Faith & Science Sabbath School examines LSU’s apology

La Sierra University recently sent out a letter apologizing for a manner of teaching that left the majority of the (surveyed) biology students with the perception that the university and specifically its biology department did not support the Adventist position on creation. The letter and the survey will be parsed and recommendations for rectifying the situation discussed in this presentation by Paul Giem.

Giem runs the Faith & Science Sabbath School, which meets weekly at Mortenson Hall on Loma Linda University campus. Recent presentations have included “The Genesis Flood Account” by Brian Bull and “Whales and Evolution” by Giem.

March 26, 2011

Dr. Giem holds a B.A. in chemistry from Union College, Nebraska, an M.A. in religion from Loma Linda University and an M.D. from Loma Linda University. Dr. Giem has published research articles in the areas of religion and medicine. His current research includes work on carbon-14 dating methods. He is author of the book Scientific Theology, which deals with a number of science–Bible areas, including dating methodology and biblical chronology.

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97 thoughts on “Faith & Science Sabbath School examines LSU’s apology

  1. The LSU committe report was laughable. They addressed the issue of LSU presenting a by-faith-alone in-the-tank evangelistic crusade for evolutionism as the preferred doctrine on origins by stating that they (the LSU board committe) were not qualified to LOOK at the evidence!!

    They argue that the material on evolutionism only comprised two weeks in a single course (AS IF) by not looking at the actual teaching in the various classes they could determine that the professors were not sneaking a swipe in at creation on an almost weekly basis!

    The LSU committee tasked with following up on the AAA highlighted issues reponded by arguing that it is not even PROPER for the LSU board to conduct such inquiry into the questions raised by AAA regarding the bashing of creation in the biology classes!

    What a blessing therefore that LSU’s apology letter did NOT include any of the shallow misdirection turned in by their own committee.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  2. Prof Bradley did the students and faculty of LSU a great service by admitting to the press the same thing that parents and students had been telling LSU administrators about for decades and getting a blind-eye deaf-ear response from administrators.

    By confirming to the public what LSU students already knew from first-hand experience – Bradley removed the rock underwhich LSU admin was hiding.

    The roaches were then exposed to the light of day. Can’t deal as effectively with the roach problem if it stays hiddne from view.

    So while we can easily find evidence for blame in the case of a number of biology professors (including Bradley) we also owe Prof Bradley a huge debt of gratitude (above every other professor at LSU) for that small part that he played in the solution.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  3. BobRyan: They argue that the material on evolutionism only comprised two weeks in a single course (AS IF) by not looking at the actual teaching in the various classes they could determine that the professors were not sneaking a swipe in at creation on an almost weekly basis!

    What are your facts that they took “swipes” at creation on an almost weekly basis? Or are you just giving your opinion…which is based on what?

    And how would board members learn the extent of such “swipes,” short of sitting in all of the biology clases on a weekly basis?




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  4. “we must use our God-given brains to decide whether God’s word is trustworthy (Sean Pitman’s position).” Preface and coda of so many posts.

    Now I relish a good synecdoche as much as the next professor but incessantly personifying Dr. Pitman as the very notion that “we must use our God-given brains to decide whether God’s word is trustworthy” is giving him just too much credit. A lot of credit he deserves indeed, and awards, and stars in his crown, but this is carrying it too far. Dr. Pitman is not one lone voice for seeking evidence. He speaks for at least 3000 of us (to use a metaphoric, metonymic number, identifying those who have not bowed the knee before a stony image). Plus it’s Biblical, but that’s been argued to death.

    And there is evidence that Dr. Pitman himself would not take credit for the concept but learned it as a med student from one of LLU’s most beloved and respected professors (speaking of professors), Dr. Graham Maxwell. “Evidence! Evidence! God requires it! God presents it! He that hath an eye…” Dr. Maxwell was famous for saying that. Incessantly. And he was a professor of, get this, religion.




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  5. Wesley,

    The Bible claims that an axehead can float on water. Human reason and all physical evidence says this is not true. It’s a fairy tale. It’s total nonsense. [edit] Evidence! Evidence!

    You’re a smart fellow. Are you going to use your “God-given brain” and denounce the Bible as fiction? Or are you going believe a claim that flagrantly goes against all physical evidence? Is this not evidence that the Bible is fabricated?

    Tell us where you think using your “God-given brain” stops and your faith in the unseen begins.

    If you’re going to tell us that Sean Pitman goes where the evidence leads, which he is fond of saying, I’ll tell you that’s complete, unadulterated [edit: “bs”]. He knows full well that many of the Bible’s claims ARE testable and FAIL the test of empirical evidence; he just can’t bring himself to admit it. He holds on to the Bible’s claims NOT because every testable claim passes muster–which he disingeniously insists upon–but because he accepts them on faith–just as you and I do.

    Go on and find your evidence. I have no problem with that. Just don’t belittle those of us who think we have sufficient evidence already and believe that God’s word can be accepted at face value.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      The Bible claims that an axehead can float on water. Human reason and all physical evidence says this is not true. It’s a fairy tale. It’s total nonsense. [edit] Evidence! Evidence!

      Indeed human reason and all physical evidences says that axeheads cannot “float” without outside help… i.e., without intelligent design and manipulation of the situation as described in the Bible. This is why such an event, if it happened as described in the Bible, would be instantly recognized as requiring the outside input of a highly powerful intelligent force behind the phenomenon in question.

      Is such deliberate manipulation possible? Have you not been to “magic” shows where the magician makes it appear like solid iron bars float on water? I have.

      Such stories of “miracles” or other “acts of God” from the Bible are believed to be credible based on those elements of the Bible that can actually be directly tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. Those testable elements of the Bible have shown themselves to be so consistently reliable (at least for me) that those elements that are not directly testable also gain credibility.

      Yet, you somehow appeal to the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation as countering my appeal to the weight of evidence as something that is vital to biblical credibility. Do you not understand that the H-G method is simply a method of interpreting what the author was trying to say? – that this method says absolutely nothing about if the author was or wasn’t correct in what he said? Do you not realize that the H-G method says nothing about the credibility of the Bible vs. the Book of Mormon or any other claimed source of Divine inspiration? The H-G method can be used to understand the desired communication of any type of text… not just the Bible. Therefore, the H-G method is not a basis for determining the credibility or truthfulness of a given text. Do you not see that?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  6. “This one bothers me…”

    “I’d like to see it up around 70-80%…”

    So now we’re basing our criticisms of La Sierra University on Paul Giem’s arbitrary preferences? Really?

    We’re assuming that biology as a field of study supports the Adventist view of creation. Does it?

    Is creation scientific at all?

    Why would we be calling on professors to present Adventist doctrines in science classes?




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    • @Frederick: Nobody is basing anything off of Geim. He’s merely sharing his opinion etc.

      We certainly don’t assume that the mainstream interpretation of biology supports Adventist’s view of creation. It obviously does not.

      We do believe there is plenty of good/reasonable evidence that confirms the biblical creation. Is creation scientific? That really depends on aspect of the theory you’re speaking of.

      All we’re asking is that professors who choose to teach science at an Adventist university present the evidence supporting creation (ie short chronology, universal flood, etc).

      Adventist’s do not see science and religion as two separate fields, but complementary to each other. Why wouldn’t we present our doctrine on creation in science classes? It has direct bearing on it.

      If you don’t believe their is evidence for the biblical creation, why have any faith in the Bible at all? Why remain Adventist?




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  7. Re Shane’s Quote

    “Adventist’s do not see science and religion as two separate fields, but complementary to each other. Why wouldn’t we present our doctrine on creation in science classes? It has direct bearing on it.”

    Dear Shane

    Thanks for your concise summary of the crux of the issue. Well stated.

    Can science ever be an independent, objective tool if it is subject to a faith or non faith bias?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  8. Shane Hilde: All we’re asking is that professors who choose to teach science at an Adventist university present the evidence supporting creation (ie short chronology, universal flood, etc).

    Shane, I think your position is reasonable, but I have considerable difficulty trying to resolve it with the following statement from Sean Pitman:

    “a professor working for the SDA Church must also be able to show his/her students why he/she believes that the weight of the available empirical evidence favors the SDA position on origins – to include the worldwide nature of the Noachian Flood and the resulting fossil record within recent history.”

    Sean has further insisted that a certain GRI scientist is unfit for employment because he accepts the Genesis account on faith rather than the weight of available evidence. It seems to me that the two of you need to sort things out.




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    • @Professor Kent: I would hope that whatever you believe in is based on what you consider to be the weight of evidence. Why believe in something if the weight of evidence says otherwise? I think it would be great to have biology professors who no only believed in the biblical creation, but believed it because the weight of evidence was in favor of it.

      It doesn’t make any sense to hire professors who say they believe in the biblical creation, but just don’t see any evidence for it?

      I don’t understand that position. If I thought the weight of evidence pointed in another direction, I’d be inclined to follow it. Not hold on to my belief as truth, yet admit there’s no evidence to support it.




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  9. The mainstream interpretation of biology? I was not aware that there was an Adventist stream of biology that corroborates a short earth chronology. In fact, I was under the impression that part of the problem is that the Geoscience Research Institute in Loma Linda, CA was charged with creating a scientific model that would buttress the church’s position on creation, a model that could be taught in our schools. But in the fifty or however many years they’ve been in operation, they seem to have failed that charge.

    About the evidence supporting creation:
    If creation is understood as a historical event in the past, and a miraculous one at that, by definition it cannot be replicated, tested, falsified or proven. It also can’t be measured or quantified, right?

    Science, on the other hand, is all about what can be replicated, tested, falsified, proven, measured and quantified, right?

    So by definition, Creation is not scientific. So again, why would we insist that biology professors teach religious doctrine in a biology class as biology when clearly it is not?

    Thanks.

    Fred




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    • @Frederick: Then by the same definition the theory of evolution cannot be science. Obviously we observe some microevolution occurring, but nothing more.

      The Bible does make claims that can be potentially falsified, such as a recent creation and world wide flood. If it can be shown by the weight of evidence that life did not originate relatively recently and that the earth was not covered in water, I would consider the claim falsified.

      We can’t show that things were created within six days using the scientific method or how exactly things were created.

      I would insist that biology professors present the evidence for a short chronology of life on earth and a world wide flood. We (the church) believe there is reasonable evidence for these things and they also confirm the biblical creation.

      This business about “creation is not science” is irrelevant. It’s undefined. What does that even mean? Does that mean that there is absolutely nothing about creationism that isn’t falsifiable, testable, etc?

      Look at the claims of the Bible regarding creation that actually are testable. We already know you can’t test some things. This isn’t new, nor is anyone here trying to push it as science.




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  10. Shane Hilde: @Professor Kent: I think it would be great to have biology professors who no only believed in the biblical creation, but believed it because the weight of evidence was in favor of it.It doesn’t make any sense to hire professors who say they believe in the biblical creation, but just don’t see any evidence for it?

    Shane, with all due respect, I believe you are pushing a dichotomy too far. There’s a vast middle ground between believing the “weight of evidence” supports our interpretation and seeing no evidence for it.

    My SDA biologist colleagues reassure me that the vast majority of SDA biologists believe there is indeed some evidence, just as I do, but reject outright the “weight of evidence” position held by Sean Pitman. These are not men and women who are heretics and deserving of public scorn; they actually exemplify heroically the historical-grammatical hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura–taking God at his word rather than forcing God to pass a test of science.

