Comment on Former LSU student letter reveals professor’s agenda by Alvin.
I was going to post this as a response the discussion, but I lost what I had typed out a couple of times. So, I am simply going to share some thoughts on the general subjects, without trying to cut and paste their remarks around mine. My first point is that I have always given the Bible and Ellen White a high degree and credibility and authority.
I grudgingly have come to the conclusion that Ellen White made some unfortunate and significantly incorrect scientific statements. Her promoters trumpet her God-given ability to sort bad contemporary science out and retain only the good. However, there are some theories that I wish she had thrown out with the bad ones. Some of her intellectually indefensible statements are about the amalgamation of man and beast producing certain races of men. I have seen strange attempts to rescue that so it would make sense when laid beside intellectually sound theories. Her views on the causes of earthquake and volcanos are such as to be believed only by the scientifically ignorant or by those who choose to be loyal camp followers. It is appalling that she made the statements she did pointing to eating-meat as the major cause of cholera and when she unequivocally condemned quinine, and people died because of her counsel. There may have also been some who knew that they also needed to wash all food, monitor the quality of the tap water, and establish sanitation setups could have really helped against cholera much more effectively.
So, do I dare to say that if she got the first things wrong (amalgamation, cholera, and quinine), perhaps some of the other things she had to say about masturbation, marital excess and the inheritable nature of corset-constricted waists. 
But, even if I can dismiss out of hand everything that is provably wrong scientifically, (you don’t think she actually made some scientific mistakes?) am I then still obligated to accept every detail in Patriarchs and Prophets about the Flood Event and its aftermath and implications? Do I need to pretend to believe things other than I do, spout off the party line, and then research every single dilemma that seems to contradict Patriarchs and Prophets? If I can no longer support the Patriarchs and Prophets story in all its detail, do I have to resign? One more question, How will you staff the college biology departments lose their jobs go, who will teach in their place?
Recent Comments by Alvin
Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
I think Dr. Pitman has a valid starting point. There should be some understanding of the rational basis for creationism, or Christianity has no more basis than myth.
However, let us try to address some practical questions. If all biology professors in our colleges were to be asked for scientific basis for certain of our beliefs, or else resign, how many teachers would be left?
We are probably all familiar with the “kangaroo problem,” that is to say, “How did it happen that all the kangaroos get from Ararat to Australia (and surrounding areas), without any of them surviving anywhere else? What about lemurs, sloths, poison frogs, sequoia trees, etc., etc.” How many of our biology professors have a good answer for this one?
As far as how many animals will fit on the ark, how many would present lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc. as getting on the ark separately, how many would have all felines microevolve from two animals just 4,000 years ago, and how many would say they have no idea of how to fit them all on? Should we fire those who don’t know? How many people who don’t have a faith commitment to the Bible give any credence to any of the explanations that would accommodate all of the animals and care for their needs, including food, water, fresh air, waste removal and suitable habitat? Don’t we need faith on this one? Don’t we have to establish faith in the Bible from other standpoints and then say that we need to accept this story by faith? Would we perhaps suggest that a series of unmentioned miracles were responsible for taking care of the questions critics raise? Or, should we just not mention any of the scientific problems of the Flood story and hope the students don’t think of them on their own? From what I have seen, the GRI has quite a bit to say about ID, but little or nothing about the scientific defense of the Noachian flood. How many of our professors also have no idea how to buttress the beliefs of Adventist students, much less how to convince a skeptic about the Flood?
And what about Ellen White’s assertion that weeds were developed by Satan doing genetic engineering? Could we find even one professor who would postulate about demons transporting pollen to inappropriate female plants, or perhaps zapping plants or soil with harmful electricity to trigger the development of thistles or poison ivy? Wouldn’t even most Adventist students guffaw at such theories?
And what about the amalgamation remarks? Ellen White’s defenders point out that we don’t think that any humans descended from apes (although I personally knew of an Adventist elementary school teacher who taught racial superiority based on her remarks). However, nobody knows what she did mean when she said it. And, certainly, no one has proposed any scientific evidence or argument to back any beliefs in amalgamation.
It seems like Dr. Pitman is setting a high hurdle for our professors to vault over. There are some questions that seem to me to be much harder to answer than sedimentation rates, erosion rates, apparent age of mature created plants, and intelligent design. ID is as apparent as the sunshine in a blue sky. To me, sedimentation rates and such are believable. But, what about the animal problems on the ark, the survival of trees and the establishment of forests and the establishment of original spawning grounds for salmon after the Flood? Do our professors need to be able to defend these problems scientifically?
Panda’s Thumb: ‘SDAs are split over evolution’
Alvin here again. I am not actually trying to replace Clausen with Pitman. I want that to be clear, in case anyone may misunderstand me.
Panda’s Thumb: ‘SDAs are split over evolution’
I am not a scientist and have no knowledge of how fast mountain ranges may have been raised out of the water after the Flood, nor how fast the continents have eroded since then. These up and down elevations may matter, but if God quickly rearranged things, pressing sediments into rock, collapsing ocean bottoms, raising the mighty Himalayas, I may wonder how all the fish survived these sudden and drastic changes, but these are not the main things that bother me.
