The End of “Junk DNA”?

By: Sean Pitman
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Ever hear that only 2-5% of the human genome is functional?  that the all the rest is “junk DNA”? remnants of our long evolutionary heritage?  Ever wonder how we can really be 99% the same as an ape? 98% the same as a mouse? and 50% the same as a banana?  Well, it turns out that mainstream scientists are finally discovering what creationists have long claimed – that protein-coding genes are not the only functional elements in our genome.  Those vast regions of non-coding DNA actually do something.  In fact, it is being discovered that the protein-coding genes are arguably the most simple aspect of our genome, the basic bricks and mortar so to speak, while the information that directs how very similar bricks and mortar can be used to build anything from a banana to a mouse to you and me is where the really important information resides.

The science journal Nature just published a very interesting news feature along these lines (ENCODE: The human encyclopaedia, Sept 5, 2012).  This article reports on the ongoing human genome project called the “Encyclopedia of DNA Elements” or ENCODE project.  The scientists at ENCODE made a very startling, and very controversial, claim – that at least 80% of our genome is functional to one degree or another!

The consortium has assigned some sort of function to roughly 80% of the genome, including more than 70,000 ‘promoter’ regions — the sites, just upstream of genes, where proteins bind to control gene expression — and nearly 400,000 ‘enhancer’ regions that regulate expression of distant genes. But the job is far from done, says Birney, a computational biologist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, UK, who coordinated the data analysis for ENCODE. He says that some of the mapping efforts are about halfway to completion, and that deeper characterization of everything the genome is doing is probably only 10% finished…

The vast desert regions have now been populated with hundreds of thousands of features that contribute to gene regulation. And every cell type uses different combinations and permutations of these features to generate its unique biology. This richness helps to explain how relatively few protein-coding genes can provide the biological complexity necessary to grow and run a human being…

With thousands of cell types to test and a growing set of tools with which to test them, the project could unfold endlessly. “We’re far from finished,” says geneticist Rick Myers of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama. “You might argue that this could go on forever.”

 

Of course, many scientists have responded rather strongly against this 80% functionality number (Link).  And, the truth of the matter is that, while non-coding DNA probably does represent the blue print for higher organisms, directing how protein-coding DNA functions to a significant degree, this does not necessarily or even likely mean that most non-coding DNA is actually required – or even useful.  After all, some ferns and salamander have genomes the same size or smaller than the human genome, and other ferns and salamander have genomes 50 times the size of the human genome (the human genome is comprise of ~3.5 billion bases). For additional comparisons, consider that a chicken’s genome contains about 1.3 billion bases, a clam about 3.2 billion, some frogs have 6.5 billion, and a lady bug genome has about 0.3 billion (~300 million) bases – similar to the genome of a Japanese pufferfish which is 8 times smaller than the human genome (just 385 million base pairs compared to 3 billion base pairs for humans), yet does just fine.  It is clearly impossible to guess the genome size of an organism just by looking at its apparent “complexity” or “simplicity” or the number of protein-coding “genes” in the genome – which doesn’t seem to correlate with the overall size of eukaryotic genomes.  This curious fact is currently known as the C-value enigma.C-valueGiven the reality of the C-value enigma, it seems likely that most non-coding DNA may not be vital for life or even beneficially functional.  For example, consider the argument of Dr. Ryan Gregory known as  “The Onion Test“, with additional commentary from Dr. Larry Moran (Link):

The onion test is a simple reality check for anyone who thinks they have come up with a universal function for non-coding DNA. Whatever your proposed function, ask yourself this question: Can I explain why an onion needs about five times more non-coding DNA for this function than a human? The onion, Allium cepa, is a diploid (2n = 16) plant with a haploid genome size of about 17 pg. Human, Homo sapiens, is a diploid (2n = 46) animal with a haploid genome size of about 3.5 pg. This comparison is chosen more or less arbitrarily (there are far bigger genomes than onion, and far smaller ones than human), but it makes the problem of universal function for non-coding DNA clear. Further, if you think perhaps onions are somehow special, consider that members of the genus Allium range in genome size from 7 pg to 31.5 pg. So why can A. altyncolicum make do with one fifth as much regulation, structural maintenance, protection against mutagens, or [insert preferred universal function] as A. ursinum?

However, there is the problem of the expense of maintaining stretches of DNA for long periods of time that don’t provide any useful advantage to the organism.  Such maintenance might seem to be fairly expensive if there is no return on the investment.

