Comment on Walla Walla University: The Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation by pauluc.
Sean I find your thought processes and rigidity most fascinating. You manifest a tenacity and ability for highly selective cognition and certainty that might be commendable in the militia but is deprecated in the academe
You are a well educated person but you seem oblivious to the fact that you like most literalists have already done what you fear others might do. You say
“Now, it is quite a different thing to say that the Biblical authors where simply mistaken compared to the argument that suggests that they were intending to write symbolically or figuratively. The SDA Church takes the Bible at its word, as the revealed Word of God. So, in suggesting that the SDA Church not put so much stock in a literal reading of the Genesis narrative, you are suggesting that the Church back off of its position that the Bible was in fact inspired by God to give us privileged information about God and about the world in which we live. If the SDA Church were to do this, it would basically undermine the entire purpose for their being a unique Seventh-day Adventist Church. After all, if one can pick and choose what is and what is not correct in the Bible, what’s the point? accuses others of doing.”
According to this logic of the bible conveying privileged information on the natural world or as the fundamentals would say inerrant in it original text) I presume that you accept the clear cosmology expressed in Genesis 1:6-7 and in Genesis 7:11 with the dome of heaven separating the water below from the water above. The waters above being released on the earth when the “windows of heaven” were opened. Do you understand the rakia of these verses? I cannot find any reference to James Barrs thoughts on this but I suspect that he would agree with Adventist theologians such as Lawrence Turner and Fritz Guy and would suggest it referred to a dome like structure that separated the water above from the waters below and reflected their simpler cosmology. If you accept some more nebulous concept of the firmament and the water above as being some sort of vapour rather than the proper translation of the seperating dome of heaven with real liquid phase water above then you are accepting the impingement of newer scientific understanding and cosmology on to the clear understanding of the verses or saying that the orginal writers had it wrong.
I would expect on your premise of literal understanding that you would also accept that the universe that created in its entirity around 6000 years ago for that is what genesis 1:16 literally says. Any other interpretion in back translating or reinterpreting their word and concept from a modern cosmology.
I would also expect as I have stated previously that if you reject a natural mechanism for the origin of species because of a literal understanding of the bible you must also according to Matthew 17 reject naturalistic mechanisms for your health-care and your practice of medicine. You have not yet clarified this.
Yet when it comes to evolution of species and new function you take an each way bet and articulate that yes evolution of simple things happens naturally but not big things which takes God. I havent seen such a clear espousal of a God of the gaps for some time. I dont see where you decide where natural explanation ends and God begins in this scenario? Over the span of history it is clear that looking for God in the unkown and inexplicable condemns him to a ever decreasing role and is has not been a winning strategy.
I personally preform the neo orthodox position that sees in Christ the revelation of God and natural theology as a non-sequitor.
I think you must accept that none accepts the bible literally or takes it as it was intended. To pretend we do and then castigate others for going further than you have gone demonstrates little charity or self awareness.
pauluc Also Commented
David you suggest an approach to scripture that you think normative and consider anything else blasphemous;
“Ron, we at Educate Truth do not put ourselves in the place of God. The people who put themselves in the place of God are those who say that God’s word is wrong about our origins; who say that we, using unaided human reason, are able to come to more trustworthy conclusions about our origins than what God has told us in his “God-breathed” Scriptures.”
But do you not have a doctrine of the holy spirit. The spirit of God that acts within the community of faith the body of Christ. No Christian would accept that they are approaching God word by unaided human reason for we understand that God gives us the understanding.
If you do preclude that God still speaks to His disciples through his spirit then you are negating the value of EGW as a prophet.
I ask you one question. Who is the greater authority the one who decides what is canonical or the selected Canon? On this point the Catholics are likely correct. The body of Christ does have the authority to divine the truth.
