Comment on LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’? by Professor Kent.
@ Sean Pitman
Noah had abundant very direct empirical evidence of God’s existence and power – much more direct empirical evidence than we have today. His was not an empirically-blind faith by any means in the word of some stranger claiming to be God.
Oh really? How was the empirical evidence available to Noah any different than what we have today? Did he have a Bible to guide him? Did he have a large body of science to draw from like we have today? Did he have www.detectingdesign.com to guide him in his interpretation of empirical evidence? I’d like to know exactly what this empirical evidence was that you speak of. Or did he have–I dare ask–little more than God’s word? You have conceded that Noah “talked directly with God.”
Let the reader compare Sean’s claims to the statement of Ellen White:
“BY FAITH Noah, being warned of God OF THINGS NOT SEEN AS YET [therefore lacking empirical evidence of validity], moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7. While Noah was giving his warning message to the world, his works testified of his sincerity. It was thus that his faith was perfected and made evident. HE GAVE THE WORLD AN EXAMPLE OF BELIEVING JUST WHAT GOD SAYS.(emphasis supplied) – EGW, PP chptr 7
Sean, what would you advise Elder Neil Wilson if he announced that the SDA Church was going to engage in a massive fund-raising campaign and construction program to erect a massive dam around the entirety of Greenland’s coast, because, he claimed, God had appeared to him personally and instructed him to do this to save the planet from global warming, which the glacier ice melt would facilitate?
Would you tell him to stick with trust in God’s word, or would you tell him to use his reason and all available empirical evidence to recognize the sheer absurdity of God’s instruction?
And one more question: what would YOU have done if you were an antedulivian and heard Noah’s urging to join him and his family in the ark? Would you have listened to Noah (God’s word), or relied on your reason, your knowledge of scientifically based empirical evidence? After all, the world had never seen rain or a flood, much less a massive boat built far from the coast.
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 (http://fae.adventist.org/essays/26Bcc_017-055.htm)
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 Samojluk: 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.
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.
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.
So clearly you believe that science can explain supernatural events. Congratulations on that.