Nick_MatzkeThe counter argument, as presented by Dr. Nick Matzke, is that such maintenance really isn’t very expensive at all relative to the other costs that the organism must pay.  What’s a few pennies here and there when you’re spending thousands of dollars every day?  Well, over millions of years a few pennies here and there might seem to add up to quite a lot.  And, in a dog-eat-dog world, this could make all the difference. To add to the credibility of this observation, consider a paper by Holloway et al. (2007) where the authors observed a significant survivability cost disadvantage in various environments for bacteria that carried extra non-beneficial copies of DNA (Link).  However, the argument is that the cost is much higher for single-celled organisms compared to multi-celled organisms – like most eukaryotes. In this line, consider two papers published in 1980 by Orgel and Crick (Link) and by Doolittle and Sapienza (Link) which argue that “selfish DNA” elements, such as transposons, essentially act as molecular parasites, replicating and increasing their numbers at the relatively slight expense of a host genome – so slight that natural selection simply can’t keep up with the rate of expansion of these self-replicating elements within the genome.

However, a few scientists have suggested various functional options that might help to explain, to at least some degree, the C-value enigma.  For example, non-coding DNA seems to act as a sort of clock to regulate the timing of expression of various genes and genetic elements during development (Swinburne, 2010). There is also the interesting discovery that the initiation of DNA replication and the transition from G1 to S is dependent upon nuclear volume.  “Replication appears to initiate and terminate at the nuclear periphery and require a critical nuclear volume for onset (Nicolini et al., 1986); G1 nuclear volume growth must depend on concerted expansion of both chromatin and the nuclear envelope.” (Cavalier-Smith, 2004)  In short, “A genome’s sheer bulk can influence the rate of cell division and thereby that of development.” (Link)

Of course, the obvious counter is that such functionality for repetitive DNA is not dependent on the nature of the sequence itself, but only upon the absolute size of the sequence.  And, while this appears to be true, having the right size in just the right place can obviously be quite beneficial.  In other words, on occasion, size does matter…

This isn’t all, of course.  There are times when the actual specificity of the sequence matters as well – and this is what has also been discovered about non-coding DNA.  It appears to be the blueprint that controls how the building blocks (i.e., the protein-coding genes) are used.  In other words, non-coding DNA does seem to be more important than the protein-coding genes themselves. It seems, for instance, that it is the non-coding DNA that determines if a mouse or a pig or a monkey or a human is to be built given a set of very similar protein-coding genes for each of these types of creatures (for further discussion of this topic see: Link).

“I think this will come to be a classic story of orthodoxy derailing objective analysis of the facts, in this case for a quarter of a century,” Mattick says. “The failure to recognize the full implications of this particularly the possibility that the intervening noncoding sequences may be transmitting parallel information in the form of RNA molecules – may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.”

Wayt T. Gibbs, “The Unseen Genome: Gems Among the Junk,” Scientific American (Nov. 2003).

 

A genome where the non-coding DNA controls the coding DNA has important implications for evolutionary theories.  Not the least of the implications this discovery highlights is the fact that the detrimental mutation rate suffered by all slowly reproducing gene pools (like all mammals for instance) is higher than anyone within mainstream science has ever imagined before – far far higher than any known naturalistic mechanism can deal with when it comes to avoiding the inevitable deterioration of our entire gene pool over time toward eventual genetic meltdown and extinction.  This only confirms what those like geneticist John Sanford have been saying for a some time now – that we’re not evolving, but devolving (Link). It also highlights the fact that the functional differences between us and other animals, like apes, are found, not so much in the protein-coding genes, but in the non-coding regions of our genomes (Link).

The very best that any naturalistic evolutionary mechanism can achieve is a moderate slow down in the inevitable deterioration of the quality of information within our gene pool and the gene pools of all other slowly reproducing species.  It certainly cannot generate novel genetic information beyond very low levels of functional complexity and it can’t even get rid of detrimental mutations that enter the gene pool fast enough to stay functionally neutral – regardless of the degree of selection pressure applied.  I’m afraid, it’s turtles all the way down… and it always has been since the very beginning of life on this planet.

 

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174 thoughts on “The End of “Junk DNA”?

  1. This is so fascinating to me. What a great God we have!

    I would like to recommend a book, strictly non-religious, (author states”Im emphatically not a creationist!”) but the research she reports is absolutely nothing but pointing to a creator God, fathomless to our human minds. The book is “The Bond, Connecting Through the Space Between US.” It shows how we are created to be connected, to be in relationship, helping each other instead of competing. As I read it, Scripture after Scripture came to mind which states the same thing the studies concluded. Not only are we to be connected with each other but also our environment–the creatures around us, the flora and fauna, the solar system, the universe. Amazing stuff.

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  2. Having learned about junk DNA in college Biology, I always knew the day would come that such a belief would be debunked. Sean, what significance do you find in the fact that we have instances of junk DNA that is nowhere near the nonjunk DNA it regulates when DNA is unfolded in a ‘straight line’ but that when folded they are close to one another.

