Comment on Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’? by Ron.
Sean: To return to the topic of this thread, you make the following assertion that opens the topic of this thread:
“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.”
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.
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. 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.
You are not wrong that the data are most consistent with a superhuman intelligence (God) creating the universe and life. 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. 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)
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Recent Comments by Ron
A New Endowment Program for Adventist Education
Adventist schools have suffered as the church has fragmented. I spent several years on an Adventist school board. We could not accomplish much because there was profound basic differences on the board and within the church constituency regarding what the school should be. Some wanted a school that focused primarily on evangelism, others wanted a high quality academic program, some wanted an orchestra, others cared deeply about a “quality” sports program that spent significant time off campus traveling to games around the area competing in a local Christian sporting league. And you can’t have it all. Sending kids away from school to participate in sports leagues at 1:00p.m. 1-2 times per week inevitably impacts everything else, from academics to music to work programs to witnessing activities. Appeals to Ellen White’s counsel usually led to the various individuals picking and choosing what of Ellen White’s counsels get taken seriously and what get ignored. The failure of our educational system is the failure of us.
I agree with the Endowment idea, however. And it is best managed at the local level with deep conference input (as is the case with school boards for each of the schools). If the endowment is too divorced from the local school, support will not be forthcoming, if it is too local it often becomes the tool of a visionary wealthy ‘benefactor’ who uses the money to buy the type of school s/he wants.
What we dearly need are qualified, experienced and committed leaders at the level of principals and conference Educational Secretaries. These individuals make or break a school. They keep the values straight, they encourage struggling teachers, they set the tone for academic and extra curricular activities and with the right vision and skill, they create a product that is attractive to families. THESE PEOPLE SHOULD BE FUNDED BY CONFERENCE MONEY (TITHE) as they are key to the ministry within constiutent churches.
This needs to happen NOW. Adventist schools are shrinking. Another generation of this and we won’t have our schools.
Let me state where I perceive to agree with you and others on this board. The teaching of naturalistic evolution as the preferred explanation for the origins of life on this world is inimicable to Adventist faith and practice.
Additionally, for those who are not indoctrinated, the story that “random atoms coalesced into simple living things that replicated and become more complex until some of these living things were able to talk, write, think and imagine that God exists (even though he doesn’t)” just doesn’t make sense at all. Most people, including most Adventists, sense the wonder and mystery of life and see it as evidence for God. Most people in America, to the incredulity of the intellectual elite, see it this way and have seen it this way for generations.
Problem: Biology is a common college major, most commonly as a conduit for young people to go into medicine at Loma Linda University. So most biology majors at Adventist colleges aren’t wanting to be biologists. They are wanting to be doctors. For students wanting to be doctors, the college experience is a stepping stone. Doctors don’t think in evolutionary terms except rarely. So, it has been possible to teach “biology” to students and avoid the hard discussions about origins, because that hole in their knowledge base (as defined by biologists), really never comes up except in the context of a religious, philosophical or theological debate.
Origins debates are kind of like abortion… unless you get your girlfriend pregnant, or you have gotten pregnant yourself out of wedlock, you are free to have an opinion that is based upon theory. But what happens when you are pregnant… now you have to wrestle with some pretty serious stuff and make difficult decisions about what you are going to do.
Our college biology teachers have had to make hard choices. Trust me, the vast majority of them went into biology because it was interesting and their calling. They ARE loyal Adventists (maybe some aren’t and they should not stick around). But they have had to look personally at the data and wrestle and make sense of it. Very few of the rest of us on this board have done this. Simple example… death began at the fall. Sharks aren’t vegetarians, they are efficient predators. Where did they come from? Did God create them? Did Satan? (I really don’t like that idea, it gives Satan life creating power and I really don’t think he has that.) Did the curse of sin somehow transform sharks from plankton eaters to efficient killing machines? If so, how does that happen? Was it a miracle, again “caused” by God’s curse. You and I don’t have to think about these questions because we are not biologists. But the job of a biologist is to understand the world of living things. So these questions come up. I don’t ask these questions to question creation, God or FB#6. I mention them to suggest that the people that have been demonized in the abstract or in person, may not be some horrible apostate, but rather someone who is seeking to learn about God’s second book. I strongly suggest that biologists in Adventist schools need OUR PRAYERS and support. They may sometimes get it wrong, but generally they get it right.
So should Adventist biologists teach evolution as the best explanation for life. NO!. I mean, scientists DON’T have an agreed upon explanation for how life began. And they never will. The odds are way too stacked against a random process creating life. Read Dembski or Behe or Meyer for some thoughtful critique of naturalistic evolution. (I hope these authors are required reading for Adventist biology students.) We do need to teach the basics of evolution so that students don’t hear the arguments for the first time from hostile sources.
Should Adventist geologists teach “Flood geology”. Yes we should, but we also have to teach standard geology along with it and do the best we can to be honest about what we don’t know. To do any less simply leaves our students open to attack when they pick up a book by Richard Dawkins, or go to grad school.
Finally, we may have to be willing to let what we observe in nature and what we read in the bible remain in tension until God provides us more information, either with further research or perhaps during eternity.
So I reassert my strong desire that this community dial down the polemics and attacks against our church institutions and scientists. In almost all cases, these people are seeking to honestly merge what they oberve with what they understand from scripture. If their conclusions are different than ours, they need our prayer and understanding rather than our attack.