Walla Walla University: The Collegian Debates Evolution vs. Creation
It seems maybe we are not so far apart. At least we agree on the nature of inspiration and that the Bible is not inerrant. I can entirely endorse your statements;
” None of this is to suggest that God revealed all the details of what happened to the authors of the Bible. God did not dictate the wording of the Biblical texts. What happened is that God showed the author of the Genesis account (Moses) what happened from a limited perspective. Moses saw the “movie”, if you will, of creation and simply wrote down what he saw as best as he could explain it from his limited perspective.” …………..
“In the same way, the description of creation week is still valid even though the perspective of the observer was limited. It doesn’t matter that the observer didn’t understand everything that was happening. The observations that were recorded of a real event are still valid. For example, its very hard for anyone, even a young child, to get the concept of “evenings and mornings” wrong. The observation that “It got light and then it got dark and then it got light again.” is very hard to get wrong.”
Where we appear to differ is that I do not think that the writer of Genesis was working in a vaccum. If it was Moses then I think he did have an oral tradition perhaps derived or at least influenced by his ancestors migrating from mesopotamia and an education in the courts of Egypt.
Further he did not have the framework to even conceive of a natural science for understanding the world based on experiment and hypothesis testing or a mechanism of natural biological creation discovered as it was in the 19th century. To pretend that history or culture does not matter is to go back to a prescientific view of God. This was the entire point of my original post. No-one, fundamentalist or christian with understanding of scientific process really does this. We all interpret. At least be honest is saying we do not understand the way the original writers or hearers did.
“As far as basic concepts of biological intelligent design are concerned in literature, you can’t do much better than Signature in the Cell by Steven Meyer or his 2004 paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington entitled, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories”.
My own ideas add only slightly to those already published in literature. This isn’t a problem of the basic ideas in play not being published. This is a problem of mainstream science not wanting to recognize the implications of these ideas because the consequences are so devastating to NeoDarwinism and naturalism in general.”
I am really staggered that you think that Stephen Myers book or the paper were exhaustive of thought and application of intelligent design and am concerned after all you have written in the lay press you do not seem to understand the real nature of science or knowledge derived therefrom.
I have not read the book but I have been through the paper in some detail and as a frequent reviewer of scientific manuscripts I can only concurr with those that have questioned the quality or nature of the peer review that allowed this poorly written chatty paper to be published as a scientific contribution. Richard Sternberg’s lack of appreciation of conflict of interest was clearly a factor in this process but the peer reviewers have never been identified and their decision justified. How often is the memoirs of a robber baron like Bill Gates cited in a real peer reviewed publication in a scientific journal? Anecdote and poorly drawn analogies have no place in a scientific “review”. What journal will accept a citation of an unpublished thesis? Of the 148 references 39% are from the peer reviewed literature and only 15.5% are primary literature the rest almost 25% of the citations are reviews. Thus 85% of the citations in the paper are from books or reviews. Creating metadata predominantly from metadata has very little role in the scientific literature.
The argument from ignorance, the premise that if I do not have a mechanistic explanation for a phenomena therefore it must have arisen by miracle is really the antithesis of science and understanding the physical world. That is the God of the gaps argument. The explanation of a currently inexplicable observation. How much of the physical world and how many therapeutic interventions in medicine would we understand if we made this a core premise of science. Evidently you do not work this way either for if you did you would in your publications in pathology say that the probability of the rare tumour in one particular patient is so unlikely that it could only be explained by non-natural mechanisms or supernatural perhaps a judgement from the Gods and there is no point looking for some mechanism underlying the process. Of course that is preposterous for any study of the physical world. Despite our protestations and claims our own practices as evidence based physicians eviscerates the intelligent design concept as science.
In accepting that you do not think you can add anything to what Stephen Meyer has written are you saying that you agree with him on the timing of the cambian explosion? If not surely you can critique his interpretation with data of your own. Once again I can only suggest that if you want scientific credibility you need to submit to the peer reviewed literature.