    Curiously … not a single SDA-employed biologist has stepped forward publicly and stated their agreement with Sean’s position on the “weight of evidence” (though I keep expecting Dr. Arthur Chadwick to do so). Doesn’t this concern you just a wee bit?

    I’d also like to add one very simple point. In our zeal to hire or retain SDA biologists who are gung-ho apologists, could we overlook the fact that maybe, just maybe, some of these guys talk the talk but don’t walk the walk? Do you want biologists who know the ages of rocks but not the Rock of ages?

    If I were a dean considering a biologist candidate, I’d pay MUCH more attention to the latter.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      Shane, with all due respect, I believe you are pushing a dichotomy too far. There’s a vast middle ground between believing the “weight of evidence” supports our interpretation and seeing no evidence for it.

      How does this statement go along with your empirically blind faith that the Word of God can stand alone against all contrary evidence?

      You forget that one has to first determine that the Word of God is in fact the Word of God. How does one do that without appealing to the weight of evidence that is actually attractive to the candid intelligent God-given mind?

      Why do you think that Mrs. White spent so much time repeating over and over again that the credibility of the Bible is supported by “the weight of evidence that appeals to the candid mind”?

      God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. We are thus led to adore the Creator and to have an intelligent trust in His word.

      – Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 115

      The works of creation testify of God’s power and greatness. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1. Those who take the written word as their counselor will find in science an aid to understand God. “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” Romans 1:20.

      – EGW, PP, p. 115-116.

      [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 human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidence… Had the Jews laid by their prejudice and compared written prophecy with the facts characterizing the life of Jesus, they would have perceived a beautiful harmony between the prophecies and their fulfillment in the life and ministry of the lowly Galilean. – Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 458

      “Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence.” —Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255.

      “God gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding, will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith.”—Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 232, 233.

      “There are noble women who have had moral courage to decide in favor of the truth from the weight of evidence. They have tact, perception, and good ability, and could make successful Christian workers.” – Ellen White, Daughters of God, p. 16

      Notice again that while there remains room for doubt, God has intended that we make our decisions and form our faith in Him and His Word, the Bible, based on the “weight of evidence”.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • @Professor Kent: Is is possible to fine some evidence for most anything? If I only have some evidence supporting creation, and there is a mountain of evidence in favor of evolutionary processes, then on what basis would I continue to believe in creation?

      Professor Kent: they actually exemplify heroically the historical-grammatical hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura–taking God at his word rather than forcing God to pass a test of science.

      A key thing to remember though is these men you’re talking about already assume the Bible to contain a historical account of creation and that it is true and reliable. But let’s back up a bit and ask, why do they believe the biblical creation account is true?

      There are many people who have not arrived at the conclusion that the Bible is a divinely inspired book. How do you convince them the biblical creation is true? If all you have is some evidence to present against a mountain, how can we expect them to accept our belief?

      There’s no need for loaded rhetoric such as “public scorn.” We’re talking about leadership positions within an organization, so there’s really no need to make it appear personal.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to employ professors who are faithful to the beliefs of the church. It should be standard practice.




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  11. Professor Kent Reply April 15, 2011 at 8:55 am
    Wesley,

    The Bible claims that an axehead can float on water. Human reason and all physical evidence says this is not true. It’s a fairy tale. It’s total nonsense. [edit] Evidence! Evidence!

    ===================================

    Well you glossed over the key detail just then when trying to make your argument.

    IN THE TEXT the assumption is that Axe heads do NOT float on water naturally and that only a direct miracle of God would have such a result.

    In your “well that is nonsense” conclusion you fail to show two very key requirements.

    1. That it is nonsense to suggest that only God could make an axe head float.

    2. That if axeheads DID float “naturally” that text would still make sense in its claim that this had to be a miracle of God.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  12. Evolutionists have no viable theory as to how life began, where the matter in the universe came from, why the fossils have not been eroded away after the theorized millions of years of life’s existence here [edit], or a thousand other evidences in the natural world which would be consistent with a young earth/creation model. As a conjectured, unwitnessed historical event, evolution cannot be proven any more than creation can. Why we should not expect that professors teaching origins at an Adventist university teach the evidence which supports creation and believe it themselves seems a marvel to me. That we even need to have this discussion in our church to decide the issue is a testimony to how far we’ve slidden. steve.




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  13. Re Shane’s Quote

    “@Ken: Science is always subject to our world view. The two cannot be separated. In a sense it is the world view that controls the science, or I should say controls the interpretation of the data.”

    Dear Shane

    Thanks for your comment.

    That’s a pretty absolute statement but is it empirically correct.

    What happens when science contradicts the existing worldview? Does the worldview then change? For example, once upon a time Man thought the world was flat, Man thought the sun circled the earth, Man did not understand gravity or genetics.

    Doesn’t often science change the existing worldview rather than be subject to it? Was Darwin’s theory based on his religious upbringing or his empirical observations of nature? Did he not have go against the worldview he was raised within?

    I know and appreciate that it is very difficult for my Adventist friends to understand that humans can be neutral to a faith or non faith bias and use science as an objective tool. But, respectfully, I think it is possible, does occur, and in fact is one of the most noble things that Man does.

    I wish you a good Sabbath.
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken:

      I think what Shane is trying to say is what I’ve been trying to explain to you for some time. Science doesn’t work independent of the subjective human mind and its inherent biases. Thomas Kuhn is one prominent philosopher of science who went a long way in explaining the limitations of scientific objectivity. Science, by the fact that humans are involved in the process, is not and can never be purely objective.

      It is because of this subjective human bias that is always involved in science that science is not the purely “objective tool” that claim.

      Yet, I will agree that some form of scientific reasoning is the best we have to logically approach or understand or rationally comprehend various truths about the world in which we find ourselves.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  14. ken: What happens when science contradicts the existing worldview? Does the worldview then change?

    When empirical evidence contradicts our world view, it would seem natural to change our world view based on the evidence. I’m suggesting that this is easier said than done. Does it happen? Yes.

    ken: Doesn’t often science change the existing worldview rather than be subject to it? Was Darwin’s theory based on his religious upbringing or his empirical observations of nature? Did he not have go against the worldview he was raised within?

    Perhaps I was a little too strong in saying science is always subject to our world view, but my point was that our world view has incredible power over our interpretation of the data. In the end it seems that your world view must be altered before you begin to interpret the data different in many cases.




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  15. Re Sean and Shane’s Comments

    “Yet, I will agree that some form of scientific reasoning is the best we have to logically approach or understand or rationally comprehend various truths about the world in which we find ourselves.”

    “Perhaps I was a little too strong in saying science is always subject to our world view, but my point was that our world view has incredible power over our interpretation of the data”

    Dear Sean and Shane

    Gentleman, thank you for your graceful clarification, with which I agree.

    I agree that the individual cannot reach perfect objectivity. After all we are not God! Most of us – definitely myself! – suffer from various degrees of hubris and bias. For example, am I predisposed to agnosticism because of my innate nature to challenge ontological matters since childhood? When I was 12, my minister, a good man, told me in Sunday school that the church could not answer my questions. He didn’t say the questions were wrong just that the answers did not lie in faith. I left the next day, not with any sense of loss, but immense curiosity.

    Faith requires belief and commitment. I was always committed to Why. I confess and admit to my Why bias. Likely my Why bias precludes me from faith or non faith and is a worldview that affects my view of Science. The question is not if, but how it affects my view. How does your view of the Bible affect your view of Science? Must science always be in accord with your interpretation of the Bible? And what happens if not? Is the science automatically wrong?

    I think Science rises above these respective worldviews. Why? Because of its ability and tendency to constantly improve its empirical observation and observations. Laws of gravity do not exist because of Newton’s subjectivity but rather because of his empirical observations of it and a great math brain. Same applies to many fields. We make a mistake if we call evolution an atheistic theory. Likewise I think we make a mistake to call intelligent design a religious theory. We should explore evidence of design in the universe no matter where that evidence might lead. It may be that in what we perceive as randomness there is an element of design that we do not understand yet.

    Hope that helps us bridge the gap to better understanding.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  16. Re Bob’s Quote

    “The weight of evidence” in the area of birds coming from birds is pretty conclusive as it turns out.

    in Christ,

    Bob

    Hi Bob

    What about the weight of evidence regarding the comparison of the chimp and human genome? Interesting to compare chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B to human chromosome 2 eh?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken:

      You wrote:

      What about the weight of evidence regarding the comparison of the chimp and human genome?

      The similarities are easy to explain using mindless evolutionary mechanisms like common descent. The problem for evolutionary theories is not in explaining the similarities, but the required functional differences. When it comes to humans and chimps there are a very large number of functional differences – far more than mainstream scientists expected just a decade ago. With the fairly recent discovery that “junk DNA” isn’t really non-functional after all, the whole notion that humans and chimps have essentially identical DNA has gone out the window.

      In this light, consider also that all living things are very similar in a certain respect. All share the same basic building blocks of life and certain basic cellular systems and biochemistry. Such features of similarity certain do speak of a common origin for all living things. However, this common origin need not be some mindless common origin. The evidence for there being a super intelligence behind it all is quite overwhelming if you really look into the levels of functional complexity involved and the inadequacy of mindless mechanisms to explain functional diversity at such high levels of functional complexity…

      Interesting to compare chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B to human chromosome 2 eh?

      Why is this so interesting? Chromosomal fusion events happen all the time. Once having the same number of chromosomes doesn’t mean anything regarding common descent. For further information on this topic see:

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/pseudogenes.html#Fusion

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  17. Shane Hilde: There are many people who have not arrived at the conclusion that the Bible is a divinely inspired book. How do you convince them the biblical creation is true? If all you have is some evidence to present against a mountain, how can we expect them to accept our belief?

    There are 28 fundamental beliefs. Why single out FB #6 as the one we need to convince them is correct? Again, if you know the ages of the rocks but not the Rock of Ages, what good is it to be a Seventh-day Adventist creationist?

    This obsession with origins will cause more division and strife than any other issue in the Church. Is this really what we want? In the meanwhile, we are destroying the present-day creation as we argue about the creation past, and God, who asked us to take care of it, must be wondering why we are neglecting it.

    God also must be wondering why we are arguing with each other rather spending time on our knees seeking to learn more of him. (And yes…some of us actually believe that God inspires our thoughts even though we lack the physical evidence to prove it. Sorry to be so naive.)




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      There are 28 fundamental beliefs. Why single out FB #6 as the one we need to convince them is correct? Again, if you know the ages of the rocks but not the Rock of Ages, what good is it to be a Seventh-day Adventist creationist?

      Seeing the weight of evidence in support of the Bible increased one’s faith in the notion that the Bible really is the Word of God. This, in turn, gives one an enhanced relationship with God since the Bible is His chosen instrument to speak with men.

      Some may think that they really don’t need the Bible or to understanding the Bible as credible to achieve a very close walk with God since they think that, “God inspires their thoughts” directly. Why read the Bible if God talks to you directly? – right?

      The problem here is that God doesn’t seem to talk to everyone in such a direct manner. It is an inconsistent suggestion to claim that an effort to support the rational credibility of the Bible is unnecessary unless all have the same direct access to God that you claim to have outside of the Bible. I for one have never heard God speak to me in any sort of direct manner – such as a vision or an audible voice or anything else that I can readily distinguish from indigestion.

