Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism

It has been clear for much of Lawrence Geraty’s distinguished career that he never really did support the “fundamentalist” interpretation of the Genesis account as clearly referring to six literal days of creation.  Beyond this, he has not considered such a fundamental doctrinal belief to be all that important to the SDA Church.  Even so, he claims to have hired LSU professors that he thought would support the Church and “Creationism” (though clearly not the Church’s literal 6-day Creationism – gotta watch out for the slick language around here).  Dr. Geraty has told me personally [Sean Pitman], twice now in public forum, that all LSU professors are “creationists” and believe in God.  The problem here, of course, is not that the LSU professors are atheistic or that they do not believe in some form of creation, but that they do not believe in the specific type of Creation that the SDA Church supports – i.e., the literal 6-day Creation Week ( Link ).

Please review Dr. Geraty’s original comments and subsequent clarification:

There is More to the La Sierra Story
By Lawrence Geraty

Lawrence Geraty

Since I have been retired from La Sierra University for three years, I’m not in the middle of things any more, though Gillian and I still live in the community, help out where we can, and continue to know and observe what is going on. While I’m sure LSU and some of its professors have made mistakes and have learned many lessons from the latest fuss, this action by the Michigan Conference is astounding to me.

LSU continues to be a sound, loyal Seventh-day Adventist institution where victories for Christ happen every day. I wish its critics would also circulate the fact that enrollment (including in biology) is at an all time high. It continues to send out student missionaries and baptize students (the latest group this last weekend), defend the church and stand for truth around the world, including in many professional settings where the Michigan Conference would not be recognized nor have a voice, etc.

I believe the tea party movement and radical right-wing politics is affecting our beloved church, not only in belief but in tactics that have no place among Christians. If you care about Truth, I suggest you dig a bit deeper than either Shane Hilde or the Michigan Conference have done.

Christ tells us they will know us by our love, not by our commitment to a seven literal historical, consecutive, contiguous 24-hour day week of creation 6,000 years ago which is NOT in Genesis no matter how much the fundamentalist wing of the church would like to see it there.

Fundamental Belief No. 6 uses Biblical language to which we can all agree; once you start interpreting it according to anyone’s preference you begin to cut out members who have a different interpretation. I wholeheartedly affirm Scripture, but NOT the extra-Biblical interpretation of the Michigan Conference. Since when is salvation by correct knowledge anyway?

I don’t mean to take sides or get anyone upset; I just wanted you to know there is a much larger picture out there with forces at work that are disrupting the unity of the church–and that the force is not one or two professors at LSU whose views are being dealt with constructively by LSU’s administration in whom you can continue to have every confidence.

*****
[emphasis added]


Lawrence Geraty is president emeritus of La Sierra University. In 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger named him to the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

_______________
Dr. Geraty clarifies his position:

Excerpts from letters sent to Steve Billiter dated June 1, 2010:

First of all, I accept and support the wording of our Sixth Fundamental Belief because it uses the words of Scripture to which we can all give affirmation. Second of all, I personally presume that Genesis 1 refers to an ordinary week, but since it does not say that explicitly, I am glad to give those interpreters who wish to interpret it differently the freedom to do so. In other words, I support the evangelistic outreach of the church that is inclusive, rather than exclusive. If a believer affirms the doctrine of creation, I’m all for including him or her in the fellowship without making him or her interpret Genesis 1 exactly as I or others wish to interpret it.

When it comes to the integration of faith and science, there are difficulties we may not be able to resolve before the Second Coming, nor is it necessary to do so. Ellen White counsels us to use both science and Scripture, rightly interpreted, to reach our best understanding of truth. Since scientific theory is changing and developing rapidly with new evidence all the time, I am willing to be patient“but then I am not a scientist so these things are not the pressing issues for me that they apparently are for Educate Truth and its supporters.

I am not challenging the literal 6-day creation week. I am just challenging that that is the only way to understand the Biblical text. It is also slander to say that I hired professors to teach at LSU that I specifically knew would undermine the Church’s “˜fundamental” understanding on a literal creation week. There is no evidence for that and it is contrary to all I did to make sure we had professors who were supportive of the SDA Church and creationism.

Larry Geraty

____

Note:

Here are the presidents of LSU since it became an independent institution:

Fritz Guy:  1990 -1993

Lawrence Geraty:  1993-2008

Randall Wisbey:  2008-present

LSU Science professors hired under Dr. Geraty:

Larry McCloskey:  Full professor and biology department chair in 1996

Lee Grismer:  Biology faculty member since 1994

http://www.lasierra.edu/departments/biology/faculty.html

_____________________

Both strongly promote(d) the evolutionary story of origins in their science classrooms as the true story of origins and discount the SDA notion of a literal creation week as clearly mistaken from a scientific perspective.

Dr. Geraty had to know of the evolutionary views of these men during the time they worked under his watch.  While they may have added a theistic twist to this Darwinian story, they by no means support the SDA perspective of a literal 6-day creation week at LSU. Dr. McCloskey, in particular, was promoting the evolutionary story long before when he was at Walla Walla College (now WWU), convincing many students to abandon their belief in the SDA view of a literal creation week.  The suggestion that Dr. Geraty really did not know about this before Dr. McCloskey was hired by LSU is hard to accept.

It is also interesting that Dr. Geraty claims not to challenge the literal nature of the 6-day creation week himself while at the same time referring to those who do hold to the importance of such as view as “radical right-wing tea-party fundamentalists.”  One could hardly be blamed for misunderstanding Dr. Geraty’s true position given such dramatic statements in seeming contradiction.

In this light, consider Dr. Geraty’s statements in apparent support of Prof. Ervin Taylor who argues for the reliability of mainstream radiocarbon dating interpretations (which Dr. Taylor presents as clearly falsifying the SDA notion of a literal creation week in recent history) – see Link.  Dr. Geraty has also directly challenged the world-wide nature of the Noachian Flood, arguing that the author(s) of Genesis are most likely talking about a local flood.  In the book, “Understanding Genesis: Contemporary Adventist Perspectives” Dr. Geraty writes:

Was the Genesis flood worldwide? There is no evidence for that as of now, but it certainly covered the world known to the author…  It is the opinion of most experts, and little reasonable doubt remains (although some would dispute this) that the events of Genesis 6-8 must have taken place within a limited though indeed a vast area, covering not the entire globe, but the scene of the human story of the previous chapters.

Dr. Geraty stands here in direct and very open opposition to the doctrinal position of the SDA Church on this issue.  He also, at the same time, challenges the SDA understanding of the inspiration of Mrs. White who clearly claims that she was shown by God that the Noachian Flood was indeed world-wide in nature and was responsible for the formation of much of the geologic an fossil records…

It is also rather difficult to ignore the impression that Dr. Geraty strongly favors the “progressive” movement within the Church.  When former General Conference Vice-President Richard Hammill became a “progressive creationist”, turning his back on the fundamental SDA doctrine of a literal 6-day creation week, Dr. Geraty seemed to be very pleased indeed as he introduced Hammill with the following words of praise:  “I could hardly have imagined inviting our speaker to share his testimony on his journey as a progressive believer.  But to his credit, he is one of the few converts to Adventism that I know who, after his retirement, has truly made a transition to a progressive faith.” ( Link )

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like someone is trying to straddle a fence…

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344 thoughts on “Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism

  1. @Eddie:

    Jesus admonished Peter for brandishing a sword.

    There’s a difference between brandishing a sword and being willing to die for something… as Jesus was.

    There is also a difference between producing internal order and government within the Church, being selective in who is and who is not a paid representative of the organization, and trying to enforce the Church’s views on those who do not wish to be part of the Church. All should be free to leave the Church at will without any fear of civil reprisals whatsoever.

    This is why the separation of Church and State in this country is so important and vital to meaningful religion – a very Christian idea.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. Jesus admonished Peter for brandishing a sword.  (Quote)

    The sword can be equated to “Words of Truth” or “Scripture” which is exactly what is being attacked in this debate, the very words written by our Creator’s own finger. All in the name of inclusion and peace.




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  3. @Eddie:

    Are you suggesting that Lawrence Geraty has never been subjected to “any civil reprisals whatsoever” from the Church?

    What I’m suggesting is that the SDA Church does not have nor should it ever appeal to the authority of civil government to enforce its views on anyone who does not wish to be part of the SDA Church organization. However, the Church does and should have a right to selectively hire only those individuals who will accurately represent the Church organization.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  4. @David Kendall, PhD:
    I think it is informative and provacative that Dr. Kendall PhD LSU signs off with “Pax”, latin for peace, probably best known as “Pax Romana” (Roman peace). I am reminded that our Creator said, ” Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matthew 10:34 NKJ  

    I am interested in what you consider my use of the Latin “Pax” is intended to inform or provoke (or evoke). I would dispute the assumption that the term is best known in its “Pax Romana” context, unless you are particularly a student of ancient history (as many theologians are, admittedly). The term is most often used in a religious setting in the context of the Latin liturgy, specifically in the Gloria from the Ordinary of the Tridentine Mass:

    Et in terra pax
    hominibus bonae voluntatis.

    [and on earth peace
    on whom His favor rests.]

    This is what the angels sang to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem at the birth of Christ. As my musicological area of specialty is in Latin liturgical musical practice, it makes some sense for me to use this word. To his credit, Shane Hilde asked me what I meant by the term when I first posted on this forum. So, if you desire to become informed (or provoked, for that matter), you should ask what something means or in what context it is used. If you do not wish to do so publicly, then you may email me at dkendall@lasierra.edu.

    Pax,

    David Kendall, PhD
    Adjunct Professor of Music
    La Sierra University




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  5. “the Church does and should have a right to selectively hire only those individuals who will accurately represent the Church organization”

    Yeah, I agree, but it saddens me to see people ridiculed publicly by fellow SDAs. I still believe there is a better, more Christ-like way…




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  6. @Eddie:

    “the Church does and should have a right to selectively hire only those individuals who will accurately represent the Church organization” – Sean Pitman

    Yeah, I agree, but it saddens me to see people ridiculed publicly by fellow SDAs. I still believe there is a better, more Christ-like way…

    Me too. This shouldn’t be about ridiculing anyone who disagrees. That sort of thing is never in the Spirit of Christ (and I’ve tried to edit out the more inflammatory statements along these lines).

    However, I do think it is Christ-like to present the truth as to what is taking place in our schools and to strive to correct these errors as we see them taking place in such a brazen manner. All prior private efforts to correct these persistent and decided attacks on foundational pillars of the SDA faith have failed – over the course of decades of many people trying to improve things. Finally, the attacks against the Church became so brazen and so determined that the situation, especially at LSU, had to be taken to the Church at large.

    If you know of a better way to address this problem, by all means let us know…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  7. Sandy is right on point,I concur:
    I did not know the bible made reference to a day being 24 hour. The reference was made to the evening and the morning as the first day ..; But is also references Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night and let them be for signs, and for seasons and for days, and years. So then today in todays science how many hours is between an evening and a morning and day and night? Anywhere in the world? Then what is the argument about a 24 hour day. Mute issue to me. I am praying that GOD HELPS THOSE UNBELIEVERS and keeps those of us who wish to follow the bible strong. These are the last days and remember the very elect will be deceived.




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  8. Sandy Bandelin, you are right on point, the bible does say the evening and the morning are the first day … further is says; And God said Let there be lights in the firmaments of the heaven to divide the day from the night;and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years; So then is not a 24 hour day a mute issue? No matter how many hours in a day; the evening and the morning, light and dark mark the days.
    I DO NOT GET IT DR. GERATY. I have studied science, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics; AIN’T no way but GOD. YES, i said AIN’T!!! Even if I had not studied, the BIBLE says…
    These have got to be the last days the very ELECT are being deceived and are declivitous. Well, we need to continue to PRAY for ourselves and each other and ASK GOD to lead us and keep us focused on the bible pointing to heaven and eternal life.




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  9. @Geanna Dane:

    So prayer is not enough?

    If you believed that it was, why are you here? Why not just pray about your concerns and let God take care of it all without you having to do anything but pray?

    If a saw a woman being raped or a child being kidnapped would it be appropriate for me to simply pray that God takes care of it? – So that I don’t have to risk life or limb by personally getting involved in the rescue? What about if I see someone who is hungry and in need of shelter? Should I just tell that person that I’m praying for God to help? – So that I don’t have to do anything myself? (James 2:15-17)

    You think that sort of prayer would impress God? Come on now. Is this what Abraham did when his nephew Lot was taken away by enemy soldiers? Of course not. Abraham acted in line with his prayers for God’s help. We should do likewise.

    Not even you believe that God works like you are suggesting here. Don’t presume that God will remove from you your duty to act in times of crisis as He gives you to see the crisis. Pray for strength and wisdom, but do not pray that God will remove your responsibility to act in His power to work for Him – because He will not answer such a prayer.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  10. You’re absolutely correct Sean. “Just pray about it” is a classic cop-out for many Christians, who could be praying AND doing something themselves, just as many of us are doing here!




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  11. With due respect, Ron, prayer is NEVER “a classic cop-out.” If you really want to DO something more about it, rather than criticizing SDA leaders in general and Californian SDAs in particular, why not encourage young, bright, inquisitive and dedicated SDAs to become professors in SDA colleges and universities? How many of you have actually encouraged your own children to become a SDA college or university professor?

    Some of you seem unaware that it is often very difficult to find a suitable candidate to fill a vacancy as a professor in one of our institutions, which is why non-SDAs or marginal SDAs are often hired on a contractual or salary basis. Unfortunately our church’s culture does very little to encourage young people to become professors in SDA institutions–and the reasons why are obvious. Health care is the holy grail for young, bright science students. Obtaining a PhD degree requires years of personal sacrifice for a remuneration that is less than what most SDA primary and secondary school teachers are paid–and much, much less than what SDA health care professionals make. I personally know one biology professor with a PhD degree in a SDA college who makes $15K less than his wife who teaches in a SDA primary school less than a mile away. How fair is that?!?!? How can SDA students ever be expected to become excited about teaching the truth about origins when SDA professors are treated with disrespect by the church’s own culture?

