@Professor Kent: Again, the thief on the cross likely had …

Comment on Elliot Sober: Just Don’t Call the Designer “God” by Victor Marshall.

@Professor Kent:

Again, the thief on the cross likely had no concept of the Sabbath, the creation, the 10 commandments…anything that could be subjected to the rigors of science. He based his faith on the evidence of an experience that, in reality, defied all logic. All the evidence to the contrary, he chose to believe that he was in the presence of an innocent man who could fulfill the promise: “thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” To me, his faith comes as close to moving a mountain as anything I could imagine. Honestly, I am ashamed at how weak mine is by comparison.

If you read the chapter Calvary in Desire of Ages you will find a more detailed account of the ‘Thief on the Cross’ and the circumstances leading to his conversion. He had heard Jesus teach on prior occasions, he heard the testimony of Jesus and his followers during the trial and leading up to the cross. All of these ‘evidences’ led to his 11th hour decision to cast his faith upon a dying Savior. An incredible act of faith in itself. All of the empirical physical evidence before his eyes said that Jesus was as good as dead. Yet the thief placed his confidence in a dying Savior’s ability to bring him to an unseen paradise. He was the only one to proclaim Jesus to be ‘Lord’ from the garden to the tomb. He is representative of all who will be saved by faith – not by works, no matter how ‘loving.’

“The Holy Spirit illuminates his mind, and little by little the chain of evidence is joined together.” – DA p.750

The evidences were primarily testimonies. In a court of law various evidence is presented. The testimony of witnesses is presented as well as forensic or ‘scientific’ evidence. A court can make a decision based upon witness testimony alone. The thief’s decision was made primarily upon Jesus own words he had heard, the testimony of other witnesses, and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. No ’empirical’ evidence is mentioned in the account (although it is entirely possible the thief also witnessed Jesus heal the sick).

Jesus testimony to doubting Thomas is telling. ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.’ The apostles were eye-witnesses of Jesus resurrection, ascension, transfiguration etc. They did not undertake a scientific/forensic laboratory examination of Jesus claims. Thomas is not lauded for demanding physical proof. Faith in Christ spread across the Roman empire because people came to believe in the testimony of the eye-witness apostles(sometimes third and fourth hand), the testimony of the Word of God, the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit, as well as the confirmatory evidence of fulfilled promises in their individual lives. All of these evidences are very subjective from a scientific standpoint. They may even be considered technically ‘circumstantial.’

@Shane Hilde:

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.

I find it interesting that you did not highlight the expression ‘not demonstration.’ For evidence to be truly scientific by today’s standards it must be demonstrable. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what falsifiability implies? That the proposition is testable – able to be demonstrated?

If we read further in the same chapter of Steps to Christ:

“The word of God, like the character of its divine Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. The entrance of sin into the world, the incarnation of Christ, regeneration, the resurrection, and many other subjects presented in the Bible, are mysteries too deep for the human mind to explain, or even fully to comprehend. But we have no reason to doubt God’s word because we cannot understand the mysteries of His providence. In the natural world we are constantly surrounded with mysteries that we cannot fathom. The very humblest forms of life present a problem that the wisest of philosophers is powerless to explain. Everywhere are wonders beyond our ken. Should we then be surprised to find that in the spiritual world also there are mysteries that we cannot fathom? The difficulty lies solely in the weakness and narrowness of the human mind. God has given us in the Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine character, and we are not to doubt His word because we cannot understand all the mysteries of His providence. The Bible unfolds truth with a simplicity and a perfect adaptation to the needs and longings of the human heart, that has astonished and charmed the most highly cultivated minds, while it enables the humblest and uncultured to discern the way of salvation. And yet these simply stated truths lay hold upon subjects so elevated, so far-reaching, so infinitely beyond the power of human comprehension, that we can accept them only because God has declared them… God desires man to exercise his reasoning powers; and the study of the Bible will strengthen and elevate the mind as no other study can. Yet we are to beware of deifying reason, which is subject to the weakness and infirmity of humanity… When we come to the Bible, reason must acknowledge an authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect must bow to the great I AM.” {SC 106-109}

Here she seems to be saying that our faith is based primarily upon the testimony of the Word of God – not upon scientifically explained and demonstrated ‘factual’ explanations, or evidence based upon humanly reasoned propositions. There are a multitude of Biblical principles and claims that cannot be scientifically explained or demonstrated. That tend to defy human reason.

Finally, in the same chapter she says;

There is an evidence that is open to all,—the most highly educated, and the most illiterate,—the evidence of experience. God invites us to prove for ourselves the reality of His word, the truth of His promises. He bids us “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8. Instead of depending upon the word of another, we are to taste for ourselves.

