@Ricky Kim: Is God willing to prevent evil, but not …

Comment on Jay Gallimore comments on evolution conflict by Sean Pitman.

@Ricky Kim:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

As others have already noted, Epicurus, though perhaps quite brilliant in many other ways, evidently didn’t understand the concept and risks (to God) of providing us humans with real moral freedom… which includes a real freedom to rebel against God’s will…

Hence the source of evil – human freedom in rebellion against a good God who never desired us to rebel in the first place, but gave us the freedom to do so…

Yet, you argue that God’s foreknowledge should have given him the heads up – that he is responsible for the choices we made because of his own foreknowledge. You write:

In this paradigm, [G]od is completely and totally responsible for everything that happens in this universe.

Consider the limitations of this argument. If God changed everything that would happen, in the beginning, so that it would match His will instead of how He knew things would naturally develop if He did in fact create creatures with access to true moral freedom, that would be a form of removing true freedom. If God didn’t create you, for example, because of his foreknowledge that you wouldn’t always be perfect, and would rebel, on occasion, from what you knew was right (as we all have done), that would have been a form of altering true freedom.

Since only God knows if he is actually playing the game fairly, our true freedom is really only known, for sure, by God. It really only matters to Him, ultimately, if we are really free or not. The best we can know is that God has told us we are in fact free to make moral decisions and that he will not interfere with those decisions with the use of his powers of foreknowledge or by any other power of force to change our actions, outside of our own will, to match his own will.

That’s a big risk for God because it means that he is actually setting himself up for the potential for his creatures, you and I, to rebel against his goodness and his ideal for us and our lives…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Jay Gallimore comments on evolution conflict
@Professor Kent:

To those you are conversing with, understanding and practicing “truth” seems to transcend everything else (in my opinion). Unfortunately, many contributors to this website have a knack for strongly expressing their views and pejoratively labelling those who disagree with them.

This may be true of a number of contributors (you are no stranger yourself to strongly expressing your views against those who don’t agree with you). However, not all in this forum, certainly not the staff of EducateTruth, wish to entertain or express pejorative statements against anyone who is sincerely searching for the Truth… regardless of his or her current position along the path. This particular sentiment of yours is strongly supported by EducateTruth.

Sean Pitman

Jay Gallimore comments on evolution conflict
@Ricky Kim:

I guess where we ultimately differ gentlemen is that we don’t see eye to eye in matters pertaining to scripture because I don’t necessarily see it to be inspired.

Indeed. And, your arguments might carry more weight if you got most of your facts right. So far, most of your arguments and claims have been quite easily falsified. That doesn’t cause you the briefest pause when coming to your conclusions? – that most of what you thought was true really isn’t true after all?

Sean Pitman

Jay Gallimore comments on evolution conflict
@Ricky Kim:

Also, there are further speculations as to the validity towards the parting of the “Red Sea” versus the parting of the “Reed Sea”, in which case the parting of the waters is a natural phenomenon and the only miraculous thing about the event would have been the timing of the crossing.

Don’t forget about the drowning of the entire Egyptian army in the shallow waters of the Reed Sea 😉

Your statement regarding Nebuchadnezzar also runs into trouble for there were more than one Nebuchadnezzar present within the lineage of kings in Babylon. Unless you were referring to a specific one for your example.

As far as I’m aware, there were only two “Nebuchadnezzars” in the line of the Babylonian kings. Nebuchadnezzar I was king of the Babylonian Empire from about 1125 to 1103 BCE. He is not to be confused with the more well-known Nebuchadnezzar II of biblical fame who reigned from 605 to 562 BCE. It is kind of hard to confuse these two kings.

Beyond this, it was completely forgotten for most of modern history that Nebuchadnezzar II is the one who actually built the famed city of Babylon and the famous hanging gardens during the time of Daniel (6th century BCE). For example, according to early Greek historians and those living during the Hellenistic era (beginning after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE), King Nebuchadnezzar was thought to have played a rather insignificant role in the affairs of ancient history. In fact, many scholars didn’t even believe that he was a real historical personage much less a prominent King of Babylon. He is never referred to early Greek literature as a great builder or as the creator of a new and greater Babylon. In fact, this honor is generally ascribed to Assyrian Queen Semiramis who was given a rather prominent place in the history of Babylonia by classical Greek historians.

The problem is that relatively recent discoveries of cuneiform records from the 6th century B.C., (unearthed by archeologists during the 1800s) have entirely changed the picture derived from classical writers. At the same time these early records have corroborated the account of the book of Daniel – which credits Nebuchadnezzar with the rebuilding of Babylon at the height of Babylonian power (Daniel 4:30).

But, what about Queen Semiramis? As it turns out, Queen Semiramis (SammuDramat in cuneiform inscriptions) was a queen mother in Assyria – regent for her infant son Adad-nirari III. Contrary to the claims of the classical sources, she was not a queen over Babylonia at all. The cuneiform inscriptions have shown that she had nothing to do with any building activity in Babylon.

The Greek historians were also silent in regards to the “Belshazzar” mentioned in the Bible. Yet, the cuneiform tablets note that Belshazzar (grandson of Nebuchadnezzar II) was the eldest son of King Nabonidus (son of Nebuchadnezzar II) who reigned with his son and entrusted the rule of Babylon to him while he was in Arabia (on a spiritual journey). Historical documents continued to reference his name only, but his son was the crown prince, heir and ruler while his father was absent

Obviously then, no one could have known and detailed the information written in the book of Daniel except for someone living during or immediately after the Neo-Babylonian age. Anyone living too many years later would simple not have had access to this forgotten information which had been completely lost by the time of the Hellenistic era. In fact, the presence of such information in the book of Daniel seems to puzzle at least a few critical scholars who do not believe that Daniel was written in the 6th century (BCE), but rather in the 2nd.

A typical example of their dilemma is found in the following statement from R. H. Pfeiffer, of Harvard University:

“We shall presumably never know how our author [Daniel] learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar . . ., as the excavations have proved” (Introduction to the Old Testament [New York, 1941], pp. 758, 759).

It seems to me that many of your facts are either clearly mistaken or pulled out of thin air. You also pick and choose the data that you wish to present and present it as if there is no debate or any other reasonable alternative position debated among mainstream scientists or historians. You can be skeptical all you want, but at least be honest about what the currently available data can and cannot clearly support…

Sean Pitman

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?

“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness

You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.

It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.

Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,

    “Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”

That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.

I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?

Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.

And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”

The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…

Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.

Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?

That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.

Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Response from Bryan Ness:

Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman

Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.

You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?

And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.

Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman

I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Posted by ArkDrey:

The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.

Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).

Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.

But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)

I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.

That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
From David1:

Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.

Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.

I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.

In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.

I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?

Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.

At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Response from Dr. Ness:

Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.

My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:

But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6

I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.