      The Word of God through the Bible is different, however, in that it provides testable evidence of its origin and authenticity. The Bible is not a bunch of man-made “cunningly devised fables” as per 2 Peter 1:16. The Bible provides the weight of evidence for the Divine hand behind its words that cannot be readily denied by the candid intelligent mind.

      For most people who do not have direct access to the mind of God like you claim to have, a relationship with God starts with a belief that He exists that is based on discovering His signature in nature and the written Word – the Bible. (Romans 1:20). It is only at this point that one can honestly and rationally believe that God exists. Such a belief, and the rational basis behind this belief, pleases God (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  18. BobRyan: “The weight of evidence” in the area of birds coming from birds is pretty conclusive as it turns out.

    That’s pretty profound. Are you an ornithologist, or birdwatcher, or poultry farmer, or aviculturist, or falconer by chance?




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  19. BobRyan: In your “well that is nonsense” conclusion you fail to show two very key requirements.
    1. That it is nonsense to suggest that only God could make an axe head float.
    2. That if axeheads DID float “naturally” that text would still make sense in its claim that this had to be a miracle of God.

    What? I failed to show them? As if I should have?

    On point #1: Do you know someone other than God who can make an axe head float in a stream? Are you thinking George Bush? Rush Limbaugh? Neil Wilson? Sean Pitman? Pray tell!

    On point #2: Are you suggesting that axeheads actually DO float “naturally?” Your logic is illusive. Of course it was a miracle of God. You and I can both agree on that.

    The floating axehead illustrates well the delusion of those who arrogantly insist they believe the Bible’s validity based only on empirical evidence. This example points to three mutually exclusive approaches:

    1 – We accept the Bible because what it claims can be proven to be true. FAIL–AN AXEHEAD CANNOT FLOAT IN A STREAM. SCIENCE LEAVES NO ROOM FOR DOUBT.

    2 – We reject the Bible because what it claims can be proven to be untrue. PASS–THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE CLEARLY SHOWS THAT THIS CLAIM OF A FLOATING AXEHEAD CANNOT BE SUPPORTED BY SCIENCE. TO BE CONSISTENT WITH THE TEST OF EVIDENCE, WE MUST REJECT THE BIBLE’S VALIDITY.

    3 – We accept the Bible even if some of its claims cannot be proven to be true, because we allow for miracles and other supernatural events that cannot be explained by natural law. IF YOU ACCEPT THIS, THEN YOU NEED TO STOP THE FALSE PRETENCE THAT YOU SUBSCRIBE TO APPROACH #1. YOU ARE CHERRY-PICKING THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE THAT SUPPORTS THE BIBLE AND ANYTHING THAT CAN’T BE EXPLAINED GETS CHALKED UP TO MIRACLES. IN OTHER WORDS, THE BIBLE CANNOT BE FALSIFIED.

    Sean Pitman, Shane Hilde, Bob Ryan, myself…most everyone here clearly subscribes to approach #3. Despite claims to the contrary by some, we do NOT reject the Bible if science shows some of its claims to be false.

    I’m really sick and tired of this all-important “empirical evidence,” “it’s falsifiable,” “you can trust human reason” garbage that constitutes the “scientific theology” of frequent posters here. I think those who make such grandiose claims have quite the lofty opinion of their own “reason.” What we need more of is humility. An honest “maybe I don’t really have it figured out after all.”

    [Editor’s note: There is no need to respond in capital letters. Future posts along these lines will be deleted out of hand. – sp]




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      Sean Pitman, Shane Hilde, Bob Ryan, myself…most everyone here clearly subscribes to approach #3. Despite claims to the contrary by some, we do NOT reject the Bible if science shows some of its claims to be false.

      Since when has anyone shown that the Bible’s claim that God can make an axehead float on water to be false? Science can’t falsify this biblical assertion since even humans can make heavy iron bars appear to float on water. I’ve seen such a thing in “magic shows” with my own eyes. Why then do you suggest that science has actually falsified the idea that God could do the same thing? The argument presented isn’t that science can show how the miracles in the Bible could have happened “naturally” – without the input of deliberate design. That’s not the argument at all. The argument is that science can show that at numerous events described in the Bible did in fact happen as described. If scientists were to effectively show that the key historical claims of the Bible are false, that would reduce the credibility of the Bible regarding those claims that cannot be directly investigated by empirical means.

      You see, we are not talking about “some” of the potentially falsifiable statements in the Bible. We are talking about the “weight” of falsifiable evidence in the Bible. It is only if the “weight of evidence” goes against the Bible that the Bible’s claims could rationally be rejected as having Divine authority.

      There will always be mysteries and seeming contradictions in the Bible for which answers are difficult to find. This is only to be expected when finite minds approach an Infinite Mind. However, the weight of evidence that we can actually understand and test in a falsifiable manner must still support the Bible’s credibility if God really does expect rational candid minds to recognize and accept the Bible as having a Divine origin. This is why God has in fact provided this empirical evidence – in abundance. God does not expect anyone to believe based on empirically blind faith alone or He wouldn’t have given us intelligent independent minds and the power of free will.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  20. Re Sean’s Quotes

    “(from Ken) What about the weight of evidence regarding the comparison of the chimp and human genome?

    “( from Sean)The similarities are easy to explain using mindless evolutionary mechanisms like common descent.”

    “(from Ken) Interesting to compare chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B to human chromosome 2 eh?

    ( from Sean) Why is this so interesting? Chromosomal fusion events happen all the time. Once having the same number of chromosomes doesn’t mean anything regarding common descent.”

    Dear Sean

    Thanks for your comments.

    Chimps and humans do not have essentially identical DNA, but they are the closest related genomes as I am given to understand. Why? Because a creator wanted a chimp to be very close to humans in genetic makeup, or because both come from a common descent?

    Why are chromosomes 2A & 2B in chimps so close in makeup to chromosome 2 in humans? Why would an intelligent designer or creator do that? Did God intend to make souless animals very close in genetic makeup to ourselves? Why, to make us doubt our uniqueness as children of God?

    What does the candid mind deduce from such biological similarity, acknowledging that chromosomal fusion events happen all the time? Using Occam’s razor what is the most likely explanation?

    Cheers
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:

      You wrote:

      Chimps and humans do not have essentially identical DNA, but they are the closest related genomes as I am given to understand. Why? Because a creator wanted a chimp to be very close to humans in genetic makeup, or because both come from a common descent?

      Humans and bananas are pretty closely “related” genomically as well – being about 50% similar as judged by the methods generally used to compare humans and apes.

      Determining the origin of two functionally complex systems requires knowledge of both similarities and differences. The similarities that exist between all living things clearly speaks of a common origin of some kind. Determining what this common origin may be requires an understanding of what it takes to produce the functional differences between different living things. If these functional differences are at a level of functional complexity that is beyond any known mindless naturalistic mechanism, these differences strongly indicate that the common origin of the two different living systems was an intelligent origin capable of deliberate design.

      Why are chromosomes 2A & 2B in chimps so close in makeup to chromosome 2 in humans?

      Why don’t you actually read my article on the fusion of Chr. 2 in the human lineage?

      http://www.detectingdesign.com/pseudogenes.html#Fusion

      Why would an intelligent designer or creator do that? Did God intend to make souless animals very close in genetic makeup to ourselves? Why, to make us doubt our uniqueness as children of God?

      Just because humans and chimps share a number of morphologic and genetic features, to include general chromosomal structure, why should this suggest deception on the part of God? – or our unique relationship to God? Can apes understand, appreciate, and love God like humans can? Obviously not. Our mental capacity and ability to appreciate such things is clearly beyond that of apes or any other animal of higher intelligence – like pigs or dogs or dolphins.

      There are any number of reasons why God would create animals with various features and abilities that resemble our own. Many animals have the ability to demonstrate love and trust to us – similar to our ability to demonstrate love and trust to God. God may also have a bit of a sense of humor in his creation of animals even more similar to us – like apes.

      For whatever reason God may or may not have had, it is quite clear that a very high level of intelligent design went into creating both humans and apes – and all other major types or “kinds” of living things. Clearly we all have a “common origin”. And just as clearly that Common Origin is very very intelligent and powerful…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  21. Ken: Did God intend to make souless animals very close in genetic makeup to ourselves?

    The Bible defines a soul as a combination of “dust” and God’s breath of life (Gen. 2:7). When we die, our bodies return to dust and the breath of God returns to Him (Ecc. 12:7). In Ecc. 3:19 it says, “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal.” The Bible does not teach humans have spirits that continue to exist after death. Neither do animals. I believe the word “soul” in the Bible always refers to a living person. My point is the Bible does not teach the concept of soulessness.

    It appears God used the same building blocks to create animals and humans. The different between us and them is that we were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26).




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  22. Sean Pitman: Science can’t falsify this biblical assertion since even humans can make heavy iron bars appear to float on water.

    Ahhh…so in the Bible the axehead only appeared to float? Somehow I missed that.

    You seriously believe we cannot falsify whether an axehead can float? This is beyond science? I’m absolutely astonished by what you think can be falsified and what cannot.

    I’m still waiting to learn about the evidence that water covered 100.0% of the earth’s surface at a single point in time. The entire SDA denomination is waiting.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Ahhh…so in the Bible the axehead only appeared to float? Somehow I missed that.

      You seriously believe we cannot falsify whether an axehead can float? This is beyond science? I’m absolutely astonished by what you think can be falsified and what cannot.

      The notion that axeheads can float on water all by themselves naturally is effectively falsified by empirical evidence. The notion that an axehead can be made to appear to “float” on water by deliberate design is also confirmed by empirical evidence. It is the same thing as Peter walking on the water at Jesus’ command. It wasn’t Peter who was really able to walk on water. It was God holding Peter up on the surface of the water that gave the appearance of Peter being able to walk on the water. The fact that Peter was not doing it himself is evident from the rest of the story where he sank when he took his eyes off of Jesus.

      Therefore, I really don’t understand your argument? Can God make something that does not naturally float or walk on water appear to be able to do so? Of course! Even humans can make such things appear to happen “magically”. What’s so strange about God being able to do the same thing?

      The empirical demonstration that the phenomenon in question is beyond the powers of any known mindless mechanism is actually good scientific evidence of deliberate design. For example, can you explain the origin of a chocolate fudge cake using mindless natural mechanisms alone? Of course not. Therefore, the origin of a chocolate fudge cake can be determined, with a high degree of predictive power, to have involved a high degree of deliberate intelligence.

      This is the basis of the determination of the need for intelligent design to explain many types of phenomena in various field of mainstream science…

      What’s your point?

      I’m still waiting to learn about the evidence that water covered 100.0% of the earth’s surface at a single point in time. The entire SDA denomination is waiting.

      The overall weight of evidence is consistent with, not a demonstration of, the biblical assertion of a truly global Flood. Nothing in science is subject to absolute confirmation. Science is about predictive value based on the weight of evidence – not absolute demonstration.

      The weight of evidence so far in had supports the biblical account of a worldwide Noachian Flood destroying all land-dwelling animals on the planet within recent history…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  23. Professor Kent: God.

    Professor Kent: BobRyan: In your “well that is nonsense” conclusion you fail to show two very key requirements.