    I’m quite certain that less than 1% of science students in SDA institutions of higher education aspire to become a science professor in a SDA institution. If you want SDA science professors who are dedicated to teaching traditional SDA views of origins in the classroom, you are going to have to increase the pool of suitable candidates. Just ask Southern Adventist University–they rejected three of four candidates interviewed for three openings, and the one they accepted was already employed by Union College. THE CRISIS IN SDA SCIENCE EDUCATION IS A CRISIS IN SDA CULTURE!




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  12. “If a saw a woman being raped or a child being kidnapped would it be appropriate for me to simply pray that God takes care of it?”

    Yes. In some circumstances that would be all that could be done.. Especially when I’m a woman and the perp has a gun. How is it that faith can move mountains but fail to stop a rapist or kidnapper in his tracks? Why must I trust in myself rather than in God? Jesus himself chose not to intervene when two men were killed beside him on crosses. I never suggested prayer to remove oneself from a crisis. You put words in my mouth that I did not intend.

    I fail to see the parallel between the urgency to fire Adventist biologists who can’t be replaced and saving a rape or kiidnapping victim. I smell a red herring served raw.




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  13. @Geanna Dane:

    I fail to see the parallel between the urgency to fire Adventist biologists who can’t be replaced and saving a rape or kidnapping victim. I smell a red herring served raw.

    My “over-the-top” illustrations were to get you to clearly see the point that God expects us to act in line with our prayers in times of crisis – not just sit there and expect God to take care of it all without us having to do anything (even at the risk of severe personal injury). Consider the story of the “Good Samaritan”. This man helped a stranger at the risk of personal injury himself. He didn’t know where the robbers were; that they weren’t still hanging out in that area looking for someone else to rob and beat up. He also didn’t simply pass by on the other side of the road and pray for God to “take care of it” so that he wouldn’t have to do anything. Instead, he acted in line with God’s will. He wasn’t “trusting himself rather than God” as you’ve argued. Rather, he was trusting in God to help him act in line with God’s will in a crisis situation…

    I know you do not consider the situation at LSU to be nearly the crisis that I consider it to be. But, at least you know now why it is important for me to to actually act in line with my prayers in this case. It is within my power to at least try and do something to change the situation for the better (at least as far as I am able to understand this situation). Your suggestion that I simply pray and do nothing else in this case comes across as an effort to get me to stop acting as I think God has directed me to act. How do you know that God is not Himself acting through the medium of my own efforts? and the efforts of some others who also contribute to this effort?

    God has reasons for his action and inaction (as with the thief on the cross). His inaction in a particular case cannot be used as a reason for me to always fail to act in times of crisis when I see the way open to contribute to a potential resolution (as far as I am able to tell with God’s help).

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  14. With due respect, Ron, prayer is NEVER “a classic cop-out.”

    You misquoted me, Eddie. I said prayer alone (JUST pray about it)is a copout when you can actually do something also. Nice try, Eddie!




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  15. “Hold fast the pattern of sound words…” 2 Tim. 1:13
    “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away…” 2 Tim. 1:15
    “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. 2:1
    “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2 Tim. 2:3
    “…the word of God is not chained.” 2 Tim. 2:9
    “Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.” 2 Tim. 2:14
    “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings,for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like a cancer…” 2 Tim. 2:15-17
    “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Tim. 2:19
    “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Tim. 2:20, 21

    The battle for truth is not new, and is not over.
    The foundation is this: “for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This foundation has never changed.
    (All texts quoted from NKJV)

    The question that must be settled is, “Who, among Seventh-day Adventist teachers–(and pastors too, eventually, if this same history of the battle over creation which was fought in other denominations in the past is any indication of the future of that same battle in the Seventh-day Adventist Church)–who, will be allowed to build on that foundation, and with what kind of material will they be allowed to build?”

    We must also remember Paul’s analogy of kinds of vessels used “in a great house”, realizing that some vessels will inevitably be used, by God, for unpleasant yet necessary purposes. Perhaps this will be God’s way of demonstrating, to the world and to the onlooking universe, which people are on which side of the Great Controversy.

    The answer, first of all, is still P-r-a-y-e-r! But it is a prayer like Nehemiah’s prayer which also produced plans and actions which accomplished the building of the wall in extremely difficult times.

    Keep at the work, Sean.

    Pastor Wendell Downs




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  16. Sean, the good Samaritan is a perfect example of rendering help to a fellow human being in need. In your efforts to help a situation, you are publicly attacking individuals and institutions. God only knows, but you may well be doing more damage than good.

    If your wife began to resort to alcohol would you “encourage” her to stop by posting details at a blog? If your son was being bullied by a classmate would you try to correct the situation by posting details at a blog? If a business partner was cheating you out of money would you try to get your money back by posting details at a blog? If your pastor was having an affair with the church secretary would you seek to force him to resign by posting details at a blog? When is it okay to publicly humiliate others to enforce change and when should we seek other means? You seem to have things figured out so help me please! I know that, following your example here, I could become a very cruel person and make a lot of other people very miserable.




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  17. “Evolution, by it’s very nature, proves there is no God. Taken to it’s logical end it’s impossible to reconcile a belief in God and evolution.”

    Why do lions and primates and mice sometimes kill babies? Did God create these traits in animals or did they evolve? As it turns out the killing happens when a new male comes along and, rather than wait for the babies to grow up and leave home, he kills the babies so that he has immediate access to the females and thereafter raises HIS OWN offspring that have his genes. Many, many studies show there is a genetic basis for this behavior.

    Did God create these genes or did they evolve? It is one or the other. Maybe God created the capacity for the behavior to evolve.




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  18. Geanna, it isn’t reasonable to expect that, although the human world is fallen and sinful, the natural world will be untouched by the Fall, sin, and the curse. And no, it isn’t either God or evolution. There is a third possiblity, namely that Satan worked on the natural world after the Fall:

    “Christ never planted the seeds of death in the system. Satan planted these seeds when he tempted Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge, which meant disobedience to God. Not one noxious plant was placed in the Lord’s great garden, but after Adam and Eve sinned, poisonous herbs sprang up. In the parable of the sower the question was asked the master, “Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares?” The master answered, “An enemy hath done this” (Matt. 13:27, 28). All tares are sown by the evil one. Every noxious herb is of his sowing, and by his ingenious methods of amalgamation he has corrupted the earth with tares.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 288.

    Although this passage seems to speak only to the plant kingdom, I think it probable that Satan’s “ingenious methods of amalgamation” altered the animal kingdom as well. We know that God creatd the animals to eat plants, not each other (Gen. 1:30), and will be that way again in the earth made new (Isaiah 65:25). I think violence and predation is so contrary to God’s character as to raise a presumption that “an enemy hath done this.”




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  19. Thanks David. I agree with your observations about God’s benevolence and Satan’s likely participation in the rampant death that has come about since the creation (remember- I am a committed creationist). However any change in gene frequencies is still evolution. You can’t put another name to it. We’re not talking the origin of life, just change- which by definition is evolution.

    Most of us humans have excellent immune systems to fend off disease. Over many generations our immune systems (including genetic components) have evolved a remarkable capacity to neutralize lethal organisms that could fell us very quickly. I do’nt think we should be thanking Satan for this. And because our basic cell division results in frequent errors (God’s doing? Did he screw up?) we have a well-designed system in place to make corrections (thank God for this!). For this reason life-threatening genetic mutations in our children are very rare. I dont think we should be thanking Satan for this either.

    Praise God for creating life with the capacity to change in a sinful planet! God, in a very real since, is the author of evolution. There is nothing here contrary to FB #6. Evolution at some scale happens. Let’s be honest.




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  20. I think it probable that Satan’s “ingenious methods of amalgamation” altered the animal kingdom as well. We know that God creatd the animals to eat plants, not each other (Gen. 1:30), and will be that way again in the earth made new (Isaiah 65:25). I think violence and predation is so contrary to God’s character as to raise a presumption that “an enemy hath done this.”

    Bro. Read,
    I’ve read a good deal of your book now and agree wholeheartedly. Wicked meddling with genetics is the only sufficient explanation. I really like the concept of Noah as an endagered species preservationist (species in danger of extinction from amalgamated invasive species destroyed in the flood). I’m adapting some of your arguments into my Creation vs Evolution class here in the prison setting.
    Theistic Evolutionists and Seventh-day Darwinians etc. must of course accomodate violence and death into their scheme, to a greater or lesser degree – a thoroughly unacceptable proposition from the Biblical perspective.




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  21. @Geanna Dane:

    Praise God for creating life with the capacity to change in a sinful planet! God, in a very real since, is the author of evolution. There is nothing here contrary to FB #6. Evolution at some scale happens. Let’s be honest.

    There are all kinds of “change”. Mendelian variation is change based on what you refer to as “change in gene frequencies”. However, such change is not Darwinian change in that this type of change does not produce anything that is truly new within the gene pool.

    Random mutations, on the other hand, do occur very commonly and do have the power to produce novel functional changes within the gene pool. This sort of change is what I refer to as “real evolution in action”. Yes, Darwinian-style evolution via RM/NS does happen. It is just that this mechanism isn’t nearly as “creative” as evolutionists would like to believe. Statistically it cannot produce anything novel beyond very very low levels of functional complexity (i.e., not beyond the 1000 fsaar level as I’ve explained to you before).

    For slowing reproducing creatures, like larger mammals, the random mutations, being almost always detrimental to functionality (1000:1), actually drive the gene pool toward eventual extinction. Real evolution is actually headed downhill – not uphill.

    So yes, while real evolution does happen, it is, as you suggested yourself, very very limited in its creative potential – even given trillions of years of time.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  22. @Geanna Dane:

    If your wife began to resort to alcohol would you “encourage” her to stop by posting details at a blog? … When is it okay to publicly humiliate others to enforce change and when should we seek other means? You seem to have things figured out so help me please! I know that, following your example here, I could become a very cruel person and make a lot of other people very miserable.

    The LSU science professors are not acting in secret here Geanna. They aren’t trying to overcome some private sin that they are struggling with. They are actively promoting their ideas in public forum, while being paid by the SDA Church, without apology or efforts to change their ways. Why should they? They don’t feel any need for change. They think they’re right in what they’re doing.

    All efforts to address this issue privately have failed – despite being attempted by many people over 30 years (and my own efforts for over 5 years). I simply do not see how informing potential parents, students, and the Church membership at large as to what LSU is really promoting in the classroom can remotely be referred to as “public humiliation”. Why would LSU be “humiliated” by advertising what LSU itself claims is perfectly fine? – and within the teacher’s “academic freedom”? Certainly the teachers themselves should feel proud that everyone knows that they are in fact teaching what they themselves believe is the truth. Where’s the “humiliation” here? This isn’t remotely like exposing someone on the internet for some secret sin or personal struggle…

    So, you see, your argument that one should only pray and do nothing else in a crisis situation isn’t your real argument. You’re simply arguing that I shouldn’t do anything more than pray about the LSU situation because you personally don’t agree with what I’m doing besides praying… right?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  23. Sean, it’s simple. I think the church administrators need to deal with this. You should pray for them, encourage them, supply details to them, but respectfully- and I mean respectfully- let them do the work that the constituents have asked them to do and God has ordained them to do. You are as guilty of undermining church authority as anyone.

    If every employee (which you are not) and every member (which you are) of an organization chose your approach to government of that organization (“do it our way or we will expose and shame you”) there would be nothing but disorganization.

    Prayer is a good start. This stuff is over the top.




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  24. Geanna,

    I am praying for the Church administrators. This doesn’t mean that the Church membership should keep silent if there is a clear problem in the Church. The watchmen on the wall should sound the alarm and in no uncertain tone.

    Prayer is indeed a good start, but when God inspires one to action in answer to prayer, it is a mistake to ignore God and fail to give the warning God has inspired one to give.

    No one is forcing the Church to action here. All I’m doing is presenting the facts of the situation as they really are. It is up to the Church, as an organized body, to respond – – or not. My job is simply to inform the Church at large what is really taking place. Everyone has a right to know since all are responsible for our young people in the Church…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  25. What a slap in the face to every SDA perk you have ever been given. YOU had that job because of the those Fundamental beliefs. What do you think [LSU] was founded on?

    Let me ask this of you Dr. Geraty… Why would you work for an institution [whose fundamental ideals] you obviously do not believe in? [Is this not] hypocritical and dishonest? [If] you want evolution [promoted as the true story of origins] in the school curriculum, [why not] go to an institution that was founded on that principal? [Why] go to a place that was never founded on that [ideal] and try and push your views onto it?

    It’s a big world. There are of plenty of Universities that [promote] evolution. Why did you not go there? […] Because in the Adventist world you are a big fish in a small pond? [edit]

    As For your claim Dr. Geraty of enrollment being up, why don’t you disclose how many of those student’s are SDA students? Or can you disclose how after La Sierra started having problems the University started going outside of the faith and recruiting anyone they could, [without full disclosure]. [Why did] the university glossed over what it meant to go to an SDA school?

    I lived with those students for three years. I watched them come and go. [Many of these] students who had no idea what they had gotten into. [No one] had explained that they could not drink, that it is not ok to smoke, that we worship on Sat., and that they would be required to go the chapel every week. Can you further explain that because La Sierra went to the outside world and were [not forthright] in recruiting students that the curriculum had to be changed and slowly expanded to better accommodate your ever increasing majority of non SDA’s?

    Dr. Geraty I am [very upset] that you could write something like this knowing full well what really goes on at [LSU]. [edit]

    I want to make one thing clear… I in no way feel that our institutions should be behind the times, that we should cling to the past and never grow and advance. It is imperative that we are always seeking to expand and be on the cutting edge of knowledge. But when that change starts breaking down what our core belief system is and turns us away from what our founding mission is we have lost the battle.




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  26. Great post, Former LSU student…Does anyone have accurate stats on how many LSU students are actually SDA Church members? And, how that would compare to other SDA colleges. Just wondering!




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  27. Ron,
    It would be worth it to find out. I was there right when La Sierra was in danger of going under. I was there when they sold off their land in desperation and I know for a fact that they were recruiting Non SDAS like mad. I have no problem with that, as long as the students are well informed of what it means to go to an SDA school and what will be expected of them.

