Frank L.: Bob, your comments are too often judgmental, rude, …

Comment on UNST/UHNR 404B Syllabus (LSU) by Sean Pitman M.D..

Frank L.: Bob, your comments are too often judgmental, rude, ignorant, and slanderous. Ben Clausen of GRI, Kevin Nick of LLU, and Paul Bucheim of LLU all accept the Biblical account on origins; I know these people personally and can vouch for that. How instructive to the unbiased observer your term “unbalanced” is and should be applied.  

Kevin Nick, from my own personal conversations with him, seems to strongly support the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years of time.

Ben Clausen is sometimes difficult to interpret since he is often very apologetic in how he presents his lectures, sometimes seeming to favor evolutionary thinking, even though he is personally a young-life creationist.

I do not personally know Paul Bucheim, but his published work seems to strongly argue for a non-catastrophic long-age origin for much of the geologic and fossil records.

As far as the rest on the list of lecturers, all are very strongly in support of ancient and evolving life on Earth – perhaps guided by God along the way (i.e., theistic evolutionists at best, with some being essentially agnostic in their thinking). I’m simply amazed that this list of lecturers is the “best” that an “SDA” institution, like LSU, could come up with to present these topics…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman M.D. Also Commented

UNST/UHNR 404B Syllabus (LSU)
Dear Pastor Gary McCary,

You’ve written a very interesting blog regarding the evolution/creation controversy surrounding LSU ( ). Since I’m pretty closely associated with this particular controversy, I hope you don’t mind if I respond to a few of your thoughts on this issue:

Does our faith depend on biblical literalism? There are many in Adventism who want to see our universities purged of evolutionary biologists. These conservatives don’t want evolution taught in any way, shape or form in Adventist institutions. Are you worried that your child might learn of Darwin and his theories?

This is a sensationalized mischaracterization of conservative Adventism. I personally don’t know any conservative SDAs who don’t want our schools to teach about the theory of evolution (ToE) in all of its strengths. Clearly our students should indeed be taught about the opinions of mainstream science. However, SDA education should not end here. It should go beyond the teachings of mainstream science to explain the pitfalls with the modern synthesis view of the ToE. SDA science education should also present the significant weight of evidence that currently favors a recent a catastrophic formation of much of the geologic and fossil records as well as the genetic evidence that strongly indicates the necessity for high-level intelligent input in fairly recent history (by those teachers who actually believe in and support the stated SDA perspective on origins by the organized church).

So, to answer your question, conservative Adventists, like myself, are not worried that our children might learn of Darwin and his theories. We want them to learn of Darwin and his theories and why they are limited; why the popular extrapolation of certain features goes way beyond what can truly be called “science” (entering into the realm of philosophy and even blind faith religion); and why hypotheses and theories of intelligent design and catastrophism do in fact have the support of the significant weight of available evidence.

Our children should also be taught that unless the Bible is based on some sort of determinable historical reality, it really isn’t anything other than another good moral fable. The reason why we can see the Supernatural within the pages of the Bible is because the Bible is demonstrably reliable – to include its statements about physical and historical reality. This is the reason why the Bible is so clearly superior as a revelation of Divine will vs. the statements of other religious texts which do not accurately reflect physical reality – such as the Book of Mormon for example.

I have a suggestion. I’m sure it’s been considered before. Why can’t evolutionary biology be taught in biology classes for what it is—the current “science” on the whole issue of existence? And why can’t 6-day creationism be taught in religion classes for what IT is—the historic “faith” of the biblical literalist. Each viewpoint is “true” based on each sides’ presuppositions. I want my children to learn what the science is on the subject, AND what the faith-position is. Does this not seem reasonable? Certainly our institutions of higher-learning shouldn’t be considered institutions of lower-learning! Or are we afraid that our young people will leave the church if they learn the current science?

It is a very common, but misguided suggestion that science and faith are completely different enterprises or paths to truth. Both cannot be true if they say opposing things about the same physical feature or historical event. As the well-known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias once pointed out, “Even in India people look both ways before they cross the street.” – in other words you can be hit and not hit by a bus at the same time.