    1. That it is nonsense to suggest that only God could make an axe head float.

    2. That if axeheads DID float “naturally” that text would still make sense in its claim that this had to be a miracle of God.
    What? I failed to show them? As if I should have?

    On point #1: Do you know someone other than God who can make an axe head float in a stream? Are you thinking George Bush? Rush Limbaugh? Neil Wilson? Sean Pitman? Pray tell!

    Again – communications is lacking in your response. you claim it is nonsense to accept the text as it reads. The text claims that only God can make the axe head float on water.

    My point to you is that you do not use the critical thinking necessary to support your wild claim with evidence. To show that the text is nonsense in that reguard you would have had to first show that attributing the act to God (as the text is doing) does not make sense.

    You failed to even attempt it.

    Kent said:

    On point #2: Are you suggesting that axeheads actually DO float “naturally?” Your logic is illusive. Of course it was a miracle of God. You and I can both agree on that.

    Which again – destroys your conclusion that the text is nonsense or that the fact that axe heads do not float naturally somehow shows the text to be nonsense since the entire argument of the text is that this does NOT happen naturally.

    The text makes a case BASED on the idea that there is no natural mechanism for axe heads to float naturally on water. The TEST we can do “in nature” SHOWS that the text is CORRECT in arguing that axe heads do not float naturally and that seeing such a thing – is to see a miracle. In this case the miracle is attributed to God.

    Your logic-illusive conclusion that the text is stating nonsense since axe heads do not float naturally – shows a paucity in logic that you have yet to explain.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  24. Kent said:

    The floating axehead illustrates well the delusion of those who arrogantly insist they believe the Bible’s validity based only on empirical evidence. This example points to three mutually exclusive approaches:

    1 – We accept the Bible as being affirmed in this example because what it claims can be proven to be true. The text CLAIMS axeheads do NOT float on water naturally – and we can affirm that this is true.

    3 – We accept the Bible even if some of its claims cannot be reproduced. So for example while we CAN reproduce the incident of the axehead sinking in water just as scripture stated… we can NOT reproduce the act of getting God to step in and choose to make our axehead float as we do our experiment.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  25. Professor Kent: BobRyan: “The weight of evidence” in the area of birds coming from birds is pretty conclusive as it turns out.
    That’s pretty profound. Are you an ornithologist, or birdwatcher, or poultry farmer, or aviculturist, or falconer by chance?

    I live on planet earth and am free to state the obvious.

    A few others seem to struggle with it.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  26. Ken: Can science ever be an independent, objective tool if it is subject to a faith or non faith bias?
    Your agnostic friend

    Science can never be “Accurate” while engage in arguing for fiction.

    It is one thing to claim that a piece of ice fell from the sky “all by itself”.

    It is a very differnt thing to claim that a Buick appeared on planet earth “All by itself” due to the random action of storms and geothermal activity.

    When the atheist evolutionist say “yes but I MUST argue for that fiction because I do not believe in a GM, I do not believe in an Engineer” they are promoting religion not science.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  27. Re Sean’s Quote

    “God may also have a bit of a sense of humor in his creation of animals even more similar to us – like apes.”

    Hi Sean

    I like that conjecture! 🙂

    Thanks for your reference to your article. I’ll be sure to read it. I understand your point: common origin does not equate to common descent but rather common design. The question is what is more likely?

    Cheers
    you agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:

      I understand your point: common origin does not equate to common descent but rather common design. The question is what is more likely?

      What is more likely depends upon the ability of your proposed mechanism to explain the functional differences, not just the similarities, in question…

      Beyond very low levels of functional complexity, the only known tenable mechanism involves high level intelligent design.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  28. Sean and Bob, you guys really amuse me. Here’s the verse:

    The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 7 “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. – 2 Kings 6:6-7

    This is no illusion, Sean. A direct reading reveals that Elisha threw a stick in the water and the axe head then floated to the surface.

    I agree with you: this can be tested empirically. But no matter how hard you twist and bend the meaning of the text to support your interpretation that it’s an illusion, we can easily show the Bible’s claim to be physically impossible, and therefore false when applying strict rules of science, evidence, and human reason.

    Yet you and Bob continue to insist it constitutes strong evidence that God did it! I sorely wish I had your enthusiasm for finding physical evidence to prove God’s word is true. But we could use your very same reasoning to insist that the Mormon’s claim of a warm feeling in the gut when reading the Book of Mormon is true, or that birds really did come from reptiles when reading a book on evolution. As Bob so profoundly put it, “we can NOT reproduce the act of getting God to step in and choose to make [the warm gut feeling, or the bird emerging from a reptile egg], as we do our experiment.” After all, these claims have no less empirical support. Your logic, Bob, is exquisite.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that a clever soul can use “science,” “evidence,” and “reason” to prove whatever one wants to prove. I guess you guys are right: we really don’t need to take God’s word at face value. Faith is as useless as the Flying Spaghetti Monster, indeed.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      This is no illusion, Sean. A direct reading reveals that Elisha threw a stick in the water and the axe head then floated to the surface.

      I never said that the fact that the axe head came to the surface was an illusion. It is described as a real event. What was an illusion is the appearance that the axe head floated without the aid of an outside intelligent force. The axe head did not float all by itself. it was deliberately lifted onto the surface of the water and held there by deliberate intelligent design… exactly like the iron bar I saw “floating” in “floating” water with my own eyes was a real iron bar that I picked up and held with my own hands, yet was not really “floating” all by itself without the input of an outside deliberately designed force that made it appear to “float” all by itself.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  29. Sean Pitman: Seeing the weight of evidence in support of the Bible increases one’s faith in the notion that the Bible really is the Word of God.

    Sean, we see this claim from you almost daily. But what do you really know about the evidence?

    According to Web of Science, in the last decade alone there have been the following number of papers dealing with the topics of

    FOSSIL: 24,522 papers
    DNA: 88,020 papers
    EVOLUTION: >100,000 papers

    I would bet my gall bladder, my pancreas, and my left kidney that you have not read so much as the title of 0.1% of these papers, much less the abstract or any other content of those papers. You have failed to examine more than 99.9% of the evidence! Yet you continue to boast that you know the “evidence” well enough to determine the “weight” of it, and you insist that any SDA employee who has failed to reach the same conclusion as you is unfit to teach in the Church.

    As you are fond of saying yourself, you don’t know what you are talking about.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      I would bet my gall bladder, my pancreas, and my left kidney that you have not read so much as the title of 0.1% of these papers, much less the abstract or any other content of those papers. You have failed to examine more than 99.9% of the evidence!

      Don’t be so obtuse. Not even the most widely read scientist in the world has made it through more than a tiny fraction of the data available in published papers. What then should one’s own “weight of evidence” be based on? What is a valid scientific understanding of the world based on?

      I never said that I had access to all knowledge, not even all human knowledge. What I said is that the evidence of which I’m aware strongly supports the biblical story of origins. That’s the best that any scientist can say. Now, if you happen to know of some significant weight of counter evidence, by all means present it.

      As far as I’m aware, the vast majority of papers you cite use the very same mistaken assumptions regarding origins. They commit the same basic flaws in logic. If you know otherwise, by all means submit a paper that falsifies anything I’ve claimed of any substance to my basic position.

      So far all I’ve seen coming from you is assertions that the weight of evidence really is against the biblical position but that the biblical position can still be believed despite any empirical evidence that may come against it.

      Empirically-blind faith is the savior of Christianity? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t do it for me and for many other people like me who want our faith to be based on the weight of evidence that appeals to rational minds…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  30. Sean Pitman: The empirical demonstration that the phenomenon in question is beyond the powers of any known mindless mechanism is actually good scientific evidence of deliberate design.

    Brilliant, Sean. Can we now apply this, the Pitman Axiom, to any holy book to examine its validity? Or do we restrict its use only to the claims of the Bible that can be easily refuted empirically, such as the iron axe head that floated on water?




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  31. Please. Your misdirection “can be made to appear to float on water” is obtuse and misleading. What is the actual wording?

    “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.

    The axe head not only floated to the surface, it was taken from the surface. This has NOT been supported empirically, and you have NOT seen it with your own eyes.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      The axe head not only floated to the surface, it was taken from the surface.

      It was indeed taken from the surface were it indeed appeared to float. But, as we know, the iron wasn’t really floating by itself. The empirical evidence is why we know that intelligent design was needed to produce the floating effect – to give the iron axe head the appearance that it was floating on the surface of the water.

      This has NOT been supported empirically, and you have NOT seen it with your own eyes.

      Not only have I see this trick done with my own eyes, I’ve also seen cubes and cylinders of solid metal appear to float in thin air (Link).

      Back when I was in grade school a magician came to entertain us kids and one of his tricks was to put a heavy rod of iron into a tank of water. The bar of iron was about 6 inches long and about an inch in diameter. The iron bar would sink and then come back up to the surface of the tank of water at the command of the magician. And, he also let us reach into the tank and lift out the iron rod and examine it. It looked and felt like a heavy iron bar. At the time I didn’t know how he did it. Now that I think back I’m sure he must have used magnets, but there are probably several other ways to generate a similar effect.

      I’m sure God is not at any loss to generate such an effect Himself in many different ways. He could simply send and invisible angel to lift up the axe head and make it appear to float. The man could then reach down and take the axe head out of the angel’s invisible hand. It would appear to any observer like the axe head floated on the water when in reality it wasn’t really floating. Or, God could have used an unseen magnet, or any number of other methods to give the desired effect…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  32. Readers, please understand: I accept what the Bible says at face value. I believe that the axe head floated to the surface, but I accept it on faith rather than on physical empirical evidence. Likewise, I accept the creation and flood narratives on faith rather than physical evidence.

    I never imagined I would see the day when heralded luminaries, such as Sean Pitman and Bob Ryan, would so enthusiastically and vigorously oppose our faith. It’s shocking.




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  33. Sean Pitman: What I said is that the evidence of which I’m aware strongly supports the biblical story of origins. That’s the best that any scientist can say. Now, if you happen to know of some significant weight of counter evidence, by all means present it.

    So why do you “hold accountable” others for evidence you’re aware of? We all rely on difference evidences to reach our conclusions, but you and others arrogantly assume that only your conclusions are correct, and eagerly persecute those who reach conclusions from a different subset of evidence, or a different interpretation of the same evidence. And even if we reach the exact same conclusion (i.e., the creation week and flood are real), you STILL persecute us for not using YOUR rationally superior method. Your smugness has no limits!

    Sean Pitman: Empirically-blind faith is the savior of Christianity? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t do it for me and for many other people like me who want our faith to be based on the weight of evidence that appeals to rational minds…

    You continue to mischaracterize my faith as completely devoid of evidence. I have my evidence, but it does not meet with your “weight of evidence that appeals to rational minds.” My strongest evidence comes from a personal conversation I have daily with Jesus Christ–the only savior of Christianity; no, it’s not face-to-face, but go ahead and belittle it. My faith in Jesus can handle your sneers and snickers. I don’t need the arrogance of your rationality.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You wrote:

      So why do you “hold accountable” others for evidence you’re aware of?

      I don’t hold others accountable for seeing things differently than I do on such issues. I think I’ve made that quite clear in this and other forums.

      I do, however, hold people accountable for taking money for knowingly doing the complete opposite of what they were paid to do. That’s a moral wrong in anyone’s book.

