Comment on LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’? by Sean Pitman, M.D..
I can’t believe that Natalie Romero would actually quote professor Gary Bradley, of all people, in support for her argument that La Sierra University is teaching in line with the fundamental beliefs of the SDA Church on the topic of origins – that LSU has not really “apostatized” from supporting the Church’s fundamental position on origins.
As everyone knows by now, many of LSU’s science professors, to include professor Bradley, do not believe and do not support the Church’s position on a literal six day creation week within recent history much less a world-wide Noachian Flood. They believe, teach, and actively promote the mainstream view that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years of time.
Has Ms. Romero forgotten Dr. Bradley’s public statements published in an article by Inside Higher Education? In this article, Dr. Bradley is quoted:
“I am not OK with getting up in a science course and saying most science is bull**it,” he said.
“It’s very, very clear that what I’m skeptical of is the absolute necessity of believing that the only way a creator God could do things is by speaking them into existence a few thousand years ago,” Bradley added. “That’s where my skepticism lies. That’s the religious philosophical basis for what I call the lunatic fringe.
The author of this article went on to note that, “While he’s is fine with helping students work through struggles of faith, Bradley says he won’t undercut decades of peer reviewed scientific research in the interest of religious consistency.”
This activity, on the part of LSU’s professors, is a direct attack on the foundational doctrinal pillars of the SDA Church and the Church leadership is rightly concerned. The Michigan conference, in particular, is well within bounds to call out LSU as diverging, fundamentally, from the goals and ideals of the SDA Church as an organization.
For the SDA Church, outside of the Michigan Conference, to fail to definitively respond to this long-standing attack on its fundamental positions by LSU (and others), to include the re-accreditation of LSU by the Adventist Accreditation Agency (AAA) without significant comment regarding this issue, seems to be a sign that the SDA Church is somehow intimidated by LSU and/or WASC. However, unless the Church decides to directly confront this issue, head-on, this fundamental rift in the Church will end up tearing it apart from the inside in relatively short order…
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Sean Pitman, M.D. Also Commented
There’s no point talking about the same thing in two different threads.
LSU student: ‘Apostates or Apostles’?
You yourself appeal to empirical evidence all the time as a basis for your faith in the Bible as truly having a Divine origin vs. other competing options. You wrote:
In short, there is ample evidence to support the Bible and Christianity, including fulfilled prophecy, the lives and testimony of the apostles, archeology, the impact of the Bible on personal lives, and so forth. All of this is “empirical evidence” that goes beyond what is needed to establish the validity of scripture. The other religions are confronted with serious shortcomings on these issues, in my opinion… – Professor Kent
I agree. If the Bible did not have the backing of the “weight” of such empirical evidence (as Mrs. White also explained), there would be no rational basis for belief in it as the true Word of God vs. the claims made for any other text as the true Word of God – such as the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an, etc.
According to Mrs. White, “God appeals to reason and waits for each person to decide on the basis of the weight of evidence and the constraint of love.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 43-47; The Desire of Ages, p. 458; Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 255; vol. 4, pp. 583, 584.
The “weight of evidence” is different for different people. Only God knows what a person does and does not actually comprehend or what does and does not appeal to a given individual’s mind. That is why only God can truly judge the moral state of a person since only God knows if truth has been comprehended based on the evidence given and deliberately rejected.
I do not judge the moral state of those LSU professors who go about promoting the Darwinian story of origins as the Gospel truth to their students. I think it likely that in their own minds they are doing the right thing. Only God knows for sure of course, but it is quite possible that these professors could be sincere based on their own individual understanding of the weight of evidence.
Yet, while they may be morally upright before God (due to their misunderstanding of the weight of evidence), their honesty in this regard does not mean that they are fit to teach in our SDA Schools of higher learning.
Honesty and sincerity alone do not fit a person to be an effective representative of the goals and ideals of the SDA Church – or any organization for that matter. One must actually believe in the goals and ideals of the employer first before one can be an effective representative of those goals and ideals.
If you were to read the thread on Why Those Who Hate the Bible Love Blind-Faith Christians, you would see that Sean Pitman and Bob Ryan (and possibly Inge Anderson and David Read) also reject the official Church position as well. They actively promote subjecting the Bible to human reason and criticism, Sean Pitman especially.
Humans do not have access to anything other than human reason when it comes to determining the credibility of the Bible over any other claimed source of privileged information since we are, well, only human.
The Bible itself deliberately appeals to human reason in its efforts to support its own claims to a Divine origin. If it did not appeal to human reason at all, if it was actually unreasonable in its claims from the human perspective, it would be entirely irrational to accept the Bible as Divinely inspired. This is not the position of the SDA Church.
The SDA Church clearly promotes the idea that the Divine origin of the Bible is rational – built on a firm empirical basis. If the Church did not support this idea it would not be backing institutions that seek to find empirical support for Biblical credibility because there would be no need for such support from the position of empirically-blind faith in the Bible as God’s Word.
I don’t believe Shane Hilde is in agreement with them. Curiously, I have not seen a Michigan Conference statement on Educate Truth’s position in this regard.
Shane is also in basic agreement with us on this issue as is the Michigan conference and the SDA Church at large. It is quite clear that if empirical evidence played no part in our efforts to spread the Gospel message of the Bible, that no one would be up in arms over the issue of promoting evolutionary theories in science classes at LSU. It is quite clear that most people see at least some overlap between science and/or empirical evidence and useful Biblical faith – that science and the Bible shed light on each other.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman, M.D.
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…