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.

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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

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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. Sean,

    Let’s set aside the issues related to speciation and deal more directly with your “qualitative functional differences”.

    Pleasse educate me. A rattlesnake has the following traits. Which would you say could be “qualitative functional differences”? Perhaps you could comment for each how difficutl they would be to evolve and whether any would exceed the 1000 fsaar threshold (your holy grail of insurmountable evolution).

    Fang
    Venom gland
    Venom
    Facial pit (an eye for seeing infrared wavelengths)
    Rattle
    Rattling (a behavior)

    And assuming you believe that rattlesnakes evolved- that is GOd did not create them- perhaps you could tell me which of these traits was most likely to evolve first. The venom? The rattle? The facial pit?

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  2. @Geanna Dane:

    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.

    It seems to me like various human ethnic groups satisfy this definition of “species” since individuals can be assigned very accurately to the correct ethnic group based on both phenotypic and phylogenetic features (with extreme accuracy using the latter).

    (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.

    This is also true of human ethnic groups which can trace their independent lineages back to a common ancestor to the exclusion of individuals from another ethnic group. This is in fact the basis of ethnic diversity – different distinct ancestries…

    (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.

    The degree of divergence depends upon the region of DNA chosen for phylogenetic evaluation – often regions thought to be functionally neutral. The cut-off point as to how many of these apparently neutral mutational differences qualify as a “new species” is also arbitrary or subjectively defined. Also, there is individual overlap between what has been defined as separate species groups. In other words, there are modern humans that would overlap with the Neandertal range of variation yet many have proposed that Neandertals be assigned to a different “species” group from humans. It seems to me though that Neandertals are very likely nothing more than an ethnic variation of humans no more removed than northern Europeans are from Aborigines – nothing more exotic.

    Also, just half a century or so ago many scientists would have proposed cutoffs which would in fact have defined certain ethnic groups within different “species” groups even using this criteria of yours. Even Darwin thought of certain ethnic groups of humans as less evolutionarily advanced than his own ethnic group of humans – so much so as to be subhuman or at least a lower level species of human (notice the whole title of his book). It all depends upon what is or is not politically correct at the time.

    Consider again that various distinct human ethnic groups have been maintained as distinct allopatric groups as well as sympatric groups over long periods of time. It only matters now what kinds of degree of non-phenotypic phylogenetic variation you are willing to subjectively define as a new “cryptic species” as far as I can tell…

    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.

    I do not understand how you can make the statement that human ethnic groups do not satisfy any of your criteria. They sure seem to match all of these criteria to me. Obviously, I’m still confused on exactly how you can “objectively” exclude various human ethnic variations from the stated definitions of cryptic species in literature… cryptic species which have far less phenotypic variation in comparison to ethnic human variations…

    And again, all of this is completely irrelevant to the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists – a disagreement over qualitative functional differences – not species definitions which are or at least can be based on functionally neutral differences.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  3. @Geanna Dane:

    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.

    Not true – at least not when it comes to the creationist definition of these words. Your definition of “species” and therefore “micro” vs. “macro” evolution is not necessarily based on qualitative functional differences. On the other hand, when creationists talk about micro vs. macro-evolution they are talking about degrees of qualitative functional differences.

    This is why your discussion of “speciation” is completely irrelevant to this particular debate since it does not directly address the main point of contention – i.e., the origin of novel qualitative functional differences on higher levels of functional complexity equivalent to functionally “macro” evolutionary changes.

    (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.

    You cannot know the answer to your question of minimum required evolutionary time to achieve various taxonimic classifications until you evaluate evolutionary progress based on function. Using your definitions of “species” which are not based on functionality, many species can be “evolved” within an extremely short period of time – even within a handful of generations. Hundreds and thousands of years are not needed because the overall mutation rates within all living things is so high.

    However, when you start evaluating evolutionary progress based on qualitative functionality, even trillions of years are not enough time to realize qualitative functional differences that have minimum structural threshold requirements beyond 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues. That’s the problem for the ToE…

    (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.

    The problem, yet again, is over different definitions of “evolution”. Not all change over time is Darwinian. Many dramatic morphologic changes over time are Mendelian and such changes can be achieved very very rapidly and result in what mainstream scientists define as different “species” groups for various subjective reasons.

    So, when you use the word “evolution” you need to qualify what type of “change over time” you’re talking about. Are you talking about functional change or cryptic non-functional changes? If you are talking about the latter, then that kind of “evolution” is not a problem for creationists. It can be achieved very very rapidly. If, on the other hand, you are talking about functional changes such as a lizard evolving into a bird, you are talking about very high level functional genetic changes that could not be achieved by RM/NS in trillions of years of time – if you actually sit down and do some statistical analysis of the non-beneficial gap distances that would have to be crossed.

    Again, you lump all forms of “change over time” under the same word “evolution” when creationists distinguish between different types of “evolution” based on functionality as “micro” and “macro” evolutionary changes. You need to be talking about the same thing when you are in discussions like this or else your arguments are simply going to be taken as completely irrelevant since you aren’t talking about the real problem given your definitions of the words you use.

    (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?

    I don’t see a problem at all because the definition of new “species” of salamanders is not based on qualitative functional differences within the various gene pools. Geographic isolation as well as other forms of breeding isolation can be achieved very very rapidly. Given such rapid isolation of breeding groups, novel phylogenetic features can also be achieved just as rapidly because of the high mutation rate from generation to generation.

    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.

    I would argue that useful faith that is distinguishable from a belief in garden fairies or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is based largely if not entirely on the credibility of the witness or witnesses which form the basis of faith. The reason why I believe the Bible to be a true revelation of God is because I have found it to be reliable in those things that I can directly test with regard to its claims of physical reality. If these claims start to be falsified, one by one, then the metaphysical claims of the Bible will loose credibility in my mind as well.

    I do not take much stock, as some people do, in blind faith or faith that is based on a strong internal “feeling of truth”. For me a useful faith that has the power to give a solid hope in the future must be based on credible evidence that is open to testing and potential falsification – i.e., “science”.

    (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.

    I apologize for many of the over-the-top statements of some in this forum. These do not reflect my views or attitudes, but have been allowed to post anyway, to at least some degree, because of our effort to have this forum be as open as possible while still trying to enforce a certain degree of congeniality.

    It is fine to question and pose potential problems. In fact, such a thing is or at least should be welcome in our schools. However, if a teacher comes to a point where he or she sees the problems as so clearly against the fundamental pillars of the SDA faith that he/she cannot in good conscience continue to support said pillars in an active manner, that teacher must resign and go teach elsewhere where he/she can teach in good conscience what seems to be right to him/her.

    As an aside here, yet again, I personally find your arguments mostly irrelevant because you are not discussing the basic point of disagreement between creationists and evolutionists – a point of disagreement based on the origin of high-level qualitative functional differences within gene pools…

    You say that you don’t believe in something like reptile to bird evolution yet you don’t say why. Why if you believe in evolutionary speciation on at least some level don’t you believe in reptile to bird evolution? Do you have any idea or scientific reason or explanation? Or, do you simply believe that this sort of evolution doesn’t happen because of your blind faith in the Bible? – as Prof. Kent has admitted?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  4. Some questions for Dr. Geraty stemming from his June 1 letter(s), questions that might further clarify his position(s) and help resolve some of the controversy:

    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.