      I also don’t think that just anyone is qualified to officially represent the SDA Church in the capacity of a pastor or a teacher. A person can be ever so honest and sincere, but honesty and sincerity alone do no qualify a person to be an effective representative of the goals and ideals of the SDA Church as an organization.

      And even if we reach the exact same conclusion (i.e., the creation week and flood are real), you STILL persecute us for not using YOUR rationally superior method. Your smugness has no limits!

      I don’t care how you come to your conclusions. This is a free country after all. What I care about are those who are paid representatives who are not doing what they were hired to do – who are actually undermining the entire purpose for their paid position, eroding the Church’s foundational pillars from the inside.

      My faith in Jesus can handle your sneers and snickers. I don’t need the arrogance of your rationality.

      I’m happy for you, I really am. Now, why don’t you recognize the need that people like me have for the weight of empirical evidence as a key element in our walk with Jesus? – and as foundational for the organized SDA Church as well?

      Also, I’ve always been sincere and respectful in my interactions with you and your beliefs. I question you with sincere honest questions on my part; not to “sneer” or “snicker” or otherwise make fun of you or your position as I’m sure you’re a sincere and honest man. However, if your positions cannot be honestly questioned without you taking personal offense, I’m not sure if a forum like this one is for you…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  34. Re Sean’s Quote

    “What is more likely depends upon the ability of your proposed mechanism to explain the functional differences, not just the similarities, in question…”

    Hi Sean

    How do you explain the functional differences between all the species of animals we have today, versus the ‘kinds’ that came off the ark?

    What is the ability of your proposed mechanism to explain this vast array of biodiversity over approximately 4000 years? Rapid mutation by intelligent design? How exactly does that work at a molecular level?

    Cheers
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:

      What is the ability of your proposed mechanism to explain this vast array of biodiversity over approximately 4000 years? Rapid mutation by intelligent design? How exactly does that work at a molecular level?

      Hierarchical ClassificationMuch of the biodiversity within various types or “kinds” of animals (which I generally draw at the level of “order” in the classical hierarchical nomenclature) is based on various forms of variation, such as Mendelian variation, which are not dependent upon adding anything qualitatively new to the gene pool. In other words, the information needed for the diversity that is seen within a species was already pre-programmed into the ancestors of that kind of creature. The genetic information needed for all the various forms of dogs, for example, was pre-programmed into the original ancestral pair of dogs.

      This “front-loading” of genetic information allows for extremely rapid diversification of various phenotypic expressions of essentially the same original gene pool of phenotypic options. For example, essentially all of the large number of modern breeds of dogs were produced within the last 300 years. Consider also that the very same set of human parents have the genetic potential to give rise to trillions of different children with unique phenotypic appearances – all without the need for qualitatively novel mutations that go functionally beyond what was already there to begin with.

      Such is the power of Mendalian variation of front-loaded information within a given gene pool of a vast array of pre-programmed options.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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    • Ken: Re Sean’s Quote
      “What is more likely depends upon the ability of your proposed mechanism to explain the functional differences, not just the similarities, in question…”
      Hi Sean
      How do you explain the functional differences between all the species of animals we have today, versus the ‘kinds’ that came off the ark?
      What is the ability of your proposed mechanism to explain this vast array of biodiversity over approximately 4000 years? Rapid mutation by intelligent design? How exactly does that work at a molecular level?

      @Ken:

      This is an interesting question. Evolutionism has to “account for everything” using just gas and dust as a start point.

      Creationism has to account for “gaps” between fully complex genomes created by God “at the start”.

      The same holds for the Ark. We have an entire range of genomes from simple to compplex on the ark and have to account for “the gaps” over 4500 years of time.

      But evolutionism has to account “for everything” starting with gas and dust.

      in Christ,

      Bob




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  35. Sean Pitman: I do, however, hold people accountable for taking money for knowingly doing the complete opposite of what they were paid to do. That’s a moral wrong in anyone’s book.

    Dr. Ben Clausen of the GRI knowingly did exactly what he was paid to do. He stated that he believed in a literal creation. He did nothing morally wrong, but you still chose to publicly persecute him because he said he accepted the Genesis account on faith rather than evidence.

    Why have you made yourself the enemy of faith? I think you need to experience the conversion of Saul.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Dr. Ben Clausen of the GRI knowingly did exactly what he was paid to do. He stated that he believed in a literal creation. He did nothing morally wrong, but you still chose to publicly persecute him because he said he accepted the Genesis account on faith rather than evidence.

      As already noted, the whole purpose of the GRI is to find and present empirical evidence to support the Church’s position on origins. The purpose of the GRI in particular is not to tell people that the vast weight of empirical evidence supports the mainstream Darwinian view of origins. If that’s the best that the GRI can do, the Church might as well stop funding it.

      This isn’t to say anything against Dr. Clausen personally. After all, he simply finds the position of the vast number of mainstream scientists most convincing. He is in good and popular company. As honest and sincere as most people who share his views may be, they simply would not effectively serve the stated purpose of the GRI – which is not an organization set up to promote the virtues of empirically-blind faith.

      Why have you made yourself the enemy of faith? I think you need to experience the conversion of Saul.

      I’m not the enemy of rational faith. I do not understand or appreciate the benefits of empirically-blind faith however.

      I also find it somewhat ironic that you picked the conversion of Saul as an example of the virtues of empirically-blind faith when it was Saul who experienced one of the most overwhelming empirically tangible revelations of Jesus recorded in the New Testament. Saul (soon to be Paul) was actually knocked off of his horse, physically, by the brightness of Jesus. Those accompanying Saul were also knocked off of their horses as well. Saul then physically heard the actual voice of Jesus and had a real two-way conversation with Jesus.

      I’m sorry, but Saul was not converted without more direct empirical evidence of God and His existence than I’ve ever had the fortune of experiencing. He wasn’t converted by empirically-blind faith. It took a dramatic undeniable empirical experience to give him his faith in the risen Christ.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  36. Sean Pitman: As already noted, the whole purpose of the GRI is to find and present empirical evidence to support the Church’s position on origins.

    Their whole purpose? This is what I read at the GRI website.

    The Geoscience Research Institute, founded in 1958, was established to address this question by looking at the scientific evidence concerning origins. The Institute uses both science and revelation to study the question of origins because it considers the exclusive use of science as too narrow an approach. The Institute serves the Seventh-day Adventist church in two major areas: research and communication.

    The GRI clearly recognizes the limitations of science, and its “whole purpose” is broader than you suppose. Unlike you, their scientists apparently are humble enough to concede that they do not know the “evidence” well enough to state with certainty that the “weight of evidence” supports our position. If they are honest and don’t find agreement with your position, are they supposed to tell lies for Jesus and for the Church, and to keep their jobs from harsh critics like you?

    I also find it somewhat ironic that you picked the conversion of Saul as an example of the virtues of empirically-blind faith when it was Saul who experienced one of the most overwhelming empirically tangible revelations of Jesus recorded in the New Testament.

    Yes, it is, indeed, somewhat ironic…that you would fail to grasp the reason I mentioned the conversion of Saul, who persecuted good people who disagreed with his peculiar view of evidence and theology.

    You certainly have a proverbial stone in your hand.

    This isn’t to say anything against Dr. Clausen personally.

    You could not have made it any more personal.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      If they are honest and don’t find agreement with your position, are they supposed to tell lies for Jesus and for the Church, and to keep their jobs from harsh critics like you?

      Lots of people disagree with the Church’s position on origins – to include the vast majority of mainstream scientists. No one expects these scientists to “lie for Jesus” as employees of the SDA Church. However, if you don’t agree with the Church’s position on origins, why should the SDA Church hire you to tell people that the Church’s position is scientifically untenable and ludicrously irrational – even if you’re doing so honestly? Again, honesty alone is not enough to be an effective representative of the goals and ideals of the SDA Church as an organization.

      The SDA Church simply cannot afford to hire science teacher who don’t honestly believe that the Church’s position is in fact empirically rational – that there’s more to go on than blind faith.

      Obviously the current Church leadership agrees with me or they wouldn’t be so upset about what is going on at LSU. They would be fine with LSU science professors teaching whatever they wanted to teach if the Church leadership really did believe that the SDA faith has no meaningful basis in empirical evidence.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  37. Re Bob’s Quote

    The same holds for the Ark. We have an entire range of genomes from simple to compplex on the ark and have to account for “the gaps” over 4500 years of time.

    But evolutionism has to account “for everything” starting with gas and dust.

    Hi Bob

    I think that is a very fair comment.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  38. Hello Sean

    Re Bob’s point: “The same holds for the Ark. We have an entire range of genomes from simple to compplex on the ark and have to account for “the gaps” over 4500 years of time.”

    How do you account for all those functional differences that must have occurred over the gaps in the vast biodiversity of life we witness today? Or are you saying that we do not see any functional differences in life forms that came off the ark?

    How does intelligent design empirically work, versus natural selection as the change mechanism in evolution.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken:

      How do you account for all those functional differences that must have occurred over the gaps in the vast biodiversity of life we witness today? Or are you saying that we do not see any functional differences in life forms that came off the ark?

      That’s right… there were not higher level functional changes to the underlying “kinds” of gene pools that came off the Ark. All the variation that we see within species was the result of front-loaded information without anything qualitatively new entering the gene pool beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

      How does intelligent design empirically work, versus natural selection as the change mechanism in evolution.

      Intelligent design need not be in play since the original creation of all the various basic kinds of living things. Natural selection has been active since that time (since the “Fall”). It is just that natural selection is not a creative force. Rather, it is a stabilizing force of nature that tends to preserve, in an active manner, what already works. It does not, however, have the power to creatively produce novel functional elements beyond very very low levels of functional complexity…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  39. Sean, you’re sitting on the right field foul pole when you insist that only those who believe the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence supports SDA beliefs on origins should be working for GRI or teaching in an SDA institution.

    I personally do not know a single SDA scientist with a PhD degree (and I happen to know many) who would agree with either of your beliefs that (1) the scientific evidence overwhelmingly favors SDA beliefs and (2) only those who believe so are fit for church employment. If any SDA scientists agree with you, why do you suppose they aren’t publicly declaring their agreement with you here?




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    • @Eddie:

      I would indeed argue that certain aspects of Creationism are “overwhelming” – such as the need for a highly intelligent Agent to explain certain features of the finely tuned anthropic universe as well as high levels of qualitatively novel functional complexity within living things. However, many other aspects of SDA Creationism, such as the recent arrival of life on this planet, have abundant evidence which, while not necessarily “overwhelming”, do outweigh mainstream theories of origins.

      And, I happen to know quite a few SDA scientists myself who do not agree that professors in SDA schools should be promoting mainstream evolutionary theories while on the payroll of the SDA Church – that professors in our SDA schools should actually be able and willing to promote the rational superiority of the SDA perspective on origins compared to modern evolutionary theories. Those like Arthur Chadwick and Ariel Roth have voiced their concerns along these lines in this forum and others… as have a number of others who have done so anonymously, but do not wish to be directly named (though you’d probably be surprised at a few of these names).