“The meaning is quite clear in context… if you care to actually study the Bible in the context of the whole book…”
Then do you or do you not accept that the same word for “sons of God” is used in Genesis 6:2 as in Job 1:6, job 2:1 Job 38:7 psalms 89:6 and in Daniel 3:25 and that it is in each case meant to indicate a supernatural being rather than a man.
This may indeed offend your reason or sensibilities and your alternative interpretation of the sons of Seth and the unglodly caanites based on your acceptance of EGW as canonical but which is the more consistent with scripture itself.
To sustain your interpretation you have to disregard the usual accepted exegetical practices and the term as defined in the old testament and take the sons of God from the new testament and impose it back on the old.
Do you accept that fallen angels or angels can appear as men?
Did Satan or the Devil, a fallen angel, appear as a serpent”? Was this real or simply imagined”?
What do you make of Heb 13:2? Were the angels entering Sodom simply mistaken for men Gen 19:1
What does 2 Pet 2:4 and Jude 6 say of these interventions of fallen angels into the affairs of man.
I am beginning to wonder who is the one committed to scientism of which I am accused? For you say
“If I thought the Bible actually said what you think it says, I’d think the whole thing was bunk too!”
I am a Christian because of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. I am happy to accept that the old testament reveals an incomplete understanding of God and a history of the people of God stumbling along trying to comprehend the incomprehensible, eternal and transcendent. I can accept a narrative that tries to convey aspects of God as true even if it did not happen precisely as described. It does not at all make it “bunk”. To imagine that I must reject a narrative from God just because it is couched in terms I cannot fully comprehend and offends my modern sensibilities to me suggests a shallow and brittle faith.
Recent Comments by pauluc
Bob Helm: With that said, I find your views to be spiritually dangerous and often scientifically weak. I detect a lot of smoke in your posts, but very little light. I hope you will continue to ponder these issues and try to have an open mind.
You are most welcome to your opinion and I know you would like nothing better than that anyone who takes Christianity and the Bible seriously but not literally to just go away. It is much better not to know of any possible problems with one current views. It very hard to get to the science when we cannot even agree on what is science. What passes as science on this site is so completely dismissive of its methodological basis and history and is entrained in a specific supernatural world view that allows arbitrary acceptance of any observation as miraculous. I think Roger’s paper may well be relevant to Adventist that believe that Christianity has and must respond to a careful study of physical reality by reconsidering its interpretations of the word of the Lord, but as Sean has indicated you are exception to that characterization. I still do not really understand why you should be interested at all in any science. It seems a bit messy to worry about facts. It really seems an unnecessary bother to argue whether the precambrian/cambrian boundary or the upper cenzoic (is that really what you meant?) as the evidence of a divine intervention.
Dont worry I do have an open mind which is why I still peruse this site to see how more knowledgable fundamentalist Adventists think. I wont worry you further.
Sean Pitman: So, you do see the need for a police force and a military to maintain civil society, but somehow Christians should not provide what is an otherwise necessary part of that civil society? I’m with Abraham Lincoln on this one when he noted the inconsistency of such a position – like Orthodox Jews paying others to turn their lights on for them on Sabbath
On that logic you should not have any issue with working on Sabbath in any profession serving 24/7. Be that computer support, utilities firefighters. Those giving up those jobs because of inability to have sabbath observance were all deluded. They as Christians should be prepared to “provide what is otherwise a necessary part of civil society”
You cant have it both ways. You cant because of a moral postion claim that Adventists should have exception from working on Sabbath and at the same time deny me the right to consider immoral some occupations that may be very utilitarian in a world full of selfishness and the human acts of evil that comes from that.
Lets for a moment step back from lala land. Where are we and where did we come from on this thread?
1] You posted a rehash of all your usual arguments in response to an article about the more mainstream Adventist positions that may impact the way Adventism reacts to conventional science. All very straight forward.
2] The contention was that Adventism has accepted process for the orgin and evolution of the inanimate world. The birth and death of galaxys and stars and planets in black holes supernova and impacts of spiralling planets. This is where it gets really strange.