    A lot of evolutionists and long agers out there believe that Genesis 1 refers to an ordinary week. Does Dr. Geraty believe that God actually did create the world during an ordinary week as Genesis 1 states?

    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.

    Ellen White stated that to teach that the days of creation were anything other than 6 literal days is to teach a most dangerous form of infidelity. Does Dr. Geraty accept and endorse and promote this viewpoint?

    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.

    Is Dr. Geraty specifically saying that he tried to only hire professors that believed that God created the world in 6 actual days about 6,000 years ago and that there has been a worldwide flood since? Is this what he means by “creationism”?

    What specific actions did Dr. Geraty take when he became aware that teachers were undermining faith in the accounts in Gen. 1-11? Or, was Dr. Geraty totally in the dark about what some professors were teaching?

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  5. @Geanna:

    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?

    The math you used is a little messed up. You assume the salamanders evolved sequentially, which is extremely improbable. Most likely one subspecies became 2, those 2 became 4, those 4 became 8, those 8 became 16, and so on. It requires as few as 9 or 10 subspecies generations (2^9=512, 2^10=1024) to achieve 400 or more variations. In 4000 years, this allows 400 or so years for the various mutations and genetic reductions to occur in each successive branch.

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  6. I should add that if a species has a high rate of reproduction, meaning more babies per litter or more frequent litters, and therefore increased rates of microevolution, or if the species is prone to higher rates of mutation, the above formula would *underestimate* the amount of time available per “subspecies branch”. Consider that 2.2^8=548 (which is well over 400, the number of salamander species in your example). In this case, supposing that every 500 years each salamander species produced, on average, 2.2 subspecies, it would achieve well over 500 total subspecies in 4000 years time. That includes the root subspecies. This means that really only 1.2 *new* subspecies would need to be spawned every 500 years.

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  7. Sean, let’s be clear on one thing. “My” criteria are not mine at all. They are what thousands of practicing systematic biologists (taxonomists) use. I am not surprised that you declare them invalid and substitute instead your own terms and criteria. Professor Kent told me to expect exactly this.

    Your contention that modern humans comprise multiple species has me curious. Can you please tell me which races specifically form (1) fully diagnosable groups (including the character/s used for 100% reciprocal diagnosis), (2) reciprocally monophyletic groups, or (3) mtDNA divergence equivalent to or greater than that of other recognized primate species. My understanding is that humans have very low Fst values (molecular differentiation among populations) compared to other primates, with differences smaller than those among subspecies of either chimpanzees or gorillas. Can you also please cite the source for any evidence you present?

    One good starting point to back your claims might be a 2004 article in the journal Nature Genetics, available here: http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v36/n11s/full/ng1455.html. Frankly, I think it destroys your hypothesis. But alas, I am but a student and you are, well, let’s just say tenacious in defending your unique views, so I will await your conclusions.

    Were you going to address my questions about venomous rattlesnakes?

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  8. @Geanna Dane: You say that you don’t believe in something like reptile to bird evolution yet you don’t say why. Why if you believe in evolutionary speciation on at least some level don’t you believe in reptile to bird evolution? Do you have any idea or scientific reason or explanation? Or, do you simply believe that this sort of evolution doesn’t happen because of your blind faith in the Bible? – as Prof. Kent has admitted? Sean Pitmanhttp://www.DetectingDesign.com  (Quote)

    I believe in the Bible. It suggests a young earth created in 6 literal days, though how young I do not know with conviction. If I am wrong, it doesn’t really matter because I am saved not by my knowledge on origins but my faith in the blood of Jesus. Theistic evolutionists whom many here despise have the same access to Christ’s blood, whether they are Seventh-day Adventists or not.

    You would abandon God if you found that science and the Bible do not match up, but I have a personal relationship with God that compels me to believe he can be trusted regardless of how reliable the “physical evidence” might be. I’m comfortable admitting that we creationists have many problems because I don’t think God wanted us to know all the answers. I think he wants us to come to him on our knees and find him in prayer rather than by searching for a rock that says “Made in Heaven 4000 BC”.

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  9. @Geanna Dane:

    Sean, let’s be clear on one thing. “My” criteria are not mine at all. They are what thousands of practicing systematic biologists (taxonomists) use. I am not surprised that you declare them invalid and substitute instead your own terms and criteria. Professor Kent told me to expect exactly this.

    I understand that the criteria you reference are not your own (though you do seem to apply them on occasion in your own way). The problem is that these criteria do no address the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists – a disagreement that is based on the origin of higher levels of functional complexity. You keep asserting that there is some sort of disagreement on the origin of “species” that can be defined according to non-functional differences. I think I’ve made this clear in several of my responses to you so far…

    As far as the rest of your interesting thoughts on the origin of certain specific features and the mutational distances between human ethnic groups compared to other species (you do not list “cryptic species” for some strange reason), I’ll have to get back to you later since I’m in the middle of traveling today from Minnesota where I have a series of talks on evolution/creation.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  10. I believe in the Bible. It suggests a young earth created in 6 literal days, though how young I do not know with conviction. If I am wrong, it doesn’t really matter because I am saved not by my knowledge on origins but my faith in the blood of Jesus. Theistic evolutionists whom many here despise have the same access to Christ’s blood, whether they are Seventh-day Adventists or not.You would abandon God if you found that science and the Bible do not match up, but I have a personal relationship with God that compels me to believe he can be trusted regardless of how reliable the “physical evidence” might be.

    Think about it a bit more. We are saved by faith, that is true. We must have a relationship with Jesus. We must believe.

    But generally speaking, a theistic evolutionist who knows what the Bible says has chosen (a) not to believe the passages that refer to how God created the world, (b) not to have faith in what God has revealed in the Bible about how He created everything, and (c) not to truly have a deep relationship with Christ, for how can one have a relationship with someone if one refuses to believe what that someone says?

    Check out Heb. 11. Saving faith can apply to anything God says. We can’t narrow it to only faith in one specific doctrine, or to only faith in certain verses to the exclusion of other verses.

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  11. It requires as few as 9 or 10 subspecies generations (2^9=512, 2^10=1024) to achieve 400 or more variations.

    Michael, you are right. Systematists use the term “species accumulation” which includes newly evolved species minus species going extinct. When I first compared rates of salamander evolution between evolutionists and creationists, I pointed out that my derivation of numbers was not technically correct. Nevertheless Kozak et al. (Proc. R. Soc. B (2006) 273, 539–546) documented very rapid species accumulation in plethodontid salamanders (compared to other animal groups) of 0.8 species per million years in one species group. I was trying to simplify things and did not mean to mislead. Regardless, creationists need to explain 400 species (more if any have become extinct) evolving in 4,000 years, which represents a 100,000-fold faster rate of evolution (and still e-x-t-r-e-m-e evolution). Sean Pitman has reassured us this is not a problem, so we’ll move on.

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  12. Michael, you are using the word “subspecies” for salamanders as if you deny there are 400 species of plethodontids. Why? Would you suggest that the 500 species of tyranid flycatchers that have evolved in the New World actually represent 500 subspecies, too? I have a birdwatcher friend who showed me about 10 flycatcher species here in southern California one day. I can assure you that the vermillion flycatchers and black phoebes and kingbirds and some other stuff I don’t remember bore little resemblance to each other.