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    • @Ethan: DNA is not just one dimensional, but has been programmed in three and even four dimensional time and space. Proper folding and unfolding is required, at just the right time and position, for it to work properly. Multiple far distant regions on a one-dimensional sequence are folded right next to each other in three dimensional space at just the proper time. It is an incredible feat of engineering. Regardless of one’s religious background, I don’t think anyone can view DNA in the simplistic terms it was once viewed just a few years ago.

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      • The point I was trying to make is that given the fact that DNA is not one dimensional and that vastly distant stretches of DNA directly effect other stretches (made possible by the fact that they are close to one another in 3 dimensions), what does that say about the ability of such a system to evolve from nothing regardless of how much time is involved?

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        • @Ethan:

          It does seem like this feature would probably have an effect on the odds, but I’m not sure what additional significance this would bring to the table since the odds of evolving anything qualitatively novel that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues would require trillions upon trillions of years of time.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  3. I recieved notification of this post by email yesterday (Sabbath in NZ) and read and appreciated it. Opened the newspaper on Saturday night and there was an article about the same thing, minus of course the implications for the evolutionist theory. Thank you Sean. Gutted that I missed the first half of your talk on 3ABN a week ago.

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  4. Sean

    Nice to see you are back. I had hoped you might have thought a little more about confirmational bias in selection of your sources. In reading your turtles book I was [struck by] the sentiment expressed again here that you as a literal creationist had anticipated the function of the whole of the genome well before people like John Mattick had provided experimental evidence for the role of non-coding RNA? This is really quite a bold claim but I cant seem to find any reference to your prescient publications on this topic.

    On another issue that you cite again here is the issue of mutation rates. I am curious if you have read the Kong paper in science

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914163

    on the effects of paternal age on transmitted mutations to offspring. Obviously this has implications for the putative antedeluvian populations and the genetic front loading of the population although unfortunately any front loading by these mechansisms would have been largely if not entirely wiped out in the genetic bottleneck at the flood.

    If you read the paper you will see that the number of mutations increases by 2 for every year of paternal age from a baseline in their data of 29.7 years. On an exponential model the mutation rate doubles for every 16.5 years of paternal age.

    According to genesis 5 and the patriarchal ages the average paternal age for first child was 155.6 and the text implies they were reproductively active on the average for another 706.9 years.

    Using Kongs calculation from the direct genomic sequencing of 78 icelandic families what can we determine?

    According to the linear model for increasing mutations, the mutation rate for progeny of the patriarchs was between 3 (3.09E-8 per nucleotide) and 15 (14.875E-8) times the current rate (1.2E-8). Using their linear model the rates are up to 273,276 per nucleotide per generation, a rate 2.27E13 more than the current rate. Clearly this is absurd but would certainly be in the range of a genetic meltdown anticipated by Sanford.

    How does one respond to this sort of data? At the level of the science; with very old age of paternity it is likely that the linear model is an underestimate while the exponential model may fit the data only for conventional ages but if you take literally the ages of the patriachs and construct some mechanistic model one must assume some sort of sigmoidal distribution as nucleotide substitution must reach some point of saturation well below a subtitution per nucleotide per generation.

    The bigger question is do we even take the science seriously? As I have said before I suspect you do not. If we do, what do we do with the account of the patriarchal ages let alone the similar ages of the Sumerian kings.

    Do we as you seem want to do, add another layer of exceptionalism (ie miraculous God of the gaps reasoning for understanding of the natural world) as you have done for the question of front loading and genetic bottlenecks for the anteluvian world and repopulation from a breadding pair.

    For many of us, including I suspect the scientists at la sierra who you malign yet again in this posting, we are happy to accept the evidences of science but would see the action of God not in our ignorance as the explanation of the inexplicable in the natural world but in the action of Jesus Christ the incarnate God who is the basis of our faith.

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    • @pauluc:

      Nice to see you are back. I had hoped you might have thought a little more about confirmational bias in selection of your sources. In reading your turtles book I was [struck by] the sentiment expressed again here that you as a literal creationist had anticipated the function of the whole of the genome well before people like John Mattick had provided experimental evidence for the role of non-coding RNA? This is really quite a bold claim but I cant seem to find any reference to your prescient publications on this topic.

      A working draft of the human genome was announced in 2000 but our complete genome wasn’t finished until 2003. Before this time, most life scientists argued, since the 1960s, that non-coding DNA was largely functionless – evolutionary remnants that still tagged along with the relatively rare functional genes within our genome. In 1995, Scientific American plainly expounded that under the Neo-Darwinian view, “[t]hese regions have traditionally been regarded as useless accumulations of material from millions of years of evolution.” The view that non-coding DNA is truly “junk DNA” has been adamantly promoted by most at Talk.Origins for years. Certainly by the time I started posting on Talk.Origins in 2001 this view was the common paradigm.