    I cannot tell you how bad the dorms were as far as students partying, On my hall alone I know for a fact there were 9 of us who were SDA everyone else was not. They came in ignorant of what La Sierra really was so much so that when the RA asked them if they were SDA they had never even heard of it. These students were mislead.

    I had friends who worked as recruiters and they told me that they were trained to just “lightly” touch on the subject of Seventh Day Adventism if they were asked. Some students told me they never even signed the Adventist lifestyle contract that the Adventist schools usually require. Those who did sign it had not been informed as to the nature of what it said. True they should have read it, But when I was a student at Loma Linda University, not only did they require that I sit in front of them and read it, they explained in detail exactly what it said.

    The Sad thing is I have had direct dealings with Geraty and many of the faculty and admin. mentioned and I can tell you they will not back down. They will Blackball all who dare stand up against them and if need be they will split before they cave.

    I would like to point out that at Loma Linda in my program of 47 students 7 of us were Adventists, The difference was every one of those students knew where they were and who and what LLU represented. They were all well informed of what was expected, and if they got off track they were very quickly reminded. When I graduated I would say that more then half of them told me that the thing they missed most of LLU was the Chapels and the community of our Church. They did not have to cater to the world to get students.

    So La Sierra failed completely when they had the chance to educate those who did not know. La Sierra University Choose to mislead students to bring up enrollment. Then to appeal to more students outside of our Faith, They made a more world friendly curriculum.

    La Sierra Sold out plain and simple.




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  28. @Former LSU Student

    I am interested in when you attended LSU, because it sounds like you must have been there around the time I was a student (1998-2002). I remember the land sale, etc. that you mentioned, though I may have been serving as a student missionary in Taiwan (2002-2003) when the sale was final. I also do not know what floor of Sierra Towers you lived on (I was on 2nd floor from 1998-2001, then South Hall), but my experiences there, as well as everywhere else on campus, were very different from yours.

    Also, not to be confrontational, but it would not be wise to suggest that Dr. Geraty served at LSU due to his inability to perform in the public, secular academic world (if that is what you were suggesting). A cursory glance at his CV will show that he would be a very big fish in any pond.

    Pax,

    David Kendall, PhD
    Adjunct Professor of Music
    La Sierra University




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  29. Can you tell me what Position Richard Rice had while working at LSU…
    I must say we are seeing Phophecy forfilled before our eyes !!!May we all be ready and be able to Look Up & say This Is Our God We Have Waited For Him And He WILL Save Us …




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  30. @David Kendall, PhD: Former LSU Student was there during the same time as you. In regard to dorm life, I don’t think that was he/she said was particularly unique to LSU. I dormed at WWU and LSU and both were pretty bad. I was on the 5th floor at LSU. I’m sure other floors were better. I don’t recall parties going on though.




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  31. Former LSU student, Your insights are interesting, to say the least! I certainly agree with you that Geraty, Wisbey, and the LSU Board will not back down, since they are the root cause of these problems.

    And the roots go VERY DEEP!




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  32. There are two kinds of evolution, micro and macro. Micro (change within families,species) is scientific; it can be demonstrated and replicated. We see it taking place every day within families. If we breed a white cow to a black bull, the offspring is likely to be colored black and white. This is CHANGE WITHIN FAMILIES, species.

    However, macro evolution is an entirely different matter. It holds that families can cross-breed. That is, if a dog and a cat were to breed and produce offspring, this would demonstrate scientifically that evolution can cross family barriers. However, such crossing has not been demonstrated with living animals. Therefore, to argue that macro evolution took place (or is now taking place) is pure Alice-in-wonderland fiction, NOT SCIENCE. Cows always produce cows; sheep, sheep; and cats, cats. To call macro evolution science is like defending the position that the earth is flat. Both fly in the face of fact and true science. Remember, everything that parades as science, is not science! Remember the Piltdown man?
    Dr. Fillmer Hevener

    Note: I am a former member of the faculty of La Sierra College and a graduate of the University of Virginia. I left La Sierra when I was put under pressure to change students’ grades.) My website is: http://www.guthriememorial.org; my email address is: fhevener@oilart.com.




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  33. Filmer, Good to have you aboard! I like your website. And, I agree with you–Darwinian evolutionary philosophy is a “religion.” Many books by ID advocates explain, in detail, why.




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  34. Dr. Hevener,

    I would like to gently point out that no contemporary biology textbook–and I have taught from many–would back up your definition of macroevolution.

    The hierarchical classification for animals (a bit different for plants) includes Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, Subspecies. Many argue there is no such thing as a subspecies. Evolution within a species represents microevolution. The evolution of new species, genera, families, and so forth represents macroevolution. There is no contesting these near-universally-accepted definitions; only the occasional misinformed (however well-meaning) creationist gets these wrong.

    If you believe that macroevolution is not science or that it cannot take place, then you would have to agree that the many families of animals comprised exclusively of venomous or parasitic animals were created by God. To some of us, that would be untenable. Thus, to be honest, we would concede that macroevolution must indeed occur. Perhaps we should object more so to megaevolution–higher-order evolution–that, unfortunately, has no well-accepted definition.




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  35. In addition to entire families being comprised of venomous animals or parasites, I believe at least one class–Cestoda–is entirely parasitic. Either God created these groups or they have evolved from harmless individuals. Choose your poison! (I have no problem conceding that they evolved, and there is nothing in the Bible or from Ellen White to say that they could not have.)




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  36. I wish that more readers had a better understanding of what “evolution” is and what it is not. It makes things very difficult when individuals, including some biologists, are unfairly labeled as “evolutionists.” I myself, for example, believe that evolution is a very important process which God created to allow life to adjust to a sinful planet. I believe wholeheartedly that evolution has shaped the attributes of much that we see around us today, including my innate, very selfish, unGodlike nature. Nevertheless, I accept a recent 6-day creation–on the basis of faith rather than physical evidence.

    Unfortunately, there are readers here who will judge me as being the “worst kind of infidel.” I certainly am a horrendous sinner and highly repulsive for many reasons, but God himself/herself sees me clothed in a robe of Christ’s beautiful righteousness.




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  37. The Origin of Carnivores and Parasites:

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/videoclips.html#Carnivores

    Professor Kent,

    It is absolutely true that low-level examples of evolution in action are known and are undeniable. However, it is not true that such examples demonstrate “macroevolution” in any real sense of the word. One of the problems for the concept of “macroevolution” is that the definitions of species, families, genus, orders, etc., are not clearly defined on a functional basis. As they currently stand, these definitions and dividing lines are drawn rather subjectively.

    And, as we’ve discussed before, your arguments for parasitism simply aren’t helpful in clarifying these concepts. The reason for this is that parasitism is often the result of degenerative changes or small modifications to pre-existing structures that do not produce something qualitatively new beyond very low levels of functional complexity. Venom, for example, does not require more than a few hundred loosely specified residues at minimum. It simply isn’t very functional complex. It also requires less functional complexity to digest meat vs. vegetable matter. Adaptations from a vegetarian to a meat-eating diet are therefore degenerative since less informational complexity is required.

    The ability to quickly adapt to a very large number of potential environments was likely pre-programmed into all living things (i.e., front-loaded information). It is statistically impossible to produce higher-level system that require, at minimum, more than a thousand specifically arranged amino acid building blocks. However, it is not statistically impossible to quickly modify pre-existing genetic information via certain pre-programmed mechanisms for variation – such as Mendelian variation combined with low-level modifications of functionality via random mutations within a limited sequence space.

    The other option, which is much harder to demonstrate a requirement for, is deliberate genetic manipulation by high-level intelligence(s) after the Fall…

    By the way, hybrids are not limited to intra-species matches. Hybrids are known to be produced between different families, genus, and species. However, as far as I’m aware, there are no known viable interordinal hybrids (though some embryonic interordinal hybrids are known)…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  38. Dave,

    I was at La Sierra (1999 -2003)

    I also attended other Adventists Universities (Including Walla Walla) and yes there was drinking and such at all, but La Sierra by far outdistanced the other Universities. I was in the womens dorm so I cannot speak for what happened in the men’s dorm’s but I assure you I felt like I was at UC San Diego half the time instead of at a SDA institution.

    I would also like to explain that when I am talking about Dr, Geraty as a Big fish in a small pond I do not discredit the work he has put in over the years or his expertise. However; I have had a LOT of personal and working interactions with Dr. Geraty and I found him to be very much a typical Adventist administrator who found it easier to stay in the safety of the SDA world then to venture out. This has nothing to do with his qualifications it is an attitude that is very much real and alive in our culture.

    Dave, I understand your wanting to defend your school. I wish I could in good conscience do the same. Truth is I know La Sierra I have been at the mercy of it’s administrators and I know who they are as people and what they want for the future of La Sierra University and it is not as an SDA school.

    To be fair not all the faculty are in this mess. There a lot of faculty who are amazing and I still keep in contact with them. There are also a lot of faculty/staff who were pushed out because they dared to stand up against this small little core group of admin.

    my thoughts go to the students attending now, it is them that are really suffering in all of this.

    La Sierra Will split…




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  39. @Fillmer Hevener, Ed.D:

    When I was a student there, I was also aware of several situations in which teachers were forced out because they stood up for a student.

    I also know of student who lost her job because a faculty member was pressured to make an example of said student because that student had been fighting with administration.

    That faculty member later apologized to the student for what had happened and explained that he/she was told it was his/her job or the student’s




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  40. Sean,

    As for macroevolution and your take on complexity, I cannot argue with someone who operates under their own definitions. This is one of the reasons you argue perpetually on the evolution discussion boards, where you are unable to convince your opponents; in essence, no one speaks your language. But believe as you wish. You will no doubt convince many here.

    As for Satan manipulating genomes, if we are able to do so (we are, of course), surely Satan has been able to do much more. I have no quarrel here. But change is change, evolution is change, and evolution has happened–whether by natural or supernatural means.

    As for hybridization, it is pretty much excluded from definitions of taxonomic levels for some of the reasons you mentioned. I don’t know why you bring it up. Reproductive barriers do not have to be absolute, as they often operate based on fitness differences and over multiple generations.

    Like it or not, evolution (change) happens and, as Geanna Dane has pointed out recently, there are many reasons to celebrate this fact. To the few examples she mentioned, I’ll add man’s best friend (dogs) and some of our favorite foods (corn, apples, and much more). Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…these are not big changes. But right now I’m mad that I have inherited genes for hypertension and heart disease. These aren’t big changes either, but should I blame God, my parents, errant SDA biologists, or a process that results because of reproduction and death?

    Happy Sabbath to all.

    As I’ve noted for you before, the concept of “levels of functional biological complexity” is not just my own definition. This concept has been defined and published in various forms in mainstream literature.

    Besides, what’s so difficult about understanding the idea that a system that requires more building blocks to work, at minimum, is at a higher level of functional complexity compared to a system that has a lower minimum structural threshold requirement? This concept seems to me to be intuitively obvious. I’m amazed that someone like you doesn’t seem to get it…

    As an aside, a change produce by intelligent design is not an evolutionary change. The general understanding of the word “evolution” does not simply indicate any type of change over time. At least when it comes to biology, most understand this word as implying a non-deliberate change or changes over time…

    Sean Pitman




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  41. Geanna Dane says: “Sean, it’s simple. I think the church administrators need to deal with this. You should pray for them, encourage them, supply details to them, but respectfully- and I mean respectfully- let them do the work that the constituents have asked them to do and God has ordained them to do”

    Geanna, how can we the constituents ask our church leaders to do something if we don’t know what is going on. I was only vaguely aware of what was happening at LSU before someone directed me to this site. As a member of the Michigan Conference I’ve asked my leaders to uphold the Bible and the beliefs of the church. I’m proud of the Biblical stand my conference took. They have done as you said they should, the work we asked of them.

    I’ve always thought that evolution was taking place in my yard. A number of years ago I started to mow a neglected section that had a lot of dandelions. The tallest ones lost their heads to the blade of the mower and could never go to seed. The fittest ones (the short ones) survived. I still have lots of dandelions, but they have evolved so only the short ones carry on the genes. lol




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  42. There are a few documented interfamilial hybrids, such as between ducks (family Anatidae) and geese (family Anseridae), but maybe they shouldn’t be classified as belonging to different families. Reproductive compatibility (which is not synonymous with reproductive isolation) clearly demonstrates a close genetic relationship (such as the same number of chromosomes). It has been argued that the ability to hybridize should be limited to taxa of the same genus, which has been proposed for the classification of mammals (American Museum Novitates 2635:1-25, 1977) but not birds. So if the ability to interbreed is ever applied to taxonomy as the definition of the upper limit of the genus, there would be no such thing as an intergeneric or interfamilial hybrid. Ducks and geese would be considered to be congeneric.

    Now then, if morphologically divergent ducks and geese are capable of interbreeding, what does that tell us about their ancestry? Do they not have a common ancestor? At what point does one define the difference between microevolution and macroevolution? I have never liked using any taxonomic level as a criterion for distinguishing between microevolution and macroevolution. For me, macroevolution is simply the evolution of a novel complex structure. After all, taxonomic levels above the species are based somewhat arbitrarily on the presumed of derived characters. Maybe megaevolution, as used by Brand, is the better term.

    Sean, what is an “intra-ordinal hybrid”?!? Google doesn’t help. Did you mean “inter-order” hybrid?

    I absolutely agree. The subjective and somewhat arbitrary nature of taxonomic classification schemes is not helpful when it comes to determining the nature of evolutionary change. A better definition of “macroevolution” should be based on the demonstration of novel structures/systems at various levels of functional complexity. Such a definition shows that evolutionary progress stalls out well below the level of systems that require at least 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues working together at the same time.

    Sean Pitman

    P.S. Yes, I meant interordinal hybrids. I suppose that it could be argued that there are a few limited examples of such hybrids, such as embryonic hybrids between sea urchins and sand dollars or in certain fishes where interordinal hybrid larvae can be produced (which die after hatching).




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  43. Prof. Kent:

    Please give me one verifiable example of macro evolution taking place among living species (no fudging with dead and speculative exmaples.) Verifiable would also include verifiable examples of replication.