The notion that evolutionism is “science” while “creationism” is religion is nonsense. If evolutionism is true, it most certainly has religious implications. And, if creationism is true, it most certainly has scientific implications. Useful religion cannot be as schizophrenic as you are suggesting here and remain viable beyond mere lip service. Pretty soon, no one would belong or support the church outside of thinking of church as a nice social club – but certainly not anything worth putting one’s life or fortune on the line for when it comes to doctrinal issues or the basis for a solid hope in a bright literal future.

Also, the notion that science isn’t reliant upon leaps of faith is a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. Science is based on taking a very limited data set and predicting the future based on this limited set of information. Such a prediction, while carrying a certain degree of predictive value, is a leap of faith that can never be known with perfection. The very same thing is true of religious faith. While a certain degree of predictive value can be established to support even a religious faith in a future reality, the future cannot be known with absolute perfection – even with the use of religious faith. Because of this, science uses leaps of faith and religion can have a scientific basis for faith (at least if one’s faith isn’t completely blind – i.e., is based on something more than wishful thinking or a strong feeling or desire).

It’s HOT here at the epicenter. There are rumors of possible “loyalty oaths” and “witch-hunts” in the future. Some feel that the purity of the church is at stake. I say “humbug” to all the hysteria. And I’m reminded of a couple of startling Ellen White statements: “There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error.” “If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it!” (Counsels to Writers & Editors, pages 35 & 44).

Although Mrs. White does indeed use the phrase “unity in diversity”, and stated that, “Instructors in our schools should never be bound by being told that they are to teach only what has been taught hitherto”, she also maintained that the landmarks and pillars of the Adventist message were to ever remain. Concepts that impact the science of geology which she “was shown” to be identified as permanent include six literal, empirical, historical 24-hour days of creation, culminating with a literal 24-hour Sabbath day rest, and human life on Earth non-existent before the literal creation week described in Genesis. – Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3. pp 90-93.

She also referred to theories of evolution prevalent in her own day as “science so called” and had some of the strongest language against accepting long age notions for the creation and/or evolution of life on this planet in a Darwinian manner. In one of her primary works, Patriarchs and Prophets, she even wrote a chapter entitled, “The Literal Week” ( Link ). The very name Seventh-day Adventist speaks to the SDA stand on a literal creation week as the basis for key doctrinal beliefs of our church.

Given such clear statements from Ellen White on this topic in particular, I’m simply amazed at those who actually try to invoke her in support the efforts of those who are trying to undermine the most important doctrinal ideals she stood for and wrote about…

So yes, in a very real sense the unique contribution of the SDA Church to the understanding of the Scriptures does in fact stand or fall based on a literal reading and understanding of the very first chapters of these Scriptures. Without this understanding, their really is no basis for the SDA Church to exist as a unique entity – other than, perhaps, a nice social club…

Sean Pitman, M.D.

UNST/UHNR 404B Syllabus (LSU)
The History of Evolutionism in the Adventist Church:

Also interesting in this regard is a story of the support of “progressive Adventism” to include a belief in the evolution of life on this planet over hundreds of millions of years of time, by prior LSU president Lawrence Geraty. Geraty was in full support of retired GC vice president Richard Hammill in his conversion to an evolutionary understanding of origins over vast periods of time. His published comments are most interesting in this regard (and explain a great deal as to why LSU has hired professors who actively support Darwinian thinking as they do), as is the overall story of Evolutionism with the Adventist Church:

Sean Pitman

UNST/UHNR 404B Syllabus (LSU)
Dr. Buchheim may have been a young-life creationist and may still consider himself to be a young life creationist in some sense of the word. However, it is difficult for me to imagine why a young life creationist would make the arguments that Dr. Buchheim has made in published literature favoring an ancient origin of life on this planet to the tune of many millions of years? – without any counter argument or explanation? If someone could explain this to me, I’d be most grateful…

Here are a couple of abstracts from papers or presentations given by Dr. Buchheim for consideration:

H. Paul Buchheim. Loma Linda University:

The Meentheena Carbonate Member of the Tumbiana Formation (Fortescue Group; Late Archean) with its abundant and diverse stromatolites and rare microfossils represents an important unit with significant exobiological implications for understanding ancient life in lakes. The Meentheena was deposited some 2715 Ma [million years] ago within an intracratonic basin, either as one large lake over 350 km across or in a series of smaller lakes.