      In contrast, I have been personally writing about the functionality of pseudogenes and “junk DNA” since 2001 – on my website and in discussion forums. For example, here is a portion of a discussion I had in 2002 in google.groups:

      “We are still very limited in our knowledge about how the genome actually works even though we have sequenced the entire human genome. We are finding out that much of what we previously referred to as “junk DNA” actually has some pretty impressive functions. Just because a portion of DNA does not code for a protein does not mean that it has no function or that it is some remnant of past evolutionary baggage or trials and errors. Even some so-called “pseudogenes” are now being found to in fact have certain important functions… such as gene switching or gene regulation. This is almost reminiscent of the vestigial organ arguments of the past. What used to be thought of as functionless remnants of evolutionary heritage, are now known to have important if not vital functions in the present state of the creature. As the number of “vestigial” organs are shrinking, so are the number of “non-functional” genetic sequences.”

      http://naturalselection.0catch.com/Files/Pseudogenes.html

      Sean Pitman

      Yet, at this point in time (in 2002), most scientists still held to the view that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was not functional. For example, in 2001 Stephen J. Gould wrote:

      Our 30,000 genes make up only 1 percent or so of our total genome. The rest — including bacterial immigrants and other pieces that can replicate and move — originate more as accidents of history than as predictable necessities of physical laws. Moreover, these noncoding regions, disrespectfully called ‘junk DNA,’ also build a pool of potential for future use that, more than any other factor, may establish any lineage’s capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity (Gould 2001).

      Clearly, Gould was mistaken. The non-functionality of “junk DNA” was also predicted by Susumu Ohno (1972), Richard Dawkins (1976), Crick and Orgel (1980), Pagel and Johnstone (1992), and Ken Miller (1994), based on evolutionary presuppositions. In contrast, on teleological grounds, Michael Denton (1986, 1998), Michael Behe (1996), John West (1998), William Dembski (1998), Richard Hirsch (2000), and Jonathan Wells (2004) predicted that “junk DNA” would be found to be functional.

      As far back as 1994, pro-ID scientist and Discovery Institute fellow Forrest Mims had warned in a letter to Science against assuming that ‘junk’ DNA was ‘useless.'” Science wouldn’t print Mims’ letter, but soon thereafter, in 1998, leading ID theorist William Dembski repeated this sentiment in First Things:

      [Intelligent] design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term “junk DNA.” Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as “junk” merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a recent issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar describes how “non-coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development.” Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it.

      (William Dembski, “Intelligent Science and Design,” First Things, Vol. 86:21-27 (October 1998))

      Here are a few more recent references:

      Casey Luskin (2007):
      http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1437

      Tim Standish (2002):
      http://star.tau.ac.il/~eshel/Bio_complexity/12.Gene%20Networks/Introns-JunkDNA-summary.pdf

      Linda Walkup (2000)
      http://creation.com/junk-dna-evolutionary-discards-or-gods-tools

      On another issue that you cite again here is the issue of mutation rates. I am curious if you have read the Kong paper in [the journal Science]

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914163

      on the effects of paternal age on transmitted mutations to offspring. Obviously this has implications for the putative antedeluvian populations and the genetic front loading of the population although unfortunately any front loading by these mechansisms would have been largely if not entirely wiped out in the genetic bottleneck at the flood.

      If you read the paper you will see that the number of mutations increases by 2 for every year of paternal age from a baseline in their data of 29.7 years. On an exponential model the mutation rate doubles for every 16.5 years of paternal age.

      According to genesis 5 and the patriarchal ages the average paternal age for first child was 155.6 and the text implies they were reproductively active on the average for another 706.9 years.

      I don’t see this “implied” by the text. The Bible simply doesn’t say when the antediluvians became too old to have children.

      Using Kongs calculation from the direct genomic sequencing of 78 icelandic families what can we determine?

      From cell division to cell division, the error rate for DNA polymerase combined with other repair enzymes is about 1 mistake or mutation in 1 billion base pairs copied (for many but not all of the cell types in our bodies). In men, there is approximately one spermatic stem cell division every 16 days (about 23 divisions per year). This implies a yearly mutation rate in male gametes of around (3 x 23) or 69 mutations per year. Yet, we know that the overall human nucleotide mutation rate (SNPs) is less than 100 per generation. Obviously, the mutation rate for gamete production is significantly reduced relative to other types of cells within the body – probably due to enhanced correction rates for mutations due to the error rate of DNA polymerase.

