Clearly, Dr. Pitman believes that the weight of scientific evidence …

Comment on Panda’s Thumb: ‘SDAs are split over evolution’ by OTNT_Believer.

Clearly, Dr. Pitman believes that the weight of scientific evidence favors the SDA position. And that is perfectly fine. However, it’s NOT OKAY when he insists that one is unfaithful and unfit for employment if they disagree with HIS personal view. It’s HIS personal view, and NOT that of the Church body. My SDA biologist friend, who knows most of the biologists in the Church, reassures me that the vast majority are comfortable with YEC/YLC, but disagree wholeheartedly with Sean on the issue of “weight of evidence.” They, like me, believe there is SOME evidence to support YEC or YLF, but acknowledge there are many very prickly problems that we lack good answers for. And Sean insists that the vast majority of the Church’s biologists, therefore, need to be dismissed…not because of Church policy, or lack of support for the fundamental beliefs, but simply because they disagree with Him!

This exactly the impression I have gotten from those biologists within the church that I know personally, and this includes a majority of the biologists I know at ALL of our colleges and universities. On the other hand, I know a variety of non-biology professors and other church members (including a few pastors and a number of students) who espouse some form of theistic evolution. In fact, because our biology professors are more in the spotlight on these very issues, they seem to be more supportive of SDA crationism as a group than many others in the church. Of course, they are engaged in a dangerous business. Any time they teach the evolution side of the story they run the risk of being misunderstood and being labeled evolutionists. I know of no better way to drive these people from the church than the approach being taken here at ET. Especially given that as soon as “evidence” surfaces, at least in the eyes of the attackers at ET, the said professor should either honorably resign his position, or he should be fired. Oh, or she could try to defend herself by sending in videos of all her lectures, copies of all powerpoint presentations and complete syllabi. As far as I can tell from what I have seen here thus far, such materials would just end up being kindling with which to start their funeral pyre.

OTNT_Believer Also Commented

Panda’s Thumb: ‘SDAs are split over evolution’

Even if God has directly appeared to you, visually, and audibly talked to you, such overwhelming empirical evidence would be great for you, personally, but what about when it comes to sharing your faith with someone else? You can’t transfer your own personal experience with God to someone else. What then can you do? You must appeal to something that both of you share – i.e., access to the same empirical evidence.

Wow, Sean, I can’t even believe you would say this. All believers have access to this kind of evidence and my sharing my personal testimony is part of spreading the faith. This is so foundational to Christianity that I hardly feel it needs repeating! So what if I can tell someone, in detail, how the geologic and biological data all around us are in total harmony with the Bible, if I cannot point others to what Jesus has done in my own life. I don’t know what else to say.

You seem to be caught up in the age old faith vs. reason debate, and you are coming down on the side of reason is of first importance, and without overwhelming empirical, science-based, physical evidence, faith is impossible. Wow! I am so glad you are so confident about the evidence, because that appears to be all you have.

You do realize that God most certainly answers prayers for Hindus, Muslims, Latter-day Saints, etc… right? An answer to prayer is not, however, evidence that the individual’s view on this or that Holy Book is really valid. Your answered prayers, and mine as well, seem to be very good evidence of the existence of a God or God-like presence in the universe. However, evidence for the existence of God, by itself, is not evidence for the Bible being the true Word of God, much less the SDA interpretation of the Bible being the most valid interpretation.

Really, now, God honors people of other religions, even non-Christian ones? The next thing you’re going to tell me is that people from these other religions are going to be saved too! I guess that shows how important it is to be right about which Holy book is the right one. I am reminded of a quote by Leonard Sweet, “It’s the same truth whether from the mouth of Jesus or the ass of Balaam.” What all this tells me is that God is overwhelmingly interested in having a relationship with me, even if I don’t quite have the exactly right picture of Him. And isn’t this the message we want our young people to hear?

