@Professor Kent: I am not the one saying Behe’s notions …

Comment on Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’? by Sean Pitman.

@Professor Kent:

I am not the one saying Behe’s notions of irreducible complexity are wrong (Hazen is, among many others; and you suggested that he was supporting Behe’s argument!).

He is. Hazen et. al. did in fact support Behe’s basic argument of irreducible complexity (IC). In their paper they noted that there were minimum structural limiations requirements to produce a useful/beneficial level of functionality. That is the basic definition of IC. That’s what makes this statement of theirs so ironic. They, like Kenneth Miller, don’t seem to grasp the basic concept of IC and what it means at higher and higher levels of IC…

Why are you asking me to refute Behe or how long 1000 fsaars require to change? I don’t take your arguments or those of Behe or Hazen at face value, and I’m not inclined to take the time to refute them carefully. You just want to argue because that’s your thing.

I’m asking you to start thinking for yourself instead of letting authority figures do your thinking for you…

In your determination to prove evolutionism is wrong, you have failed utterly to prove that creationsim is right.

Science cannot prove things right. Science can only prove things wrong. That is why the potential of falsification is a useful part of science. In order to support the validity of your hypothesis, what you do is subject it to potentially falsifying tests compared to the opposing null hypothesis. If it passes, then it gains predictive value but is never fully proven this side of eternity.

As a scientist you should already know this fundamental limitation of science and basic reason why science is actually useful.

I have asked repeatedly here for scientific proof (or any solid experimental evidence) of SDA beliefs that all major life forms were created within a 6-day period; that no life forms have been around for more than 6100 years; that a living human can be formed from dust; that a flock of sheep can instantaneously appear on a mountainside; that a virgin woman can conceive a child without sperm (other vertebrates do this; perhaps a human case is out there?); and that Jesus was resurrected. Where is this “overwhelming” evidence? Why is the silence so deafening? You continue to assert that we don’t need faith because it is useless and, besides, our beliefs are backed by evidence. You have called for the firing of certain GRI staff because they don’t preach evidence to support these beliefs. But you can’t either!

The evidence in support of the metaphysical claims of the Bible come in the form of those physical claims of the Bible that can actually be subjected to tests with the potential of falsification. If those claims of the Bible that can be tested are shown to be false, the credibility of those claims of the Bible that cannot be tested declines accordingly.

It is all about establishing credibility – as Jesus did when he asked, “Which is easier? – to say ‘your sins are forgive’? – or to say, ‘get up and walk’?” What would have happened to Jesus’ metaphysical non-testable claim to be able to forgive sins if the paralyzed man had not been healed when Jesus said, “Get up and walk”?

In the same way, if you undermine the Bible’s credibility in those areas that can be tested in a falsifiable manner, then you also undermine the Bible’s non-testable metaphysical claims as well…

Sean, I am glad that you are able to make these wonderful calculations and that you sincerely believe in them. However, as much as you would like to believe otherwise, your claims are not real “science” until you publish them in a reputable science journal.

Since when has “real science” been dependent upon peer review? Was Galileo not doing “real science” just because he didn’t publish in peer reviewed journals? He didn’t really have many peers anyway.

I’m sorry, but scientific ideas are not dependent upon peer review for their validity. They stand or fall on their own.

They are nothing less than the opinion and conjecture of a creationist hobbyist, though they certainly bear the ring of authenticity to a Church membership that is largely lacking any kind of rigorous science background.

And you, who admits that you don’t have any basis to make any relevant comments on this particular topic one way or the other, are better off? You have, of course, a rigorous science background. Yet, you have nothing substantive to offer on this topic besides your very strong faith in the powers of peer review to produce real scientific discovery without blocking very good ideas due to the bias of those vetting mainstream journals. Did you actually read the comments I posted of other scientist who have been continually blocked from publishing such ideas in mainstream literature?

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

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”

@Ron:

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 Taylor’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…

http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Counter

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 “because” 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”.

http://www.detectingdesign.com/geologiccolumn.html#Counter

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 “worldview” 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 “has done and is doing the Church a disservice in his employment with GRI.”

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 it’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”?

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’?
@Professor Kent:

What can I say? I’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…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’?
@Professor Kent:

I believe that reading the Bible can change a person. It changes me. It’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 God’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.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


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?