      In any case, it seems like the gamete mutation rate would still be related to copy number (the number of stem cell divisions), and therefore would most likely be a linearly increasing mutation rate as copy numbers increased. In other words, if the average increase in gamete mutations is 2 per year (as several references seem to suggest), it seems to me like this increase would stay fairly steady with age – i.e., that it would not follow an exponential curve. As I look as the graphs provided by the article you reference, graphs comparing mutation rates to paternal age, I don’t see that there is evidence to support an exponential increase in the mutation rate with age. The data just as easily supports a linear model; a model that seems to be more consistent with known sources of mutations in germ cells.

      According to the linear model for increasing mutations, the mutation rate for progeny of the patriarchs was between 3 (3.09E-8 per nucleotide) and 15 (14.875E-8) times the current rate (1.2E-8). Using their [esponential] model the rates are up to 273,276 per nucleotide per generation, a rate 2.27E13 more than the current rate. Clearly this is absurd but would certainly be in the range of a genetic meltdown anticipated by Sanford.

      Given the linear model (which I agree with) an increased rate of 2 mutations per year, starting at the age of 30 years, works out to less than 1600 mutations at the age of 800 years. This is in line with the yearly average mutation rate we humans currently suffer per generation (about 2-3 mutations per year on average or between 50-100 SNPs per generation). I really don’t see the problem here unless one tries to invoke the exponential model.

      How does one respond to this sort of data? At the level of the science; with very old age of paternity it is likely that the linear model is an underestimate while the exponential model may fit the data only for conventional ages but if you take literally the ages of the patriachs and construct some mechanistic model one must assume some sort of sigmoidal distribution as nucleotide substitution must reach some point of saturation well below a subtitution per nucleotide per generation.

      Again, I don’t see any reason to invoke the exponential model. There may be a slight variance from the linear model with age, but I don’t think it would be enough to significantly outpace current yearly mutation rates for the human genome.

      The bigger question is do we even take the science seriously? As I have said before I suspect you do not. If we do, what do we do with the account of the patriarchal ages let alone the similar ages of the Sumerian kings.

      I take science, and even the claims of modern scientists (not necessarily the same thing as “science”), very seriously. However, many of the extrapolations of mainstream scientists are very tenuous or simply untenable given the empirical evidence currently in hand. I personally find the Biblical account to be far more in line with the weight of scientific/empirical evidence that I personally understand.

      As far as very long-lived races are concerned, this is not beyond rational consideration or scientific tenability given that there are many different species that have “negligible senescence” (that do not get old with age). Examples include certain kinds of carp or lobsters or turtles which do not lose very much if any vitality or virility with age. Perhaps humans used to be like this as well? – especially given the fact that our genomes are degenerating over time?

      As already discussed, we are headed toward an eventual genetic meltdown. We are not in meltdown mode now, of course, but we are clearly headed downhill genetically and will eventually reach the tipping point. It is science that clearly shows a decaying human genome with implications that it could have been much better, with significantly enhanced features of health, longevity, and overall vitality, thousands of years ago as compared to today – as the Bible claims.

      Do we, as you seem want to do, add another layer of exceptionalism (ie miraculous God of the gaps reasoning for understanding of the natural world) as you have done for the question of front loading and genetic bottlenecks for the anteluvian world and repopulation from a breadding pair.

      I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that it was you who wanted to invoke God to explain such things – not me. I’ve never invoked God to explain survival after genetic bottlenecks or the current state of affairs starting with a single breeding pair. The available scientific evidence is perfectly consistent with the Biblical account of such a bottleneck after the Noachian Flood as well as the decline of genetic quality of all slowly reproducing gene pools since their original creation. You’re the one who is trying to say that this is not possible outside of a Divine miracle, not me. God-like intelligence is only needed to explain the original origin of life and its diversity – the original “front-loading” if you please. And, I don’t see that you’ve brought anything else to the table that would require God to directly interfere with the natural course of things . . . the natural inevitable decay and degeneration of all slowly reproducing gene pools from their original idealic state.

      For many of us, including I suspect the scientists at la sierra who you malign yet again in this posting, we are happy to accept the evidences of science but would see the action of God not in our ignorance as the explanation of the inexplicable in the natural world but in the action of Jesus Christ the incarnate God who is the basis of our faith.

      It is the Bible that testifies of Jesus Christ, His nature and origin. Undermine the Bible’s credibility, and you undermine any rational faith you may have in the story of Jesus and any of His claims. You can’t rationally have one without the other. They go hand-in-hand. Certainly Jesus Himself saw it this way. He took the Scriptures seriously – to include the Genesis account of origins. He believed the stories of Genesis and referenced them as literally true. He even claimed to have personally witnessed prehistoric events. Do you believe Him or not?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  5. Where does one start to respond to your assertions. Maybe a biologists perspective on junk DNA.