There is a method of testing the claims of the Word of God. It is not primarily a scientific method open only to the highly educated. Instead, the test of personal spiritual experience (rather than intellectual knowledge) in experientially trusting God’s Word – without scientifically demonstrated proofs.

Victor Marshall Also Commented

Elliot Sober: Just Don’t Call the Designer “God”
Prior to my decision to embrace the Christian faith I explored the world’s major (and many of its minor) religions, theologies, philosophies, and spiritual writings. I explored them intellectually, and several experientially as well.

My ingrained adult bias was against the Christian faith (partially influenced by my father’s agnostically negative view of Christianity specifically, partially influenced by an anti-christian peer group). This prevented me from examining the Christian faith until last. In spite of this previous prejudice, I found the Christian faith exceptionally to be preferred above all the other religious and spiritual propositions. Though I was deeply convicted of Christ’s truthfulness, I initially held back from making an experiential commitment to Him. One of my friends, who grew up in the gangs of Jersey City, told me, ‘Vic, why don’t you just try it. If you don’t like it, you can always bail out.’ This seemed reasonable, so I left my armchair observer status, dove in, and gave it a try (at the relatively old age of 30). Never have I regretted that decision 27 years later.

After accepting the claims of the Christian faith I undertook an objective examination of the various Christian persuasions and their claims. Since I had embraced the Bible as the most trustworthy of sacred writings – this became the standard for my search. I found the Adventist church to be the most remarkably harmonious with, and explanatory of, the Biblical record.
Even though I was previously a die-hard Darwinist(with a metaphysical twist), I have come to believe that the Adventist understanding of the scientifically received data from the universe and this biosphere – also has the most explanatory power.

I have never regretted my decision to follow this very specific Christian path. Though my spiritual story was filled with many subjective and humanly biased influences, it remains more objective than many.

I am very thankful I had the privilege of making this spiritual search and journey, which led to my current commitment. I fully support all true hearted searchers in their own personal spiritual quest.

Of course, I have now become very biased indeed and pray that everyone could make a similar decision to mine(After all, if you really think something is worth staking your life on, you might want to recommend it to others as well). The challenge is not to allow my bias to degenerate into bigotry.

Elliot Sober: Just Don’t Call the Designer “God”

I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist but am now an atheist in the sense that I do not regard belief in anything supernatural as reasonable. I have many friends and family members who remain Adventists. Is that sufficient?


Thank you for sharing. Many of the atheists I have known are quite guarded about their internal ‘atheology.’ Since I work with an extremely diverse group of persons (everything from A – Asatru to Z – Zoroastrian and in between)I am always curious to hear individual stories – be they religious, irreligious, non-religious, or otherwise. Even though I have developed a very strong belief system after making a journey from the occult to Christ (always believed in the supernatural) – my job is to support peoples rights to worship or not worship, to believe or not believe according to the dictates of their conscience (or even lack thereof) in the prison setting.

Richard Dawkins indicates that neo-Darwinian science was very helpful in his embracing an atheistic world-view. Was this so in your case, or were there other precipitating factors? How has your decision effected your life and how you live it. Many atheists testify to an exhilarating sense of freedom when they shed the burden of religion. Was this so in your case?

Recent Comments by Victor Marshall

Last Thursdayism
“The deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to man’s unaided reason, nature’s teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation can it be read aright, ‘Through faith we understand.’Heb.11:3” – Ed.134

Last Thursdayism

Last Thursdayism
@Sean Pitman:

As if all of your previous statements were not enough – here you come with this outrageous statement:

But I do deny that the Bible is the final authority. I don’t think that it is the final authority.

I think it is plain enough now for all to see that the founding scientist of EducateTruth, who has vigorously been seeking to have LSU tow the orthodox Adventist line – is himself heterodox when it comes to the most foundational of Adventist beliefs!
Not only have you equated science with faith, you have supplanted Biblical authority with scientific authority. Isn’t this exactly in essence what theistic evolutionists do?! Is it possible that one who incessantly declares others to be ‘blind’ would himself be blind to his own hypocritical presuppositions?

Seventh-day Adventists are ‘people of the book.’ They claim the Protestant principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’ as the very foundation of their faith. You are not a Sola Scripturist. By your own standard, if you were employed by the Adventist church, you yourself should consider employment elsewhere.
This is indeed a most grave and serious ironic twist.

