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

By Sean Pitman

Dr. Geraty

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 “faith seeking understanding.” 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 I’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 isn’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: “Dealing with Uncertainty.” 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. Jacob’s struggle and conflict is a good illustration. Genesis 32:31 (NIV) says: “The sun rose above him” even though he was limping. It was a sign of symbolic life after struggle.

Such arguments are like saying, “Well, 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.”

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 Dawkins’ Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Santa Claus or garden fairies. This notion is completely ridiculous in my opinion – not at all helpful as a solid rational basis for actually believing in the reality of the Gospel’s message of hope.

If I actually believed like this, I’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 fables…

In response to the question, “Please explain dating,” he said, “Radiometric dating is our only method; there is no alternative.” The follow up question was “Then explain six literal days.” His response, ”I feel comfortable because I have a larger world view though it cannot be reconciled with science. There is no shame in having problems.” Another question: “Is there room for believers who think differently in the church?” Response: “Yes, how would you deal with someone who had a mythical experience? No, forget the word ‘mythical’! The main point to realize is that you can’t use Genesis to form a scientific model. If you’re an advocate for other views, be humble, accept the fact that you may not have followers.” Last question: “Are there presuppositions in geology?” Answer: “Yes, the assumptions are reasonable and intrinsically connected with the laws of nature. When it comes to things that are supernatural, you can’t fully understand them, you can just speculate.”

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 – 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, “Do Millions of Years Solve the Problem?” In a nutshell, his answer was “no,” but he carefully spelled out the reasons as follows…

Faith has to be the key because “there is not enough evidence to resolve the tension between science and the Bible; one has to believe the Bible without the support of science.” “Science works well when tests can be repeated; history is not testable in that way.” “Science is a closed system governed by physical laws so tension [with the Bible] has to be expected.”

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.

Dr. Richard Dawkins

The statement, yet again, that “faith” 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 “faith” 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 I’ve made along these lines in this forum and in many others…

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106 thoughts on “Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’?

  1. Doc, I do understand the distinction between the two words. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen accusations of “bald” and “bold” assertions in the same context, and this is why I’m both bemused and confused by the diction. I’d suspect a typo, except that the fingers used for the letters “a” and “o” are on different hands. Maybe it’s an unconscious word choice error.


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  2. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen accusations of “bald” and “bold” assertions in the same context, and this is why I’m both bemused and confused by the diction.

    As I stated, a statement may be “bold” and “bald” at the same time. So it may not be an error.


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  3. I have read many of the posts in your forums. Dr. Pitman says that we are not only forbidden as Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists to believe any assertions or arguments that contradict the Genesis account, but also that we must come up with scientific evidence that confirms the Bible record. If I understand him correctly, he says that if a scientist has unanswered questions regarding Genesis, he should not only quit his job, but also abandon his religion.

    I am a layman, not a scientist, but I am more scientifically informed than the average layman. I am also a conservative Seventh-day Adventist and have believed all my life in the Creation and Noah’s Ark stories as presented by Moses and Ellen White. I still believe in a 6-day creation of life on this earth and consider that there is a lot of evidence to support a world-wide flood.

    However, if we are supposed to be able to give scientific backing for our beliefs, here are a few that are puzzling. 1. How would scorpions, spiders, sharks, leeches, woodticks, and internal parasites fit in a perfect Garden of Eden? 2. Were the venomous fangs of snakes likely a sudden development after sin, would they have had a place in the Garden of Eden, or did the devil likely create this feature in serpents gradually? 3. If we accept the concept that all felines from bobcats to tigers descended from one pair on Noah’s Ark (as some apologists do, to fit everything in), do we have any evidence of intermediate forms between these kinds, especially challenging, in my opinion, in the case of cheetahs? And what about the requisite speed of microevolution in this scenario? 4. Ellen White asserts that God did not initially create “loathsome swamps” or “barren deserts.” In that case, when were the species formed that inhabit these habitats? 5. Do we have a good hypothesis for the survival during the Flood of semi-aquatic creatures (such as crabs) and creatures that need to live in shallow water (such as crayfish)? Did Noah have a sophisticated aquarium aboard the Ark? 6. Do we have good answers for the logistical issues (food, water, waste disposal, etc.) raised by those who challenge the Genesis Flood? 7. If kangaroos lived temporarily in the land area between Ararat and Australia, and possibly worldwide before the Flood, why do we only find their fossils in or near Australia? 8. How did sloths travel all the way to the Americas from Ararat? 9. How were the spawning grounds for salmon established as the Ice Age glaciers retreated, given that these fish faithfully return to their birthplace? Same question for birds that return to the same place every year. 10. What about the establishment of different types of trees in different parts of the world after the Flood?

    As you can see, I have no problem with a fiat creation of life on earth in six days. But, I am challenged in my mind regarding certain features that I see in the world around me.

    If a denominational employee thinks of these issues and does not have a good explanation, is he supposed to leave his job, not mention his thoughts, or is he allowed to state that there are questions that do not have easy answers that he knows of?


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