    1] You seem have a very black and white view of both the bible and science. There is very limited nuancing evident in your expressed views.
    “….These implications are, frankly, rather devastating to the Neo-Darwinian perspective.”
    “…There is no more junk DNA and the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations combined with natural selection is untenable as a creative force beyond very low levels of functional complexity.”

    2] Your essential argument is a strawman argument. You critize a caricature of the science of genetics and molecular biology and do not seem to be engaged with the basic ideas. For sure there have been profound errors and lack of understanding but that is what science is like. Increasing understanding is expected as new methods and data become available. Hypothesis testing is about detecting error and you are absolutely correct in that the “junk” DNA hypothesis as presented in the popular press has been rejected. But it was not at all rejected because some armchair scientists denied it on a priori grounds but was rejected because of new data, experiments and better models. There has been increase in understanding of genomics and the role of junk DNA but as Tim Standish breathlessly says evolutionary concepts were used both for the earlier understanding of “non-protein-coding” DNA as padding and a repository of potential reusable but unnecessary genetic information and for the newer concept of selection of functional activity found in these regions not coding for protein.

    3] You seem to believe that molecular geneticists before you and fellow young earth creationists came along with vague statements in the blogoshere about function of the whole of the genome, believed that junk DNA (as Gould rightly observes a “disrespectfully” denoted shorthand predicated on the prokaryotic model of funtional genes) was completely useless. This is patently wrong. If you read even the abstract of the 1988 paper from John Bodnar “A domain model for eukaryotic DNA organization: A molecular basis for cell differentiation and chromosome evolution” J theoretical biol 1988, that is cited in the paper by William Dembski that you then cite, you will see that Bodnar was advocating consideration of the genomic organization in terms of “domains” that are much more complex than simply the promoters and coding exons assumed to be subject to evolutionary selection. This essential idea that the genome has been selected by the resultant phenotype has changed little in the last 50 years. The idea that a phenotype is the basis of selection not the genotype has gained increasing recognition as the complexity of the genome and the many levels of regulation and control has become evident. Increasing understanding of “Junk DNA” and the highly nuanced regulation of structure and function determined by regions outside conventional coding regions has enhanced neo-darwinian models premised on natural selection rather than destroyed them as you seem to hope based on your models of reality.

    4] You do not seem to make any distinction between the protein coding and non-protein coding regions in terms of their contribution to phenotype. You seem to be suggesting all are essential. Do you really believe that? Are all pseudogenes functional? critical? Surely processed pseudogenes are evidence that introns are non-essential. Are alu repeats critical and essential? Is the genome uniformly critical and functional? Is there a heirarchy with protien coding at the top and supporting scaffolding and microregulatory and integrative regions below. What precisely is your model based on intelligent design? I cannot seem to find it articulated in a scientific way. Contrast your approach to a scientist such as John Mattick who recently won HUGO prize for his data on non-coding RNA. This work and the ENCODE work however raises the question that is very well articulated in this comment;

    http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-mattick-wins-hugo-award-for.html

    What about junk RNA? Will this ongoing post ENCODE scientific debate be the source for your next blog? Would you like to articulate your view based on a YEC perspective with such specificity that we can see if you are right or wrong?

    It is easy to sit at your study desk and pontificate post hoc on the errors of evolutionary biologists but to be credible as a scientist you need to propose hypotheses with some specificities and test them against the data.

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    • @pauluc:

      Your essential argument is a strawman argument. You critize a caricature of the science of genetics and molecular biology and do not seem to be engaged with the basic ideas. For sure there have been profound errors and lack of understanding but that is what science is like. Increasing understanding is expected as new methods and data become available. Hypothesis testing is about detecting error and you are absolutely correct in that the “junk” DNA hypothesis as presented in the popular press has been rejected.

      It wasn’t just a “popular press” idea. The “junk DNA” concept was part of mainstream science for decades . . . a prediction of neo-Darwinism according to many biologists.

      But it was not at all rejected because some armchair scientists denied it on a priori grounds but was rejected because of new data, experiments and better models.

      The point is that there was more than enough data decades ago to reject the junk DNA concept. The only reason the junk DNA concept held on as long as it did is because of neo-Darwinian predictions for it. One clue that should have raised questions long ago is that it is very expensive for a living thing to maintain DNA. It just doesn’t, and didn’t, make any sense for natural selection to avoid getting rid of something that really didn’t contribute substantially to the immediate survival of the organism. The arguments that junk DNA was maintained by nature in order to provide potential future evolutionary benefits to the population didn’t make much sense because nature has no such foresight. Nature only selects, in a positive manner, for what works right now in some kind of beneficial way.

