By Sean Pitman
The following discussion is based on Lawrence Geraty’s (retired president of LSU and supporter of long-age views of origins) review of the creation presentations given at the General Conference in Atlanta – as originally published by Spectrum.
Clausen sees the Sabbath as symbolizing what Anselm said about â€œfaith seeking understanding.â€ In conclusion he urged us to place our faith in the Bible because there is not enough support from science.
I disagree with Ben Clausen. The clear weight of evidence, as far as Iâ€™ve been able to tell, is strongly supportive of the SDA position on origins. The genetic, geologic, and fossil evidence all speak to a recent formation of life on this planet and to a sudden worldwide watery catastrophe that produced much of both the geologic and fossil records in very short order.
Because of this weight of evidence, I think that Ben Clausen has done and is doing the Church a disservice in his employment with GRI. GRI isnâ€™t supposed to be a place where one argues that the only thing we have is blind faith in the biblical statements. GRI is supposed to be a place where scientific evidence is used to back up the biblical statements. If Ben cannot recognize this evidence, then he should be asked to move on and get his paycheck from some organization that is more in line with his personal views and blind faith.
The bottom line is that if physical evidence is irrelevant anyway, given Clausen’s claim that all that is really needed is “faith” regardless of the fact that all evidence is against us, there really is no point in funding an organization like GRI. Really, what’s the point if it really doesn’t matter what the actual evidence does or does not tell us? – if all we really need is “faith” when the science, all the evidence, is so overwhelmingly against such ludicrous folly?
Ronny Nalin, who does sedimentological research in Italy, chose to address a similar theme: â€œDealing with Uncertainty.â€ He answered four key questions:
1. Have I found the synthesis between the Bible and geology? No, just more unresolved issues.
2. Should we downplay geology? No, the rocks have a story to tell.
3. Should we give up our faith when there is conflict? No, faith is not based on empirical evidence (Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 5:7).
4. Why is there a conflict? Incomplete understanding is part of the human condition; our God is bigger than we are. The answer lies in knowledge we do not see. Jacobâ€™s struggle and conflict is a good illustration. Genesis 32:31 (NIV) says: â€œThe sun rose above himâ€ even though he was limping. It was a sign of symbolic life after struggle.
Such arguments are like saying, â€œWell, there is overwhelming evidence that the Earth is spherical, but because our sacred text tells us that the Earth is flat, we believe that the Earth is flat in spite of all the overwhelming evidence that is against us.â€
To suggest, therefore, that faith is not based on empirical evidence of any kind is to suggest that the Christian gospel is no more reasonable than believing in a flat Earth or Dawkinsâ€™ Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Santa Claus or garden fairies. This notion is completely ridiculous in my opinion â€“ not at all helpful as a solid rational basis for actually believing in the reality of the Gospelâ€™s message of hope.
If I actually believed like this, Iâ€™d have the intellectual honesty to leave the SDA Church and even Christianity behind and to admit that the Bible is really not any more reliable or useful than a collection of moral fablesâ€¦
In response to the question, â€œPlease explain dating,â€ he said, â€œRadiometric dating is our only method; there is no alternative.â€ The follow up question was â€œThen explain six literal days.â€ His response, â€I feel comfortable because I have a larger world view though it cannot be reconciled with science. There is no shame in having problems.â€ Another question: â€œIs there room for believers who think differently in the church?â€ Response: â€œYes, how would you deal with someone who had a mythical experience? No, forget the word â€˜mythicalâ€™! The main point to realize is that you canâ€™t use Genesis to form a scientific model. If youâ€™re an advocate for other views, be humble, accept the fact that you may not have followers.â€ Last question: â€œAre there presuppositions in geology?â€ Answer: â€œYes, the assumptions are reasonable and intrinsically connected with the laws of nature. When it comes to things that are supernatural, you canâ€™t fully understand them, you can just speculate.â€
Radiometric dating methods are not all we have to estimate elapsed time. There are all kinds of other methods to evaluate the passage of time â€“ to include erosion rates, molecular decay rates, sedimentation rates, real time mutation rates, bioturbation rates, etc.
Beyond this, if the overwhelming weight of evidence is against you, why on Earth do you believe like you do? What is your basis for belief beyond some emotional need for a particular story to be true? And, where is the confidence to be found in a blind-faith emotion-driven belief system?
The presentation by Jim Gibson, Director of GRI, responded to the question, â€œDo Millions of Years Solve the Problem?â€ In a nutshell, his answer was â€œno,â€ but he carefully spelled out the reasons as followsâ€¦
Faith has to be the key because â€œthere is not enough evidence to resolve the tension between science and the Bible; one has to believe the Bible without the support of science.â€ â€œScience works well when tests can be repeated; history is not testable in that way.â€ â€œScience is a closed system governed by physical laws so tension [with the Bible] has to be expected.â€
Gibson is mistaken to think that various views of history are not in any way testable in a falsifiable manner and are therefore not empirically based. There is plenty of physical empirical evidence to support the biblical model of origins which is both testable and potentially falsifiable and is therefore scientific.
The statement, yet again, that â€œfaithâ€ is all that we have is nonsense. Blind faith, devoid of any backing by empirical evidence, is completely worthless as a basis for a real solid hope in the future. Richard Dawkins, William Provine, and others like them, are correct to note that such appeals to â€œfaithâ€ are no more useful to the believer than is essential atheism when it comes to a rational understanding of reality.
As far as the details of why I believe that the significant weight of evidence found in geology, fossils and genetics clearly supports the SDA perspective on origins, please refer to my website and the many extensive comments Iâ€™ve made along these lines in this forum and in many othersâ€¦