      Beyond this, the debate here isn’t about numbers. I don’t really care if the vast majority of even “SDA scientists” disagree with me. It would still be counterproductive for the SDA Church to hire scientists who declare the Church’s position on origins is scientifically untenable. This is so clearly self-evident that I’m at a loss to see why someone like you, a professor at one of our schools, cannot seem to admit how your suggestions are actually at odds with the Church’s currently stated goals and ideals?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  40. ken: Hello SeanRe Bob’s point: “The same holds for the Ark. We have an entire range of genomes from simple to compplex on the ark and have to account for “the gaps” over 4500 years of time.”How do you account for all those functional differences that must have occurred over the gaps in the vast biodiversity of life we witness today? Or are you saying that we do not see any functional differences in life forms that came off the ark?How does intelligent design empirically work, versus natural selection as the change mechanism in evolution. Your agnostic friendKen

    I do not believe that there are significant functional differences (no reptiles turning into birds for example) since the animals came off of the ark.

    Natural selection can generate quite a bit of variety within a fixed group genome (or genetic pool as some would call it) simply by turning off the expression of an already existing set of coding genes or turning them on.

    Intelligent design accounts for the existence of that set of coding genes – to start with.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  41. Re Sean’s Quote

    “That’s right… there were not higher level functional changes to the underlying “kinds” of gene pools that came off the Ark. All the variation that we see within species was the result of front-loaded information without anything qualitatively new entering the gene pool beyond very low levels of functional complexity.”

    Hi Sean

    Thanks for the clarification. That helps me to better understand your position.

    Presuming that all species have functional differences, does that mean that all land species of animals we witness today came off the Ark.?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken:

      You wrote:

      Presuming that all species have functional differences, does that mean that all land species of animals we witness today came off the Ark?

      If you will re-read my initial comment to you in this regard (the one with the illustration of the hierachical classification system), I tend to draw the line of a clear distinction between gene pools or “kinds” of animals as the level of “Order” (there are no known viable intraordinal animal hybrids). Many different “species” are actually part of the very same gene pool. In fact, some definitions of “species”, such as “cryptic species” are not based on any detectable functional differences between various groups of animals at all. In other words, two elephants that look and function in an identical manner can be classified as different species.

      So, you see, different “species” are not necessarily all that functionally different with regard to their underlying gene pools or the genetic potential of the ancestral parental gene pools.

      This is why, when discussing the question of origins, to include the potential and limits of evolutionary mechanisms, one needs to define different types of gene pools according to qualiative functional differences that go beyond very low levels of functional complexity…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  42. Re Bob’s Quote

    “Natural selection can generate quite a bit of variety within a fixed group genome (or genetic pool as some would call it) simply by turning off the expression of an already existing set of coding genes or turning them on.

    Intelligent design accounts for the existence of that set of coding genes – to start with.”

    Hi Bob

    Thanks for your comments. That is quite interesting.

    How does one define a fixed group genome or different kinds of genomes? For example has there been any attempt by Adventist biologists, or other creationist biologists to put ‘kinds’ of genomes in any taxonomic order?

    Sorry for my ignorance on this topic!

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  43. Sean Pitman: Lots of people disagree with the Church’s position on origins – to include the vast majority of mainstream scientists. No one expects these scientists to “lie for Jesus” as employees of the SDA Church. However, if you don’t agree with the Church’s position on origins, why should the SDA Church hire you to tell people that the Church’s position is scientifically untenable and ludicrously irrational – even if you’re doing so honestly? Again, honesty alone is not enough to be an effective representative of the goals and ideals of the SDA Church as an organization.

    Dr. Clausen does not fit your scenario. He has never said the SDA position is scientfically untenable and ludicrously irrational. He just doesn’t believe we have a model that adequately addresses the evidence. Dr. Brand and other SDA biologists concede the same. You’re the only SDA singing the tune that overwhelming evidence supports our position.

    The SDA Church simply cannot afford to hire science teacher who don’t honestly believe that the Church’s position is in fact empirically rational – that there’s more to go on than blind faith.

    You’re disingenious to continue insisting that I and other scientists in the Church dismiss all evidence. Your ploy to paint us people is patently dishonest. I’ve asked you stop and I’ll do so once again.

    Our issue is simply that in the absence of overwhelming evidence, we still choose to believe on faith. Sorry it outrages you so, but those who accept this position ARE qualified to teach in the Church. Frankly, the Church cannot afford to fire hundreds of faculty who take a stance on faith. You haven’t figured it out yet, but you’re virtually alone with an advanced degree insisting that overwhelming evidence supports our position.

    Obviously the current Church leadership agrees with me or they wouldn’t be so upset about what is going on at LSU.

    Ironically, the problem at LSU has been faculty who take YOUR position: that evidence trumps faith. Obviously, the Church disagrees with your position on overwhelming evidence because they are not in the process of firing hundreds or thousands of employees who accept Genesis on faith. And…sorry to bruise your ego…THE CHURCH NEVER WILL.




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  44. Sean Pitman: And, I happen to know quite a few SDA scientists myself who do not agree that professors in SDA schools should be promoting mainstream evolutionary theories while on the payroll of the SDA Church – that professors in our SDA schools should actually be able and willing to promote the rational superiority of the SDA perspective on origins compared to modern evolutionary theories. Those like Arthur Chadwick and Ariel Roth have voiced their concerns along these lines in this forum and others… as have a number of others who have done so anonymously, but do not wish to be directly named (though you’d probably be surprised at a few of these names).

    Ahem…your claims, and proof of them, remain elusive. Yes, I think they object to teaching evolution as fact, but perhaps their silence stems from biased language: able and willing to promote the rational superiority of the SDA perspective. Maybe they feel that faith still trumps evidence (or perhaps more appropriately, lack of evidence).




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  45. In general – take the human genome as an example. The mapping of the genome starts with a single individual – but from that one person you can determine a fixed set of coding genes (not all of which are expressed in phenotype in any one individual) that exist within the chromosomes and that are present in all individuals for that group level genome.

    Hence the concept “human genome”.

    As it turns out – coding genes are not the fly-by-night come-and-go-as-you-please ephemerals that many evolutionists had imagined. (damaging mutations not withstanding).

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  46. Sean Pitman: certain aspects of Creationism are “overwhelming” – such as the need for a highly intelligent Agent to explain certain features of the finely tuned anthropic universe as well as high levels of qualitatively novel functional complexity within living things.

    Agreed. And I believe nearly all SDA science professors would agree.

    Sean Pitman: And, I happen to know quite a few SDA scientists myself who do not agree that professors in SDA schools should be promoting mainstream evolutionary theories while on the payroll of the SDA Church

    Again I agree with you 100%. I’m quite certain the vast majority of SDA science professors would agree with you.

    Sean Pitman: professors in our SDA schools should actually be able and willing to promote the rational superiority of the SDA perspective on origins compared to modern evolutionary theories.

    True with abiogenesis, but you’re swimming upstream with the age of life on the planet and many aspects of the geological record.

    Sean Pitman: It would still be counterproductive for the SDA Church to hire scientists who declare the Church’s position on origins is scientifically untenable.

    Most would probably agree that it is “weak,” not necessarily “untenable.” It would be counterproductive for the SDA Church to hire scientists who declare the churh’s position on origins is strongly supported by the scientific evidence.




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    • @Eddie:

      Agreed [regarding evident design in the universe and in living things]. And I believe nearly all SDA science professors would agree.

      This isn’t true when you’re talking about a number of LSU science professors.

      Now, I do understand your personal objection is over the age of life on Earth. You seem to think that the weight of evidence clearly, if not overwhelmingly, favors the idea that living things have existed on this planet for hundreds of millions of years.

      I simply disagree with you. While not necessarily as overwhelming as the evidence for design behind the anthropic universe or the complexity of living things, I do in fact see the clear weight of evidence (to include fossil, geological, and even genetic evidence) as favoring the young-life position.

      You may argue that I’m in the disctinct minority in such views, even among SDA scientists. That may be, but I don’t really care about being in the minority – obviously. Being a creationist of any kind is to take on a distinctly minority view within the scientific community at large.

      Given my views on this topic, I think it unwise of the SDA Church to hire scientists to go around telling people that the Church’s position on a literal six-day creation week is scientifically unsupported – i.e., that the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence that is currently available strongly indicates that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of millions of years of time.

      The SDA Church might as well hire mainstream secular scientists as to present such a message to our young people. You say that presenting the evidence for young life would be counterproductive since such arguments would get blown out of the water. Well, most scientists would say the same thing about your arguments for the anthropic universe or for the need for intelligent design to explain high levels of functional complexity in living things.

      You’re never going to get agreement on this topic among all or even the majority of scientists. Therefore, it is wise of the Church to simply hire those who are actually convinced of the Church’s position on origins has standing upon the weight of empirical evidence.

      I’m not the only one who actually believes this, but even if I were the only one, it still would not serve the Church’s intersts to hire scientists to tell people that the Church’s position on a literal 6-day creation week is scientifically untenable. That would be counterproductive for the Church’s stated goals and ideals. Might as well not have a science course in an SDA school than to teach contrary to the Church’s stated goals and ideals…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  47. Sean Pitman: You say that presenting the evidence for young life would be counterproductive since such arguments would get blown out of the water.

    I never said that nor would I ever agree with that statement. By all means such evidence for young life should be presented in the most positive light possible. Nevertheless, there is a lot of evidence for longer periods of time for life that is difficult for many of us to dismiss, and I don’t think science educators would be helping out the creationist cause by telling students that all of the evidence for long ages is baloney. There is no scientifically tenable explanation for why various methods of radiometric dating consistently yield ages longer than 6,000 years.

    Sean Pitman: While not necessarily as overwhelming as the evidence for design behind the anthropic universe or the complexity of living things, I do in fact see the clear weight of evidence (to include fossil, geological, and even genetic evidence) as favoring the young-life position.

    Many Christians have lost their faith because of the empirical evidence for long ages of life on Earth. Do you know of any atheist who became a Christian because of the empirical evidence for life on Earth being less than 10,000 years old?

    Let me be transparent about my personal position: I believe in a young age of life on Earth, but not because of the empirical evidence. I see through a glass darkly and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Whatever happened in the past happened. Other matters are more important.




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    • @Eddie:

      You wrote:

      By all means such evidence for young life should be presented in the most positive light possible.

      I suggest to you that those who believe that the significant weight of evidence counters the young-life position aren’t going to be able to present evidence for the young-life position in the most positive light possible…

      Nevertheless, there is a lot of evidence for longer periods of time for life that is difficult for many of us to dismiss, and I don’t think science educators would be helping out the creationist cause by telling students that all of the evidence for long ages is baloney.

      I never said that there were no difficult or even unanswered questions from the young-life perspective. What I said is that I believe that the young-life position has the weight of evidence. That statement can be true without having all the evidence…

      There is no scientifically tenable explanation for why various methods of radiometric dating consistently yield ages longer than 6,000 years.

      And there is no scientifically tenable explanation for why organic materials like coal and oil that are supposed to be many tens or even hundreds of millions of years old still contain significant levels of radiocarbon… which should be undetectable by orders of magnitude after such a period of time.

      There is also no tenable scientific explanation for the lack of other markers of the passage of time, like erosion or bioturbation or the rapid deterioration of the quality of genomic information in slowly reproducing gene pools, when radiometric dating methods suggest that enormous periods of time passed between various points in the geologic column.

      So you see, while not all features of radiometric dating can be explained or are clearly understood from a young-life perspective, there are many features that are much more consistently explained from this perspective. There are also numerous fundamental problems with radiometric dating assumptions as well as the often cited consistency between various radiometric dating methods… claims which are often based on circular reasoning and self-fulfilling predictions.

