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

  1. “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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  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. 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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  5. 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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  6. Shane&#032Hilde: @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&#32Kent: 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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  7. 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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  8. “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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  9. Shane&#032Hilde: 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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  10. Sean&#032Pitman: 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&#032Pitman: 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&#032Pitman: 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&#032Pitman: 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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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. Professor&#032Kent: 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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  17. Professor&#032Kent: 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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  18. 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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  19. 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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  20. Professor&#032Kent: 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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  21. 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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  22. Sean&#032Pitman: 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&#032Pitman: 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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  23. Sean&#032Pitman: 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&#032Pitman: 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&#039s flood.

    I&#039m 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&#032Pitman: 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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  24. Sean&#032Pitman: 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&#032Pitman: 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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  25. Sean&#032Pitman: 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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  26. 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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  27. 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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