@Professor Kent: Sean, while I could agree with your statement …

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

@Professor Kent:

Sean, while I could agree with your statement on a prima facie basis, I think one needs to dig a bit deeper here. This statement basically says that we don’t need the Bible or any type of falsifiable evidence or even beliefs to gain admission to heaven, which seems to contradict what you often state (not to mention the purpose of this website). I could be wrong, but I believe that God is able to claim souls who lack knowledge in Him because he can judge whether they would accept Him and Christ’s sacrifice if they had representative knowledge of Him.

Exactly…

It just goes to show that it is motive, not current knowledge or beliefs, that is important when it comes to judging if a person is or is not savable.

This idea does not contradict my efforts to uphold truth as I see it. Just because knowledge is not the basis of salvation does not mean that it isn’t important. Knowledge is the basis of the solid conscious hope of the Gospel message. While one can be saved without ever having a conscious knowledge of this future glory while here on Earth, it sure would be nice to have known while here – right?

I’m not convinced that God saves them because they have “love;” after all, many animals give well-documented evidence of having love, which is an instinct written in the genes of many life forms, including most humans (I’ve met a few who could be exceptions). I suspect that He who knows us in the womb can discern much more than our love, and recognizes what our choice would be given an opportunity to know Him and serve Him.

Our moral choices are based on motive, not knowledge. While animals do express love and devotion to their masters, they cannot appreciate moral freedom as we humans can. They have not been given moral responsibility or choice as we have been given it. Free moral choices are based on the motive of love – of doing unto others as you would like to be treated because of your love for your neighbor.

Remember, it was Jesus who pointed out that all the Law and the Prophets were built on the single “Royal Law”, and James put it, of Love – love to both God and toward our neighbors. Matthew 22:39-40 NIV.

And, as Paul points out, those who love their neighbors as themselves fulfill the Law and are therefore savable – regardless of their knowledge or lack thereof regarding the particulars of God’s existence, the life and death of Jesus, His true character, or any other doctrinal truths while in this life. Romans 13:8-10 NIV.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman Also Commented

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

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).

These disagreements occurred before certain agreed positions were so settled in the minds of the founding fathers and mothers of the SDA Church that they became “fundamental” pillars of the SDA faith. The current list of fundamentals was not always as it currently stands. It grew and developed over time. It is only expected that as more information comes clearly to light that the list of important “fundamental” beliefs would also expand over time.

And, as the early Church founders soon discovered, without the maintenance of internal order, discipline, and government within the Church, as based on the concept of “present truth”, as understood by the organized body of believers, the organization soon begins to fragment towards chaos and irrelevance…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


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

Like the vast majority of readers here, I don’t need a scientific basis for my faith, and I believe I can be saved by it however “blind” it may be.

Salvation is based on love, not blind faith – or faith of any kind for that matter. It is for this reason that even those who have never heard the name of Jesus or had any real concept of God can be saved according to how they expressed the Royal Law of Love toward their neighbors – a law which has been written on the hearts of all. This is why I believe that there will be a number of very surprised atheists in Heaven someday…

Faith or belief is the basis of conscious hope, but not of salvation. If you have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, you have gained nothing… 1 Corinthians 13:2 NIV.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Elliot Sober: Just Don’t Call the Designer “God”
If Wishes Were Horses…

@ken:

Dear Sean

I’m absolutely fine with the notion of using scientific tests to determine who is God. Would you agree that if science proves the world is older than 6000- 8000 years, then your iteration of God is not the right one?

If science is able to conclusively demonstrate, in my own understanding of the available evidence, that life has indeed existed on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, then yes, that would indeed falsify my current view of God and of the Christian faith.

This is why my view of religion is a scientific view. It is open to testing and potential falsification. I submit that if one’s religious views are not open to testing or even the potential of falsification that such a religion isn’t more useful than an emotional desire for something to be true.

It’s like the old English proverb and nursery rhyme, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. Blind faith or blind hope simply isn’t enough to produce anything useful to build something solid upon with which to establish a strong confidence in a bright literal future for yourself or anyone else…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.

Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).

As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.

I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Then you have several different questions to explain. 1) How can a 6 month developed (but dead?), non-human being (from a human mother and father?) , being carried in it’s human mother’s womb, leap for joy because he (it?) recognized the mother of the World’s Savior? ”The dead know nothing, neither have they any more knowledge under the sun.” 2) How can anything dead even move? The opposite of alive is dead. Everything alive has life from God. Dead things don’t grow and they don’t move. Every SDA should know this. The Laws of God are not altered in order to justify killing unborn human beings that He has given life to.


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
That’s just it. You say that, “The unborn think and feel”. However, an embryo in the earliest stages of development is just a single cell or an unformed ball of cells – with no apparent functional difference than a cluster of cells in my appendix. Such an embryo cannot think or feel or understand anything. There is no mind or intelligence at this point. If it isn’t murder to take out someone’s appendix, how then call it be truly “murder” to end a pregnancy at this point in time? How can you be so sure of yourself here? Based on what moral principle?

Also, people who are clearly “brain dead” need not be maintained indefinitely on life support. They’re just a shell of a body at this point and it is not “murder” to simply take them off the mechanical support of the empty shell of their body. This happens all the time in hospitals – and it is not considered to be “murder” at all… by most medical professionals (even most Christian ones).