For those who seek to destroy the faith of the youth or the weak, beware what Jesus said: ” 1 Jesus said to his disciples: â€œThings that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.” Luke 17:1-2. But we are not reliable agents of God’s judgement. He will do the judging. We need to pray, live Godly lives, prepare our children and speak out where we are called by God. But we should always follow God’s advice…”24 And the Lordâ€™s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.â€ 2Tim 2:24-26.
Paul wrote these words just weeks before he was martyred. They are the words of a valiant warrior for God. We ignore them and their wisdom at our peril. They are words of reconciliation and restoration. They are in the same book as the following: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourageâ€”with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that dayâ€”and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Tim 4:2-8.
For real education reform, take a cue from the Adventists
The enthusiasm exhibited by some on this forum to “call out” those who disagree, and to fire teachers who ask and try to answer questions about origins that are routinely present in the minds of college age youth cause me pain.
The Word of God has clear counsel about this.
” 22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Donâ€™t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lordâ€™s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2Tim 2:22-26.
“24 Jesus told them another parable: â€œThe kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 â€œThe ownerâ€™s servants came to him and said, â€˜Sir, didnâ€™t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?â€™
28 â€œâ€˜An enemy did this,â€™ he replied.
â€œThe servants asked him, â€˜Do you want us to go and pull them up?â€™
29 â€œâ€˜No,â€™ he answered, â€˜because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.â€™â€ Matt 13:24-30
The Spirit of Prophecy states the following (commenting on the Wheat and Tares parable):
“Christ’s servants are grieved as they see true and false believers mingled in the church. They long to do something to cleanse the church. Like the servants of the householder, they are ready to uproot the tares. But Christ says to them, “Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.”
“Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive. He knows our nature too well to entrust this work to us. Should we try to uproot from the church those whom we suppose to be spurious Christians, we should be sure to make mistakes. Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we [p. 72] to deal with these souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting. Many will be in heaven who their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God judges the heart. The tares and the wheat are to grow together until the harvest; and the harvest is the end of probationary time.” Christ’s Object Lessons p.
The overall message could not be more clear: GOD will solve this problem in HIS way on HIS time and much of this will occur, not now, not during the shaking, but at the last judgment. Meanwhile, we are to live out loving lives as a witness. I know that many on this forum are greatly pained by what they perceive as apostasy and heresy. But, the human heart is not reliable. Throughout history people with the best of intentions have done the devils work while trying to eradicate evil, when God says “leave it to me”. Paul himself was in this category. He held the coats of those who stoned Stephen.
In the parable of the Tares, Jesus was addressing the danger of trying to purify the church. Again, quoting from Matthew: â€œThe servants asked him, â€˜Do you want us to go and pull them up?â€™
29 â€œâ€˜No,â€™ he answered, â€˜because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.” By taking God’s role into our own hands we risk destroying those whom He is nurturing. Everyone who cares about the Adventist church KNOWS that the enemy has sewn tares amongst us. But God says to his servants: “I’ll take care of you, and I died for the tares, just like the wheat.”
Our children MUST be prepared for the Satanic ideas that will come and this preparation should happen at home and in their own churches. They must be prepared by developing a personal relationship with the Creator. No one gets to heaven by being an Adventist or by going to Adventist colleges. They get to heaven by knowing and following Jesus. I, like you, hate the Satanic idea of evolution, but it looses it’s power when a person has met the risen Lord. The mystery of origins fades into obscurity when we trust that our Redeemer is also our Creator. Any other relationship is meaningless.
We show a profound lack of faith and trust when we feel as though WE (not GOD) must be the judge, jury and executioner of divine judgment because it’s not happening RIGHT NOW!
From what I read on this board, either the whole focus of this website needs to change to a more devotional and winsome approach, or it should be shut down. If you were a non Adventist reader, educated in the public school system, you would be appalled at the way we treat one another! What a sad witness to our Lord.
The most pernicious of attitudes promoted on this site is the idea that biologists who teach college level biology in Adventist universities are thieves. I beg of you to stop these accusations. You are free to disagree with the conclusions of the biologists, and if their expertise is valid they will be able to present a cogent defense of their point of view. Alternatively they may not have a cogent defense, in which case students will see the fallacy of their position. And hopefully, they also will see the error of their views and repent. For God’s word on how to handle this kind of issue, please see 2 Timothy 2. In particular:
24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
I know that some students have been shaken by the information taught and faculty must be very careful about how they present the information. There is a great need for faculty to be able to demonstrate how they integrate commitment and faith with the seeming contradictions of their discipline. Nevertheless, if a student chooses to gain a collegiate education in biology, they NEED to understand and think through the data about evolution. Everyone will need to be convinced in his/her own mind about this issue. We should not kid ourselves, young people will get this information and decide on their own anyway. Rather than letting NOVA indoctrinate our young people, it is far better for these questions to be handled respectfully by faculty who acknowledge the dilemmas the data present, yet choose to be faithful and committed to the church. If they see things slightly different than you, then respectfully present your point of view, but don’t character assassinate them or call them “thieves”! If this approach cannot be done, then Biology should be withdrawn as a collegiate major and the entire structure of Adventist higher education will be at risk as other disagreements boil over.
Again, please stop demonizing our biology professors as “thieves”. This is patently false and is the classic tactic of the ad hominem fallacy (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html). Disagree respectfully all that you want. Present your data and arguments, but stop attributing scurrilous motives to those with whom you disagree.