several times now, if you read the text without your preconceived idea, it could equally say several things. Despite my direct request, you still haven’t offered any support of your position other than restating you’re use that’s what the text says. This is proof enough for personal conviction, but not for church doctrine. You’ve made a couple vague references -in the quote above, to Jesus- please flesh them out and support your position that creation MUST have happened in a week AS WE EXPERIENCE it now.

    Also, I’d like to ask why this is so important? I have my own reasons, but I’d like to hear where you are coming from, to better understand your perspective. Clearly this is an issue you feel passionate about as you have devoted a lot of yourself to it’s support here and elsewhere. To clarify, I’m not asking what you’re arguing AGAINST, as I’m not positing a specific take on the text. I’d like to know what you’re arguing FOR and it’s support. Feel free to link me to somewhere you’ve made this argument succinctly in the past.
    My position throughout this forum has not been to propose an alternative view, but to ask for open-mindedness in biblical interpretation. Thus far we disagree as to whether or not you’re even doing any interpretation, and I don’t think either of us want’s go round and round about that, so please tell me, Biblicly, why you support the view of a short-term-only creation.

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  88. @Sean Pitman:

    Let me summarise the topics on which I would like to hear more from Sean.

    Before I do so, note that I am leaving aside two topics that were generated by our exchange on Liu and Ochman. On the whole core flagellum gene complex evolving by gene duplication I agree with Sean that the evidence is far from convincing, and I thank him for referring me to some of the more recent literature on this. I stand by my earlier claim that there is wide-ranging evidence that gene duplication plays an important role in evolutionary change (and indeed, even the critics of Liu and Ochman think that some of the core flagellar genes clearly evolved by multiple rounds of duplication). On the reliability of phylogenetic methods at the root of the tree of life, I now think we were talking past one another. I took Sean to be arguing that the difficulties of inference at the root infected the whole tree, but I now think he was only arguing that it made inference regarding the flagellum difficult. I agree here. I disagree that the problems are intractable, but we can leave that for another time.

    Now, on to where I think the more interesting questions lie.

    ONE
    I would like a commitment from Sean to send his in-principle argument about the limits of natural selection to a peer reviewed scientific journal. I have argued repeatedly that there is no reason to think that such arguments are not given a fair hearing by the scientific community (indeed, Axe’s work itself shows this), and I think that the best way to improve scientific arguments is to expose them to the experts.

    TWO
    I would like Sean to commit to a testable prediction regarding the design hypothesis. One of Sean’s remarks suggested such a prediction, to which he has not yet replied. Here is his remark:

    However, the death knell to this whole thing is the fact that most of these phylogenetic trees are based on functional genetic sequences. That messes everything up. Evolutionists would have a much stronger case if the sequences in question were actually neutral with regard to phenotypic function, but they aren’t.That is why the notion of “pseudogenes” was so popular for such a long time – until recently when pseudogenes were actually found to be functional. What this means is that the differences are clustered or nested because of the different functional needs of different organisms in different environments.

    This suggests the following prediction. Suppose that there is a group of species which are discovered to have enough non-functional sequences to ground a phylogenetic inference made purely on that basis. Sean, do you predict that this phylogeny is no more likely than chance to agree with the phylogeny produced by whole genome analysis? The quoted remark suggests that you will. As you know, evolutionary theory predicts agreement. You should be especially willing to make the prediction given your scepticism about the existence of non-functional sequences. I on the other hand regard the existence of many such sequences as established to a reasonably high degree of confidence. Of course, we would have to agree on criteria for determining that a particular sequence is non-functional, but there are good ways of doing so that I think we can ultimately agree on. For now, I just want you to accept this prediction, or to reject it and propose another instead. I remind you that you were the one who claimed that the design hypothesis makes predictions.

    THREE
    In general I am interested in your response to my basic argument that you quite nicely summarised in an earlier post. I will attempt to re-state that argument here, correcting some points on which I would state things a little differently. I claim it is reasonable to believe that all biological systems have evolved by natural mechanisms from a single common ancestor. Regarding the relative importance of natural selection, I remain neutral. The evidence for this claim is overwhelming, and has been steadily increasing since Darwin. The most powerful recent evidence comes from the molecular structure of the genome, and some quite detailed possible sequences for the evolution of complex structures have been proposed, including for the flagellum. Moreover the prevalence of homologies throughout the genome suggest that such sequences can be completed. Nevertheless, these sequences are not yet complete, in the sense that it is not the case that every step has been detailed. In light of all this gathering evidence, any argument purporting to provide in-principle reasons to doubt that any natural mechanism could have produced this pattern of evolution is highly unlikely to be sound. It is possible that it is, but to believe that it is in advance of having it evaluated by relevant experts in the scientific community is, I submit, highly irrational. It is for this reason that I invite you to submit your work to peer review. If it stands up, there will be a revolution.