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  13. @Geanna Dane:

    “It requires as few as 9 or 10 subspecies generations (2^9=512, 2^10=1024) to achieve 400 or more variations.” – Michael

    Michael, you are right… I was trying to simplify things and did not mean to mislead. Regardless, creationists need to explain 400 species (more if any have become extinct) evolving in 4,000 years, which represents a 100,000-fold faster rate of evolution (and still e-x-t-r-e-m-e evolution). Sean Pitman has reassured us this is not a problem, so we’ll move on.

    Again, such species definitions are not dependent upon qualitative functional changes within the gene pool of options. The isolation of small groups of individuals from a parent population can be achieved very rapidly. Once isolated, a small population can rapidly accumulate unique mutational differences from the parent population – even in essentially neutral regions of DNA. In fact, population mutation rates based on real time analysis have shown that prior assumptions of a need for much longer periods of time to accumulate distinguishing mutations were significantly in error – off by many fold.

    For example, the whole notion that the common ancestor of all modern humans, the “African Eve” who is thought by many mainstream scientists to have lived about 200,000 years ago, has been called into serious question by real time studies of mtDNA mutation rates.

    Scientists who study historical families and their genetic histories, started questioning the mutation rates that were based on evolutionary phylogenetic assumptions. These scientists were “stunned” to find that the mutation rate was in fact much higher than previously thought. In fact it was about 20 times higher. Parsons, in his 1997 paper wrote:

    Our observation of the substitution rate, 2.5/site/Myr, is roughly 20-fold higher than would be predicted from phylogenetic analyses. Using our empirical rate to calibrate the mtDNA molecular clock would result in an age of the mtDNA MRCA of only ~6,500 y.a.

    More recent direct mtDNA mutation rate studies also seem to confirm the earlier findings by Parsons and others. In an 2001 article published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, Evelyne Heyer et. al., presented their findings of the mtDNA mutation rate in deep-rooted French-Canadian pedigrees.

    [Our findings] “Confirm[ed] earlier findings of much greater mutation rates in families than those based on phylogenetic comparisons. . . For the HVI sequences, we obtained 220 generations or 6,600 years, and for the HVII sequences 275 generations or 8,250 years.

    One more interesting paper published in September 2000 in the Journal Scientist by Denver et al. is also quite interesting. These scientists reported their work with the mtDNA mutation rates of nematode worms and found that these worm’s molecular clocks actually run about “100 times faster than previously thought”. They extrapolated their findings to human mutation rates as follows:

    [Our] results do support recent controversial studies suggesting that the human molecular clock also runs 100 times faster than is usually thought. This may mean that estimates of divergence between chimpanzees and humans, and the emergence of modern man, happened much more recently than currently believed, says the team. ‘Our work appears to support human analyses, which have suggested a very high rate,’ says Kelley Thomas of the University of Missouri. ‘This work is relevant to humans,’ says Doug Turnbill of the institute for Human Genetics and Newcastle University, UK. ‘If the human mutation rate is faster than thought, it would have a lot of impact in looking at human disease and forensics, as well as the evolutionary rate of humans.’ . . .

    See also:

    http://www.mhrc.net/mitochondria.htm
    http://www.kerchner.com/mtdnatmrcacalculations.htm
    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/26/1/217
    http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/03/20/rsbl.2009.0104.full.pdf

    Santos, C., et. al., Understanding differences between phylogenetic and pedigree-derived mtDNA mutation rate: a model using families from the Azores Islands (Portugal). Mol. Biol. Evol., 2005, 22, 1490–1505.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  14. Sean,Let’s set aside the issues related to speciation and deal more directly with your “qualitative functional differences”.Pleasse educate me. A rattlesnake has the following traits. Which would you say could be “qualitative functional differences”? Perhaps you could comment for each how difficutl they would be to evolve and whether any would exceed the 1000 fsaar threshold (your holy grail of insurmountable evolution).FangVenom glandVenomFacial pit (an eye for seeing infrared wavelengths)RattleRattling (a behavior)And assuming you believe that rattlesnakes evolved- that is GOd did not create them- perhaps you could tell me which of these traits was most likely to evolve first. The venom? The rattle? The facial pit?  (Quote)

    Um…Sean…I have asked about “qualitative functional differences”. Are we going to get to these? I’d like to understand how you view these for obvious traits we can all wrap our minds around.

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  15. @Geanna Dane:

    Um…Sean…I have asked about “qualitative functional differences”. Are we going to get to these? I’d like to understand how you view these for obvious traits we can all wrap our minds around.

    As I’ve already mentioned to you before, I presented my views on the origin of carnivores and parasites in a lectures which you can review if you are interested:

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

    and

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

    I’d be interested in your views on this topic as well…

    One thing is for sure: novel systems of function have never been shown to evolve without the input of intelligent design via RM/NS or any other mindless mechanism beyond very low levels of functional complexity – i.e., beyond minimum structural threshold requirements of more than a few hundred averagely specified amino acid building blocks.

    Statistically, if the minimum structural threshold in question is at least a thousand specifically arranged amino acid residues, trillions upon trillions of years would be required to achieve any qualitatively novel function at such a level. Mutation-based quantitative changes have been realized very rapidly; such as changes in the size or activity of a pre-established feature (such as an increased or decreased enzymatic activity of a particular type, etc.). This is because qualitative differences can be evolved in a stepwise manner consisting of very small steps where each step is sequentially beneficial. This is not the case for the evolution of qualitatively novel functionality where there is no stepwise selectable benefit for the function in question until a certain beneficial threshold of functionality is achieved for the qualitatively novel type of function in question.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  16. “Species” based on mtDNA phylogenies?

    As far as the topic of human ethnic groups compared to various “species” definitions for animals, consider the case of the Neanderthal. Many scientists consider Neanderthals to have been a separate “species” of human – not just a unique ethnic variation. This is due to several unique morphologic features of Neanderthals compared to modern humans – as well as to unique DNA sequences and average numbers of mutational differences.

    According to a 1997 study by Pääbo et. al., on certain mtDNA sequences of Neanderthals compared to modern humans, Neanderthals would seem to qualify as a unique “species” – and not just a “cryptic species” due to their prominent morphologic differences.

    “The Neandertal sequence was compared to 994 contemporary human mitochondrial lineages, i.e., distinct sequences occurring in one or more individuals, found in 478 Africans, 510 Europeans, 494 Asians, 167 Native Americans and 20 individuals from Australia and Oceania. Whereas these modern human sequences differ among themselves by an average of 8.0 (range 1-24) substitutions, the difference between the humans and the Neandertal sequence is 27.2 (range 22-36) substitutions. Thus, the largest difference observed between any two human sequences was two substitutions larger than the smallest difference between a human and the Neandertal…

    The Neandertal mtDNA sequence thus supports a scenario in which modern humans arose recently in Africa as a distinct species and replaced Neandertals with little or no interbreeding.”