First is the question of biogeography. Even a layman like myself can understand the “kangaroo problem.” Of course it goes beyond just the kangaroos, involving a number of creatures, many of which probably did not have common ancestors. It has been suggested that all the many marsupial animals in Australia just all happened to die out everywhere else between Ararat and Australia. Or perhaps angels were told to herd them all to their destination. Or maybe Noah chose some of his grandchildren to take some animals here and some there, lemurs to Madagascar, for instance. But, it would seem to me that even if you can present a reasonable argument that one of these scenarios *could have* happened, the only reason one would present them would be to defend the Genesis account, rather than because there was some other scientific evidence. So, how many of our biology college professors finds one or more of these possibilities to be something he can back up with scientific evidence? If 90% or more of them can’t maintain one of these *possible scenarios,” do we fire them, and do we maybe tell the religion teachers to teach biology?
I think we should respect Dr. Clausen for continuing to believe Genesis, even if he hasn’t found explanations for every question to be intellectually satisfying, although if the denomination finds Dr. Pitman’s scientific theories to be more helpful than Dr. Clausen’s, perhaps Pitman could be put in Clausen’s place. I think we should respect Dr. Pitman for believing that of course there are scientific explanations for every dilemma raised by thoughtful comparasons between the Genesis account and currently available research. I think that his stance is indicative of a faith that will always confidently affirm some possible explanation, both for his own soul and for his wavering brothers and sisters.
I respect Ellen White for so earnestly upholding the truthfulness of Genesis. But, does that mean I have to respect every scientific explanation she ever put forward? Am I supposed to resort to the defense of “Well, you know, not everything was *verbally* inspired,” so that we can conscientiously discard her “amalgamation” statements, as perhaps being on the same level as the number of rooms in a building. But, given that we generallly maintain that she didn’t necessarily mean that any human beings were partially descended from apes, what did she mean? Do I need to respect the amalgamation statements, even though they have been used from time to time by some people to uphold racial superiority? I respect her earnest campaign for the souls and physical well-being of black people. But, why didn’t she ever tell us what she meant by this statement, instead of us having to try to explain it to each other nowadays? Does anybody know what point she was really trying to make? Is there any useful, helpful thing we can get from this statement, as it relates to the races of men?
I have personally come up with various scientific dilemmas regarding Genesis that I haven’t read anywhere else. I want to respect my brothers and sisters enough to not broadcast them and shake someone’s faith. (I am presuming everybody knows about the kangaroo and amalgamation dilemmas.) I respect myself to the extent of not having tried to come up with “doubts.” They occur to me, whether I like them or not. But, perhaps there are spiritual things I could have done differently so that my mind would not have come up with them in the first place.
Faith without Evidence: Are we really a bunch of ‘Flat Earthers’?
I have read many of the posts in your forums. Dr. Pitman says that we are not only forbidden as Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists to believe any assertions or arguments that contradict the Genesis account, but also that we must come up with scientific evidence that confirms the Bible record. If I understand him correctly, he says that if a scientist has unanswered questions regarding Genesis, he should not only quit his job, but also abandon his religion.
I am a layman, not a scientist, but I am more scientifically informed than the average layman. I am also a conservative Seventh-day Adventist and have believed all my life in the Creation and Noah’s Ark stories as presented by Moses and Ellen White. I still believe in a 6-day creation of life on this earth and consider that there is a lot of evidence to support a world-wide flood.
However, if we are supposed to be able to give scientific backing for our beliefs, here are a few that are puzzling. 1. How would scorpions, spiders, sharks, leeches, woodticks, and internal parasites fit in a perfect Garden of Eden? 2. Were the venomous fangs of snakes likely a sudden development after sin, would they have had a place in the Garden of Eden, or did the devil likely create this feature in serpents gradually? 3. If we accept the concept that all felines from bobcats to tigers descended from one pair on Noah’s Ark (as some apologists do, to fit everything in), do we have any evidence of intermediate forms between these kinds, especially challenging, in my opinion, in the case of cheetahs? And what about the requisite speed of microevolution in this scenario? 4. Ellen White asserts that God did not initially create “loathsome swamps” or “barren deserts.” In that case, when were the species formed that inhabit these habitats? 5. Do we have a good hypothesis for the survival during the Flood of semi-aquatic creatures (such as crabs) and creatures that need to live in shallow water (such as crayfish)? Did Noah have a sophisticated aquarium aboard the Ark? 6. Do we have good answers for the logistical issues (food, water, waste disposal, etc.) raised by those who challenge the Genesis Flood? 7. If kangaroos lived temporarily in the land area between Ararat and Australia, and possibly worldwide before the Flood, why do we only find their fossils in or near Australia? 8. How did sloths travel all the way to the Americas from Ararat? 9. How were the spawning grounds for salmon established as the Ice Age glaciers retreated, given that these fish faithfully return to their birthplace? Same question for birds that return to the same place every year. 10. What about the establishment of different types of trees in different parts of the world after the Flood?
As you can see, I have no problem with a fiat creation of life on earth in six days. But, I am challenged in my mind regarding certain features that I see in the world around me.
If a denominational employee thinks of these issues and does not have a good explanation, is he supposed to leave his job, not mention his thoughts, or is he allowed to state that there are questions that do not have easy answers that he knows of?