      There has been increase in understanding of genomics and the role of junk DNA but as Tim Standish breathlessly says evolutionary concepts were used both for the earlier understanding of “non-protein-coding” DNA as padding and a repository of potential reusable but unnecessary genetic information and for the newer concept of selection of functional activity found in these regions not coding for protein.

      Yes yes. But “junk DNA” was thought to have no significant active role in phenotypic expression or the control of genes in a manner that could be positively selected by nature. The view that non-coding DNA was simply a junk-yard “repository” that could be used for future evolutionary advantages is now known to be painfully mistaken – and should have been detected as such long ago.

      On the other hand, the design model or paradigm for living things and their informational complexity was predictive in this case while the naturalistic perspective actually slowed down scientific advancement in this area.

      3] You seem to believe that molecular geneticists before you and fellow young earth creationists came along with vague statements in the blogoshere about function of the whole of the genome, believed that junk DNA (as Gould rightly observes a “disrespectfully” denoted shorthand predicated on the prokaryotic model of funtional genes) was completely useless.

      I think my statements and the statements of many other IDists were quite clear regarding the active functionality of most non-coding forms of DNA and the eventual discovery of such. Also, I never said that naturalists thought “junk DNA” to be absolutely functionless. Obviously, as I originally noted, Gould believed that “junk DNA” had a repository “function”, but he did not believe that it had an active function in living things. He did not believe that it had any significant control over the expression of genes and the overall phenotype of the organism. He was very much mistaken.

      This is patently wrong. If you read even the abstract of the 1988 paper from John Bodnar “A domain model for eukaryotic DNA organization: A molecular basis for cell differentiation and chromosome evolution” J theoretical biol 1988, that is cited in the paper by William Dembski that you then cite, you will see that Bodnar was advocating consideration of the genomic organization in terms of “domains” that are much more complex than simply the promoters and coding exons assumed to be subject to evolutionary selection. This essential idea that the genome has been selected by the resultant phenotype has changed little in the last 50 years. The idea that a phenotype is the basis of selection not the genotype has gained increasing recognition as the complexity of the genome and the many levels of regulation and control has become evident. Increasing understanding of “Junk DNA” and the highly nuanced regulation of structure and function determined by regions outside conventional coding regions has enhanced neo-darwinian models premised on natural selection rather than destroyed them as you seem to hope based on your models of reality.

      Hardly. Selection has to be based on the phenotypic level. Nature cannot “see” anything at the genotypic level that is not expressed at the phenotypic level. Creationists have long recognized this concept – in the face the claims of naturalists like Richard Dawkins who have promoted selection on the genotypic level.

      The regulatory function and structure of non-coding DNA does not help explain the evolution of novel functional systems and elements within any gene pool beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. What the discovery of the functionality of non-coding DNA has done is show that the neo-Darwinian predictions were wrong regarding its value and they were wrong regarding the detrimental mutation rate. This second error will prove far more devastating to neo-Darwinism than the first.

      4] You do not seem to make any distinction between the protein coding and non-protein coding regions in terms of their contribution to phenotype.

      I thought I was very clear in my article that there is quite a significant difference here. Protein-coding genes are the basic building blocks, the basic “bricks and mortar” so to speak. How these bricks and mortar are used to build different kinds of structures or living things is dependent upon the information in the non-coding regions of the genome where the real blueprint resides.

      You seem to be suggesting all are essential. Do you really believe that?

      You don’t think non-coding DNA essential to complex living things that depend upon many multicellular organ systems? Are you serious? We aren’t talking about single-celled bacteria here. While not all forms of non-coding DNA are created equal, non-coding DNA contains the primary information for phenotypic expression, dictating how the coding genes are to function and what type of organism to build.

      Are all pseudogenes functional?

      No. There are true pseudogenes that have in fact lost their original functionality.

      critical?

      What do you mean by “critical”? Critical to life? Consider that you can lose a lot of body parts that aren’t critical to life that you wouldn’t want to just throw away as “non-critical”. I dare say that you’d still like to keep your arms and legs and colon and bladder, etc . . . even though you could live on without them for quite some time.

      Surely processed pseudogenes are evidence that introns are non-essential.

      Again, non-essential to what? Many intronic regions are now known to carry out important functions (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3). Just because you may be able to survive without some of them doesn’t mean much when it comes to determining important functionality. Ironically, yours is the same argument that was used by many evolutionists to suggest that non-coding DNA was functionless “junk” – because much of it could be deleted without apparent detriment to the organism. Well, that notion turned out to be wrong. The truth is that “Introns in contemporary species fulfill a broad spectrum of functions, and are involved in virtually every step of mRNA processing.” (Link).