    Fillmer Hevener




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  44. Sandy Bandelin, you are right on point, the bible does say the evening and the morning are the first day … further is says; And God said Let there be lights in the firmaments of the heaven to divide the day from the night;and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years; So then is not a 24 hour day a mute issue? No matter how many hours in a day; the evening and the morning, light and dark mark the days.I DO NOT GET IT DR. GERATY. I have studied science, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics; AIN’T no way but GOD. YES, i said AIN’T!!! Even if I had not studied, the BIBLE says…These have got to be the last days the very ELECT are being deceived and are declivitous. Well, we need to continue to PRAY for ourselves and each other and ASK GOD to lead us and keep us focused on the bible pointing to heaven and eternal life.  (Quote)

    What a pity! You have misunderstood Matthew 24:24. It in fact says the opposite. The very elect will NOT be deceived because it is NOT possible.




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  45. Les I wish it read as you want it too and they way I used to think it did. Here is what it says: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”.

    It is not saying it’s impossible to deceive the elect, it’s saying the it’s possible that they will deceive them. If I make the statement that “I’m going to go mow the lawn if possible” I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m saying that I will do it if it’s possible.. (And yes I should be mowing my lawn instead of doing this). The elect will be deceived if possible, and yes it’s possible so in all likelihood some will be.




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  46. Prof. Kent:Please give me one verifiable example of macro evolution taking place among living species (no fudging with dead and speculative exmaples.) Verifiable would also include verifiable examples of replication.Fillmer Hevener  (Quote)

    Dr. Hevener,

    With all due respect, I don’t believe you really want to grapple with the implications of your challenge. Be that as it may, there are three ways in which I could respond, and I will go ahead and share.

    First, let’s make clear that I am no clairvoyant or prophet. I simply cannot know for certain the end-product of a process that takes…well, let’s just say a considerable amount of time (I’ll let you decide how much). Experimentally, we *could* come up with predictions. To give an example, the males of some species of swordtail fish have long sword-like tails that females demonstrably prefer in their mates. Female choice has probably been a driving force in the evolution of this trait. Could we predict that these sword-like, epigenetic structures might eventually evolve in males of swordtail species that lack these tails? The answer is yes. In a very clever and famous experiment, a biologist tested the mate preferences of females from species that lack these long tails. Remarkably, these females actually preferred males that have the long tails, which demonstrates a pre-existing sensory bias for a trait currently absent. These results allow us to predict that if and when males acquire genes for longer tails, they may be favored by sexual selection (a distinct form of natural selection), thereby leading to the evolution of sword-like tails in these males. Of course, the two big questions are: 1) can they acquire the necessary genes (probably so), and 2) how long will this process take (you tell me!)?

    The next two responses are more complicated and, unfortunately, easily misunderstood. I’ll put them in my next two posts. Bear in mind that, if you lack much of a background in biology, your faith may be shaken as you contemplate some of the ramifications of what I have to share. You and others may become angry at me and characterize me as a stupid evolutionist. I can assure you I am intelligent and educated enough; that I am a young-earth creationist (though I remain open-minded and tolerant of divergent views); and that I am humble enough to admit I actually have very few firm answers regarding historical and ongoing processes that have shaped life on this planet. What this means is I am not going to offer potentially false assurances. There are people we call “apologists” who will tell you what you really want to hear.




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  47. As to the next two options, let’s be crystal clear on what macroevolution is. It is any evolution other than what we call microevolution. Those who have formulated the definitions and use them on a day-to-day basis tell us that microevolution operates at the population level. It does not, by definition, lead to the evolution of new species, genera, families, orders, etc. Thus, you have microevolution and you have evolution of a higher order–call it macroevolution (as in the textbooks), call it megaevolution, use both of these terms for presumably different processes above microevolution…I don’t really care. There is a long established history for use of the terms “microevolution” and “macroevolution,” and the vast majority of creationists (which I claim to be myself) use the term wrong. If you don’t believe me, I urge you to browse a sample of evolution textbooks and have some fun trying to destroy my claim. Good luck to you.

    Okay, here’s my second response. If I’m an atheistic evolutionary biologist, I would say that your question is absurd because anything happening today is merely a snapshot–a brief moment in time–of a process that normally requires many thousands or millions of years. When you have, say, three populations of frogs isolated on three different islands with no gene flow among them, they are likely to evolve independently over time and eventually accumulate distinct differences. The evolution of differences could result from natural selection if the environments are different on the three islands, or could simply result from random processes called genetic drift. Over time–probably many thousands of years–the differences may become sufficient that if any of the populations were to come into contact with each other, they might initially interbreed but eventually will evolve reproductive isolation. At some point during this vast time frame, they became distinct species. It might have happened before or after the populations came into secondary contact. So is this happening today? Yes, in a sense, for many many thousands of populations. Can I point to a specific example? Of course, I won’t know the outcome for any specific examples of speciation until thousands of years from now. All I can do is make educated guesses based on what we know today.

    And you are perhaps thinking, “Gotcha!” And I am a tad bit amused…




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  48. Okay, here’s my third response. If I’m a young-earth creationist committed to what the Bible and Ellen White state about the totality of a flood, I have to explain how we have millions of species of animals today from the mere thousands, perhaps, that walked, hopped, flew, crawled, or swam out of the ark just 4,000 years ago. Of course, we think “amalgamation” might be the answer thanks to a little old lady I happen to respect, or we can come up with some other convoluted answers that require considerable faith, but the reality is that no one really knows exactly what happened the last 4,000 years (despite claims I have seen here to the contrary). To explain today’s diversity of life forms, things become exceedingly complicated–so much so that we creationists prefer to simply sweep them under the carpet. But let’s be honest.

    How did 400 species of plethodontid salamanders (the entire family) and 100 species of leptodactylid frogs (the entire family) end up in the New World without a single representative in the Old World? As amphibians, they could not have survived salt water or swam across the ocean. Most or all had to have evolved in the New World from ancestors that left the ark. Perhaps more puzzling, some 300 species of trochilids (the entire hummingbird family), 500 species of tyranids (an entire flycatcher family), and 300 species of funariids (the entire ovenbird and woodcreeper family) occur strictly in the New World, without a single representative in the Old World. These birds can potentially fly from one continent to another, so you would expect descendents to remain in the Old World–but there are none! What of venomous animals? We’re talking more than 500 species of cone snails (family conidae, all venomous), for example, that had to evolve in a mere 6,000 years since their creation as harmless snails. We’re also talking some 30+ species of rattlesnakes in the New World that had to evolve their distinct features here and speciate in less than 4,000 years. I could add that, for the rattlesnakes, it was a heckuva crawl from Mt. Ararat. At one point Geanna Dane calculated how many miles they had to crawl each year and I can’t find her answer (I think I saved it).

    I pointed out some of these issues last year, and Geanna Dane (bless her searching soul) has done so more recently and more thoroughly (I’ve actually used her examples). None of you want to hear the honest reality of this, but AS A YOUNG-EARTH CREATIONIST (YEC), I would say that macroevolution resulting in the evolution of new species is going on all around us. It is happening before our very eyes, as it happens extraordinarily fast! The three species of frogs on three islands that I mentioned in the previous post could become distinct species within a relative handful of generations. Today, there are many thousands of isolated microbial, plant, and animal populations that are verifiably becoming increasingly distinct. When evolutionists tell us with conviction that new species evolve over thousands or millions of years, we have to say, “Not so! It happens within tens or hundreds of years!” (And the evolutionists will enjoy a hearty laugh, I can assure you.)

    The disturbing reality is that young-earth creationists (YEC) are the extreme evolutionists. We simply must believe in rates of evolutionary change that are orders of magnitude faster than those put forth by evolutionary biologists. That means you, Clifford Goldstein, and the rest of us are Seventh-day Darwinians! In fact, if you are a YEC, you are more so “Darwinian” than the theistic evolutionists you have probably reviled all your life. You can scream, “no fair; you’re a liar; you’re an idiot, Professor Kent; you have it totally wrong!” But you can’t deny this conclusion if you are an honest YEC. And yet many of you will…

    Others here besides me, including Sean Pitman, David Read, and Bob Ryan, have already admitted that evolutionary change happens MUCH FASTER than any evolutionary biologist or theistic evolutionist would ever claim. (And they will shortly offer some reassuring platitudes to help you feel comfortable with continued denouncing of the “slow-evolutionists” at La Sierra and elsewhere.)

    Ever hear of front-loaded information? Mendelian variation can and does happen extremely rapidly precisely because no novel information needed to be evolved. It was already there in the beginning. The potential for dramatic phenotypic flexibility was pre-programmed.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  49. Returning to this forum was a mistake. I was inspired to return when I read Eddie’s plea for productive conversation, which no one here seems to think is worthwhile. This website is focussed only on the immediate goal of removing “dishonest” faculty and administrators from a “no-longer Adventist” institution, with little concern for the future of science in the Church. I’m greatly saddened by the future that many of you are pushing for because I believe you could very well make an unsatisfactory situation much worse. But believe otherwise as you wish; I’m doubtful I could convince many of you of anything.

    Alas, there is no point in sharing further my thoughts. I have an understanding of biology, of God, and of the treatment of fellow Christians that some here repeatedly belittled and mischaracterized in the past. I tend to become annoyed and end up saying things I later regret, so it’s best to keep my thoughts to myself. Most of you are greatly disturbed by the things that I would share anyway. Few of you have any biological training, yet you have firm convictions that will be readily shaken if you were to learn the many, many problems that honest creationists cannot explain. You could lose your faith unless it was hard as concrete from a personal walk with Jesus. I beg you to spend a lot of time on your knees like never before; develop a rich, enduring relationship with Jesus; devote more time to personal worship than you do with this website; and take to heart the words of Jesus when he said “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (including fellow SDAs, all of whom are sinners destined to die just as you are). I implore you to build your faith from a personal walk with God, and not on so-called “facts” about earth history that may or may not be correct. Call for change, but be kind and charitable. And if you think you really know what our biologists should be teaching, either consider applying for a position at one of the SDA universities or concede that, perhaps, there are some aspects of evolution that are just plain difficult to teach and are easily misunderstood. I’m glad I’m not teaching in one of your colleges; I have enough problems to deal with as it is without having to look over my shoulder continually!

    I hope we meet in heaven one day. I plan on being there.




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  50. Professor Kent, thanks for stating with more clarity what I have been trying to say. Like you, I lean toward being a young earth creationist. And I recognize the problems we have in explaining modern biodiversity. I wish that others would be more understanding. I appreciate your plea for more gentile conversation (here and at Adventist Today). I’m trying to turn a new page in my life as well. I hope that others will recognize this and be more supportive.

    Sean, with all due respect it matters not whether the information is front-end loaded, back-loaded, or not at all loaded. Professor Kent is only speaking of the rapidity of change. You have graciously acknowledged that evolution happens extremely rapidly, but no evolutionist would ever, and I mean ever, propose what honest young earth creationists believe.

    It’s pretty weird to think of myself as a Seventh-day Darwinist and I’m sure most people here will object to this label, but how can we not be? We can’t escape the fact that evolution must happen extremely rapidly to make our explanations work within the Bible and Ellen White’s constraints. I think this should compel us to think more clearly about what exactly we object to about evolution (not all of it!) and how quick we should be in judging those who try to honestly wrestle with difficult facts.

    Your misunderstanding is that not all forms of change in phenotypic appearance over time are “Darwinian” changes. This is because not all forms of phenotypic variation are based on the Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection. This is why phenotypic changes based on pre-established or “front-loaded” information are not “Darwinian” changes and can happen extremely rapidly. Mendelian variation is a classic example of non-Darwinian-type changes in phenotypic expression of an otherwise static gene pool of front-loaded options.

    You need to do a bit more reading up on these topics…

    Sean Pitman




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  51. Kent, we’ve been over all this ground before. I use the term “Darwinism” to mean the idea that all life developed from a few simple organisms over the course of some 550 million years, unaided by God or providence. Obviously, someone who holds to the biblical model of earth history can never be a Darwinist, regardless his views on rapid post-Flood speciation.

    It seems like you and Geanna and several others have gotten the idea that creationists disbelieve in evolution because we are unconvinced as to the efficacy of the currently proposed evolutionary mechanism, and that if we could just be convinced that DNA copying errors could lead to complex new biological mechanisms, organs, and systems, we would be Darwinists. Wrong. We are creationists because we believe in the Bible, read straightforwardly as Adventists have always read it.

    Now, as it happens, I don’t believe that DNA copying errors could lead to complex new biological mechanisms, organs and organ systems, but that’s not what’s driving the bus. It’s because I believe Scripture that I deny Darwinism.

    Now with regard to the rapid post-Flood speciation that is part of the creationist model, most of that does not entail evolving new biological mechanisms, organs and organ systems. Even there, however, I don’t place much stock in the DNA copying error theory, nor the randomness of mutations. Clearly, there was a great deal of horizontal gene transfer in the past. There are genetic mechanisms that allow for environmentally enduced genetic changes, and possibly environmentally enduced gene transfer among species. The main difference in the models is that the creationist model has the clock running down–the older the creatures, the better their genes, the more genetic variability. Thus, of the stock that left the Ark, each created “kind” had the potential to diversify into many different species.

    I think you and Geanna have the idea that the creation/evolution controversy is between those who believe in fixity of biological forms and those who don’t, but it isn’t. Rather, it is between models of earth history that are 180 degrees apart, completely opposite of one another. In the Darwinist model, everything is always slowly getting better and more complex. In the creationist model, every created plant and animal was better on the day of its creation than any of its descendants would ever be again. They are just completely different models, mind sets, worldviews. It really isn’t a debate about whether things can “evolve” and how fast.




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  52. Dr. Stone,

    Thank you for your kind words. I hope you can help me get out Biblical truths to all, including SDA’s. Have you read my article BEWARE THE TITHE TRAP? Blessings, Fillmer




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  53. Dear Prof. Kent.
    Thanks for taking time to respond to my questions.

    My observations on your first response: The classic definition of macro evolution is simply a new species (family, kind) growing out of a former species (famaily, kind.)
    Second response: You engage in speculation, not science. (Specualtion is interesting and fun, but let’s not call it science.)
    Third response: You simply fail to answer my question.