      If such evidences for long-ages are to be presented in our classrooms, and I believe that they should be presented, they should also be tempered by presenting the numerous know problems with such dating methods along with potential explanations from the creationist perspective (and there are some interesting potential solutions to many, though certainly not all, of the problems presented by such arguments).

      Many Christians have lost their faith because of the empirical evidence for long ages of life on Earth. Do you know of any atheist who became a Christian because of the empirical evidence for life on Earth being less than 10,000 years old?

      First off, there aren’t that many true atheists. Only about 1.6% of Americans described themselves as atheists and 2.4% as agnostics (we won’t even talk about ‘atheists in foxholes’). And, when someone does end up calling themselves an atheist in a public manner, they’re usually pretty set in their ways, having made up his/her mind against the idea of God. Because of this, it is pretty hard to convert a self-proclaimed atheist.

      Yet, I know of a number of former agnostics or atheists who became Christians due in no small part to the evidence for creation – to include the evidence for a recent arrival of life on Earth: Walter Veith, Clifford Goldstein, Rick Lanser, Jerry Bergman, and John Sanford to name a few.

      Really though, such examples are meaningless when it comes to my own basis of faith and a solid hope in the future… and the faith of many who remain Christians because of the evidence in support of the Biblical account of origins.

      More to the point, as you point out, many many people do in fact leave the Church because the Church is not offering them good apologetic arguments to counter the prevailing opinions of mainstream science. Hiring scientists who promote the mainstream perspective, or offer nothing but blind faith to counter it, only exacerbates the problem. Flipping your argument around, if the Church were able to provide better empirical arguments for its position on origins, I think even you would agree that such evidence would play a big part in keeping people in the Church. After all, if they’re leaving in droves because of the empirical evidence against the Church, if this evidence is effectively countered, such an effort would obviously play a key role in keeping a great many people in the Church.

      Sure, a few like you and Prof. Kent may stay in the Church in spite of the perceived weight of evidence or because of empirically blind faith alone. But, for many many people, blind faith arguments just aren’t good enough. They aren’t appealing to many rational people who will follow where they think the empirical evidence leads. The Church should be urgently trying to help such people, people like me, who actually need to see the weight of empirical evidence favoring the Church’s perspective as a basis for rational faith. The Church would only be contributing to the vast exodus from its own doors by failing to substantively address the arguments of mainstream scientists that are being brought against it – according to your own argument.

      Let me be transparent about my personal position: I believe in a young age of life on Earth, but not because of the empirical evidence. I see through a glass darkly and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Whatever happened in the past happened. Other matters are more important.

      Again, empirically blind faith must be a wonderful thing for you and others who share your view. The problem is that many like me don’t understand a faith that is not backed by empirical evidence as rational or personally meaningful. Simply choosing to believe contrary to what I understand to be the weight of empirical evidence would be, for me, a form of irrationality – kind of like living a lie.

      I therefore remain in the Church because I actually see the weight of evidence as strongly favoring the Church’s fundamental goals and ideals – to include its position on origins (a position which I consider to be one of the most fundamental aspects of Adventism and Christianity at large).

      This is why, if I ever became convinced of Darwinism or long-ages for life on Earth, I would leave the SDA Church and probably Christianity as well. I might still believe in a God of some kind, but certainly not the Christian-style God described in the pages of the Bible…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  48. Re Sean’s Quote

    “If you will re-read my initial comment to you in this regard (the one with the illustration of the hierachical classification system), I tend to draw the line of a clear distinction between gene pools or “kinds” of animals as the level of “Order” (there are no known viable intraordinal animal hybrids).”

    Dear Sean

    My humble apologies, I missed your previous email with the taxonomic diagram. A picture says a thousand words!

    Can I beg your indulgence to take the readers further down the classification path? What were the exact kinds or orders of animals that you consider were on the Ark? In other words orders or groups of animals that have not experienced any functional differences.

    For example, I presume you do not think that humans were included in the primate order. I’d be a monkey’s uncle if you did so! But does your concept of order mean that each of the great apes are in their own separate order?, i.e. functionally different?

    Respectfully, based on your criteria, I think any Adventist model of creation must include the probability that every functionally different order of land animal was included on the ark. What were they specifically?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  49. Sean Pitman: I suggest to you that those who believe that the significant weight of evidence counters the young-life position aren’t going to be able to present evidence for the young-life position in the most positive light possible…

    I disagree.

    Sean Pitman: If such evidences for long-ages are to be presented in our classrooms, and I believe that they should be presented, they should also be tempered by presenting the numerous know problems with such dating methods along with potential explanations from the creationist perspective (and there are some interesting potential solutions to many, though certainly not all, of the problems presented by such arguments).

    I agree. That’s exactly what me and my colleagues do.

    Ken: Sure, a few like you and Prof. Kent may stay in the Church in spite of the perceived weight of evidence or because of empirically blind faith alone. But, for many many people, blind faith arguments just aren’t good enough.

    Assuming I correctly understand Professor Kent’s position, neither of us exercise nor promote blind faith. Speaking for myself, my faith IS based on evidence: for design, historical accuracy of the Bible, fulfilled Biblical prophecies, testimonies of fellow believers, personal experiences, etc. But not much of the evidence can be subjected to scientific scrutiny. My faith is NOT based on empirical evidence for life < 6,000 years old or 100% of the world being covered by Noah's flood.

    I'm not satisfied that science can or ever will in my lifetime provide a conclusive answer to origins, so that is where faith fills the gaps where evidence is lacking.

    I think we need to be humble in recognizing that science is limited in answering many of the fundamental questions about origins. If my beliefs were based purely on science I would be agnostic, like our friend Ken. But I would rather take a leap of faith and place my trust in a Creator who designed life and created it less than 10,000 years ago.

    Sean Pitman: I therefore remain in the Church because I actually see the weight of evidence as strongly favoring the Church’s fundamental goals and ideals – to include its position on origins (a position which I consider to be one of the most fundamental aspects of Adventism and Christianity at large).

    Good for you, but I think there are far more important aspects of Adventism and Christianity than believing that life was created in six literal days 6,000 years ago and that 100% of the planet was covered by Noah’s flood. I don’t recall Jesus telling the young ruler or the healed blind man or the healed paralytic or the healed demoniac or Nicodemus or any of his disciples or the thief on the cross that they needed to interpret Genesis literally in order to be saved.




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    • @Eddie:

      I disagree.

      You honestly believe that someone who sees the clear weight of evidence as countering the young-life position can be just as effective in promoting the truth of the young-life position as someone who actually believes that the weight of evidence favors the young life position? Really? Did I read you correctly here?

      Assuming I correctly understand Professor Kent’s position, neither of us exercise nor promote blind faith.

      Kent and Brantley have been quite clear in stating that their faith that the Bible is the Word of God cannot be subjected to or based upon any form of empirical test or criticism of any kind – according to their understanding of the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. In other words, the Bible is the Word of God “by definition” – no questions asked. If you don’t pick the Bible as the true Word of God by sheer luck, among all the competing options out there, oh well… too bad for you!

      Speaking for myself, my faith IS based on evidence: for design, historical accuracy of the Bible, fulfilled Biblical prophecies, testimonies of fellow believers, personal experiences, etc. But not much of the evidence can be subjected to scientific scrutiny.

      All forms of empirical evidence that are held up as providing a degree of predictive value to support a hypothesis or an assertion of truth are based on a form of scientific reasoning – a form of science.

      My faith is NOT based on empirical evidence for life < 6,000 years old or 100% of the world being covered by Noah's flood.

      Yet you claim to believe that life is in fact young… while still claiming to believe that the weight of scientific evidence strongly counters the Bible’s assertions on this particular topic? That’s nice for you, but for many intelligent candid minds, that just doesn’t cut it. And, as you yourself point out, many are leaving the Church because they are convinced, by the claims of mainstream science, that the Bible’s claims are seriously out of touch with empirical reality and therefore cannot be trusted with regard to its metaphysical claims.

      I’m not satisfied that science can or ever will in my lifetime provide a conclusive answer to origins, so that is where faith fills the gaps where evidence is lacking.

      Science never provides a conclusive answer to any question – by definition. If a conclusive answer could ever be obtained for any question science would no longer be needed at that point. Science is only needed when one has limited information to use in making an educated “leap of faith”. Science is all about making leaps of faith – but not entirely blind leaps of faith…

      I think we need to be humble in recognizing that science is limited in answering many of the fundamental questions about origins. If my beliefs were based purely on science I would be agnostic, like our friend Ken. But I would rather take a leap of faith and place my trust in a Creator who designed life and created it less than 10,000 years ago.

      Yet you claim, as “overwhelming”, the scientific arguments for the need for a God-like creative mind and power to explain various anthropic features of the universe and of the functional complexity of life? How then can you claim, at the same time, that if one follows scientific explanations of the available evidence that the most rational conclusion regarding even the basic existence of God or a God-like Creator is that of agnosticism?

      I’m sorry, but if that is what you are teaching your students, don’t expect many of them to remain in such an apparently irrational Church organization.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  50. Sean Pitman: There is also no tenable scientific explanation for the lack of other markers of the passage of time, like erosion or bioturbation

    There is plenty of bioturbation, with an abundance of ongoing studies documenting it.

    Sean Pitman: Sure, a few like you and Prof. Kent may stay in the Church in spite of the perceived weight of evidence or because of empirically blind faith alone.

    You have been told repeatedly that we and others like us do not take an empirically blind stance. You need to learn how to treat others with more respect, Sean, and stop the flagrant lying. I suggest you spend more time contemplating the life of Christ and how he treated others. He did not resort to continuous mischaracterization and sneers.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      There is plenty of bioturbation, with an abundance of ongoing studies documenting it.

      That’s simply not true. While there is certainly some bioturbation, there isn’t remotely enough, generally throughout the geologic record, to equal the amount expected given the time span that supposedly took place, according to mainstream science, in the formation of the geologic column and fossil records…

      Arthur Chadwick, Ph.D. has been searching for the expected bioturbation that should be evident with the layers of the geologic record if they true represent vast periods of elapsed time – and hasn’t found remotely close to what should be expected within most of the geologic record. In October of 2009, Chadwick gave at talk at Loma Linda University. The balance of his talk argued that if the strata of the geologic record had been laid down that slowly, in normal ecological conditions, we would expect bioturbation to erase the evidences of aqueous deposition such as particle sorting and bedding planes. But for the most part they haven’t been erased.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  51. I’d like to express my frustration that participants here tend to project a strong dichotomy between BLIND FAITH versus THE PRIORITY OF EMPIRICAL DATA. It’s not real, and those who repeatedly make such statements damage their own credibility.

    Those like myself, Eddie, Pauluc, OTNT Believer, KrisSmith, Frederick, Phil Brantley, and others are NOT insisting on blind, empirically-based allegience to belief in God’s word. Moreover, just because we disagree with Sean’s unique position on “the weight of evidence” does not mean we advocate the evangelizing of theistic evolution in our schools. To the contrary, I believe we all agree that the Church’s teachings must be presented and treated with respect, and most of us accept those teachings.

    And, as much as Sean and Bob and others seemingly insist that we must base our faith on scientific evidence, they have a very large faith-based component to their beliefs, though there may be reluctance to admit as much.

