Re Sean’s Quote “The real question is, what do you think …

Comment on New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues by Ken.

Re Sean’s Quote

“The real question is, what do you think the data says? Even scientists are forced to make leaps of faith beyond which the data will conclusively support. Scientific theories are subject to potential falsification. Therefore, the conclusions of scientists are not absolute, but are dependent upon leaps of faith that cannot be known, with certainty, to be valid. The best anyone can say when coming to a particular conclusion about the reality of the world in which one finds ones self is that all beliefs regarding the true nature of reality are in some degree subjective and therefore potentially wrong.

In short, I’ve based my own conclusions on the best available evidence that I can personally understand and that make rational sense to me; not on blind faith or some emotional conviction. I dare say that you can do no better…”

Dear Sean

As always thanks for your comments

I quite agree with you, I don’t think my subjective “I” can do any better. In fact I think my subjective “I” or eye does far worse than you who has studied the topic far more thoroughly than myself. That is why, as best as I can with my human foibles and subjective ego, attempt to view the data objectively without a faith or non-faith bias. Moreover I think the objective capacities of men like Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein and Darwin, won over the subjective parts of their human personalities when it came to their scientific theories. Are you of that ilk or does your SDA faith prevent you from doing so? That is the question my dear friend, who so wonderfully has espoused the Royal Law of Love. Look into your heart on that one my dear man, as I have done in mine.

If Jesus, or EGW, or any other modern day prophet should appear and speak to me then I will factor that into my reckoning. So far that has not happened but I remain open to the possibility. If reading the Bible, which I have done -as well as many other ‘sacred’ texts – results in a spiritual experience that suggests my rational reckoning is wrong, then so be it.

The real question is not what “I” think the data says. The real question is what objectively the data says. Now if enough rational minds examine theories over time, be it gravity, evolution etc. what conclusions does collective rationality reach? That is far more the question or the test than whether “I” could do better. I cannot.

Dear Sean, please look at the following statements you have made and advise whether this comes from your empirical study of the data or from your faith in the pronouncements of EGW and your interpretation of the Bible.

“Since there were no great oceans before the Flood, the boats in existence during this time would not have been built for rough ocean voyages – but would have been build only for easy going lake, river, and shallow sea voyages. Such vessels would have been no match for the Noachian Deluge.”

“There were no “continents” before the Flood. There were no great oceans and it never rained either. The Earth was watered by four great rivers and the “fountains” that were broken up during the Flood.”

“There were no rough seas before the Flood as the weather was very mild and consistent world wide.”

” Before the Flood, it never rained and there were no large oceans. The Earth was watered by four great rivers and every morning the surface of the Earth was watered by dew that came up from the ground; with the water being supplied by the extensive underlying network of “fountains”. This mechanism of watering the Earth would have produced an extremely lush planet worldwide. This is consistent with Mrs. White’s claim that there were no extremes of temperature on the pre-Flood Earth – that the entire planet was of a uniform temperature and extremely lush and verdant.”

“All of this changed in one day when catastrophe struck the planet and broke up the Earth, all over the place, in a single day, resulting is massive flooding and rapid continental movements and collisions… ”

Sean,if these theories are based on empirical data then I’d be most happy to review the data you rely upon. If, however these statements are based on your belief in the Bible and the prophetic utterances of EGW, then I ask whether you are subject to a faith bias when you are conducting your scientific inquiry on origins.

your agnostic friend

Ken Also Commented

New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues
Re Sean’s Quote

“At the very least, the evidence for the existence of a Designer that is effectively indistinguishable by humans from a God or God-like Intelligence and Power is, in my opinion, enormous. Even many modern physicists are coming to this conclusion based on the anthropic features of the universe itself that are needed to make this place able to support complex life.

Given such evidence, how reasonable is it for someone to continue to avoid taking advantage of what God offers to those who believe in Him and ask for His personal help in daily life?”

Dear Sean

Of course this raises the issue of theodicy and a designer that planned for death and destruction. Not a pretty concept is it?

As you have often acknowledged if biological life is indicative of design this does not necessarily mean, ipso facto, that biblical God is the designer of our universe. Based on what we see it could be a haphazard designer who built in catastrophe and death into the equation. It could be a dice thrower who if It threw the celestial dice often enough in enough metauniverses would eventually, randomly hit upon a design that would render evolutionary evolving life upon certain planets with the right physical properties.

You earlier noted that EGW saw life on other planets. Why isn’t there life on all planets or only one planet if there is a design to the universe? Bit haphazard of a design isn’t it? I do not see a pattern there, unless it is one of random natural selection – life adapting to harsh environments where it is able.