    Now, a thought on the word “day” in Genesis one and two. The Hebrew word “yom” means a 24 hour day, not a long period of time. Second, the fourth commandment points us back to Genesis one and two. The fourth commandment clearly identifies the days as normal days. How could man be expected to rest for millions of years on the 7th day? Or, how could he work millions of years since he doesn’t live this long? Looking at the use of the word “day” in its context and keeping in mind the meaning of the word in Hebrew, we can only rationally conclude that the “days” were normal days.
    Theistic evolutionists, who try to combine Genesis and Darwinian evolution, fail miserably to the point of being absurd.

    May our Lord bless and keep you and make His face to shine upon your.
    Blessings, Fillmer




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  54. Okay, here’s my third response. If I’m a young-earth creationist committed to what the Bible and Ellen White state about the totality of a flood, I have to explain how we have millions of species of animals today from the mere thousands, perhaps, that walked, hopped, flew, crawled, or swam out of the ark just 4,000 years ago.

    Sadly for your argument – it is “observable” to most unbiased objective readers that both Irish Wolf hounds and Chihuahua’s “exist”.

    The problem for variation within a static genome (static in terms of coding genes) – is not the mind-bender that many evolutionists imagine.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  55. @Professor Kent:

    As to the next two options, let’s be crystal clear on what macroevolution is. It is any evolution other than what we call microevolution.

    Specifically it is the alchemist’s fiction that “birds come from reptiles”.

    Again – this is not the hard part for the objective unbiased reader – to see.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  56. “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.”

    Augustine – De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [408]

    Maybe we should follow our church fathers a bit more in their teachings of the relationship between Science and Faith….




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  57. Sadly for your argument – it is “observable” to most unbiased objective readers that both Irish Wolf hounds and Chihuahua’s “exist”.Bob  (Quote)

    Wow! Now that is really profound.




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  58. David Read,

    Like so many creationists you continue to employ terms in your own parochial way. The meaning of “Darwinism” has shifted over time but the most frequent use applies to the origin of new species by natural selection. The meaning of “evolution” is also quite broad. However, you and others frequently synonomize these terms with “abiogenesis” and/or common ancestry for all life forms. I’m sorry but you are wrong to do so.

    Because of this error you are inclined to argue against someone who actually might be in agreement with you. Professor Kent and I are simply saying that anyone who believes in exceptionally rapid evolution is as much or more so a Darwinist as those who study it, publish on it, and enthusiastically call themselves “evolutionists.”

    You stated that “In the Darwinist model, everything is always slowly getting better and more complex. In the creationist model, every created plant and animal was better on the day of its creation than any of its descendants would ever be again.” I don’t understand your reasoning because the one or two species of frog, for example, that hopped out of the ark was unlikely to possess the most adapted coloration and behavior to avoid predators on all of the islands in the Caribbean. And yet today we see more than 100 species, each exquisitely adapted to its particular environment. How can you say the initial species was “better”?

    The original species was “better” in the sense of having a greater potential for phenotypic diversity and flexibility when exposed to new environments. In other words, the original parents had more front-loaded genetic options in their gene pool. The original wild-type species is more flexible to new environments compared to the pure-bred types which are derived from the wild type. This is one of the main reasons for often observed phenomenon of “hybrid vitality”. Hybrids are often more healthy, larger, and stronger than the purebreds from which they are derived.

    Now, it is true that novel mutations do occur and that these mutations can produce novel functional differences within the gene pool of options. However, the vast majority of these mutational changes are based on a loss of pre-existing functionality (Hence the basis for hybrid vitality). Those very rare mutations that produce a functional change that is qualitatively new never do so beyond very low levels of functional complexity (i.e., a qualitatively novel system that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues is never produced within the gene pool of options).

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  59. @Geanna Dane:

    “Professor Kent and I are simply saying that anyone who believes in exceptionally rapid evolution is as much or more so a Darwinist. . .”

    No, not by the common understanding of the term “Darwinist.” If you want to define Darwinism as any type of organic change over time then, sure, I’m a Darwinist. In fact, if Darwinism is so defined, then there are only Darwinists on earth. But it is silly to pretend that there is not a real conflict of visions between those who believe that God created the world in six literal days a few thousand years ago, and those who believe that life evolved from one or a few “simple” organisms over the course of a few hundred million years. This is a real conflict that cannot be defined away. So label the parties however you want to label them, but for me, I’m sticking with creationists and Darwinists.

    On the issue of the frogs, the ones that hopped out of the ark had the genetic potential to vary their coloration and behavior to adapt to the various different environmental niches they would encounter in the post-Flood world. But I doubt that any modern frog would have a deep enough gene pool to re-diversify into the many different frog species, because I believe the clock is running down, and harmful mutations have accumulated over the course of thousands of years.

    By the way, the issue is the same with humans: only two generations of one family were preserved on the ark, yet we now have several distinct living races (as well as some extinct ones, like the Neandertals). It would seem that Noah and wife had the genetic potential to diversify into the several races.




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  60. @BobRyan

    unbiased objective readers

    objective unbiased reader

    Bob,

    I have made this query before, but as I have noticed your increased use of the above term (and related variants) both here and in other forums, and I ask again: Who is this unbiased objective reader? How does this reader remain objective and free from bias? I understand that you are using the phrase as a rhetorical device to impart value to your arguments and responses vis-a-vis opposing arguments; by appealing to a supposed authority (objectivity). The only truly objective authority to which we can appeal is God, and as none of us can claim that identity, I am unsure as to the reasoning behind your continued and consistent use of the term.

    @Ron Stone, M.D.

    Professor Kent, You’re right–there is no point in your “sharing” anything here, as you are pointedly shot down whenever you do! Good bye!

    Dr. Stone,

    This statement does not, to my mind, seem to be a very efficient process toward convincing others of the rightness of your position. It is this very type of discourse that proves to non-Adventists, non-Christians, and other interested observers that our faith and the commands of Christ to love one another are of a low priority in our everyday lives. I am asking my delegate to the GC session to call for a broad-based, civil, open and honest discussion on origins in the Adventist church, without polemics, threats, and un-Christian language. This is the very minimum we should expect of ourselves and of others who call themselves by Christ’s name.

    Pax,

    David Kendall, PhD
    Adjunct Professor of Music
    La Sierra University




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  61. David, you also wrote “I think you and Geanna have the idea that the creation/evolution controversy is between those who believe in fixity of biological forms and those who don’t, but it isn’t.” Once again, you are wrong!

    We’re not arguing fixity of species. We’re arguing RATES OF EVOLUTION, which virtually everyone here (who comments at least) seems to think is a non-issue. But you’re wrong. Here is but one example:

    PLETHODONTID SALAMANDERS

    “Evolutionists” and “Seventh-day Darwinians” – roughly 400 species in the new world evolved over 80 million years; that’s roughly 1 species per 200,000 years (not including species having gone extinct), and this is considered quite fast. (I should point out that species accumulation rates are not exactly calculated in this manner). Source: Vieites et al. 2007. Rapid diversification and dispersal during periods of global warming by plethodontid salamanders. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 104:19903-19907.

    “Young Earth Creationists” and “honest Seventh-day Adventists” – roughly 400 species in the new world evolved over 4,000 years; that’s roughly 1 species per 10 years! THAT MEANS YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISTS BELIEVE IN RATES OF MACROEVOLUTIONARY CHANGE 20,000 TIMES GREATER THAN SO-CALLED EVOLUTIONISTS!!!

    Actually, to be honest, we have been wrong about one thing. A plethodontid species was recently discovered in Asia! So, perhaps some individuals got from Asia to North America ahead of the rapid diversfication- not that this solves any problem.

    So now it’s your turn to be honest: who believes in more rapid evolutionary change, or to be equally accurate, who is more of a Darwinist: so-called “Seventh-day Darwinians” or so-called “honest Seventh-day Adventists”? Why is it so hard to admit such a thing? You are after all an honest Seventh-day Adventist, right?

    (By the way I’m working very hard to improve my writing as urged upon me by a new friend. And please understand, I’m not an all-for-evolution advocate and I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just pointing out, like Professor Kent, that labelling other Christians does more harm than good and often reflects prejudice based on total ignorance.)

    Again, many phenotypic changes do happen over time, but they do not happen via the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS (at least not as a primary mechanism). They happen because the necessary information was front-loaded into the original gene pool of phenotypic options (or because of a loss of pre-existing genetic information). This is the reason why such rapid phenotypic variability can be realized. And, this is the very reason that most mainstream evolutionists do not recognize. They think that these phenotypic changes were actually the primary result of Darwinian mechanisms adding qualitatively novel information to the gene pool.

    This is the main difference between Creationists and mainstream evolutionists. We creationists believe the potential for diversity was pre-programmed and is finite while evolutionists believe that the needed information was derived over time via RM/NS and that there is no limit to the level of functional complexity that can be achieved via this Darwinian mechanism.

    That’s the difference between the two camps here. Please don’t confuse yourself by suggesting that Creationists really believe in extremely rapid Darwinian evolution. You only make this argument because you are not properly informed.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  62. @Geanna Dane:

    For the biased, subjective, but honest reader, please visit this site to gain a less-biased, less-subjective description of “Darwinism” including the history of its usage and current day use:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwinism

    I rest my case.

    The modern evolutionary synthesis attempts to link up Darwin’s original ideas with Mendel’s ideas. Creationists accept Mendel’s ideas, but not Darwin’s ideas – at least not Darwin’s extrapolations that RM/NS can produce high-level biodiversity or novel high-level biosystems. So, the modern synthesis merger of these two ideas doesn’t really solve the problem. It only confuses the idea that Darwin evolution and Mendelian variation are really two unique ideas that are based on very different mechanisms of change over time.

    The Darwinian mechanism of change is completely different from the Mendelian mechanism of change. They should not be confused. Using the Mendelian mechanism alone the gene pool of phenotypic options itself remains static and unchanged. You can’t get a lizard to evolve into a bird using Mendelian phenotypic variation alone. However, using Mendelian variation alone, you can get extremely wide ranging changes in phenotypic expression of the large but finite static gene pool of options very very rapidly – in just a few generations.

    This is the problem with lumping all phenotypic changes over time under the heading of “evolutionary” when there are different mechanisms involved with different types of phenotypic changes over time. Some mechanisms for change work much much better than others. Some are based on front-loaded information while others are not.

    You need to point out these differences if you really want to have a meaningful discussion on this topic. Simply arguing that creationists believe in extremely rapid Darwinian-style evolution is misleading and ill-informed.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  63. Sean, the paper I cited and many others that examine evolutionary patterns make no mention whatsoever of the mechanisms of change. They are looking at patterns of diversification over time. Furthermore, you dismiss (extremely rapid) speciation as “phenotypic variability” which is, to be blunt, laughable. You are certainly right to point out that evolutionists do not recognize this. I think you probably would take back your statement if you thought about it some more.

    A few questions:

    1. Are you suggesting that 1 species diversifying into 400 species is not evolution or Darwinian evolution?

    2. You have argued on probability that certain events can never happen over trillions upon trillions of years. Why are you saying now that arguments based on rates of change (millions versus tens of years) are moot?

    3. Would I be more “properly informed” to conclude that creationists believe evolution happens more slowly than evolutionists say?

    You know, its easy to make statements that are wrong,, and I think it’s okay to tell others you believe they are wrong- particularly when others mischaracterize what you write (it happens ALL THE TIME here). But I find it condescending and demeaning when you so often tell people “you are misinformed”, “you don’t know what you are talking about,” or “you don’t understand.” Do you ever pause to thinnk how you come across?




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  64. @Geanna Dane: This is the problem with lumping all phenotypic changes over time under the heading of “evolutionary” when there are different mechanisms involved with different types of phenotypic changes over time. Some mechanisms for change work much much better than others. Some are based on front-loaded information while others are not.You need to point out these differences if you really want to have a meaningful discussion on this topic. Simply arguing that creationists believe in extremely rapid Darwinian-style evolution is misleading and ill-informed.Sean Pitmanhttp://www.DetectingDesign.com  (Quote)

    Sean, it’s difficult to have a meaningful discussion about evolution when “phenotypic changes” become the rubric and “Darwinism” is restricted to a single narrow perspective. Phenotypic change is plastic and often influenced by the environment. Speciation can involve no phenotypic change whatsoever, such as polyploid versus diploid animals, of which there are many examples. Phenotypic change is NOT speciation. Darwinism is used by MANY to mean nothing more than natural selection regardless of the level of complexity. Your language is what ends discussion because you demand that others understand and use terms exactly as you do. And when they don’t, you put them down.

    I looked up “front-loaded information” at Web of Science to see if your phrase is used in peer-reviewed journals. Nothing showed up.

    I’m sorry to point this out to yuou, but your style assures that you are pretty much arguing with yourself. Enjoy!




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  65. @Geanna Dane:
    Geanna, I understand that you think you are scoring points by pointing out that creationists believe in far more rapid speciation than mainstream Darwinian scientists. But I really don’t view it as a serious problem, because the change in a creationist model is limited, intrabaraminic speciation. Also, even for the limited change we can infer, I’m hypothesizing a different genetic mechanism or mechanisms, not natural selection of random mutations, which if it worked at all would necessarily work extremely slowly.

    And you’re still missing the main point. Disputes about rates of evolution aside, the creationist model is very, very different from the Darwinist model. Even if I believed that, given enough time, natural selection acting upon random mutations COULD HAVE created the world, I still would NOT believe it was created that way. I’d still believe the biblical account. Even if I believed, “Yep, the world absolutely could have created itself through random DNA copying errors, no doubt about it,” I still wouldn’t believe that’s what actually happened, because the Bible teaches a radically different history.

    Now that I’ve conceded that speciation happens many times faster in a creationist model, can I get you to concede that the young earth creationist model, in which God creates the living world in six literal days just a few thousand years ago is very different from the mainstream scientific model, in which all living things descended from a single living cell over the course of roughly 600 million years? If you won’t concede that, I really don’t see how further dialog will be useful.




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  66. @Geanna Dane:

    Phenotypic change is plastic and often influenced by the environment. Speciation can involve no phenotypic change whatsoever, such as polyploid versus diploid animals, of which there are many examples. Phenotypic change is NOT speciation. Darwinism is used by MANY to mean nothing more than natural selection regardless of the level of complexity.