    If mtDNA was in fact isolated from the Neanderthal bones, these conclusions might seem reasonable until one considers a few more facts. The Cell article itself noted that the range of sequence differences for modern human mtDNA goes from 1 to 24 with an average of 8 substitutions. The mtDNA sequence differences between modern humans and the single Neanderthal fossil range from 22 to 36 substitutions, with the average being 27. In other words, the two most different humans analyzed in this study, as far as mtDNA substitutions are concerned, are different by 24 substitutions. The closest that any human in this study was to the single specimen of Neanderthal mtDNA was 22 substitutions. This means that there are some people living today that are closer to Neanderthals in their mtDNA sequencing than they are to some other modern human beings. Someone might be found to be only 22 substitutions away from our Neanderthal, but 24 substitutions away from his own next-door neighbor. Interesting isn’t it? If Neanderthals are classed as separate species because of these differences, which one of our modern human volunteers should be classify as a separate species? Perhaps the one who was only 22 substitutions different from the Neanderthal? Or, maybe his next-door neighbor who is 24 substitutions away from his neighbor as well as 22 substitutions away from our Neanderthal friend? I mean, some of us might have neighbors that look like Neanderthals (or maybe we might look like Neanderthals compared to our neighbors), but can a different species really be assumed based on a difference of 20-some substitutions in a particular hypervariable region of DNA?

    That means that there are a few modern humans who differ by 24 substitutions from a few other modern humans—two substitutions more than the Neanderthal individual. Would not logic demand that those few modern humans living today should also be placed in a separate species? To state the question is to reveal the absurdity of using such differences as a measure of species distinctions.

    Lubenow, Marvin (1998), “Recovery of Neandertal mtDNA: An Evaluation,” CEN Technical Journal, 12[1]:87-97.

    A subsequent paper published by Pääbo and his team in May of 1999, show that the range (1-81) for chimp/bonobo substitutions (in certain regions of mtDNA) are even wider than previously thought. In other words, if one chose a chimp at random, this chimp might be as many as 81 substitutions different from the chimp swinging on the branches right next to him. This is interesting because this same chimp might be only 78 substitutions different from a given modern human. This more recent paper also points out that the range between humans (1-35) is also wider than was reported in the first paper. The range between humans and the Neanderthal sequence was also altered in the updated paper to (29-43).

    This second paper seems to make it even more clear that substitution differences in a given variable region cannot be used to absolutely measure the boundary between different species. In fact, using this method of reason, it seems like some chimps might be more closely related to certain humans than to certain chimps within their own species. Since this clearly is not the case, this logic seems flawed. Evolutionary conclusions therefore cannot be effectively supported using this these methods.

    Of course, there is an additional problem that some humans from certain ethic groups are more closely “related” to Neanderthals than they are to certain other living humans from other groups. The question remains as to who should be classed as a separate species?

    Maryellen Ruvolo (Harvard University) points out that the genetic variation between the modern human and Neanderthal sequences is within the range of other single species of primates. She goes on to say: “there isn’t a yardstick for genetic difference upon which you can define a species.”

    Further confusion comes from the comments in the Cell article that seem to indicate that Neanderthals are more closely related to the ancestral “chimpanzee” than modern humans are. This might not have been the actual intention of the authors, but one could easily get confused by the wording of the article. The fact of the matter is that the single specimen of Neanderthal mtDNA was actually farther away from chimp mtDNA than humans are from chimp mtDNA substitutions. Clearly then, Neanderthal DNA is no closer “related” to chimp DNA than human DNA is.

    Add to all of this the fact that the popular notion that mtDNA mutations can be used as a molecular clock has been called into question by the journal Science. As it turns out, former ideas about the timing of this clock might be in error by as much as “20-fold” – (or even 100 fold based on other studies). The famous “Mitochondrial Eve” once thought to be around 100,000 to 200,000 years old, might now have to be revised to as young as “6,000” years old.

    D. Melnick and G. Hoelzer (Columbia University) tested the assumptions of mtDNA based phylogenic relationships and concluded:

    “Our results suggest serious problems with use of mtDNA to estimate ‘true’ population genetic structure, to date cladogenic events, and in some cases, to construct phylogenies.”

    If that isn’t an understatement of the problem I don’t know what is?

    Jonathan Marks (Yale University) declared mtDNA determined relationships to be highly biased:

    “Most analysis of mitochondrial DNA are so equivocal as to render a clear solution impossible, the preferred phylogeny relying critically on the choice of outgroup and clustering technique.”

    In August of 2002, Gabriel Guitierrez et al., from the Universidad de Sevilla, Spain, published a paper in the well known journal, Molecular Biology and Evolution entitled, “A Reanalysis of the Ancient Mitochondrial DNA Sequences Recovered from Neandertal Bones.” Consider some of their conclusions:

    Recent reports analyzing mitochondrial DNA sequences from Neandertal bones have claimed that Neadnertals and modern humans are different species. The phylogenetic analyses carried out in these articles did not take into account the high substitution rate variation among sites observed in the human mitochondrial D-loop region and also lack an estimation of the parameters of the nucleotide substitution model…

    The computation of pairwise distances between 171 randomly selected sequences and the Neandertals rendered 1.6% of human-human comparisons larger than the smallest difference between Neandertals and humans. Likewise, 27% of the comparisons are lower than the largest human-human difference. This result suggests that Neandertals sequences are not so different from those of extant humans, in contrast to the NSG claims…

    The main conclusion can be extracted from our analyses: the phylogenetic position of the ancient DNA sequences recovered from Neandertal bones is sensitive to the phylogenetic methods employed. It depends on the model of nucleotide substitution, the branch support method, and the set of data used.

    In fact, Guitierrez et. al. went on to show that depending upon the mtDNA region(s) chosen Neaderthals could be clustered with modern humans while certain ethnic groups could be isolated out as separate “species” groups. This only highlights the subjective nature and definition of “species” using mtDNA-based phylogenies.

    Although the molecular data appears to be very objective and precise, John Marcus states that the interpretation of the molecular data is just as subjective as is the interpretation of the fossils. Not only is the molecular evidence unfalsifiable, but

    ‘… the scientist must always choose which piece(s) of DNA he is going to use to do his comparisons. Very often a particular piece of DNA will not give the “right” answer and so it is dismissed as a poor indicator of the evolutionary process’.

    Kenneth A.R. Kennedy (Cornell University) comments:

    ‘This practice of forcing the paleontological and archaeological data to conform to the evolutionary and genetic models continues in reinterpretations of dates based upon the molecular clock of mitochondrial DNA as well as radiometric samples… .’

    The misinterpretation of the mtDNA data is seen in the work of Pääbo and his associates in that the Neandertal fossil evidence contradicts their interpretation of the mtDNA evidence.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v12/i1/mtdna.asp#f47

    These same problems are not likely to be restricted to the determination of hominid “species” and phylogenetic relationships but are likely to affect the determination of different animal species as well – to include the numerous “cryptic species” that are being discovered today…

    For further discussion of this topic see:

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/earlyman.html#Neanderthal

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  17. So tell me Sean, how would you go about showing that the Bullocks and Baltimore orioles are the same species? You reject what everyone else uses. Just saying that you would show “qualitatively functional differences” won’t cut it. Give us a data-based paradigm. What data would you collect and how would you analyze it? You’re the expert systematist after all.

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  18. Michael, you are using the word “subspecies” for salamanders as if you deny there are 400 species of plethodontids. Why? Would you suggest that the 500 species of tyranid flycatchers that have evolved in the New World actually represent 500 subspecies, too? I have a birdwatcher friend who showed me about 10 flycatcher species here in southern California one day. I can assure you that the vermillion flycatchers and black phoebes and kingbirds and some other stuff I don’t remember bore little resemblance to each other.  