Just to be a bit outrageous for a moment, let me suggest that we leave the SDA FB#6 just as it currently is, or better, simply take the exact words as they appear in the Bible, without our interpretation of those words. Then, let all members interpret the exact meaning of those words for themselves. If a member chooses to believe that God created the world via some sort of directed evolutionary process, then fine, as long as they see Him as the creator, and as long as they continue to hold the Sabbath as sacred (It is in our name, don’t you know!)

With that in mind, let’s now suggest that college professors, in the long tradition of academia, be required to cover all the facets of creation and evolution, including what evidence (or lack of) there is for these competing world views. In the tradition of academia, the professor is required to be as objective as possible in this process and should not unduly push her students to believe exactly as she does. This, of course, would mean that the professors at LSU may deserve some censure and redirecting, which I think has happened there, but would not require firing such individuals unless they continue to refuse to teach as required. Along with this, because we are talking about SDA schools, the professor must make the environment supportive for the most conservative interpretations of FB#6, but should also be supportive even of those students who may be atheists.

I make this suggestion, as outrageous as it may sound, because I have been around the church enough to know 1) that there is a diversity of belief regarding creation among our members, 2) that the majority of members could care less exactly how FB#6 is interpreted by others in the church, and 3) that most members believe in the more conservative interpretation of FB#6 and will continue to do so regardless of what you or I or a college professor may say or not say. A college education is not so much for the indoctrination of our young people, as it is for an expanding of their vision of the world from the SDA perspective. part of that is realizing what a diverse church we are.

I have known a few professors, not biology professors, at a few of our institutions which were overtly outspoken about their beliefs in theistic evolution. I have heard some complaints from students who were in these professors’ classes. For the most part those who knew them just tended to ignore their unorthodox views and let it be. I have been troubled in the past over some of these individuals, but as I saw the limited effects they had over the years, I have come to conclude that little damage was done. In fact, I believe more damage would have been done had these individuals been publicly confronted and fired.

Believe it or not, Sean, there are people in our church who are very committed, vibrant, active members of the SDA church who are theistic evolutionists. I also believe that some of our young people fall into this category. If we weed out all our professors who just might believe a little differently than the party line, where will these students find leaders that can relate to them, that can be examples for them. Their faith could be much more easily shaken if we marginalize those, whether professors or students, who believe a little differently. Of course, you might say, such individuals would be better off in another church. How callous! What other church believes that the Sabbath is the Seventh Day and that the Lord is returning soon? Seventh-Day Baptists maybe? Don’t forget, there are social reasons to stay as an SDA too and these are totally valid. We worship as a community for a reason. We are social beings. Many who have grown up in the church would find their faith uprooted if they needed to leave the church.

Let’s not forget the reason for this site in the first place, to bring the situation at LSU to the attention of the church and its leaders. That has been accomplished. The second reason for this site to continue to exist would seem to me to be a place to discuss the issues, which should avoid continuing to crucify those professors or leaders that, in your opinion, are teaching falsely. Paul wrote two letters to the church in Corinth and then let the leaders deal with it. I doubt they did a perfect job, but Paul did not continue to rail against them. Maybe ET should do the same.

Panda’s Thumb: ‘SDAs are split over evolution’

My answer: it wouldn’t affect my faith whatsoever. I spend time daily with God and I KNOW that He can be trusted, regardless of what modern science has to say. I would remain a steadfast believer of scripture, a devoted Christian, and a proud Seventh-day Adventist.
I can hardly believe that Seventh-day Adventists actually belittle the faith of other believers in the name of “present truth.” How very strange. I’m keenly disappointed that most individuals here, including you, condone rather than condemn Sean Pitman’s belief system and actions.

I haven;t been asked this question, but I agree 100% with the good Professor’s answer. The strongest evidence I have that my belief in God and the Bible is real is my own personal experience with God. He has answered prayers many a time and I have sensed His presence at many critical points in my life. If I were to discover that when the Genesis account says “the waters covered the whole earth” (my paraphrase) should be historically interpreted as a local event, that would not change my faith in God or His word one iota. Even if the literal nature of the creation story were to be proven to have been a series of events over thousands or millions of years, this would not change my faith in God or His word, or even my belief in the Sabbath. Were such things to change my faith I would have to turn my back on a lifetime of personal, relational evidence that God has been at work in my life.