    Please do provide an example of “speciation” where there has been no phenotypic change. Most of the time different species are defined by their phenotypic differences. If two different animals are phenotypically identical in form and function, what is the point of classifying them in different species groups? I do understand that phylogeneticists do such things, classifying different groups according to phylogenetic differences without any regard to function, but this doesn’t help to explain functional differences – which is the real issue between Creationists and Evolutionists.

    Darwinism is much more than simply “natural selection” (NS). Intelligent design theorists and even Creationists believe in NS. It is a real force of nature. No one argues this point. The disagreement between Darwinists and IDists/Creationists is over the creative potential of NS. IDists/Creationists consider NS to primarily function as a stabilizing or preserving force of nature, not a creative force beyond very low levels of functional complexity. Darwinists, on the other hand, claim that NS combined with random mutations (RM) is a mechanism that is capable of producing all the biodiversity that we see in all living things given enough time.

    So, you see, there is a very big difference between IDists/creationists and Darwinists. It is a mistake, therefore, to suggest that IDists/creationists are really Darwinists who just believe in a more rapid form of Darwinian style evolution. Nothing could be farther from the truth since IDists/Creationists reject the creative potential for RM/NS that is assumed by Darwinists.

    Is a horse a faster or more accomplished runner than a tortoise?

    Obviously a horse is faster than a tortoise – your point?

    I looked up “front-loaded information” at Web of Science to see if your phrase is used in peer-reviewed journals. Nothing showed up.

    Is the concept too difficult for you to understand? Mendelian variation is based on front-loaded or pre-established information. I don’t care what other name you want to call it, that’s what it is. Mendelian variation is based on the concept of a pre-established static gene pool of options being able to produce a large but finite range of phenotypic variation. Do you really not understand this?

    1. Are you suggesting that 1 species diversifying into 400 species is not evolution or Darwinian evolution?

    If you want to call Mendelian variation “evolution”, as many people do, that’s fine I guess in the broadest and most useless sense of the word, but it isn’t Darwinian-style evolution and it isn’t the problem that Creationists have with evolution.

    Processes such as Mendelian variation do produces “changes” over time but they aren’t “evolutionary” changes in the general understanding of the term because nothing qualitatively new (in a functional sense) is produced within the gene pool of options. In other words, the underlying gene pool doesn’t experience a functional change during Mendelian variations in the expressed phenotype of the gene pool. The pool remains “static”. In order to evolve or change the pool itself in some sort of functionally substantive way, qualitatively new mutations need to enter the pool – new functional elements.

    You see then, it is the evolution of the gene pool itself, not the individual creatures (which are but mere focal reflections of the pool), that is the main point of contention between IDists/Creationists and Evolutionists. You seem to miss this point in your exchanges.

    Also, you don’t seem to grasp the concept that the term “species” is rather subjectively defined. It isn’t usually based on the qualitative evaluation of functional differences in the respective gene pools of the different groups. Often different phenotypic reflections of the very same gene pool are given different species names.

    Of course neutral phylogenetic differences, which you mention, can be realized extremely rapidly within a given gene pool; especially in population bottlenecks in small isolated groups via Kimura’s neutral evolution theory. For instance, the mutation rate for humans is around 200 per individual per generation. I guess you could call that very rapid “change” or “evolution” if you wanted to – 200 changes per individual per generation! Wow! Who would have thought?!

    However, most of these mutational differences between isolated groups will not have any functional significance (since most will be functionally neutral or near neutral). The fixation rate of neutral mutations within a population can also be fairly rapid given a small population size. “Species” determinations based on such functionally neutral differences are worthless though when it comes to explaining the origin of high-level functional differences – as in what it would take to turn a lizard into a bird for example. These are the specific Darwinian ideas with which creationists take exception.

    2. You have argued on probability that certain events can never happen over trillions upon trillions of years. Why are you saying now that arguments based on rates of change (millions versus tens of years) are moot?

    As I’ve explained to you many times now, low level changes, Mendelian variations of pre-existing gene pool options, and non-functional changes can take place very very rapidly. In comparison, the types of changes that are very unlikely to happen, even given trillions of years of time, are changes that involve the production of qualitatively novel genetic information beyond very low levels of functional complexity – functional information that was not already in the gene pool to begin with.

    3. Would I be more “properly informed” to conclude that creationists believe evolution happens more slowly than evolutionists say?

    It depends upon the type of “evolution” or change you’re talking about. Some types of change can happen very rapidly while other types cannot happen at all via any mindless mechanism even given a practical eternity of years of time.

    In using the very same term to describe all types of change you confuse the issue – the real distinction between creationists and evolutionists. Creationists are not simply more rapid evolutionists. Creationists do not accept the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS or any other mindless mechanism as an explanation for certain specific types of changes or differences between species.

    In your comments you seem to confuse this difference. You don’t seem to understand or at least acknowledge the basic argument between creationists/IDists and evolutionists… and neither does Prof. Kent.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  67. @Geanna Dane:Now that I’ve conceded that speciation happens many times faster in a creationist model, can I get you to concede that the young earth creationist model, in which God creates the living world in six literal days just a few thousand years ago is very different from the mainstream scientific model, in which all living things descended from a single living cell over the course of roughly 600 million years? If you won’t concede that, I really don’t see how further dialog will be useful.  (Quote)

    Of course I concede this. Yes, yes, yes, there’s a huge difference between a 6 day model and a 6 million year model. I’m not daft.




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  68. @ Pitman: “Is a horse a faster or more accomplished runner than a tortoise? Obviously a horse is faster than a tortoise – your point?”

    So you recognize that a horse runs faster than a tortoise, but you can’t admit that a YEC believes speciation (evolution) procedes faster (1 new species per 10 years) than a theistic evolutionist (1 new species per 200,000 years). Just a reality check to see where you are at.




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  69. @ Pitman “Please do provide an example of “speciation” where there has been no phenotypic change.”

    I don’t have time to respond to anything more, but there are many, many examples. Hit the real literature and use terms like “cryptic variation” or “cryptic species.” Here are some examples from Wikipedia (the info is “out there” and not restricted to real literature):

    Algerian Barb (several species suspected)
    Audubon’s Shearwater complex
    Asian glass catfishes (several cases known, most notoriously K. minor)
    Brachionus plicatilis complex (approximately 10 species)
    Common Bush-tanager (several species suspected)
    Golden/Mangrove/Yellow Warblers (at least two species suspected)
    Flax Tortrix complex (more than 5 species)
    Grey-cheeked Thrush and Bicknell’s Thrush
    Leopard frogs
    Gray treefrogs (I added these myself; one species is diploid, the other is tetraploid)
    Mouse lemurs (16 species)
    “Placidochromis” (over 30 species described in 2004)
    Pogonomyrmex barbatus and P. rugosus (at least six lineages within the two morphospecies)
    Red-legged frogs
    Rhacophorus flying frogs (several cases suspected)
    Scytalopus tapaculos
    Two-barred Flasher (suspected)
    Trichoplax adhaerens (multiple species suspected)
    White-tailed Eagle and Bald Eagle




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  70. One more response…here are you remarks:

    “Do you really not understand this?”
    “you don’t seem to grasp”
    “You don’t seem to understand”

    Just can’t help yourself, can you?




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  71. One more response…here are you remarks:“Do you really not understand this?”
    “you don’t seem to grasp”
    “You don’t seem to understand”Just can’t help yourself, can you?  

    Geanna, Those comments were made because you actually “can’t” and “don’t” understand or “grasp.” Understand?!




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  72. Sean Pitman wrote:

    “You see then, it is the evolution of the gene pool itself, not the individual creatures (which are but mere focal reflections of the pool), that is the main point of contention between IDists/Creationists and Evolutionists. You seem to miss this point in your exchanges.”

    Are you kidding? When I wrote of 400 species you assumed I meant 400 individuals apart from the gene pool to which they belong?




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  73. Sean further wrote:

    “Also, you don’t seem to grasp the concept that the term “species” is rather subjectively defined. It isn’t usually based on the qualitative evaluation of functional differences in the respective gene pools of the different groups. Often different phenotypic reflections of the very same gene pool are given different species names.”

    I took a college course in systematics. In writing papers, at a level of detail you have no idea, I closely read dozens of papers on modern systematics, phylogenetics, species concepts, and methods for defining species limits. I have also browsed the contents of more than 100 articles describing specific phylogenetic analyses in a diverse range of animal groups, many in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. I can’t speculate on your knowledge of these topics to the extent that you claim to understand fully mine, but I can imagine you squeezed in some relevant coursework while earning your medicine degree, and you may well have read hundreds or thousands of these articles. Perhaps you even edit a journal on the topic, tho I would be very, very surprised.

    So when you make the statement “Often different phenotypic reflections of the very same gene pool are given different species names,” I am completely baffled by where you get your “facts”. They are NOT from the primary literature. No competent systematist or taxonomist- and I mean none- would allow this situation to happen in a group of organisms they were studying. To suggest this is common or routine is way, way, way, way, way off the mark. The whole point of thousands of these studies is to make sure this doesn’t happen!

    I don’t know how to say this kindly but your remarks on the topic lead me to question EVERYTHING you write. Do you sometimes just make up your facts as you go along?




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  74. @David Kendall, PhD:

    @BobRyanBob,I have made this query before, but as I have noticed your increased use of the above term (and related variants) both here and in other forums, and I ask again: Who is this unbiased objective reader? How does this reader remain objective and free from bias? I understand that you are using the phrase as a rhetorical device to impart value to your arguments and responses vis-a-vis opposing arguments; by appealing to a supposed authority (objectivity). The only truly objective authority to which we can appeal is God, and as none of us can claim that identity, I am unsure as to the reasoning behind your continued and consistent use of the term.

    David – I am happy to comply with that request. I use the term after having engaged in a few 10’s of thousands of debate exchanges where at some point, one side or the other decides that all they really have to do is close their eyes and ears and say loudly “yes but I think you are all wrong” rather than actually looking at the substance of the point under discussion.

    I like to remind them that the real point of the discussion is not to merely convince the diehard closed-minded poster most anxious to speak without listening. If you can reduce your vision to just the one or two diehards in opposition to each other you miss the main point and soon begin to imagine “well then this is pointless he/she will never change”.

    The real benefit (at least one of them anyway) is to reach the lurking reader (someone who never posts at all) – with a compelling argument that they will find useful in real life. Many times I will get PM’s from readers who have never posted – commenting on this or that point raised. Many more of them out there than some posters would like to imagine.

    The second reason for doing it – is that it reminds the people I am debating that their antics are being observed by more people than just me and some of those people could even be favorably impressed if the posting were a bit more objective and to the point.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  75. @Geanna Dane:

    I don’t have time to respond to anything more, but there are many, many examples. Hit the real literature and use terms like “cryptic variation” or “cryptic species.”

    As I originally noted for you, “cryptic species” need not be part of different gene pools when it comes to functionality. The gene pools of cryptic species are essentially the same with regard to functionality.

    This is the very point I’ve been trying to make in my discussions with you. Using “reproductive isolation” alone (perhaps along with some functionally neutral or near-neutral genetic differences) as your definition of “species” is completely worthless when it comes to explaining Darwinian-style evolution of truly novel gene pools – functionally novel. Don’t you see that?

    Evolution of cryptic species is evolution within the very same gene pool of functional options. The gene pool hasn’t evolved anything functionally new at all. Therefore, such “evolution”, if you really want to call it that, is very very easy to achieve in a very very short time (given the mutation rates I’ve already presented).

    That’s not what is at issue here…

    So when you make the statement “Often different phenotypic reflections of the very same gene pool are given different species names,” I am completely baffled by where you get your “facts”.

    I’m talking about gene pools in a functional sense – not some sort of cryptic sense that can only be distinguished based on non-functional differences or reproductive isolation which is not phenotypically based. After all, using the definition of reproductive isolation alone why not give Chihuahuas a different species name From Great Danes? They are pretty much reproductively isolated – are they not? ; )

    Based on your definitions of “species” various races of human beings should be given different species names – right? After all, according to your Wiki reference, “mitochondrial DNA research published in January 2008 suggests that there are at least 11 genetically distinct populations of giraffes.” These cryptic “species” of giraffes aren’t really any more different than various ethnic groups of humans now are they? Why then, besides convention, aren’t different ethnic groups of humans, which have been reproductively isolated from each other for a while in order to establish their particular ethnic differences, given different “species” names?

    You see, as I’ve already noted for you, a lot of subjectivity is involved with taxonomy on the species and even higher levels…

    I took a college course in systematics. In writing papers, at a level of detail you have no idea, I closely read dozens of papers on modern systematics, phylogenetics, species concepts, and methods for defining species limits.

    Then you, of all people, should be able to understand my point about defining different “species” without respect to the functionality of the underlying gene pools – and how irrelevant such definitions of “species” are to the points of contention between Creationists and Evolutionists.

    The contention here is over the qualitatively novel functional evolution of gene pools themselves – not neutral differences in gene pools or reproductive isolation of individuals who are still part of the very same gene pool with the very same phenotype or functionality.

    Again, do you or do you not understand or accept the concept of front-loaded information? Of a pre-existing static gene pool of options that can give rise to a very large but finite number of phenotypic variations without itself changing over time? – as in the case of Mendelian variation? Do you not understand the relevance of this concept to the discussion at hand?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  76. @Geanna Dane:

    My suggestion.

    Just back away quietly.

    Dont startle them and above all dont turn and run.

    Be especially careful when they express intentions of love and Grace. This is usually followed by concrete actions of kindness similar to the Israelites in Numbers. Ah yes got to love the concept of the merciful genocide.

    Be especially wary when you see “In Christ” you know it is not good and that you are going to get your head kicked in.

    I think you are altogether too sanguine to expect any good to come from dialogue here. Major Pitman has on another thread here recently identified Gods love and acts of mercy in genocide. And of course he knows exactly the meaning of the universe and has unfailing knowledge of the scriptures and all fields of science so his action against LSU are perfectly reasonable.

    Its like a car wreck. I vowed not to waste any more time here but here I am once again. Hoping against hope that love can conquer the hate. Scientist especially those that have experience the grace of God are altogether too hopeful, too prone to think that integrity and honesty matter and that the truth and Grace will never fail. I have been reading Bonhoffer. It is of great comfort as we await the coming purge in Adventism.