    Geanna, I will be the first to admit that my use of terms is not exactly in line with conventional usage. This especially applies to my use of words like “species,” “subspecies,” “macroevolution,” “microevolution,” etc. However, at the same time I do not apologize for it, because I believe that current mainstream usage and application of these terms represents Darwinist presuppositions about the fluid nature of species and the common ancestry of all living things. So my intentional misuse of them is somewhat of a small rebellion against the systemic misuse of them in mainstream science (insofar as the way the terms are defined and applied within mainstream science is a methodology that in itself implies falsehoods).

    So, to answer your question, yes, I believe all 500 subspecies/species of plethodontids are in fact one in the same “kind” (in the biblical sense), which should rationally be grouped together under the same species designation, with the variations described as races or breeds or variations or some other term that does not equate their differences with the differences between totally unrelated species. As to flycatchers and such, I direct your attention to the various breeds of dogs and cats. They sport all kinds of differences — in size, shape, color, hair length and texture, build, and many other things. Yet they are all of one genetic stock; though once considered a separate species, all dogs have been reclassified as subspecies of the gray wolf. I read recently that until some years/decades ago, it was thought that the various kinds of dogs (wolf, coyote, etc.) were separated by unique chromosomes. However, recently it was found that they all had exactly the same chromosomes, only the grouping of the chromosomes was different.

    To say animals are different species simply because they look distinctly different, and even because they mate independently or even because they can no longer produce offspring together, is poor science in my estimation. There was a study done on fruit flies that showed that in a few as eight generations they could be bred into distinct groups that no longer mated freely with each other. Might as well call them species, the way science throws the term around … but any sane person will tell you that they are all really just fruit flies that have acquired restrictive mating tastes, and ought to be looked at as variations or subspecies.

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  19. I’m not a scientist, although I studied much science in my high school and college days (once was on the path to marine biology). I am a professional pilot who also happens to hold a graduate degree in theology.

    I accept science & it’s findings as a reasonable HUMAN LIMITED attempt to explain things, but I also know enough from personal observation (in legitimate Darwin fashion), to be able to recognize THE MAJOR FACTOR that can totally account for any apparent discrepancies as well as seeming incompatibilities between faith and science.

    That simple, but observable & provable major factor is the clear and present existence of EVIL / SIN.

    We accept cause and effect. We must be prepared to allow for the Law of Condemnation, IF we believe there is a God and He has Law and consequences.

    Simply put: Sin / Evil has grossly corrupted “the chain of custody” of nature’s creation evidence, and has in ways we cannot fully account for, mutated, speciated, variated, and even exterminated MUCH of the evidence to the point that there are plenty of hooks available to hang your hat of doubt upon!

    And we aren’t even talking about the Flood, and what monumental effects IT can have upon this gross corruption of evidence. But the Flood was initiated by God as a result of “only evil continually”….Grave food for thought…..Brings this all full circle.

    Below is some very helpful thought guidance on these matters of evolution and creation.

    By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. Ps. 33:6. {FLB 27.1}
    Since the book of nature and the book of revelation bear the impress of the same master mind, they cannot but speak in harmony. . . . {FLB 27.2}
    Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation. . . . Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods. . . . Such a conclusion is wholly uncalled for. {FLB 27.3}
    Of each successive day of creation, the Sacred Record declares that it consisted of the evening and the morning, like all other days that have followed. {FLB 27.4}
    In regard to the work of creation itself the divine testimony is, “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” Ps. 33:9. With Him who could thus call into existence unnumbered worlds, how long a time would be required for the evolution of the earth from chaos? … {FLB 27.5}
    It is true that remains found in the earth testify to the existence of men, animals, and plants much larger than any now known. . . . But concerning these things Bible history furnishes ample explanation. Before the Flood, the development of vegetable and animal life was immeasurably superior to that which has since been known. At the Flood the surface of the earth was broken up, marked changes took place, and in the re-formation of the earth’s crust were preserved many evidences of the life previously existing. . . . These things. . . are so many witnesses mutely testifying to the truth of the Word of God. {FLB 27.6}
    Just how God accomplished the work of creation He has never revealed to men; human science cannot search out the secrets of the Most High. His creative power is as incomprehensible as His existence.

    Chap. 13 – Taught by Nature

    But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? Job 12:7-9. {CC 19.1}
    Although the earth was blighted with the curse, nature was still to be man’s lesson book. It could not now represent goodness only; for evil was everywhere present, marring earth and sea and air with its defiling touch. . . . {CC 19.2}
    In drooping flower and falling leaf Adam and his companion witnessed the first signs of decay. Vividly was brought to their minds the stern fact that every living thing must die. Even the air, upon which their life depended, bore the seeds of death. {CC 19.3}
    Continually they were reminded also of their lost dominion. Among the lower creatures Adam had stood as king, and so long as he remained loyal to God, all nature acknowledged his rule; but when he transgressed, this dominion was forfeited. The spirit of rebellion, to which he himself had given entrance, extended throughout the animal creation. . . . {CC 19.4}
    But man was not abandoned to the results of the evil he had chosen. In the sentence pronounced upon Satan was given an intimation of redemption. . . . This sentence, spoken in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. Before they heard of the thorn and the thistle, of the toil and sorrow that must be their portion, or of the dust to which they must return, they listened to words that could not fail of giving them hope. All that had been lost by yielding to Satan could be regained through Christ. {CC 19.5}
    After the transgression of Adam, God might have destroyed every opening bud and blooming flower, or He might have taken away their fragrance, so grateful to the senses. In the earth seared and marred by the curse, in the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but in the delicate color and perfume of the flowers, we may learn that God still loves us, that His mercy is not wholly withdrawn from the earth. {CC 19.6}

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  20. A PS: follow on comment to my previous post.

    I think of this EVIL / SIN major factor as like the most unwelcomed and insidious presence of cancer within a body.

    You observe from the origins, and the body is amazingly perfect, capable, fantastic! Then the cancer shows up…and in fairly short order, you end up with unbelievable corruption of, mutation of, destruction of, extermination of this amazing body with it’s harmony of function and form.

    There’s a twisted horrific take over by the cancer cells in such a way as you end up with pure destruction of what once was a beautiful chain of evidence that demonstrated a most wonderful original creation….

    And so we find ourselves in the sin/cancer/evil of this world, with no demonstrable trajectory towards “survival of the fittest” that seems to be ending up just better than ever before due to some progressive evolving.

    It’s getting worse and worse folks, in the big scheme of things.

    Over-population.
    World-wide nuclear destruction capable.
    Pandemics loom.
    Earth life forms being destroyed rather rapidly.
    Deforestation.
    Sea, air, land pollution at record levels.

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  21. I imagine that Dr Geraty is actually quite GLAD that he is retired. So basically, the LSU Biology Dept would have to limit its approach to what Mrs White writes in pages 112-115 in “Patriarchs and Prophets?” I am sure that the LSU science students would be glad to hear that as it would make testing so much easier for both instructor and student. Of course, MRs White did not have the benefit of an Adventist scientific education–she was just lead by the Spirit of God.

    But in a recent handout, the LSU Biology Dept states (emphasis added):

    “It should be pointed out that the theory of evolution is discussed, BUT NOT PROMOTED, at La Sierra University. We believe that God the Creator is the source of all life.