If the issues are not yet clear enough I will here quote one of the denominations most preeminently orthodox theologians. You will find that his clear and definitive statements are diametrically opposed to your own:

“A fundamental principle set forth by Scripture concerning itself is that the Bible alone is the final norm of truth, the primary and absolute source of authority, the ultimate court of appeal, in all areas of doctrine and practice… The principle of sola Scriptura implies two corollaries: the primacy and the sufficiency of Scripture….”

“Paul likewise rejects human “knowledge” (KJV “science”; Greek gnōsis) as the final authority (1 Tim 6:20). Both OT and NT writers point out that since the Fall in Eden, nature has become depraved (Gen 3:17-18; Rom 8:20-21) and no longer perfectly reflects truth. Nature, rightly understood, is in harmony with God’s written revelation in Scripture (see Ps 19:1-6 [revelation of God in nature] and vv. 7-11 [revelation of the Lord in Scripture]); but as a limited and broken source of knowledge about God and reality, it must be held subservient to, and interpreted by, the final authority of Scripture (Rom 1:20-23; 2:14-16; 3:1-2).”

“2. The Sufficiency of Scripture. The principle of sola Scriptura implies the further corollary of the sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible stands alone as the unerring guide to truth; it is sufficient to make one wise unto salvation (2 Tim 3:15). It is the standard by which all doctrine and experience must be tested (2 Tim 3:16-17; Ps 119:105; Prov 30:5, 6; Isa 8:20; John 17:17; Acts 17:11; 2 Thess 3:14; Heb 4:12). Scripture thus provides the framework, the divine perspective, the foundational principles, for every branch of knowledge and experience. All additional knowledge and experience, or revelation, must build upon and remain faithful to, the all-sufficient foundation of Scripture. The sufficiency of Scripture is not just in the sense of material sufficiency, i.e., that Scripture contains all the truths necessary for salvation. Adventists also believe in the formal sufficiency of Scripture, i.e., that the Bible alone is sufficient in clarity so that no external source is required to rightly interpret it.”

“Adventists maintain the rallying cry of the Reformation–sola Scriptura, the Bible and the Bible only as the final norm for truth. All other sources of knowledge and experience must be tested by this unerring standard. The appropriate human response must be one of total surrender to the ultimate authority of the word of God (Isa 66:2).” – Richard M. Davidson, ‘Interpreting Scripture According to the Scriptures:Toward an understanding of Seventh-day Adventist Hermeneutics.’ BRI

Not only do you seem diametrically opposed to foundational Adventist theology. You also appear (for all intents and purposes) to be fundamentally opposed to the purposes and goals of EducateTruth itself.

“4. More important than all of these is that the Bible find its place as the ultimate authority on all it touches upon within the classroom…… The bottom line of this controversy is not about creation vs. evolution, but authority. Does the Bible inform our science or does science inform the Bible? This question lies at the heart of this controversy.” – Shane Hilde

In light of this further unfortunate irony – perhaps you should seek employment on another web site.

I encourage you to reexamine the basis for you faith and prayerfully surrender it to the Word of God – not scientific reason.

“When we come to the Bible, reason must acknowledge an authority superior to itself, and heart and intellect must bow before the great I AM.” (SC 110).

Last Thursdayism
@Bill Sorensen:

More “sure” than what? More sure than Peter’s testimony. Peter’s testimony is helpful and helps us believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But even Peter’s testimony is not adequate to affirm Jesus and who He is. We must necessarily turn to “Moses and the prophets” and validate Jesus as the Messiah based on their testimony.

Simply put, Moses is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith. If it is not in harmony with Moses, it is false. And this includes Jesus and His ministry.

Very good Bill.
I like to look at it this way as well. Moses said that, “at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” We have the two witnesses of the Old and New Testaments – each one establishes the testimony of the other – both are further established by a third witness – the Holy Spirit. These three witnesses are sufficient to establish truth.

The bible affirming itself as the final authority is the same as God affirming His own authority.

Another interesting parallel passage in the Bible is, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” In this passage we have the concept that God is a sufficient witness for Himself. Of course, in a sense, He is also actually three witnesses isn’t He!

Last Thursdayism
@Bill Sorensen:

The bible presents its own evidence. It is self affirming.

If you deny the bible is the final authority on its on self affirmations, then you are simply not a bible Christian.

The bible does not try to “prove” everything. Something are simply stated as a fact. Especially things that are not “proveable” by science and/or human experience.

Science and human experience may be helpful, but they are not the final word and it is a mistake to try to affirm every jot and tittle of scriptual teaching by such “proof”.

Well stated Bro. Sorenson.