    Trust in the Goodness and Grace of God there is certainly none other.




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  77. Sean,

    “Functionality” is not a part of species concepts or defining species limits.

    “Reproductive isolation alone” does not encompass many species concepts or ways of defining species limits.

    “Darwinian-style evolution of truly novel gene pools- functionally novel” is not a part of species concepts or defining species limits.

    “Evolution of cryptic species is evolution within the very same gene pool of functional option” is a complete misrepresentation of speciation.

    “Gene pools in a functional sense” is not the language used for defining species.

    “Based on your definitions of “species” various races of human beings should be given different species names – right?” WRONG, WRONG, WRONG AT SO MANY LEVELS. I’m not making up definitions like you are. And the definitions I read from the literature would never identify various races of human beings as different species.

    “A lot of subjectivity is involved with taxonomy on the species and even higher levels…” Of course this is true to some extent (of course you think you have to convince me of this), which is why systematists have become very rigorous with their use of statistics and concepts in applying their trade. You are the one who lacks rigor because, to be frank, you really do not have a clue what you are talking about.

    “how irrelevant such definitions of “species” are to the points of contention between Creationists and Evolutionists”. In your mind, perhaps, because you utterly fail to understand basic concepts about speciation.

    “qualitatively novel functional evolution of gene pools themselves – not neutral differences in gene pools or reproductive isolation of individuals who are still part of the very same gene pool with the very same phenotype or functionality” – Again, total gobbledygook…lots of big words strung together to sound like you know what you are talking about, but you don’t.

    “front-loaded information…a pre-existing static gene pool of options that can give rise to a very large but finite number of phenotypic variations without itself changing over time” – More of the same.

    Sean, if speciation has no relevance to the contentions between creationists and evolutionists, I’ll eat my shorts, my shirt, my socks, my shoes, my jacket, my dog, my cat, my shower curtain, and your shower curtain.

    Here is some reading material if you want to learn something about species concepts and species limits. It would be good for you to step out of your own brain for a few hours. This author has a series of excellent review papers on speciation. I believe one of these might be available online for free.

    de Quieroz, K. 2005. Ernst Mayr and the modern concept of species. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102:6600-6607.

    de Quieroz, K. 2007. Species concepts and species delimitation. Systematic Biology 56(6):879-886.

    You’re welcome.




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  78. I vowed not to waste any more time here but here I am once again.

    Numbers 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.




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  79. Pauluc, I certainly understand your frustrations with people here. I may actually bow out of here very soon myself. The last time I decided to do so there were exclamations of, more or less (not quoting), “good riddance”.

    Mr. Marshall, do you believe your post was any nicer or more gracious?




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  80. @Geanna Dane:

    “Based on your definitions of “species” various races of human beings should be given different species names – right?” – Sean Pitman

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG AT SO MANY LEVELS. I’m not making up definitions like you are. And the definitions I read from the literature would never identify various races of human beings as different species.

    You’re not “making up definitions”, but you are choosing definitions based on your subjective opinions on the topic. The point is that there isn’t a single universally accepted definition of “species” in scientific literature – according to your own suggested references.

    It is also interesting to me that you argue that different ethnic variations of humans would not qualify as different “cryptic species.” Please do explain this to me. As far as I’m aware cryptic species do not have to have any noticeable phenotypic differences at all – according to your own arguments and references. Different ethnic groups do have very noticeable phenotypic differences and even phylogenetic differences which were the result of being reproductively isolated for a period of time. Why then would you classify certain groups of animals as being in different cryptic species groups, but not do the same for humans? I’d like to hear your “objective” explanation.

    Please do inform my ignorance here, but even according to your own referenced Kevin de Queiroz paper:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/102/suppl.1/6600.full

    There are many different definitions of “species” in literature:

    As a consequence of these differences, many alternative contemporary species concepts are incompatible in that they lead to the recognition of different species taxa depending on which concept is adopted. In other words, they lead to different species boundaries and different numbers of recognized species…

    Some such groups argue passionately about the superiority of their preferred concept over the alternatives. However, other groups argue just as passionately in favor of different species concepts. In addition, the species problem seems to be getting worse rather than better, which is to say the number of alternative species concepts has been growing rather than diminishing…

    Lineage separation and divergence can be conceptualized in terms of a few general evolutionary processes: mutation, natural selection, migration (or the lack thereof), and genetic drift. In contrast, the properties affected by those processes are highly diverse. They may be genetic or phenotypic, qualitative or quantitative, selectively advantageous, disadvantageous, or neutral, and they may involve many different aspects of biology, including genetics, development, morphology, physiology, and behavior…

    This is the reason that the alternative species definitions, despite their general agreement regarding the conceptualization of species as metapopulation lineages, imply different conclusions concerning which lineages deserve to be recognized as species.

    So, according to the article you referenced for me, there is still a great deal of subjectivity between different groups of scientists when it comes to the preferred definition of “species”. Depending upon what type of feature one wants to emphasize, a different definition of “species” can be chosen. This is why I’ve explained to you many times now that the concept of “species” has been and continues to be fairly subjective in mainstream science.

    Of course, Queiroz proposes a rather unique resolution to this subjectivity. He simply broadens the definition of “species”, quite substantially, to essentially include all, or at least most, prior definitions:

    Metapopulation lineages do not have to be phenetically distinguishable, or diagnosable, or monophyletic, or reproductively isolated, or ecologically divergent, to be species. They only have to be evolving separately from other such lineages…

    The proposed resolution of the conflicts among alternative definitions of the species category described above is at odds with the common interpretation of Ernst Mayr’s popular species definition, which treats intrinsic reproductive isolation as a necessary property of species.

    Based on de Queroz’s definition it does seem like different ethnic groups of humans could be classified as different species groups since they did, at one time anyway, form separately evolving metapopulation lineages. Please do explain how my thinking is clearly off base here…

    Beyond this, not all who are considered experts on this topic in mainstream science agree with de Queiroz or share his optimism that the species concept can be unified under a single definition. So, there still seems to be a significant amount of fluidity and subjectivity in the species concept within mainstream science.

    So, depending upon which definition of “species” you’re talking about the ability to produce a new “species” can be very easy to achieve in a very short amount of time, or it can be very difficult to achieve in this same amount of time – – It all depends on your chosen definition.

    It is my argument that if a species is not defined based on qualitative functional differences that it is extremely easy to “evolve” new species in very short periods of time because there is no functional hurtle to overcome. Functionally speaking different “species” can be and often are part of the same gene pool of functional options. In other words, they can interbreed and produce viable and fertile offspring. This ability indicates very close if not identical gene pools when it comes to functionality.

    Yet, you write:

    Sean, if speciation has no relevance to the contentions between creationists and evolutionists, I’ll eat my shorts, my shirt, my socks, my shoes, my jacket, my dog, my cat, my shower curtain, and your shower curtain.

    The relevant basis of the contention between creationists and evolutionists is a functional basis. If your chosen definition of “species” does not deal with or is not based on differences in functionality, then it is essentially irrelevant to the contention between creationists and evolutionists. I’m very surprised that you don’t seem to recognize this concept given your claim of substantial exposure to this debate.

    After all, creationists have always agreed that non-functional differences can and do happen all the time as well as low-level phenotypic differences. We creationists also agree that reproductive isolation and differences in environment play a role in establishing phenotypic differences over time. We have absolutely no problem with these ideas – no problem at all.

    Again, the real difference between creationists and evolutionists is over functional differences – not over various definitions of “species” which do not depend upon functional differences. The origin of non-functional differences is very easy to explain over very short periods of time. The origin of functional differences is not so easy to explain and becomes exponentially harder and harder to explain as the qualitative functional differences increase in minimum structural threshold requirements.

    So, try not to get hung up on various definitions of species available within the scientific community that do not specifically deal with qualitative functional differences in this creation-evolution debate because only qualitative functional differences are important in the debate between creationists and evolutionists…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  81. Different ethnic groups do have very noticeable phenotypic differences and even phylogenetic differences which were the result of being reproductively isolated for a period of time. Why then would you classify certain groups of animals as being in different cryptic species groups, but not do the same for humans? I’d like to hear your “objective” explanation.

    Human ethnic groups do not form unique lineages. Cryptic species within other animals do.

    if a species is not defined based on qualitative functional differences that it is extremely easy to “evolve” new species in very short periods of time because there is no functional hurtle to overcome.

    Please give examples of “qualitative functional differences” that distinguish one closely related species from another. For example what would be the “qualitative functional difference” between a Baltimore Oriole that lives in the western U.S. and a Bullocks Oriole that lives in the eastern U.S.? They occasionally hybridize in a narrow, non-expanding hybridization zone but as it turns out they are not even each others closest relatives. If they were a single species what is keeping them from broadly exchanging genes (introgression) across an expanding region of their range? Your language is not in the literature for defining species limits. What the devil are you talking about? Who else is using your vague terminology?

    It is my argument that if a species is not defined based on qualitative functional differences that it is extremely easy to “evolve” new species in very short periods of time because there is no functional hurtle to overcome.

    Got some examples? Professor Kent was asked for an example of macroevolution (speciation) taking place right now. If your claim is true, surely you have a number of good examples. Let’s see them.

    If your chosen definition of “species” does not deal with or is not based on differences in functionality, then it is essentially irrelevant to the contention between creationists and evolutionists. I’m very surprised that you don’t seem to recognize this concept given your claim of substantial exposure to this debate.

    I don’t recognize the definition of “species” based on “differences in functionality” because in spite of reading considerable literature on the topic you are the only one I’ve read this terminology from. No one can have a sane discussion with you if you continue to speak a language foreign to everyone else.

    After all, creationists have always agreed that non-functional differences can and do happen all the time as well as low-level phenotypic differences. We creationists also agree that reproductive isolation and differences in environment play a role in establishing phenotypic differences over time. We have absolutely no problem with these ideas – no problem at all.

    Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Apparently mechanisms of reproductive isolation do not qualify as “qualitative functional differences” for defining species limits. At least you’ve narrowed the possibilities. Exactly what characters do?




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  82. Sean, speaking of “qualitative functional differences” why wouldn’t the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) of North America and Eurasia, the Ethiopian Wolf (Canus simensis) of Africa, and the Maned Wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) of South America all be a single species? Note that more than one GENERA are involved. Can you speculate on what the “qualitative functional differences” might be among these species and genera? And would these “qualitative functional differences” be any greater among the wolves than between the wolves and the foxes (genus Vulpes)?

    How exactly does one objectively define a “qualitative functional difference” if it is not quantitative? And how does one decide whether a trait difference is “functional” or “non-functional”?




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  83. And by the way, you quoted this from the article This is the reason that the alternative species definitions, despite their general agreement regarding the conceptualization of species as metapopulation lineages, imply different conclusions concerning which lineages deserve to be recognized as species and concluded this So, according to the article you referenced for me, there is still a great deal of subjectivity between different groups of scientists when it comes to the preferred definition of “species”.

    What you failled to point out is that the reason the different species definitions can lead to different conclusions is because the characters used (eg morphological divergence, ecological divergence, reciprocal monophyly,etc) to delineate species evolve at different rates.. Therefore practicing systematists genreally use multiple data sets to satisfy more than one species criteria. There is much more objectivity to their approach than applying your yet to be defined “qualitative functional difference” criterion.




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  84. @Geanna Dane:

    Different ethnic groups do have very noticeable phenotypic differences and even phylogenetic differences which were the result of being reproductively isolated for a period of time. Why then would you classify certain groups of animals as being in different cryptic species groups, but not do the same for humans? I’d like to hear your “objective” explanation. – Sean Pitman

    Human ethnic groups do not form unique lineages. Cryptic species within other animals do. – Geanna

    What do you mean that human ethnic groups do not form unique lineages? How do you define a “unique lineage”? According to your referenced Wiki article “a cryptic species complex is a group of species which satisfy the biological definition of species — that is, they are reproductively isolated from each other — but whose morphology is very similar (in some cases virtually identical).”

    Are you arguing that human ethnic groups do not satisfy the above criteria? that they are not or nor have they ever been reproductively isolated from each other? – due to geographic or social isolation? If your argument is true, how did their unique ethnic features develop over time? How did their unique phylogenetic features develop over time?

    After all, some “cryptic species” are so morphologically similar that they can only be distinguished based on DNA analysis. In other words, they are more morphologically similar than human ethnic groups yet they are assigned to different cryptic species based only on mtDNA differences? Human ethnic groups have such differences as well yet are not assigned to different species groups – why not?

    Please do explain your argument further for me…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  85. @Geanna Dane:

    What you failled to point out is that the reason the different species definitions can lead to different conclusions is because the characters used (eg morphological divergence, ecological divergence, reciprocal monophyly,etc) to delineate species evolve at different rates.. Therefore practicing systematists genreally use multiple data sets to satisfy more than one species criteria. There is much more objectivity to their approach than applying your yet to be defined “qualitative functional difference” criterion.

    What you seem not to notice in this very same article is the statement that depending upon the criterion chosen the conclusions can be and often are contradictory. The basis upon which one or more than one criteria are chosen is largely subjective.

    Beyond this, most of these definitions are irrelevant to the debate between creationists and evolutionists since this debate is based on the origin of unique functional information – not definitions of “species” which do not account for qualitative functional differences.

    The reason why I use the word “qualitative” rather than “quantitative” is because quantitative differences in the very same type of genetic function are very easy to achieve over short periods of time via RM/NS. The controversy between evolutionists and creationists is over the origin of qualitatively unique functionality within a given gene pool.

    As an example of a qualitative vs. a quantitative functional difference, consider the bacterial ability to hydrolyze lactose using a lactase enzyme. Say the bacterial colony in question already has the lactase ability in their gene pool. Now, say that this colony experiences an mutation that increases the lactase activity. This type of functional change is a quantitative functional change in that the type of function remains the same; only its level of functionality changed. Compare this situation to a situation where the colony in question never had the lactase activity at all to any selectable level of activity. Let’s say that this colony then experiences a mutation of some pre-existing genetic sequence that suddenly gives it a lactase enzyme with at least some useful level of lactase activity. This would be an example of a qualitative change in functionality within the overall gene pool – the addition of a unique function that was never there before.