How many Fundamental Beliefs of the religious community of His day did Jesus violate? Just compare Jesus’ actions with the Levitical laws the Pharisees held so dearly, and He comes off pretty badly. In every case where Jesus appeared to have broken the law, it was because He valued the person and the relationship over the the man-made interpretations of the law.

Would I rather have someone like Dr. Ness, whose students, both current and former, overwhelmingly supported him as a devoted and caring Christian teach my kids? Or would you rather have someone like Sean Pitman, who is adherent to the SDA fundamental beliefs to the nth degree (although there seems to be some question concerning FB#1) who frequently displays a judgmental and combative spirit teach my kids? How many of our young people would be able to stand up to the battering they might receive from some of the stronger personalities battling for the SDA fundamental beliefs in creation as they see them? I know enough of our SDA students to say that we might well lose many more were this the kind of teaching they were to receive.

I’m sorry, but my faith is too important to be put in the hands of science.

Panda’s Thumb: ‘SDAs are split over evolution’

How to you correlate that with the biblical account?Or do you consider the biblical account as pure myth, with no factual data? If so, why consider that the biblical account refers to any kind of literal flood?Just wondering … (Quote)
Kris responds:
That’s a good question. I do not consider the flood account as pure myth, or as a myth at all. All I said was I believe that the flood is a local event
Then you are using an extreme form of eisegesis to bend the text to the usages of evolutionism.
When I say “God said” I refer to the fact that the Bible is to be accepted by Seventh-day Adventist Christians as the Word of God.

I would hardly call attempting to interpret the meaning of the word “earth” as anything but the “whole earth” “bending the text.” The Hebrew word in question (From Strongs) is:
From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): – X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.

It is a word used for a lot of things from local to probably global (although the ancients’ understanding of “global” is not completely certain, let along precisely what the writers of Genesis might know of the “whole earth.” At any rate, there are quite a number of texts that use the term “whole earth.” Many of these texts could be interpreted either in a local or global sense (and many are ambiguous in context). But below I list, after the couple of texts in Genesis, several texts that clearly are better interpreted in a local sense, as they would have little meaning in a global sense. So, given the broad use of the phrase “whole earth” it hardly seems extreme to suggest that the use of the phrase in Genesis could be a local usage, especially in light of the probable ignorance of those in the Middle East of the literal “whole earth.”

Of course, interpretation is not really the point to Sean and his supporters here. It has to be literally worldwide or they see themselves losing the one possible explanation of the fossil record that they think shows a recent, literal creation. I don’t think our interpretation of the flood account should be encumbered in this way. A worldwide flood doesn’t explain the fossil record very well anyway, and the fact that young life creationists “need” a worldwide flood should not inform our interpretation of the Biblical record.

And just for the record, I don’t see interpreting the Genesis Flood as a local event as questioning the sacredness of the Bible or the accuracy of its writers. I am talking about interpretation of the text. Interpreting a text in a manner that may be different than the traditional SDA approach hardly constitutes questioning the authenticity or accuracy of the Bible. I just question a dogmatic interpretational approach to the Bible.

(Gen 8:9) But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

(Gen 9:19) These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

(Exo 10:15) For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

(Psa 48:2) Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

(Jer 50:23) How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!

(Jer 51:41) How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations!

(Lam 2:15) All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?

(Eze 32:4) Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee.

(Dan 8:5) And as I was considering, behold, an he goat came from the west on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground: and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes.

Recent Comments by OTNT_Believer

Why those who hate the Bible love blind-faith Christians
Sean, I think that what you say above mischaracterizes those who disagree with you on the “weight of the evidence” issue. At least for me, and for others who have opposed your dogmatic stance, I can see a lot of evidence that life was created by God. In fact, I see the weight of the evidence in favor of creation, considering the fact that evolutionists have absolutely no idea how the first life might have arisen. They flail about with various untenable ideas, and even bring in a concept like the multiverse to solve the intactable problems of probability for eaven the essential molecules of life arising on their own. On this bit of empirical alone there is very strong support for a belief in the Bible or the Koran. And don’t forget that the Koran comes from the same tradition, to some extent, as the Bible, not that I am advocating its acceptance as Holy writ.

