Comment on Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’? by Sean Pitman.
The Temerity of Charles Scriven:
Response to Chuck’s Spectrum article:
In reading through Chuck’s article, I find it hard to understand his ultimate goal. At what point would Chuck be satisfied? – if all would read the Bible as nothing more than a collection of good moral fables? Ever hear of the concept of “present truth”?
Chuck labels those who actually believe in the clearly stated currently established “fundamental” pillars of the SDA faith as “fundamentalists” and describes us as being so rigid and uncreative in our biblical understanding and interpretation, and general mental ability in general, as to be one step beyond the nut farm…
And he has the temerity to describe us as the ones who are “arrogant”?! – because we actually claim to know some solid truths that are worth sharing with the world? Don’t tell me that Chuck isn’t just as confident in his understanding of “truth” as I am or other “fundamentalists” are. He wouldn’t have enough of an opinion to write such articles declaring the insanity of “fundamentalists”, like me, if he wasn’t just as “arrogant” in his own views…
Thanks again for the post-modern review Chuck…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’?
More Arguments for Blind Faith Trumping Evidence and “Last Thursdayism”
You start by asserting that the clear weight of evidence is strongly supportive of the SDA position on origins. Ervin Taylor disagrees with you. You dismiss Ervin Taylorâ€™s comment by calling him an ardent evolutionist. You reply with an Ad hominem attack. You attack Ervin Taylor, not his assertion.
Obviously, it is only my personal opinion that the weight of evidence is clearly in favor of the SDA perspective on origins.
You are also in the same boat I’m in by the way. You do realize that the majority of modern scientists also disagree with your personal opinion that the weight of scientific evidence supports the need for a God or a God-like power to explain the origin of certain features of the universe and life on this planet?
As far as presenting personal pejorative attacks against Erv Taylor, I’ve done no such thing. I’ve only presented his true personal views on origins as being clearly opposed to the stated fundamental position of the organized SDA Church on origins – which is a fact. I’ve also specifically addressed many of his old-life arguments on my website – to include his arguments for the ancient age of many of the Earth’s ice sheets, his assumptions on amino acid racemization dating, and his arguments for radiocarbon and tree ring dating. You can review my counter arguments on my website if you wish…
The crux of this argument appears to be whether or not the scientific evidence supports young age creationism (YEC) or not. You assert that it does. You are in the distinct minority view on this. Said more strongly, you are wrong.
You are certainly with the majority in that opinion. However, your opinion is against the opinion of the SDA Church organization… which is my whole point in this particular forum.
I have read your website. It contains many interesting points that reveal the weaknesses in the scientific evidence, but it does not rewrite the scientific consensus on plate tectonics, geology or other sciences that can inform a scientific evaluation of the claims of YEC.
It is one thing to make bald assertions like this. Any specific counter-arguments to anything I’ve actually said on these topics? in particular?
Here’s a list of just a few of my arguments for evidences that seem to me to clearly demand a young-age of life on this planet and a recent world-wide watery catastrophe as the origin of much of the geologic column and fossil records. I’d be most interested in your counter arguments to some of these points…
You are not wrong that the data are most consistent with a superhuman intelligence (God) creating the universe and life.
Why are you so willing to disagree with the mainstream consensus of modern scientists here (telling me that my arguments in opposition to mainstream science are correct in this case), but tell me that I’m nuts for disagreeing with mainstream scientists when it comes to my interpretations of geology and the fossil record?
There is no way that inanimate matter could become alive due to random natural processes. An early insuperable obstacle is the homochirality problem, but that is merely one impregnable barrier. Many others follow.
Again, most modern scientists think you’re wrong here…
You are capable of arguing this point effectively, because the evidence is not in debate, even in scientific circles. The only debate revolves around opinions wholly unsubstantiated by anything other than the most scant of data. Scientists do not have a mechanism for the ignition of life from matter. They simply claim it happened. And without a universe that includes God, they resort to untestable ideas about selection based upon multiple universes with this universe being observed â€œbecauseâ€ an observer exists, rather than because God created it. (Anthropic principle)
Obviously, I agree with you here, but the same thing is true, in my opinion, for the mainstream interpretation of the fossil record and the geologic column…
However, YEC and flood geology cannot be supported by the available data. It is possible that God created a young earth to look old, much older than 6000 years. It is also entirely possible that the creation and flood were miraculous and that we cannot use human observation to answer these questions at all and we must simply believe.
It is also possible that God made everything “Last Thursday“, or even 5 seconds ago, and just made it look like it has been here longer. Such arguments are simply not helpful when it comes to establishing a solid basis for a rational hope or faith in the Gospel’s “good news”.
You are also not considering the possibility that what looks old to you only looks that way because you are not reading the evidence correctly. As I see the available evidence, the significant weight of evidence is inconsistent with the old-age arguments for the ancient age of either the geologic column or the fossil record. Both of these records literally scream “recent catastrophe”.