    We’re all in the same contemporary ark together. If you wish to throw us overboard, it’s not because of our conclusions–since many of us are factually conservative in our views–but because of HOW we arrived at them, which happens to differ from Sean Pitman’s exceptional perspective. That’s hardly Christ-like. None of us painted negatively by Sean and Bob are proclaiming others unfit for service to the Church.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Those like myself, Eddie, Pauluc, OTNT Believer, KrisSmith, Frederick, Phil Brantley, and others are NOT insisting on blind, empirically-based allegience to belief in God’s word.

      You and Brantley in particular have been saying that empirical evidence is irrelevant to one’s belief in the Bible as the Word of God. According to your interpretation of the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation the Bible cannot be subject to question or criticism “by definition” – to quote Brantley.

      I’m sorry Prof., but isn’t that the very definition of empirically-blind faith in the Bible as the Word of God? – that empirical evidence is not needed, at all, to support your faith in the Bible’s credibility?

      Pick your position and stick with it already. Stop trying to speak out of both sides of your mouth. If you think empirical evidence is required to support a rational faith in the Bible’s credibility, then say so. If you do, then say so. But don’t try to play both sides…

      Moreover, just because we disagree with Sean’s unique position on “the weight of evidence” does not mean we advocate the evangelizing of theistic evolution in our schools. To the contrary, I believe we all agree that the Church’s teachings must be presented and treated with respect, and most of us accept those teachings.

      Wonderful! We have no argument on this particular point…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  52. Re Eddie’s Quote

    “I think we need to be humble in recognizing that science is limited in answering many of the fundamental questions about origins. If my beliefs were based purely on science I would be agnostic, like our friend Ken. But I would rather take a leap of faith and place my trust in a Creator who designed life and created it less than 10,000 years ago.”

    Dear Eddie

    Thank you very much for your kind comments.

    I respect all of you for your faith and want to point out that it is not my goal to convert anyone to agnosticism. Rather I hope we gain an appreciation for why we think what we do.

    I have gained a great appreciation for Adventism over the last four years, which has had a salutary effect on my life. Why? Because I have found an earnest group of friends that passionately care about the essence of life: why we are here? Design? Accident? Mystery? Those of faith fall into the first camp, those of non faith into the second camp, and those frustratingly inveterate questioners! – never satisfied with any approximation of reality – into the last.

    I do think however, that we can challenge each other without recrimination if we are not fearful of the consequences. I appreciate and understand that there are huge doctrinal stakes at play; but this should not obviate the noble human goal to seek objective knowledge no matter what the outcome,

    As always, thanks for allowing me to participate.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  53. Ken: I have gained a great appreciation for Adventism over the last four years, which has had a salutary effect on my life. Why? Because I have found an earnest group of friends that passionately care about the essence of life: why we are here? Design? Accident? Mystery?

    Ken, just a note to express my utmost admiration and appreciation for your unfailingly congenial communications. You amaze me!

    Professor Kent
    Professing Christ until the whole world hears




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  54. Professor Kent: I’d like to express my frustration that participants here tend to project a strong dichotomy between BLIND FAITH versus THE PRIORITY OF EMPIRICAL DATA. It’s not real, and those who repeatedly make such statements damage their own credibility.
    Those like myself, Eddie, Pauluc, OTNT Believer, KrisSmith, Frederick, Phil Brantley, and others are NOT insisting on blind, empirically-based allegience to belief in God’s word.

    1. I note that you have taken this up over at Spectrum with an “Open Letter to Educate Truth” published at Spectrum instead of posting your thoughts here “at Educate Truth”.

    2. Since I am named in the above — I will also point out that Spectrum has kindly asked that I not respond to questions put to me at Spectrum. (It is a new slant on their “Big Tent” idea I think.)

    3. Both you and Brantley have tried to conflate hermeneutics (of which the H-G model is an example) with epistemology as if the two are the same thing — they are not.

    You have even stated here that you “believe” that hermeneutics encompasses epistemology. Yet Davis states that hermeneutics by definition deals just with the rules for accurately rendering the text.

    4. You debate and complain on almost EVERY observation in nature found to support the Bible teaching on creation “as if” this is helping in some way.

    5. You have clearly stated that we should simply turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence in support of 3SG90-91 showing that evoutionism leads to atheism. (As even Darwin, Provine, Meyers and Dawkins can be seen to admit).

    6. In the above example you are simply twisting the context to make your case – but are not addressing the substantive issues listed in this post.

    If Spectrum were not so fearful of having this response posted on Spectrum at this point — I would post it there.

    Out of respect for their wishes – I am not posting there.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  55. Bob, we’ve covered this ground over and over and over again. Do we really need to continue?

    Frankly, I don’t understand many of your claims. Among them:

    You have clearly stated that we should simply turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence in support of 3SG90-91 showing that evoutionism leads to atheism. (As even Darwin, Provine, Meyers and Dawkins can be seen to admit).

    Where have I stated this? I don’t believe the support is “overwhelming,” but I have never stated that we should turn a blind eye to all evidence. I think we should deal honestly with the evidence, but more importantly, I feel we should encourage young people to develop a personal relationship with Jesus rather than hit them over the head with so-called facts about origins. I’m convinced that one’s faith will be stronger if it is developed on one’s knees rather than by reading creationist apologetics. Why does this make me such a bad guy?




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  56. Professor Kent: Bob, we’ve covered this ground over and over and over again. Do we really need to continue?
    Frankly, I don’t understand many of your claims. Among them:
    You have clearly stated that we should simply turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence in support of 3SG90-91 showing that evoutionism leads to atheism. (As even Darwin, Provine, Meyers and Dawkins can be seen to admit).
    Where have I stated this? I don’t believe the support is “overwhelming,” but I have never stated that we should turn a blind eye to all evidence. I think we should deal honestly with the evidence, but more importantly, I feel we should encourage young people to develop a personal relationship with Jesus

    1. You are ignoring the detail points listed in my points.

    2. You have suggested an “either-or” strategy where we dump one truth in favor of another “as if” admitting that evolutionism undermines Christianity just as 3SG 90-91, and Darwin, and Dawkins et al – say it does… means we must then deny the importance of a personal relationship with Christ.

    A nonsequitter at best on your part.

    But it might work at Spectrum.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  57. BobRyan: 1. You are ignoring the detail points listed in my points.

    I had to go to work and didn’t have time to respond to everything. I’m sure you used to have similar constraints.

    2. You have suggested an “either-or” strategy where we dump one truth in favor of another “as if” admitting that evolutionism undermines Christianity just as 3SG 90-91, and Darwin, and Dawkins et al – say it does… means we must then deny the importance of a personal relationship with Christ.

    Only in your imagination.

    I’ll get to the rest of your “points” shortly.




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  58. Bob, here is the point-by-point response you requested:

    BobRyan: 1. I note that you have taken this up over at Spectrum with an “Open Letter to Educate Truth” published at Spectrum instead of posting your thoughts here “at Educate Truth”.

    Okay…

    2. Since I am named in the above — I will also point out that Spectrum has kindly asked that I not respond to questions put to me at Spectrum. (It is a new slant on their “Big Tent” idea I think.)

    Okay…

    3. Both you and Brantley have tried to conflate hermeneutics (of which the H-G model is an example) with epistemology as if the two are the same thing — they are not. You have even stated here that you “believe” that hermeneutics encompasses epistemology. Yet Davis states that hermeneutics by definition deals just with the rules for accurately rendering the text.

    You’ve pointed this out before and it’s been discussed ad nauseum. You might be right. Perhaps we are misinterpreting Dr. Davidson. Perhaps Dr. Davidson’s understanding is wrong. However, Dr. Davidson makes crystal clear that a basic presupposition of the H-G method is “The Bible is the ultimate authority and is not amenable to the principle of criticism: biblical data is accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc. (Isa 66:2).” You and your pals here enthusiastically reject this. If you disagree with this presupposition, take it up with Dr. Davidson. I’m finished with it.

    4. You debate and complain on almost EVERY observation in nature found to support the Bible teaching on creation “as if” this is helping in some way.

    There are many things beyond my expertise that I have chosen not to comment on. You exaggerate.

    5. You have clearly stated that we should simply turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence in support of 3SG90-91 showing that evoutionism leads to atheism. (As even Darwin, Provine, Meyers and Dawkins can be seen to admit).

    I’ve addressed this. I’ll add that I’m not a big fan of Darwin, Provine, Meyers, or Dawkins. I’m surprised you haven’t figured this out yet. I don’t know why you so often refer to them as authorities on matters of origins, since you yourself detest their philosophies.

    6. In the above example you are simply twisting the context to make your case – but are not addressing the substantive issues listed in this post.

    Oh really.

    If Spectrum were not so fearful of having this response posted on Spectrum at this point — I would post it there.

    Your post was very frightening.




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  59. Professor Kent: 3. Both you and Brantley have tried to conflate hermeneutics (of which the H-G model is an example) with epistemology as if the two are the same thing — they are not. You have even stated here that you “believe” that hermeneutics encompasses epistemology.

    Yet Davis states that hermeneutics by definition deals just with the rules for accurately rendering the text.

    You’ve pointed this out before and it’s been discussed ad nauseum. You might be right

    I find it interesting that “I may be right” in pointing out that Davidson’s own text states the obvious definition for hermeneutics as purely dealing with rules for rendering the text — then in classic nonsequitter style you add that if I am right in that regard then “Perhaps we are misinterpreting Dr. Davidson. Perhaps Dr. Davidson’s understanding is wrong.”

    1. You never show how Davidson’s text stating that hermeneutics is just dealing with the issue of rendering the text – can be bent to mean “hermeneutics encompasses epistemology” — rather you ignore the text in regard to its statements on defintion like the plague.

    That can hardly be bent as challenge on your part in understanding the words in the text regarding definitions. You simply choose to ignore them entirely.

    2. You argue that by not dealing with epistemlogy – H-G “encompasses it” in your statement below –

    Dr. Davidson makes crystal clear that a basic presupposition of the H-G method is “The Bible is the ultimate authority and is not amenable to the principle of criticism: biblical data is accepted at face value and not subjected to an external norm to determine truthfulness, adequacy, validity, intelligibility, etc. (Isa 66:2).”

    However your quote above does NOT say “the H-G method by definition presupposes that the Bible is the ultimate authority”. Which is a not so subtle detail missing from you claim I think.

    3. You claim you are not carping and complaining when observations in nature are found to be in harmony with the text of scripture on this thread — but the evidence in posts already on this discussion board indicate otherwise.

    4. When I point to first hand witness accounts for the fact that evolutionism leads Christians to atheism your next non-sequitter is that once a Christian becomes an atheist due to belief evolutionism their witness should no longer be considered for discussing the evidence that belief in evolutionism leads Christians to atheism.

    And when we note the 3SG 90-91 agreement with those first-hand testimonies predicting that very thing – you simply ignore it entirely.

    The logical fallacies you use to spin the matter seem to be without limit in that regard.

    But a point in your favor is that you are right to point out that your method is probably more effective at Spectrum than Educate Truth.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  60. BobRyan: But a point in your favor is that you are right to point out that your method is probably more effective at Spectrum than Educate Truth.

    Your final point pretty much summarizes why I’m going to ignore the remainder of your post. You twist and bend and reconfigure–and then twist and bend and some more–what I and anyone else has written.

    Conversation with you is useless. It would be helpful if you tried to dialog with the other person rather than your own imagination.




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