The Interplay of Tectonic and Climatic Forcing Factors in the Deposition of a Hydrologically-Closed Basin Fill Sequence: Copper Canyon “Formation”, Death Valley National Park

Nyborg, Torrey, Paul Buchheim; Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA

The evolution of the Copper Canyon “formation” (CCF) basin fill sequence represents an excellent example of a hydrologically-closed basin controlled by tectonic (uplift rate, duration and spatial distribution) and climatic (precipitation/ evaporation ratios-P/E) factors. The CCF is a transtensional fault-bounded Tertiary basin associated with right steps within a low angle normal fault system that extended Death Valley and uplifted the Black Mountains and portions of the Funeral Mountains. Three basalt flows occur within the CCF constraining the age between ~5 and 3Ma [million years]. The CCF is divided into the fanglomerate, fluvial-lacustrine, and basalt “units”. Initial CCF deposits represent active uplift recorded by numerous fanglomerates deposited as debris flows fining upward into mud-drapes. The fanglomerate provenance suggests a local source and rapid episodic deposition. Fanglomerates become less dominant up section and interfinger with trangressive-regressive playa-lake deposits. Cyclicity of lacustrine sequences is interpreted as humid-wet and arid-dry climate cycles consisting of: evaporite facies (reflecting a hypersaline lake); alternating beds of calcimicrite and dolomicrite (representing alternating fresh and saline conditions); and bioclastic carbonate and limestone beds containing tufa mounds (reflecting active spring deposition). The CCF deposits end abruptly ~3Ma reflecting basin in-filling (loss of accommodation space), probably due to a decline in tectonic activity in Death Valley. The CCF is an excellent example of the interplay between tectonic and climate driven deposition within a hydrologically-closed basin.


Paul Buchheim also acknowledges birds nested throughout Green River time in Fossil Lake likely represent in situ formation. Buchheim studied three different Presbyornis nesting sites and found that they spanned 160 meters of vertical rock. They also commented that such nesting sites are quite common in the shore facies of the Green River Formation. His team writes (Legitt, Buchheim and Biaggi, 1998):

“Autochthonous Presbyornis sp. (Aves: Anseriformes) eggshell from three Eocene Fossil Lake sites is strong evidence for multiple avian nesting sites within Fossil Basin. Two of these nesting sites (the Bear Divide and Warfield Creek sites) occur near the base of the lower unit of the Fossil Butte Member of the Green River Formation. The third nesting site (the Powerline site) occurs near the top of the upper unit of the Fossil Butte Member. The Presbyornis nesting sites span Green River Formation time in Fossil Basin.”

Sean Pitman

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman M.D.

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Thank you Ariel. Hope you are doing well these days. Miss seeing you down at Loma Linda. Hope you had a Great Thanksgiving!

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Thank you Colin. Just trying to save lives any way I can. Not everything that the government does or leaders do is “evil” BTW…

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Only someone who knows the future can make such decisions without being a monster…

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Where did I “gloss over it”?

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I fail to see where you have convincingly supported your claim that the GC leadership contributed to the harm of anyone’s personal religious liberties? – given that the GC leadership does not and could not override personal religious liberties in this country, nor substantively change the outcome of those who lost their jobs over various vaccine mandates. That’s just not how it works here in this country. Religious liberties are personally derived. Again, they simply are not based on a corporate or church position, but rely solely upon individual convictions – regardless of what the church may or may not say or do.

Yet, you say, “Who cares if it is written into law”? You should care. Everyone should care. It’s a very important law in this country. The idea that the organized church could have changed vaccine mandates simply isn’t true – particularly given the nature of certain types of jobs dealing with the most vulnerable in society (such as health care workers for example).

Beyond this, the GC Leadership did, in fact, write in support of personal religious convictions on this topic – and there are GC lawyers who have and continue to write personal letters in support of personal religious convictions (even if these personal convictions are at odds with the position of the church on a given topic). Just because the GC leadership also supports the advances of modern medicine doesn’t mean that the GC leadership cannot support individual convictions at the same time. Both are possible. This is not an inconsistency.