If you disagree, by all means list off some specific argument that I’ve made, either here or on my website, and why you think I’m wrong. Again, the above link would be a good place to start.
An honest scientist who works for the church is being demanded by you to hew to a dishonest position, and yet you call him/her a thief. This is untenable and wrong.
A honest scientist who disagrees with the SDA Church should not work for the SDA Church. It is not honest to take money from any organization that you honestly think is so wrong that you would be forced to undermine what they are trying to promote. It is dishonest to take money from anyone while going about promoting just the opposite of what you were paid to promote.
It is not a â€œworldviewâ€ problem. It is a data problem. Adventist GRI scientists honestly acknowledge the science does not support YEC, and yet they support fundamental belief #6, choosing to place faith above human interpretation of data and humbly acknowledging their inability to provide a scientific explanation that agrees with YEC. You follow by stating that Ben Clausen â€œhas done and is doing the Church a disservice in his employment with GRI.â€
If all that was needed was “faith” without any appeal to evidence, what’s the point of spending the Church’s money on the GRI institute? The GRI was not set up by the Church to argue that the best we have is “faith without evidence”. That’s not the point of the GRI. The point of the GRI, clearly, is to present the world with actual evidence in support of the Church’s position on origins. If you or anyone else, as a scientist, cannot, in good conscience, support the Church’s position on origins, the Church is not obliged to hire those who disagree. It doesn’t matter if the Church’s opinion is in the distinct minority when it comes to the modern scientific consensus. The Church is not required to support the majority view. If the Church wishes to remain viable, however, it definitely needs to hire only those who can, in good conscience, support the Church’s view…
Please stop the attacks. They are not thieves. They are not stupid. They are not dishonest. They are in the same position that I and many other committed Adventists are in. We love and support our church, we believe itâ€™s message, we accept the bible for what it says.
I never said that they were stupid or dishonest in their views on origins. What I said is that they are being dishonest toward their employer – the SDA Church in this case. The Church hired them to support the SDA perspective on origins, not with arguments of blind faith, but with arguments of empirical evidence. If a person cannot fulfill such a request in good conscience, then it would be dishonest of such a person to take such a job; to take money for doing one thing while doing just the opposite…
At times, science seems to disagree with revelation. In those circumstances I refuse to rise to the bait. I refuse to submit my belief in God and His creative power to the test of whether or not He is observable in the eyes of Richard Dawkins. This does not make me a believer in his flying spaghetti monster, nor does it make me a flat-earther. It makes me a person who is willing to wait for God to reveal this mystery to me in His own time, if necessary during eternity.
There are many who believe that faith trumps all forms of empirical evidence – that one can believe via faith even if all the available evidence is completely opposed. The problem with this notion is that it leaves one with no rational basis to distinguish between different faiths. Why is your faith in the existence of God better than someone else’s faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? or the Book of Mormon? or the Qur’an? or even the faith of most mainstream scientists that everything ultimately came from nothing via mindless mechanisms?
Upon what rational basis should anyone accept your “faith” as being any more credible than any of these other “faiths”?
What can I say? Iâ€™ll let the reader decide whether you are undermining a fundamental SDA doctrine, and whether you yourself would be a liar and a thief if employed by the SDA church.
There is no point in discussing with someone who is trying to be deliberately obtuse. FB#6 is clearly talking about the existence of all things good… as at the end of Creation Week when God said that it was “very good”. Genesis 1:31 NIV
The suggestion that God made the bad as well as the good, the Ying and the Yang as some religions believe, is very clearly not a position of the SDA Church. As Prof. Kent very well knows, the SDA Church presents God as only being responsible for all that is good and none of that which is bad or evil in this world and universe…
I believe that reading the Bible can change a person. It changes me. Itâ€™s changed many of my family members and friends. I believe the Holy Spirit plays an important role in this. When I read the accounts of the apostles, who portray themselves as bumbling fools, I am moved by how little they gained and how all of them were willing to give up their lives for what they claimed they saw and heard. There are aspects of history portrayed in the Bible, and Biblical prophecy, that ring very true. These are but some of the evidences I choose to believe in, and from them, I am willing to accept the Bible in entirety as Godâ€™s inspired word and even much of the Creation account as true.
So, you do appeal to actual empirical evidence to support faith in the Bible… using similar arguments to the ones I use myself. That’s great!
However, at this point, I really don’t understand your efforts in opposition to my efforts to actively promoted additional evidences for faith? – specifically in reference to those empirically testable aspects of the Genesis account of origins? …
And none of us need quantitative scientific data to prove beyond doubt that all major life forms were created in only 6 days less than 6,100 years ago.
That’s not the issue. The issue is that given an understanding of the data that indicates that it is overwhelmingly evident that life has in fact existed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years, the Genesis narrative cannot be true. It is effectively falsified and therefore looses a great deal of credibility given such a scenario – a loss of credibility which significantly impacts many other aspects of the Bible and various metaphysical claims that cannot be tested or falsified in such a direct manner.
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).