3] You contend that Adventism has always accepted the conclusions of that process but then expand on your view of the process which involves a little bit of order and natural law but large amounts of magic. God waited a few billions years until the interstellar material generated by the big band condensed into planets onto which God created life mature and complete. This included Heaven the place of his throne-room which he populated with physical being angels which it is implied have both mass and composition and metabolism.
4] When it was suggested that the same processes and natural law resulted in life on this planet this was claimed inconceivable and would never be done by any process involving life and death. Instead the life we see now is in reality designed to live for ever and has be chemically changed because it is deprived of a particular form of nutrient from a tree that existed on the Earth some 6000 years ago.
5] The inconguity of practicing medicine by the principles of process of natural law and the technology resulting from both the processes of the innanimate and the animate world rather than accepting the much more important process of divine intervention seems to be completely obsure.
6] When someone says that the process of life and death that gave us the physical substance of our universe is also the basis of the creation of life here he must be animal hating sadistic psychopath who cannot belieive in a God of love and grace and is lying when he says that non-violence characterizes the children of the heavenly father for one must always recognize that peace and freedom are only obtained over the bodies of 1/3 of the angels of heaven and the eternal physical and violent struggle against those who would practice violence.
I really cannot understand you Sean. Your ways are way beyond me. I am just sorry that Bob seems to be drawn into your twighlight zone.
Avondale College Arguing in Favor of Darwinian Evolution?
@Sean Pitman: sorry but your curious amalgam of magic and biology is not really comprehensible to me as a biologist or as a Christian . it. is neither logical or biologically feasible
Sean Pitman: However, according to the Bible and Ellen White, before the Fall God specifically directed nature so that all sentient life was protected in a manner that there was no suffering or death. By eating from the “Tree of Life” God provided constant renewal and regeneration that worked against what would otherwise be inevitable entropic changes, decay, and death. It was by deliberately stepping away from the true Source of eternal life that mankind stepped away from God and into the full workings of mindless natural law alone – which does in fact inevitably lead to suffering and death.
And this interpretation is precisely why you need a theodicy. Where is the justice in killing all for the sake of the sins of one woman+man? It makes no sense logically. If they were conditionally immortal because of eating of the tree of life then did all the animals in all the world congregate around this tree like beasts around a water hole on the serengeti. how exactly do you as you are wont to do translate the account into a literal reality. And which beast had to come and eat. Or was it symbolic? Oh now that’s a thought.
Sean Pitman: Come on now. Even I can imagine limitations to reproduction or the turnover of sentient carbon-based life. Surely you can at least imagine something similar? I know God can since such a world is described in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White. Think about it…
Of course I have. This is not simply about reproduction. That is trivial. This is about metabolic process. Show me a carbon based life form that does not grow or metabolize anything and I will show you an organism in stasis as a spore “living” millions of year in amber. That is; effectively dead.
Real life cannot exist without metabolic process in a carbon based world and God has sanctified all this by a process of making good out of evil from the death of one comes life for others. Just as in the biological world so in the spiritual. By his death we have life. Just as God sanctified the practice of sacrifice of appeasement practiced by most cultures for thousands of years before and showed that in the Judeo-Christian tradition these same acts of sacrifice were emblematic of a monotheistic God that would become incarnate and bring life from death. So also he took the preceding accounts of creation derived as they were of the mesopotamian valley and recast it as an account of the monotheistic God who is above all but comes and dwells among us to become one of us. Participating in our life and death but showing us the importance of the transcendent life of the spirit that supercedes carbon based life and its inherent death. It is no fairy tale of 6 impossible things before breakfast. It is not pie in the sky by and by. It is rooted in a real world and it is about the transcendence of love and grace that is acted out in a real physical world by the incarnate God and us as we follow as His disciples.
That is the message I get from the images and visions of the Canon and EG White. But of course I read it for the message that it conveys not as a scientific text. That is where we fundamentally differ.