    Such qualitative changes in function can be and have been very objectively measured. Kenneth Miller, well-known biologist and evolutionary apologist from Brown University, uses such qualitative examples of evolution in action all the time as illustrations of the creative power of RM/NS.

    Using such functional definitions of novel gene pools, the concept of “levels” of functional complexity come into play when determining the average time required to achieve various levels of functional change within a gene pool via RM/NS. Achieving such qualitative functional differences takes a great deal more time to achieve within the gene pool compared to your non-functional definitions of “species” – even at very low levels of functional complexity. Then, the real problems arise when you realize that with each step up the ladder of functional complexity the average time to success increases exponentially.

    This is the real argument between creationists/IDists and evolutionists. Evolutionists do not recognize the dramatic statistical limitation to evolutionary progress for RM/NS with increasing functional complexity that creationists and IDists recognize. That’s the problem in a nutshell…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    P.S. As far as your question on the functional differences of various kinds of wolves and dogs, it seems to me that any kind of animal that can successfully mate with another kind of animal and produce viable offspring indicates a common origin from the same original gene pool of pre-programmed functional options. In other words, I would consider animals like donkeys, horses, mules and zebras to be part of the same original gene pool of pre-programmed functional options. This is true even though mules are sterile. The reason mules are sterile is not because of some qualitative functional difference in the genomes between horses and donkeys, but because of a chromosomal inversion that makes it impossible for the chromosomes to line up without looping in the mule – resulting in uneven translocations and non-viable gametes. So, because all of these animals share the same gene pool with respect to qualitative functionality (to include wolves, foxes, and domesticated dogs), they are therefore different reflections of this same original gene pool – the overall gene pool itself having not sustained any significant change in original functionality. This is one reason, I believe, for the common observation of improved hybrid vitality.

    http://reporting.journalism.ku.edu/spring06/kuhr-musser/2006/05/post_6.html

    You also wrote:

    Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Apparently mechanisms of reproductive isolation do not qualify as “qualitative functional differences” for defining species limits. At least you’ve narrowed the possibilities. Exactly what characters do?

    There are all kinds of mechanisms of reproductive isolation – to include geographic mechanisms (which have nothing directly to do with the gene pool), social mechanisms, quantitative morphologic mechanisms (as in the size difference between chihuahuas and Great Danes), gross chromosomal alteration mechanisms, etc. Most methods of reproductive isolation have nothing to do with qualitative functional differences between gene pools. As noted above, qualitative functional differences are the real issue here – not mere reproductive isolation mechanisms that have nothing at all to do with qualitative functional differences (see the lactase illustration above).




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  86. Sean, I don’t mean to interrupt, and I’ll let Geanna respond as she wishes, but I want to share a few thoughts.

    Finally, you’ve taken the time to articulate what you mean by a “qualitative functional difference.” Thank you for doing so. Your example makes perfect sense in the organism you have described. However, finding such differences in more complex animals has not been, nor will likely be anytime soon, a criterion for species delimitation. The chief objective of modern systematists is to better describe biodiversity. Species are the fundamental unit of biodiversity, and they are identified completely independent of your criteria. Systematists are motivated today largely because of the ongoing biodiversity crisis and the urgent need to identify conservation priorities (that is, no one wants to spend money and energy saving an endangered “species” that is not distinct after all and shares a common gene pool with other organisms that are not threatened).

    For all we know, there are many functional differences that exist even between cryptic species. Their superficial resemblance may suggest considerable similarity, but there may well be genes encoding qualitative diffences in isozymes similar to what you are describing that allow them to function at different temperatures (i.e., active, digest food, etc.), and therefore exploit different environments. There may be qualitative differences in genes for recognizing prey types, novel predators, and so forth. Most plants and animals are far too complex to take this approach to defining species limits, especially when other, much simpler methods exist–very good ones despite their occasional problems.

    Practicing systematists seek to answer very different questions than you have in mind, which is why Geanna, myself, and probably others here are completely baffled by your explanations. I would urge you, though, to be judicious in declaring an absence of functional qualitative differences when identifying those differences is no simple task and studies seeking to do so are pretty much non-existent in the taxonomic literature. There’s a ton we can look forward to learning when we get to heaven–if we still care about these issues, that is.




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  87. @Professor Kent:

    Finally, you’ve taken the time to articulate what you mean by a “qualitative functional difference.” Thank you for doing so. Your example makes perfect sense in the organism you have described. However, finding such differences in more complex animals has not been, nor will likely be anytime soon, a criterion for species delimitation.

    I agree. That’s precisely why the use of the term “species” in a discussion on the creation/evolution debate is pretty much irrelevant. It does not address the specific point of contention between creationists and evolutionists. That is, the species concept in the minds of most scientists does not address the concept of the limit to evolutionary progress based on the creation of qualitatively new functional genetic information within the gene pool of options.

    Therefore, the simply argument that “new species” evolve all the time is pretty much meaningless given that the term “species” need not be based on qualitative functional differences within the gene pools at all…

    The chief objective of modern systematists is to better describe biodiversity. Species are the fundamental unit of biodiversity, and they are identified completely independent of your criteria.

    That’s correct and that is precisely why the criteria used by mainstream scientists, criteria that is subjectively applied by the way, is irrelevant to the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists.

    Systematists are motivated today largely because of the ongoing biodiversity crisis and the urgent need to identify conservation priorities (that is, no one wants to spend money and energy saving an endangered “species” that is not distinct after all and shares a common gene pool with other organisms that are not threatened).

    Noble motive, but again irrelevant to the current discussion.

    For all we know, there are many functional differences that exist even between cryptic species. Their superficial resemblance may suggest considerable similarity, but there may well be genes encoding qualitative diffences in isozymes similar to what you are describing that allow them to function at different temperatures (i.e., active, digest food, etc.), and therefore exploit different environments. There may be qualitative differences in genes for recognizing prey types, novel predators, and so forth. Most plants and animals are far too complex to take this approach to defining species limits, especially when other, much simpler methods exist–very good ones despite their occasional problems.

    There may or may not be qualitative functional differences between cryptic species. The point is that the definition of a cryptic species is not based on any such functional difference. It is based only on phylogenetic differences regardless of if they are or are not functionally significant.

    Beyond this, it is possible to detect functional differences between gene pool of multicellular organisms. It is possible to detect antifreeze proteins in certain Arctic fish, for example, that is unique from similar fish in non-Arctic environments. It is possible to detect many unique functional differences between lizards and birds and the genetic basis for these functional differences.

    Again, if such functional differences cannot be detected between two gene pools under evaluation, then, for all practical purposes, these gene pools are the same with respect to their functional capabilities and there is no disagreement between creationists and evolutionists as to their likely origin from the same ancestral gene pool.

    Practicing systematists seek to answer very different questions than you have in mind, which is why Geanna, myself, and probably others here are completely baffled by your explanations.

    You guys need to remember the topic under discussion so as to avoid your confusion. Don’t drift off topic to points that are irrelevant to the basic disagreement between creationists and evolutionists regarding the creative potential of the evolutionary mechanism (i.e., RM/NS).

    I would urge you, though, to be judicious in declaring an absence of functional qualitative differences when identifying those differences is no simple task and studies seeking to do so are pretty much non-existent in the taxonomic literature. There’s a ton we can look forward to learning when we get to heaven–if we still care about these issues, that is.

    I’m not saying that there are absolutely no functional differences between certain “species” for which no such differences are known. All I’m saying is that no such differences are known. Therefore, on a functional basis, it is clear that there is no known basis for dividing the gene pools between such species based on function alone. In fact, given that individuals from certain kinds different “species” can successfully mate and produce viable (and often virile) offspring is a very strong indicator that the supposedly separate “species” are most likely the product of the same original pre-established gene pool of ancestral options.

    Remember now, the disagreement here between creationists and evolutionists is really over the creative potential of RM/NS with regard to levels of functional complexity, not mere “species” differences which are not based on levels of functionality at all.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  88. Sean,

    Sorry I couldn’t reply earlier as I wasn’t feeling very well last evening. Dr. Kent and his wife visited with my family last evening and when I went to bed early he kindly posted the only thing I had put together, which was on the Yes Creation! thread. I agree with him that you have done a better job now explaining things. It is nice to have a more civil discourse. Here are some responses:

    some “cryptic species” are so morphologically similar that they can only be distinguished based on DNA analysis. In other words, they are more morphologically similar than human ethnic groups yet they are assigned to different cryptic species based only on mtDNA differences? Human ethnic groups have such differences as well yet are not assigned to different species groups – why not?

    I hope my answer here helps. There are a handful of options to delineate distinct species, but one needs to recognize some inherent difficulties. As you are no doubt most familiar with the biological species concept which involves reproductive isolation, this can be applied readily to sympatric species that share the same range but do not interbreed. The problem here is that it can’t be applied readily to allopatric species that live in different regions. How could we possibly know whether gray wolves in North America can breed with gray wolves in Euarasia? Of course, we could put them together in captivity but for many species, including endangered species, this would be unethical or impossible. COnsider two frog populations on two different islands as an example.

    So here are three basic approaches. Two populations can be considered distinct species if:

    (1) Each individual of an age or sex class of the two populations can be fully diagnosed from the other. That is, you could take any male, for example, obtain a measurement, and assign it with 100% certainty to the population it came from. Ideally the level of differentiation between allopatric species should be similar to that between closely-related sympatric species which we know with more certainty to be distinct.

    (2) A gene tree based on DNA samples shows that the two populations form monophyletic groups, what we call independent “lineages”. That is, all individuals of a sampled population share a common ancestor to the exclusion of individuals of the other population.

    (3) The genetic distance (measured in DNA base pairs) is equivalent to or greater than that seen in other valid species, including sympatric species. For example, if the two frog populations showed 4% divergence, which is in the range of many closely related species pairs, then they would be regarded distinct species. If their divergence was much less, say 0.4%, this would be in the range of many closely related subspecies.

    For delineating cryptic species the latter two approaches are necessary. For the special case of humans they are simply not going to satisfy any of these criteria. I hope my explanation has helped you out.

    The basis upon which one or more than one criteria are chosen is largely subjective.

    When systematists seek to identify species limits within an organism, they use the characters and corresponding concepts most likely to detect species-level differences. If there are clear phenotypic differences like morphology (eg color, size, structure, scalation) or song, they use them first for obvious reasons. Often they can use museum specimens for this. Next they typically turn to molecular characters (eg proteins, DNA, chromosomes) that require more expense and often tissue from living animals, which for endangered species can be problematic. If available (it takes more time) they will look at patterns of gene flow and stability, evidence for non-assortative mating, and so forth. Whenever possible they prefer to combine multiple data sets and seek to satisfy multiple species concepts when identifying distinct species. There are of course many ways to skin a cat, as you will perhaps recall from your own science training.




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  89. given that individuals from certain kinds different “species” can successfully mate and produce viable (and often virile) offspring is a very strong indicator that the supposedly separate “species” are most likely the product of the same original pre-established gene pool of ancestral options.

    Just to clarify, if two species successfully mated their offspring may or may not have the same fitness as their parents. If they did and freely continued to interbreed (introgress), they could no longer be considered distinct species. If they had less fitness, then parents would be better off to mate within the species rather than hybridize, and this would lead to the evolution of reproductive isolation. In the latter case the two “species” would indeed be distinct.




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  90. Remember now, the disagreement here between creationists and evolutionists is really over the creative potential of RM/NS with regard to levels of functional complexity, not mere “species” differences which are not based on levels of functionality at all.

    Sean, as Professor Kent pointed out and you have conceded, there may well be functional differences between even closely related species. Often we don’t know. These differences in many cases may be why reproductive isolation evolves or why a species manages to succeed in its ever-changing habitat as other species become extinct.

    We are arguing that the issue of speciation is important in your debate for several reasons. These could include the following.

    (1) Speciation helps to illustrate the important difference between “microevolution” (change within a subspecies) and “macroevolution” (evolution of new species and changes at higher levels), a distinction that readers here clearly misunderstand.

    (2) It helps us understand the potential for evolutionary change. Remember, the designation of “species”, however arbitrary we admit it may be (though it is studied with increasing rigor), is but one level along a continuum that includes (top to bottom) kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, subspecies. If we struggle to understand how 400 species of Plethodontid salamanders can evolve solely in North America in a mere 4000 years (roughly 1 new species every 10 years), then how rapidly can new genera evolve? How rapidly can new families evolve, including entire families of venomous animals? How rapidly can new orders evolve? And so forth. In many of these examples, qualitative functional differences truly do exist! For example, all representatives of the family Conidae (sea snails) use their venom to procure food and defend themselves. Other families lack this luxury.

    (3) For those who enjoy arguing with evolutionists (yourself included), one needs to be prepared for ridicule when admitting that creationists believe in rates of evolutionary change–speciation being a good example–that far exceed what they believe. In grade school I was taught that evolution is so slow that we could never get from A to B and all the species we see today even if there were many billions of years to do so. I’ll bet others reading this were taught as much. And then when you and David Read and Bob Ryan admit that evolution had to have happened very rapidly immediately after the flood, the honesty and integrity of creationists becomes an issue, as does the quality of education in our schools.

    (4) For those of us who wish to be honest in how we deal with the data, we need to recognize that we creationists have some genuine difficulties. Evolving new salamanders at the rate of 1 per decade is a real dilemma, particularly when we consider that the mean generation time (years before offspring begin to breed) for most Plethodontids is typically 5-10 years. Do you not see a problem here? Is it okay to continue believing, as I do, when the science does not match up with what we think the Bible tells us? Some who learn that there are real problems are quick to give up on their faith. If so, then I would argue their faith was based on the wrong thing and I bet most readers would agree with me.

    (5) For the Adventist biology faculty and students like me who have gained some insight into these difficulties, discussing them in a public forum like this is fraught with risk. Neither Professor Kent nor I for example, have in any way advocated for “reptiles to birds” or “amoeba to man” evolution (although others have tried to paint us as such). We have patiently tried to point out problem areas for which tolerance and understanding are needed. And look at the abuse and criticism we have taken! I think the reason Adventist biology faculty choose to remain silent is because they know they cannot win with those who refuse to try and understand. They will be villainized. I certainly haven’t won! Most of you continue to revile me.




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