@Professor Kent: Those like myself, Eddie, Pauluc, OTNT Believer, KrisSmith, …

Comment on Faith & Science Sabbath School examines LSU’s apology by Sean Pitman.

@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
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Faith & Science Sabbath School examines LSU’s apology
@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
www.DetectingDesign.com


Faith & Science Sabbath School examines LSU’s apology
@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
www.DetectingDesign.com


Faith & Science Sabbath School examines LSU’s apology
@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
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

The Sabbath and the Covenants (Old vs. New)
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Christians and the Sabbath
Response to a comment of a friend of mine posted in another forum:

    “Before the way of FAITH IN CHRIST was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, UNTIL the way of faith was revealed. The law was our guardian UNTIL Christ came; it protected us UNTIL we could be made right with God through FAITH. And now that the way of FAITH has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. For you are all children of God through FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.” Gal3:23-26

Faith is certainly what saves. This has always been true since the very beginning. Even those righteous persons who lived before Jesus was born into this world as a human being, even Moses or David for instance, were not saved by the works of the Law, but by Faith. The purpose of the Law was never to save, but to convict the sinner of a need of a Savior – since all have sinned against the “Royal Law.” It is faith in the Savior that saves. The work of the Law, carefully considered, is to lead us to know that our only hope of salvation is faith in what Jesus, our Savior, did for us and is doing for us. Yet, this faith does not nullify the Law or make the Law pointless when it comes to its job to constantly remind us of our need of a Savior – a saving Power outside of ourselves. Rather, the Power realized through this faith actually enables us to keep the Spirit of the Law as it was originally intended to be kept – through selfless love for God and for our neighbors.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, makes this point particularly clear:

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:31

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous. Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts… If a man who is not circumcised keeps the requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? – Romans 2:13-15, 26

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! – Romans 6:15

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” … So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good… For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. – Romans 7:7, 11, 22-25

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. – Romans 8:3-4, 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – Romans 13:8-10


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.

Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).

As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.

I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…


Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?