    Students examine our denomination’s voted fundamental belief regarding creation and understand the data used to support our faith in creation. We believe that by providing a complete curriculum grounded in biological principles, paralleled and supported by a strong general education curriculum, students will be able to graduate with an integrated knowledge of their discipline as well as a stronger faith and understanding of God as their Creator and Saviour. The scientific data are presented just as they are at most other Seventh-day Adventist institutions, often with the same textbook. We believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that students receive a complete and comprehensive education as warranted by their given program of study.”

    Now, I’d like to know, would the Michigan Conference, the General Conference of SDAs, and Dr Pitman call the LSU Biology faculty liars, in regard to the above statement?

    Unfortunately yes. The LSU biology faculty are indeed promoting their view that life has existed and evolved over millions of years on this planet and that the literal creation week is a “ludicrous” idea believed only by the “lunatic fringe” within the SDA Church. LSU has always made it very clear that they are all “creationists” – which is true. But their theistic view of creation isn’t remotely the same view of the Creator as the SDA view which claims that He created life on this planet in just six literal days. LSU is in fact fundamentally at odds with the literal six-day creation week. That’s the real problem here and that is exactly what LSU is not being honest enough to even own up to. – sp

    I am a registered nurse (RN-BSN) (with an unrelated degree from Andrews) who attended a state university for nursing and in none of the science classes did we ever discuss evolutionary theory. It seems to be only applicable–and relevant–to those classes where fossilization is discussed.

    Now, my wife, as K-12 teacher, did take such a course at a state university, went out into the field to collect sharks teeth and look at geologic formations, and the professor told the class that while he respected the right to hold religious beliefs, anyone who argued Creationism would flunk the course. And when my wife taught public school, she was required to teach evolutionary theory–I mean, it was in the textbooks. But she was allowed to say that she believed in Creationism.

    In looking Dr Pitman up on Google, under multiple listings, I see that he lists only Loma Linda School of Medicine. If it’s OK to ask, did Dr Pitman attend a secular institution undergrad, and, if so, did he have to learn and spit back evolutionary theory on any tests at any point on his voyage to M.D.?

    Besides LLU, I attended the City of Hope National Medical Center for hematopathology fellowship training. I also took organic chemistry at the USM. However, my primary exposure to the Theory of Evolution was on my own time as I’ve been intensively studying this theory for the past 10 years (devoting more time to it than I did in learning medicine). Now, I was taught about the ToE at SAU, but was also taught that it was an erroneous theory that has serous flaws – a method of teaching about the ToE that is still in place at SAU and SWAU. LSU is not simply teaching about the ToE while supporting the literal creation week in its science classrooms. Big difference…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  22. This statement from the LSU biology department is nothing but misleading and bordering being an outright lie. It boggles my mind how they can claim not to promote the theory of evolution when it’s the only world view that is presented as truth. Absolutely no evidence has been found or presented by LSU that demonstrates that the church’s position is favorably promoted, if at all, in the biology courses taught. Yes, the theory of evolution is discussed, but many times as if it were true. This has been documented for over a year. When the professors believe the theory of evolution is truth and exclude promotion of the biblical world view as being true, then they are in fact promoting the theory of evolution. Unless they can show that they are promoting a recent, literal six-day creation, they are promoting the theory of evolution when they exclude other world views as being “lunatic” like one professor labeled those who believe in the biblical creation.

    Keep in mind that many of the biology faculty personally believe in long ages of life on earth and common ancestry. This is not a secret. They also do not believe that Genesis 1 & 2 depicts literal events that occurred in the recent past. This is why we have never seen statements from the department saying we believe and support the church’s position in a recent, literal six-day creation. All they can say is that they believe God the Creator is the source of all life.

    This is nothing more than a continuation of LSU’s deceptive advertising practices.

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  23. Shane said…..

    “This is nothing more than a continuation of LSU’s deceptive advertising practices.”

    Shane, you should know that politicians play “word games” to cover their real intent and we have seen this for years in much of Adventism not only in administration, but in doctrine as well.

    As a church, we have been so intent in identifying “Babylon” as both Rome and Apostate Protestantism, we have often failed to see the principle being emulated in the church.

    While EGW spoke postitively about the final victory of “the church” she had much to say negatively as well. Those who ignore these negative statements and focus solely on the positive will miss the big picture.

    Truth will eventually win out. And those only who cling to truth are “the church” in the end. Historic Adventism is “the truth” and those who abandon the historic message or try to change it, will not compose those who make up “the church” when Jesus comes.

    Concerning the leadership of Adventism, she had this to say…..

    ” Let our publishing houses beware lest in their dealing with God’s workers, wrong principles be allowed to control. If connected with the institution there are men whose hearts are not under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they will be sure to sway the work into wrong lines. Some who profess to be Christians regard the business connected with the Lord’s work as something wholly apart from religious service. They say: “Religion is religion, business is business. We are determined to make that which we handle a success, and we will grasp every possible advantage to promote this special line of work.” Thus plans contrary to truth and righteousness are introduced with the plea that this or that must be done because it is a good work and for the advancement of the cause of God. {7T 179.1}
    Men who through selfishness have become narrow and shortsighted feel it their privilege to crowd down the very ones whom God is using to diffuse the light He has given them. Through oppressive plans, workers who should stand free in God have been trammeled with restrictions by those who were only their fellow laborers. All this bears the stamp of the human, and not of the divine. It is the devising of men that leads to injustice and oppression. The cause of God is free from every taint of injustice. It seeks to gain no advantage by depriving the members of His family of their individuality or of their rights. The Lord does not sanction arbitrary authority, nor will He serve with the least selfishness or overreaching. To Him all such practices are abhorrent. {7T 179.2}
    He declares: “I hate robbery for burnt offering.” “Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have. . . . All that do unrighteously, are an abomination
    180
    unto the Lord thy God.” Isaiah 61:8; Deuteronomy 25:14-16. {7T 179.3}
    “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8. {7T 180.1}
    One of the very highest applications of these principles is found in the recognition of man’s right to himself, to the control of his own mind, to the stewardship of his talents, the right to receive and to impart the fruit of his own labor. Strength and power will be in our institutions only as in all their connection with their fellow men they recognize these principles, –only as in their dealing they give heed to the instruction of the word of God.


    {7T 180.2}
    Every power lent us by God, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, is to be sacredly cherished to do the work assigned us for our fellow men who are perishing in their ignorance. Every man is to stand at his post of duty untrammeled, each serving the Lord in humility, each responsible for his own work. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” He “will render to every man according to his deeds.” Colossians 3:23, 24; Romans 2:6.


    {7T 180.3}
    Satan’s skill is exercised in devising plans and methods without number to accomplish his purposes. He works to restrict religious liberty and to bring into the religious world a species of slavery. Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work
    181
    under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal for truth and for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Whatever in our practice is not as open as the day belongs to the methods of the prince of evil.


    {7T 180.4}
    Men fall into error by starting with false premises and then bringing everything to bear to prove the error true. In some cases the first principles have a measure of truth interwoven with the error; but it leads to no just action; and this is why men are misled. They desire to reign and become a power, and, in the effort to justify their principles, they adopt the methods of Satan.


