Sean has insisted that I answer the questions he has …

Comment on LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’? by Professor Kent.

Sean has insisted that I answer the questions he has posed. I believe I’ve answered these already and on multiple occasions the past year, but will do so again [sigh].

“How do you know that the Latter-day Saints are mistaken in their assertion the Book of Mormon is superior to the Bible as a source of God’s Word? – that they are mistaken that the Book of Mormon is the true “Scripture”? After all, the Book of Mormon makes no uncertain claims to its own superiority – as does the Bible.”

Much of the Book of Mormon strikes me, personally, as happy fiction (as Bob Ryan would call it). It claims to build upon the Bible, which predates it, but having read it extensively I see nothing but inconsistency. Therefore, its internal claims fail. Externally, there are no historical data to back up its claims. And reading it never gave me a warm feeling in my gut, although my neck was very stiff a day later and the following week I succombed to a severe cold that included vomiting.

“Given that you now withdraw your arguments for superior Biblical credibility based on empirical historical evaluation, you seem to now be defending “faith” without explaining how one reasonably determines which faith, among a great many options, is most likely the true faith?”

If internal consistency fails, it’s dead in the water far as I’m concerned. I have written repeatedly that the lives of the apostles, successful prophecy, changes in personal lives, the impact on my life–all of these lead me to continue to accept God and his word as revealed in the Bible. My faith builds upon my acceptance. It’s not something that I chose. It’s not like I went on a shopping trip to see how much faith I could get from reading different religious books.

“Upon what basis does one determine the true faith? How can one know? Obviously most faiths are mistaken in their choice of their “Scriptures” or sources of “Divine Authority”. So, what basis is there for one to pick among so many false options? Must one blindly pick among the vast array of competing options and hope against hope to get lucky? Or, is there something more than random luck involved in making the right choice?”

You’re good at asking the same questions in different terms. If you don’t think I already answered this, I don’t know what to tell you.

“At least the LDS Church points to the “burning in the bosom” when they hear or see the truth as their evidence for “knowing” that the Book of Mormon is true and that the LDS religion is superior to all others. What basis are you suggesting to know that they are wrong and that you are right regarding the superiority of the Bible’s claim to Divine Authory? – hopefully something better than a warm fuzzy feeling inside…”

We’re back to this again? I already answered it. But I will add one thing: I like Mormons and respect their faith, and I think we need to emulate their devotion to family programming.

I think the bigger problem, Sean, is that once I accept God and that he actually communicated with us via Scripture, I don’t need to look elsewhere to decide whether I can believe what God says is true. If external evidence appears to contradict God’s word, I need to choose God’s word and assume that the evidence, or my reason regarding it, are wrong. This is where you and I depart.

I find it inconsistent that you would fault anyone for rejecting an SDA doctrine when you actually tell them they must reject it if that’s where they see the evidence leads them.

Professor Kent Also Commented

LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
For the honest soul who wants to better understand the Church’s official position on Scriptural interpretation, here are things in a nutshell (i.e., a condensed version):

HISTORICAL-CRITICAL METHOD (Sean Pitman’s preferred hermeneutic)

Definition: The attempt to VERIFY THE TRUTHFULNESS and understand the meaning of biblical data on the basis of the principles and procedures of humanistic historical science. (emphasis supplied)

Basic Presuppositions: Secularism norm: The principles and procedures of humanistic historical science constitute the external norm and proper method for evaluating the truthfulness and interpreting the meaning of biblical data. Principle of criticism (methodological doubt): the autonomy of the human investigator to interrogate and evaluate on his own apart from the specific declarations of the biblical text.

HISTORICAL-GRAMMATICAL METHOD (the official SDA Church hermeneutic)

Definition: The attempt to understand the meaning of biblical data by means of methodological considerations arising from Scripture alone.

Basic Presuppositions: Sola Scriptura: The authority and unity of Scripture are such that Scripture is the final norm with regard to content and method of interpretation. (Isaiah 8:20). The Bible is the ultimate authority and is not amendable to the principle of criticism: biblical data are accepted AT FACE VALUE and not subjected to an EXTERNAL NORM to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc. (Isaiah 66:2). (emphasis supplied)

Source: Dr. Richard Davidson, J. N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Andrews University, and a member of the SDA Biblical Research Institute Committee (

By the way, I have no problem with whatever belief Dr. Pitman subscribes. I am doubtful he will concede any form of error. However, when he declares others to be undermining official SDA beliefs, he ought to take a more careful look at his own position. I think it’s unfortunate that so many have been led astray by his vigorous arguments.

LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
@ Sean Pitman,

You overlooked the heart of my statement: “All of this is “empirical evidence” that goes beyond what is needed to establish the validity of scripture.”

What part of “sola scriptura” do you not get? We don’t need you, your reason, your website, or any other “empirical evidence” or “reason” to believe that what God tells us in scripture can be believed. You’re still pushing an anti-SDA theology.

LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
Bill, I respect what you have to say. I can’t tell whether you are unhappy with my defense of the SDA hermeneutic, but what could possibly be more fundamental to the Church than the approach we use to interpret and understand Scripture? Do we really want to undermine that?

If someone’s faith is weak and they lack a close walk with Jesus, I suppose they can benefit from the crutch Dr. Pitman insists they need. Yes, there is some evidence (of which few agree with him that it is “overwhelming”) for a young earth and literal creation (which I myself believe in). But the SDA Church makes abundantly clear that the Scripture can be interpreted and believed without any requirement of historical or scientific confirmation. If one does not accept this premise and publicly argues against it, they are undermining the fundamental tenets of the SDA Church.

Recent Comments by Professor Kent

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Nic&#032Samojluk: No wonder most creationist writers do not even try to submit their papers to such organizations.
Who wants to waste his/her time trying to enter through a door that is closed to him/her a priori?

You have no idea what you’re writing about, Nic. As it turns out, there are in fact many of us Adventists who “waste” our time publishing articles through doors that open to us a priori. Even Leonard Brand at Loma Linda, a widely recognized creationist, has published in the top geology journals. I mean the top journals in the discipline.

The myth that creationists cannot publish in mainstream science is perpetuated by people who simply do not understand the culture of science–and will remain clueless that they do not understand it even when confronted with their misunderstandings. Such is human nature.

Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit

Your questions about conservation genetics are very insightful. I don’t understand how all these life forms were able to greatly increase in genetic diversity while simultaneously winding down and losing genetic information to mutations. Sean seems to insist that both processes happen simultaneously. I had the impression he has insisted all along that the former cannot overcome the latter. But I think you must be right: God had to intervene to alter the course of nature. However, we can probably test this empirically because there must be a signature of evidence available in the DNA. I’ll bet Sean can find the evidence for this.

I’m also glad the predators (just 2 of most such species) in the ark had enough clean animals (14 of each such species) to eat during the deluge and in the months and years after they emerged from the ark that they didn’t wipe out the vast majority of animal species through predation. Maybe they all consumed manna while in the ark and during the first few months or years afterward. Perhaps Sean can find in the literature a gene for a single digestive enzyme that is common to all predatory animals, from the lowest invertebrate to the highest vertebrate. Now that would be amazing.

Wait a minute–I remember once being told that SDA biologists like Art Chadwick believe that some animals survived on floating vegetation outside the ark. Now that would solve some of these very real problems! I wonder whether readers here would allow for this possibility. Multiple arks without walls, roof, and human caretakers.

Southern Adventist University opens Origins Exhibit

Ellen White said, “In the days of Noah, men…many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians [presumably referring to humans] perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history…”

Sean Pitman said, “All human fossils discovered so far are Tertiary or post-Flood fossils. There are no known antediluvian human fossils.”

Ellen White tells us that humans and dinosaurs (presumably referred to in the statement, “a class of very large animals which perished at the flood… mammoth animals”) lived together before the flood. Evolutionary biologists tell us that dinosaurs and humans never lived together. You’re telling us, Sean, that the fossil record supports the conclusion of evolutionists rather than that of Ellen White and the SDA Church. Many of the “very large animals which perished at the flood” are found only in fossil deposits prior to or attributed to the flood, whereas hunans occur in fossil deposits only after the flood (when their numbers were most scarce).

Should the SDA biologists, who are supposed to teach “creation science,” be fired if they teach what you have just conceded?

La Sierra Univeristy Fires Dr. Lee Greer; Signs anti-Creation Bond
For those aghast about the LSU situation and wondering what other SDA institutions have taken out bonds, hold on to your britches. You’ll be stunned when you learn (soon) how many of our other schools, and which ones in particular, have taken out these bonds. You will be amazed to learn just how many other administrators have deliberately secularized their institutions besides Randal Wisbey, presumably because they too hate the SDA Church (as David Read has put it so tactfully).

Be sure to protest equally loudly.

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
@Sean Pitman:

So clearly you believe that science can explain supernatural events. Congratulations on that.