Dear Professor Kent What should happen to church members that accept …

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

Dear Professor Kent
What should happen to church members that accept some, but not all of the SDA 28 FB’s?

My understanding is that, historically, Adventist fundamental beliefs have shifted in ways that individuals holding one particular position, including Ellen White herself at times, could have been expelled from the Church by those holding another particular position. There was a time when those of the Church held different views on what 24-hour period of the day should be kept as Sabbath (it wasn’t always sunset to sunset); the Godhead (we once rejected the trinity); and righteousness by faith (we once believed in righteousness by works).

Because of the ongoing revelation of truth, which Seventh-day Adventists are quick to acknowledge, the prelude to the 28 fundamental beliefs actually states that changes are likely to be made. Obviously, the Church can never change its beliefs if it insisted on kicking out every member who challenged an existing notion or introduced a new idea. I believe the official Church is highly reluctant to expel individuals who disagree with one or two stated positions.

I’m not commenting on the La Sierra situation, so I hope that a response to my comments does not include “but theistic evolutionists claim such-and-such” (this becomes really tiresome).

Professor Kent Also Commented

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

Liberals interpret “present truth” to be anything “new”
ANYONE puts forward that is a different “interpretation” from the organized body of believers, leaving us with total fragmentation and “congregationalism” that we see in the Pacific Union Conference and elsewhere, especially in the NAD.

I disagree…on your definition and on your interpretation of total fragmentation. Sure, differences exist, but I think you employ hyperbole.

Elliot Sober: Just Don’t Call the Designer “God”
Good post, Sean. Thank you for sharing.

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

The mythology and fiction that some of our evolutionist friends have been storytelling is that voted – Adventist Doctrine has changed or was in error such that Ellen White and others would be condemned in some way by holding to a prior voted statement of beliefs today.

Bob, thank you your enthusiastic response to my post. As I am a creationist, I am disappointed that you so often refer to me as one of “our evolutionist friends,” but I understand your method. I also made no mention of voted Adventist Doctrine in my post. Please don’t mischaracterize my views. And when you can’t seem to get your own facts straight about others and what they have written, I suggest that you not label others as “storytellers.” Have some charity.

I simply described an inescapable fact, that Adventists have historically had divergent views on fundamental beliefs, and any one side could have employed a creed to vote out individuals on the other side. One can read an extensive review of the development of SDA theology at This website also offers some very interesting data on how divergent our views are currently (from a 2002 survey). I am saddened that there are SDAs today who would like to vote out members of the Church whose views disagree with their own.

Recent Comments by Professor Kent

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: Science isn’t about “cold hard facts.” Science is about interpreting the “facts” as best as one can given limited background experiences and information. Such interpretations can be wrong and when shown to be wrong, the honest will in fact change to follow where the “weight of evidence” seems to be leading.

Much of science is based on highly technical data that few other than those who generate it can understand. For most questions, science yields data insufficient to support a single interpretation. And much of science leads to contradictory interpretations. Honest individuals will admit that they have a limited understanding of the science, and base their opinions on an extremely limited subset of information which they happen to find compelling whether or not the overall body of science backs it up.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The process of detecting artefacts as true artefacts is a real science based on prior experience, experimentation, and testing with the potential of future falsification. Oh, and I do happen to own a bona fide polished granite cube.

Not from Mars. Finding the cube on Mars is the basis of your cubical caricature of science, not some artefact under your roof.

Sean Pitman:
Professor Kent: If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The question is not if one will catch a fish, but if one will recognize a fish as a fish if one ever did catch a fish. That’s the scientific question here. And, yet again, the clear answer to this question is – Yes.

I think I’m going to spend the afternoon with my favorite scientist–my 8-year-old nephew. We’re going to go fishing at Lake Elsinore. He wants to know if we might catch a shark there. Brilliant scientist, that lad. He already grasps the importance of potentially falsifiable empirical evidence. I’m doubtful we’ll catch a fish, but I think he’ll recognize a fish if we do catch one.

While fishing, we’ll be scanning the skies to catch a glimpse of archaeopteryx flying by. He believes they might exist, and why not? Like the SETI scientist, he’s doing science to find the elusive evidence.

He scratched himself with a fish hook the other day and asked whether he was going to bleed. A few moments later, some blood emerged from the scratched. Talk about potentilly falsifiable data derived from a brilliant experiment. I’m telling you, the kid’s a brilliant scientist.

What’s really cool about science is that he doesn’t have to publish his observations (or lack thereof) to be doing very meaningful science. He doesn’t even need formal training or a brilliant mind. Did I mention he’s the only autistic scientist I’ve ever met?

As most everyone here knows, I have a poor understanding of science. But I’m pretty sure this nephew of mine will never lecture me or Pauluc on what constitutes science. He’s the most humble, polite, and soft-spoken scientist I’ve ever met.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: I don’t think you understand the science or rational arguments behind the detection of an artefact as a true artefact. In fact, I don’t think you understand the basis of science in general.

I’m amused by this response. I don’t think you understand the limits of a philosophical argument based on a hypothetical situation, which is all that your convoluted cube story comprises, and nothing more. Whether the artefact is an artefact is immaterial to an argument that is philosophical and does not even consider an actual, bona fide artefact.

Sean Pitman: You argue that such conclusions aren’t “scientific”. If true, you’ve just removed forensic science, anthropology, history in general, and even SETI science from the realm of true fields of scientific study and investigation.

Forensic science, anthropology, and history in general all assume that humans exist and are responsible for the phenomenon examined. Authorities in these disciplines can devise hypotheses to explain the phenomenon they observe and can test them.

SETI assumes there might be non-human life elsewhere in the universe and is nothing more than an expensive fishing expedition. If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.

The search for a granite cube on Mars is nothing more than an exercise in hypotheticals. Call it science if you insist; I don’t see how it is different than a child waiting breathlessly all night beside the fireplace hoping to find Santa coming down the chimney.

I guess the number of science colleagues I acknowledge needs to grow exponentially. I apologize to those I have failed to recognize before as scientists.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes

Sean Pitman: The observation alone, of the granite cube on an alien planet, informs us that the creator of the cube was intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence – that’s it. You are correct that this observation, alone, would not inform us as to the identity or anything else about the creator beyond the fact that the creator of this particular granite cube was intelligent and deliberate in the creation of the cube.

Your frank admission concedes that the creator of the cube could itself be an evolved being, and therefore you’re back to square one. Thus, your hypothetical argument offers no support for either evolutionism or creationism, and cannot distinguish between them.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
I have taken much abuse by pointing out the simple fact that SDAs have specific interpretations of origins that originate from scripture and cannot be supported by science (if science is “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence”). The beliefs include:

o fiat creation by voice command from a supernatural being
o all major life forms created in a 6-day period
o original creation of major life forms approximately 6,000 years ago

None of these can be falsified by experimental evidence, and therefore are accepted on faith.

Sean Pitman’s responses to this are predictably all over the place. They include:

[This] is a request for absolute demonstration. That’s not what science does.” [totally agreed; science can’t examine these beliefs]

The Biblical account of origins can in fact be supported by strong empirical evidence.” [not any of these three major interpretations of Genesis 1]

Does real science require leaps of faith? Absolutely!

I think it’s fair to say from Pitman’s perspective that faith derived from science is laudable, whereas faith derived from scripture–God’s word–is useless.

Don’t fret, Dr. Pitman. I won’t lure you into further pointless discussion. While I am greatly amused by all of this nonsense and deliberation (hardly angry, as you often suggest) for a small handful of largely disinterested readers, I am finished. I won’t be responding to any further remarks or questions.