    {7T 181.1}
    If men resist the warnings the Lord sends them, they become even leaders in evil practices; such men assume to exercise the prerogatives of God–they presume to do that which God Himself will not do in seeking to control the minds of men. Thus they follow in the track of Romanism. They introduce their own methods and plans, and through their misconceptions of God they weaken the faith of others in the truth and bring in false principles that work like leaven to taint and corrupt institutions and churches. {7T 181.2}
    Anything that lowers man’s conception of righteousness and equity and impartial judgment, any device or precept that brings God’s human agents under the control of human minds, impairs their faith in God, and separates the soul from Him. {7T 181.3}
    God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow man. As soon as a man begins to make an iron rule for other men, he dishonors God and imperils his own soul and the souls of his brethren.”

    And this can work in reference to liberals or conservatives. We need to beware of such workings in the church.

    Bill Sorensen

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  24. Pingback: Educate Truth - Evolution vs Creation at La Sierra University

  25. @Geanna Dane:

    In other words, you’d believe in the existence and love of God despite all physical evidence to the contrary? That is very similar to the faith of some LDS friends of mine. I suppose it works for some people, but my own relationship with God is based on the evidence that I think He has given me of His own existence and the reliability of his Word combined with personal experiences with answers to prayer, etc.

    Now, I agree with you that theistic evolutionists can be saved even if they got the whole origins thing all wrong. God loves everyone and will save all who earnestly seek after Him and love Him in the person of “the least of these…” Salvation itself is not based on correct doctrinal knowledge, but on living according to the Royal Law of Love. However, correct doctrinal knowledge is not therefore worthless. It is very valuable in that it has the power to give us a clearer picture of God here and now and to provide a solid basis of hope here in now in the reality of God and of a bright and glorious future.

    I’m sorry, but without correct doctrinal knowledge, without the Bible, you may have some sort of vague idea of God’s existence and maybe even His love for you through the features of nature, but you would have very little else upon which to base a solid hope in such notions. It is the evidence that the Bible is reliable in those things which can be tested and evaluated that gives solid confidence in those metaphysical statements that cannot be directed evaluated – at least for me.

    This is why when you argue so strongly for the idea that science works against SDA doctrinal positions and offer nothing up but blind faith that the Bible is true that you undermine the basis of many people’s hope in the reality of the Good News. Your seeming suggestion is that science is quite clearly contrary to some very plain biblical statements and that the only way to overcome such evidence is through blind faith. That simply doesn’t do it for many many people. It certainly doesn’t do it for me.

    I hope this helps you to at least understand why your ideas and comments are so strongly opposed by those who actually consider it important that the Bible be consistent with the physical evidence in order for its metaphysical statements to be considered trustworthy…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  26. Geraty asks, “Since when is salvation by correct knowledge anyway?”

    Answer: Never. But this is not an issue of knowledge; it is an issue of faith. Theistic evolutionists who think they have better “knowledge” than the rest of us, need to recognize the Love Chapter maxim, “we know in part” and that their data and interpretations may be nowhere near as correct as they suppose. Jesus could cast scientific light on this issue that would completely blow them out of the water, but he wont. {See 1MCP 245.3.} In that same chapter, it is written that charity “believeth all things.” All things, that is, which Christ has taught us. And if they do not believe that EGW’s writings (which clarify this question beyond question) are the Testimony of Jesus, then they are in the wrong church, and it is deceiving; not loving, to remain here.

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  27. I am in my late 50’s, and was brought up in secular schools all the way through University. I became an Adventist because I found the historic and prophetic facts in the Bible about Jesus being God to be true. I came to knowledge of this truth in 1983 while working as an Electrical Engineer in support of data capture for underground nuclear tests.

    Up until 2001 I believed in theistic evolution. This however confused me, as I was conflicted between the information that my secular education had taught me, versus what I had read in Bible. At that time I submitted it to our Lord in prayer, accepting God at His word, in the context it was written, with creation occurring in six literal days.

    It was after this acceptance by faith, of the creation week, that God did something wonderful for me! Information came to me from various scientific sources without my looking for it. I was presented faith confirming believable scientific evidence for a six thousand year old earth (Dr.Gentry, radiometric dating problems, and others in biology).

    Around 2007, I also came to biblical understanding as to why a belief in the literal six day creation week was sound. That is, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, crowned that creation week with the gift of the sabbath, which he sanctified, and put into the heart of the Ten Commandments. We read in His holy word that we will gather to worship Him every sabbath throughout all eternity. Finally, I think we can all agree that the sabbath is integral to many parts of the Bible and our salvation, and is one of the final tests of faith in and loyalty to our Creator.

    Without the literal six day creation it would be quite odd to believe in a literal sabbath, (or a seven day week for that matter) wouldn’t it? Could we also then not find ourselves in the untenable position of changing God’s times and laws?

    Your brother in Christ Jesus,
    Bill Bellow

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  28. Given the years of his administration and who he hired during that period of time – Geraty is clearly a “founding father” if not “master architect” behind the current doctrinal meltdown at LSU.

    His position is of the form “I claim to believe in a real 7 day creation week as cover for my actions in creating the largest evolutionist fiasco at any Adventist teaching institution in all of Adventist history”.

    One might also summarize his statements here as being of the form “I believe in a literal creation week as my preference – but I find no support for the 3SG 90-91 statement that theistic evolutionism is the worst form of infidelity. In my book it is all 6 of one and half-dozen of the other – let each person select whatever they prefer and teach it to our unsuspecting students”.

    Those Union and GC officials that sat still for this during those years certain share their level of responsibility for creating the mess we have now – but Geraty can hardly wash his hands of it at this late stage in the fiasco.

    Well one goog thing has come of this. Those parents and students who decide to submit themselves to LSU evolutionist doctrines on origins promoted in both the religion and biology departments – have only themselves to blame for any “negative outcome” that results from trying to marry evolutionism to the Bible.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  29. One might also summarize his statements here as being of the form “I believe in a literal creation week as my preference – but I find no support for the 3SG 90-91 statement that theistic evolutionism is the worst form of infidelity. In my book it is all 6 of one and half-dozen of the other – let each person select whatever they prefer and teach it to our unsuspecting students”.

    Where does he comment on 3SG 90-91? And if he subscribes to theistic evolution (I wouldn’t know), does he state somewhere his belief that all life forms descended from a single ancestor? Does he state somewhere his belief that life has existed on this planet for millions of years? Does he state somewhere that he is comfortable with LSU teachers who can teach “whatever they prefer” (that’s a lot of leeway)? Just curious.

    I suspect that you are putting words into his mouth.

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  30. Ignoring the cadre of evolutionist evangelists that he recruited during his tenure as if “actions speak nothing about beliefs” is a kind of appeal to ignoring “inconvenient details” that many objective unbiased readers are not comfortable with –

    Just a thought.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  31. God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow man. As soon as a man begins to make an iron rule for other men, he dishonors God and imperils his own soul and the souls of his brethren

    Bill, thank you for that wonderful post. I hope this helps people reading this web site understand better the heart of Adventism and how evil the whole “fundamental belief” thing is.

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  32. 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.

    I heard recently that Tibetins genetically separated from the Huan chinese about 3000 years ago when they evolved a different regulatory gene that allowed them to not thicken their blood so much to high altitude. That allows them to maintain reproductivity at high altitudes where others cannot. There is functional and reproductive isolation that has occured in humans within the last 3000 years. I suppose one could argue that Tibetins represent a new, high altitude species of humans. Certainly they have evolved.