    If you go to any online physics forum, you can find several very vocal people who claim to have exposed logical problems with special relativity. None of these problems have ever made their way past the review panel of a physics journal, and these people are rightly treated as crackpots. This is exactly how most intelligent design advocates, right now, look on religion and biology forums, and the only way to rectify this is to publish.

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  89. God said “SIX Days you shall labor… for in SIX DAYS the LORD Made…”

    J. Knight responds

    @J. Knight:

    My point is this: by insisting that creation happened in a week identical to those we experience now you’re adding a detail that’s not written into the story explicitly

    That is the total non-starter response we get from evolutionists that simply wont allow inconvenient details to get in the way of a good “story”.

    The real question is then — why do they think we will not “notice”???

    J. Knight
    – the story leaves more room than you’re offering.

    Again we point out “SIX DAYS you shall labor…for in SIX DAYS the LORD Made” is the language that GOD uses when HE summarizes His OWN Gen 1:2-2:3 statements and actions.

    J Knight

    This is a seemingly small addition, and as I said before if you read Genesis with the pre-conceived idea that it is a literal week, it reads fine.

    I think we have found the missing link. The evolutionists imagine that God’s Ex 20:8-11 statement is a “preconceived idea about Genesis 1-2” that is not valid – or at the very least is no more valid than an evolutionist re-write of the text (in a true “I’m ok – you’re ok” model).

    – To the less scientifically-interested members: This doesn’t add anything to their salvation, their reason for remaining in the church, their ability to fellowship, or their ability to witness. They gain nothing that I can see.
    – Those in the Science community: This is not consistent with anything they observe.

    Hint: the “science” community does not “observe” the virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection, the video taped 6 day creation week, the 2nd coming, the miracles of Christ, the New Birth, A solar system forming and planets “acquiring” air and water and land animals – from dust and gas …

    The efforts to “imagine” that “science” observed the earth forming into a living biosphere of breathable atmosphere, water oceans, vegetation on land etc – is a fiction that even atheist scientists would struggle to support.

    . I know a large set of elderly Adventists that entertain other ideas –

    The World Church of Seventh-day Adventists flatly rejected evolution at the lastest GC session.

    Ellen White’s 3SG 90-91 statement against evolutionism was fully accepted by Adventists in the 19th century – no complaints at all.

    “I Know of 100’s of millions of Christians that believe in purgatory, prayers to the dead, indulgences etc” — this was never a basis for “doctrine” in all of time.

    The Protestant “Sola Scriptura” testing of doctrine seems to be totally foreign to Adventist evolutionists. How did that happen in the Adventist church??

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  90. @ Sean Pitman

    [I didn’t write what you quote below Geanna. Robert S. wrote this: @Robert S.:]

    @Geanna Dane: You are incorrect. Anyone who harbors ‘evolutionary thoughts’ will not simply ‘lose their faith’ — they Already Have lost their faith — whether they know it or not. I’m not just speculating here: this is what God has told us.

    YOU are the one who is incorrect (I’m mimicing your language). You yourself admit that a LOT of microevolution happens and that thousands upon thousands of animal species have evolved since the flood. When you spoke of Darwin’s descent in faith, it was a gradual process. His thinking about change gradually led him to reject a literal creation. You yourself read all sorts of papers about evolution and in that sense you yourself have opened the door to “evolutionary thinking”. It was natural for me to assume your use of “evolutionary thinking” was the start of the process, not the end. But you used this opportunity to lecture me and tell me that I was incorrect. I’m amazed by the number of posts of yours that use the phrases “you are incorrect”, “you are mistaken,” “you are wrong” and the like.

    Your Adventist infidelity is shocking. [obligatory rant omitted (I learned this Christ-like tactic from Bob Ryan)]

    Wow, you got me figured out.

    Of course, absolutely, Ellen White is canonical! Her books are both sacred and genuine — They are inspired by the same Spirit who inspired the Bible. If a person does not believe this, he has deceived himself into thinking He is a Christian while in fact he is simply deluded.

    Wow, you’ve got millions of other Christians figured out, too. One must either accept Ellen White as canonical or you are not a Christian and in fact are delusional.

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