I also am not saying there is NO evidence for a worldwide flood or a recent, literal creation, I just don’t see the evidence as overwhelming. A lot of the so-called evidence you and others committed to a literal interpretation of Genesis use is dependent on a variety of assumptions which may be true, but cannot be supported unequivocally. So, I do see some evidence for the traditional SDA position, but am, I hope, honest enough intellectually, to recognize the many things that are uncertain. On the flip side, I see many problems with the traditional evolutionist views too, which is evidence, albeit weak, for other alternatives, including the traditional SDA model.

There is also a variety of other empirical evidence for the Bible, miuch it from fulfilled prophecies and historical corroboration. Although there are some discrepancies between secular and Biblical history, there is enough agreement to support such things as Jesus being a real historical figure and the origins of the Jewish people. Even the Koran provides corroborating evidence for the historicity of Abraham and the early patriarchs. And the Bible is pretty unique in this regard, as the holy texts from say Hinduism or Buddhism show little parallel with secular history and, in fact, tend to be more metaphysically oriented than the Bible.

So, do i believe in the Bible by blind faith? Absolutely not! There is ample empirical evidence to believe that it is the Word of God. What I find problematic is taking evidence that is so marginal scientifically, that were I to present some of the evidence you tout so proudly, i would be laughed at. On the other hand, any honest atheist knows how shaky their belief system is when it comes to the origin of life, so i can bring that up and be taken at least a little more seriously. I can even bring up Intelligent Design, which opponents often do laugh at, because I can see clear scientific principles that tell me that ID is real science. I think evolutionists mainly fault ID because they don’t like the conclusions it makes if something is shown to be intelligently designed, but at least with intelligent design it is theoretical and mathematically based.

So, please don’t keep accusing some of us who simply don’t see your evidence convincing as operating on blind faith. Nothing is farther from the truth.

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’

Why the cold feet gentleman? Why the protective mantra? I’m dismayed at this.
Debates are a normal, active, dynamic part of life. Let’s not pre-judge or worry about the outcome.

I’m not worried about the outcome, I’m just enough of a cynic to believe that debates are about putting on a show, not sharing truth. Proof of that is what is made of debates after the fact. Often, both sides claim to have won, and whoever is able to make up the best story about the debate controls the future narrative, regardless what was actually debated. Case in point is the Huxley/Wilberforce creation/evolution debates. Most people nowadays believe Huxley won, some people at the time thought Wilberforce won, and i think we all lost. 🙂

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’

Does anyone seriously believe Jesus or Ellen White would condone a debate?  (Quote)

I too think this is a bad idea, although it might be a good way for Sean to show off a bit. 😉 From my experience, debates are more about entertainment (for those who enjoy such) and scoring points for your side. Few minds get changed. I also seem to recall some rather negative statements about public debates by EGW.

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
@Prof Kent

I’m continually disturbed by the “requirements” everyone seems to quarrel over regarding what it takes to be an “Adventist.” It’s tragic, really. There was a time when Church members used to praise anyone who had a connection to Adventism–Paul Harvey, for example (who often attended an SDA Church with his wife, but neither were ever baptized)–without erecting obstacles such as fidelity to FB # such-and-such. God could use virtually anyone to further along His kingdom.

Now, now prof. You know Seanis going to get you for this statement. Being a member of the church is not dependent on FB#6, but you better believe it as Sean does if you want to pastor or teach in the church. 😉 So, Paul Harvey is great, but if he wanted to teach in one of our colleges, forget it, unless he professes unequivocal belief in FB#6 (oh, and he would need to get baptized).

Dr. Ervin Taylor: ‘A truly heroic crusade’
@ Sean

To argue that important truths are completely irrational is itself an irrational statement that is essentially nonsensical.

Well, I guess you missed my point. Oh well. There is psychological evidence that none of us is entirely rational, and some of us are more so than others.