With respect, I think you are taking one of those ‘leaps of faith’ when you leap from the notion of design to the transcendent biblical God. Trite to say that all designers do not see the same design. Behe of the irreducible complexity argument clearly does not support young life on earth. He just sees life evolving from a later point than chemical soup.

Look at the beginning of human life from a zygote. Clearly a repetitive design. Is human embryonics part of the evolutionary ‘design’ of simple celled organisms evolving to more complex ones? Arguable isn’t it? If God made Adam and Eve instantly in a day, why don’t we see a full formed miniature human formed on the day of conception?

Sorry Sean, but for me at least, there are a lot of gaps to fill before I can make the leap of faith you advocate. I have to slowly and methodically build those rational bridges across the gaps to make progress down the ontological brick road.


New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues
Continued to Sean.

Sorry about spelling errors. Sometimes the intuition of this iPad is not too accurate! ‘ Crescent – vs. Recent’ creation! Oh brother.

OK on we go. I hope my agnostic voice can be of some value to the site, if only to provide a neutral straw man to he debate. I think there is a need for agnosticism in a world separated by strong ideologies each proclaiming their respective superiority over the others. Although I think to date that evolution presents the most compelling case for origins I am open to scientific persuasion that this is not the case.

Notwithstanding all of this the most important thing you have espoused to date is the Royal Law of Love. I’ ve always intrinsically felt that, thought certainly not practice it! I’ m a poor worknin progress in that regard but I ‘ ll keep plugging away.

OK, other duties call. I hope this has some value and is not mere naval gazing.


New NAD president: ‘I love you’ doesn’t mean we won’t deal with issues
Dear Sean

Thanks for your candid comments on the lack of erosion on the Tibetan Plateau. My point here is that one can’t make generalized comments about erosion in the Himalayas to demonstrably argue for a young earth. Couple that with my previous remarks on the pure speculation of fast moving tectonic plates and I think you have a mountain to overcome if you wish to use the Himalayas as evidence of a Noachian flood. But I think we have reached the summit on this argument and I’m prepared to move on to other topics.

I’ m enjoying our moveable feast. Wonderful civilized repast!

Thanks for your kind comments on my nature. I think of myself as far less kind and ruthless in pursuit of the truth. I just think personal attacks are not necessary and cloud one’s objectivity when examining facts and theories. Ego can be an awful prism to view reality.

Your comments on my fence sitting are very apt and I appreciate your concern for my salvation. That is a far more kinder, humanitarian appeal than fire and brimstone- the ‘hard sell’! But you see I am not looking for personal salvation as a pre cursor for investigation of reality. In fact, with the greatest respect for all my Adventist friends, I see that need as something that would cloud my objective judgement. Just as I see an atheist bias doing the same as well. If my agnosticism comes at the price of my mortal ‘soul’ I accept that as the price of relentless objectivity. Sean, in that I hope you can trust in my absolute sincerity.

What concerns me about faith is the cart driving the horse when it corms to scientific investigation. My life long study suggests that all religions are social constructs of Man. That does not mean that I disparage faith or your faith. I find it quite remarkable and forth moreover a tool of moral and social order. I am especially interested in how religions schism over doctrinal differences and In I think Adventism is on the brink of that now, fueled by the debate of crescent creationism vs. theistic evolutionism.

I’ ll send this now and continue with another post so I don’t lose this to date.

Recent Comments by Ken

God and Granite Cubes
@ Sean

I enjoyed your article. As I’ve stated before, I think Intelligent Design is a more modern form of Deism and do not think it is irrational. However, as science on an ongoing basis shows what matters are explainable by cause and effect, less is attributable to conscious design. The question of course is what are the limits of science in this regard? For example, will it ever be able to explain First Cause/

Below is a more fulsome quote of Professor Townes, an self acknowledged Protestant Christian. Please note what he has to say about literal creation and evolution. Do you think he is being more reasonable than you on the nature of design?

“I do believe in both a creation and a continuous effect on this universe and our lives, that God has a continuing influence – certainly his laws guide how the universe was built. But the Bible’s description of creation occurring over a week’s time is just an analogy, as I see it. The Jews couldn’t know very much at that time about the lifetime of the universe or how old it was. They were visualizing it as best they could and I think they did remarkably well, but it’s just an analogy.

Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?

I think it’s very unfortunate that this kind of discussion has come up. People are misusing the term intelligent design to think that everything is frozen by that one act of creation and that there’s no evolution, no changes. It’s totally illogical in my view. Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all. The sun couldn’t be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.
Charles Townes
‘Faith is necessary for the scientist even to get started, and deep faith is necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks. Why? Because he must have confidence that there is order in the universe and that the human mind – in fact his own mind – has a good chance of understanding this order.’
-Charles Townes, writing in “The Convergence of Science and Religion,” IBM’s Think magazine, March-April 1966
Some scientists argue that “well, there’s an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right.” Well, that’s a postulate, and it’s a pretty fantastic postulate – it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that’s why it has come out so specially. Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It’s very clear that there is evolution, and it’s important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they’re both consistent.