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  33. @Sean Pitman:

    Sean, it seems to me that if you admit ANY functional change in the DNA the creation/evolution debate is lost in favor of evolution. All the rest, however you define species is just a matter of time and quantity. That is why I think it is so dangerous to state that evolution is incompatible with belief in God and creation, because no one, not even you are willing to deny that that the mechanisms for evolution are in place. Except out of wanton ignorance, it is not possible to deny evolution in this day of DNA mapping. If you insist on making evolution and belief in God mutually exclusive you will have to declare every single educated person in the church to be athiests and drive them out of the church. Your stance just isn’t reasonable.

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  34. Without the literal six day creation it would be quite odd to believe in a literal sabbath, (or a seven day week for that matter) wouldn’t it?

    No, there is no reason at all to grant that supposition. God is free to put into the 10 commandments whatever he wants without regard to however long it took him to create the earth. In fact, He is still creating the earth so how is that related to the seventh day Sabbath? The Sabbath was made for man. God knows that 7 days meets man’s need, and that is reason enough, and there are lots of good reasons to celebrate Christ as the creator that don’t demand a literal 7 day creation.

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  35. @Ron Nielsen:

    Sean, it seems to me that if you admit ANY functional change in the DNA the creation/evolution debate is lost in favor of evolution. All the rest, however you define species is just a matter of time and quantity.

    Hardly. The vast majority of functional mutations are detrimental – based on a loss of qualitatively unique pre-established functionality. Most of the rare mutations that are functionally beneficial do not produce something that is qualitatively new within the gene pool of options, but produce only an increase or decrease in activity of the same type of functionality that was already there to begin with. And, the very rare beneficial mutations that actually produce something qualitatively unique as well as functionally beneficial never produce anything that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues to work – not even close.

    The reason for this is that evolution beyond this very low level of functional complexity would require trillions upon trillions of years to achieve – – on average.

    This is why the constant demonstration of low-level examples of “evolution in action” do not remotely explain how higher levels of evolution are therefore reasonable – even given a few billion years. The extrapolation is not at all reasonable because of the exponential decline in evolutionary potential with each step up the ladder of functional complexity.

    You say, “it’s just a matter of time and quantity”. What you don’t understanding is that the time required is simply not reasonable. The time required to get beyond even the 1000aa level is in the multiple trillions of years. Do you not see that as a problem?

    That is why I think it is so dangerous to state that evolution is incompatible with belief in God and creation, because no one, not even you are willing to deny that that the mechanisms for evolution are in place.

    The mechanism for evolution is not “in place” beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity. That’s the problem.

    It’s similar to saying that because natural processes are known which can produce roughly cube shape granite blocks that obviously such mindless natural mechanisms could explain a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring exactly one meter on each side. Such a conclusion does not rationally follow since the higher level illustration requires exponentially more time for the natural mechanism to achieve relative to the lower level demonstration that does not require the same level of constraints…

    Except out of wanton ignorance, it is not possible to deny evolution in this day of DNA mapping. If you insist on making evolution and belief in God mutually exclusive you will have to declare every single educated person in the church to be athiests and drive them out of the church. Your stance just isn’t reasonable.

    Anyone who wishes to worship in our Church is welcome – even if he/she is an “atheists”. I would not drive anyone who wants to come out of our Church. However, this does not mean that such a one should ever expect to get a paycheck from the SDA Church for promoting his/her atheistic ideas from pulpit or classroom.

    You see, attendance is not the same thing as paid representation. A paid representative must be held to a higher standard in any organization.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  36. Professor Kent was asked for an example of macroevolution (speciation) taking place right now.

    Once again, bear in mind that macroevolution (= speciation by conventional definitions; creationists often resort to other definitions) cannot be expected to happen naturally during a human lifetime, unless there is a dramatic polyploid or parthenogenetic event (or something similar) that results in immediate reproductive isolation and speciation. Note that I use the word “naturally.”

    From the examples I gave in my post at the time (this was quite some ways back), there is some ability to predict the future of speciation, especially for isolated populations. However, speciation as a process takes many, many generations–for most scientists, hundreds of thousands to many millions of years.

    From Sean Pitman: The reason for this [read the context above] is that evolution beyond this very low level of functional complexity would require trillions upon trillions of years to achieve – – on average.

    This is a conclusion we hear often from Sean that cannot be found in the literature. Until he publishes the basis for his conclusion in a refereed journal, which would subject his reasoning and mathematics to critical evaluation by experts, this conclusion remains conjecture, as much as many of us would love to believe it. If there is a lock-solid argument that could convince the experts, Sean would undoubtedly be nominated for and likely receive the Nobel Prize, hopefully prehumously.

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  37. Geraty said “Second of all, I personally presume that Genesis 1 refers to an ordinary week, but since it does not say that explicitly”.

    I have seen him make the claim that he believes in the literal 7 day week of Genesis 1-2:3 several times. He is being consistent in making that claim here.

    Geraty then says

    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

    Ok so either Geraty did not “know” that Erv Taylor was an evolutionist or did not know that Erv Taylor was lecturing at LSU.

    Either Geraty did not “know” that Bradley was a diehard evolutionist or did not know that Bradly was a biology professor at LSU.

    Either Geraty did not “know” that Grismer and McCloskey were evolutionists or did not know that they were hired to teach biology at LSU while he was president at LSU.

    Given Geraty’s following statement

    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

    It is more “likely” that “he did know” about these evolutionists – but he had ways of imagining to himself a “big tent” concept (not at all out of harmony with the Spectrum Magazine he promotes) that could easily ‘big tent’ these people right into the LSU fold.

    It is also “likely” that he had one or two discussions with his own “Fritz Guy” assuring him that the evolutionist option was perfectly compatible with the Bible and the Fritz-Guy-intent of the 27 Fundamental Beliefs.

    Therefore his supposed “shock” that when others look at the way this story pans out they see a Geraty that is not at all opposed to hiring and retaining professors and guest lecturers that are “in the tank” for evolutionism – is somewhat mystifying.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  38. @Professor Kent:

    Once again, bear in mind that macroevolution (= speciation by conventional definitions; creationists often resort to other definitions) cannot be expected to happen naturally during a human lifetime, unless there is a dramatic polyploid or parthenogenetic event (or something similar) that results in immediate reproductive isolation and speciation. Note that I use the word “naturally.”

    Hint: Punctuated Equillibrium.

    Every birth of every individual in every species is “a million years” away (or 10 million if you prefer) from “something” in it’s ancestoral tree according to evolutionists. The problem is not “time” when it comes to the evolutionary “story”. The story does not “lack time” it lacks “evidence”.

    With P.E you are supposed to get a hopeful monster saltation (or nearly that) rather than a mature eye or eyelid that slowly forms over 10,000 years.

    If on the other hand, you want to argue that we see 1000’s of species with their eyes in various stages of “forming over a 10,000 year window” go ahead and go out on that limb.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  39. In the article above – Geraty promotes the idea that all the T.E’s at LSU should be regarded as Creationists so they can better promote their goals unhindered.

    Dr. Geraty has told me personally [Sean Pitman], twice now in public forum, that all LSU professors are “creationists” and believe in God.

    I believe his strategy worked for a number of decades.

    in Christ,

    Bob

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