They don’t have to negate each other, you’re saying. God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion, But that’s not what the Christian fundamentalists are arguing should be taught in Kansas.

People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they’re saying, “Everything is made at once and then nothing can change.” But there’s no reason the universe can’t allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that’s a bad word to use in public, but it’s just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it’s very misleading. “

Dr. Ariel Roth’s Creation Lectures for Teachers
Re Sean’s Quote

“Yes, I am suggesting that our scientists should also be theologians to some degree. I’m also suggesting that our theologians be scientists to some degree as well. There should be no distinct dividing line between the two disciplines…”

Hello Sean

First of all, thank you Holly for your comments. You have always treated me with civility and charity for which I am most grateful.

Secondly, on reflection, I do hope I was not strident or offensive in my recent remarks. I am a guest here and should behave with the utmost respect regarding my Adventist hosts. After all I was proposing the Chair of ID at an ‘Adventist’ institution! What gall and temerity from an agnostic!

However something Dr. Kime said struck a very strange chord in me: that a Chair in ID at Harvard would be a quantum leap ( forward – my edit) while such a Chair would be a step backward at LSU. I’ m very sorry Wes, but for me to honestly investigate reality such double standard is not acceptable.

I am sad today, because I think I’m coming to the end of my Adventist journey. I really did see ID as a sort of bridge between your faith and objective inquiry about a ‘Grand’ Design. (apologies Mr. Hawkings). Oh Wes , perhaps I am ontological Don Quixote after all, comically tilting towards immovable Adventist windmills. 🙁 .

However all is not forlorn because I’ve made excellent friends of the heart here. ;). I won’t forget you.

Good luck in your pursuit of God.

Your agnostic friend

Dr. Ariel Roth’s Creation Lectures for Teachers
Re Wes’s Quote

“. But for a Christian, a great devolution, a great recidivation, a tragic forfeiture, foreclosure, worse. If I were to use the vocabulary of some of our recent posters, I’d not put it as delicately.”

Hi Wes and Sean

I just read again portions on ID from Sean’s website Detecting Design. I am very confused by both of your responses. Why the heck is Sean promoting ID as a scientific theory if this is such a Christian retreat? Perhaps you two differ here? I apologize if I am missing the obvious but I see a tremendous disconnect between what Sean is saying about ID and what he is prepared to do to promote it within the subset of Adventist education.

Your agnostic friend

Dr. Ariel Roth’s Creation Lectures for Teachers
Re Sean’s Quote

“Public association is one thing. Private association is another. While many do not feel at liberty to publicly associate themselves with our work here (for obvious reasons), most who still believe in SDA fundamentals (and who are aware of the longstanding situation at LSU and other places) feel that our work in providing enhanced transparency for what is being taught to our young people in our schools was/is necessary on some level.”

Hi Sean

The irony here is that those that are supporting institutional enhanced transparency are hiding behind cloaks of anonymity. That’s not how you, I, Wes, Bob Ryan, Wes, Bill Sorenson and many others here behave. Imagine if Jesus hid behind a cloak and didn’t proclaim his nature. What legacy of respect would he have left?

Conviction requires courage period.

Your agnostic friend

Dr. Ariel Roth’s Creation Lectures for Teachers
Re Intelligent Design

Gentleman, thanks to all for your fulsome replies.

Yes Wes, I remember your cogent analysis of November 14/11. I appreciared it then and its reiteration now. indeed I was waiting to hear from others especially Sean whose site is named Detecting Design. And, here I agree with Bob, ID
does not necessarily rule out any particular design i. e. fiat
creation ot theistic evolution.

But quite frankly I am disaapointed with Sean’s response, not Sean himself for whom I have deep admiration, because I see this as a step backward. Why? Because if you burn the bridge between science and biblical faith it will not be science that suffers.

Ironically Sean makes many fine, cogent arguments for design in nature so I find his reluctance to promote it formally in Adventist education troubling. Respectfully, I don’t think serious enquiry about reality can creep around the periphery or sneak in through the back door. I’m afraid I see a double standard here.

Yes Wes, I understand why Adventists are nervous on this issue. But if one is seeking the truth about reality one can’t wall it in or burn bridges of enquiry. Wes, perhaps the Hellenic maxim should have not so much: Know thyself, but rather Think for thyself. My park bench in Pugwash is a welcome one but does not feature ontological dividers. It is well designed for truth seekers.

Your agnostic friend