      Consider also the following comments regarding intron functionality:

      As a first approximation, it is possible to view introns as unimportant sequences whose only function is to be removed from an unspliced precursor RNA in order to generate the functional mRNA, rRNA or tRNA product. However, it is now well-established that some introns themselves encode specific proteins or can be further processed after splicing to generate noncoding RNA molecules. Alternative splicing is widely used to generate multiple proteins from a single gene…

      Alternative splicing of introns within a gene acts to introduce greater variability of protein sequences translated from a single gene, allowing multiple related proteins to be generated from a single gene and a single precursor mRNA transcript. The control of alternative RNA splicing is performed by complex network of signaling molecules that respond to a wide range of intracellular and extracellular signals.

      Introns contain several short sequences that are important for efficient splicing, such as acceptor and donor sites at either end of the intron as well as a branch point site, which are required for proper splicing by the spliceosome. Some introns are known to enhance the expression of the gene that they are contained in by a process known as intron-mediated enhancement (IME).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intron

      So you see, just because you can live without something doesn’t mean it isn’t useful or beneficial or otherwise relevant to better phenotypic functionality.

      Are alu repeats critical and essential?

      Alu repeats are also known to be functionally important. “Dynamic and functional Alu repeats seem to be centrally placed to modulate the transcriptional landscape of human genome” (From ‘JUNK’ to Just Unexplored Noncoding Knowledge: the case of transcribed Alus, 2012).

      Is the genome uniformly critical and functional? Is there a heirarchy with protien coding at the top and supporting scaffolding and microregulatory and integrative regions below.

      There certainly is a hierarchy with different areas having more or less “critical” functionality. However, I would put protein-coding genes at the bottom, not the top, in this hierarchy of functionality. In this, even the likes of John Mattick seem to agree with me:

      “Indeed, what was damned as junk because it was not understood may, in fact, turn out to be the very basis of human complexity,” Mattick suggests. Pseudogenes, riboswitches and all the rest aside, there is a good reason to suspect that is true. Active RNA, it is now coming out, helps to control the large-scale structure of the chromosomes and some crucial chemical modifications to them—an entirely different, epigenetic layer of information in the genome.”

      Wyatt Gibbs, The Unseen Genome: Gems among the Junk, Scientific American, November 2003, pp 45-53

      Did you read what I read? Mattick himself argues that non-coding DNA forms the very basis of human complexity? way back in 2003? It’s only gotten more convincing since then…

      What precisely is your model based on intelligent design? I cannot seem to find it articulated in a scientific way.

      Upon what basis must intelligent design be invoked to explain anything in a “scientific way”? – any artifact? What are SETI scientists looking for and how will they know when they’ve discovered evidence of ET? The very same arguments can be used to invoke ID behind certain features of living things. If a given phenomenon goes well beyond what any known mindless force of nature can explain in a reasonable amount of time, and if that phenomenon is within the creative powers of intelligent agents (i.e., humans), then the most rational conclusion is that the origin of this particular phenomenon was most likely intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence or beyond.

      What about junk RNA? Will this ongoing post ENCODE scientific debate be the source for your next blog? Would you like to articulate your view based on a YEC perspective with such specificity that we can see if you are right or wrong?

      My position is testable in a potentially falsifiable manner. All you have to do is produce a mindless naturalistic mechanism that can create qualitatively novel systems at higher levels of functional complexity in a reasonable amount of time – or at least a tenable statistic model for such. So far, the very best you have is just-so stories and a lot of bravado. Where’s the science?

      It is easy to sit at your study desk and pontificate post hoc on the errors of evolutionary biologists but to be credible as a scientist you need to propose hypotheses with some specificities and test them against the data.

      You need to get off your high horse and actually test your naturalistic just-so stories against reality – in a statistically relevant manner (i.e., using some real mathematical models that are statistically relevant and meaningful). This you have yet to do.

      You yourself admit that you aren’t about to test your notions regarding the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selections in any statistically relevant way. You say that you “approach the reality of speciation in a top down fashion the same way as Darwin did” (Link). Because of this you do not recognize any specific limitation to “speciation” or change over time. You don’t actually consider or recognize the statistical potential and/or limitations of Darwin’s mechanism of random mutations and natural selection when it comes to creativity at various levels of functional complexity. That is why you’re not doing real science here. Your position is immune to even the potential of falsification since it cannot be tested – not even statistically. All you have are just-so stories beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

      My position, on the other hand, is open to such testing and potential falsification.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  6. Concerning reproductive life of the antedeluvians;

    “I don’t see this “implied” by the text. The Bible simply doesn’t say when the antediluvians became too old to have children”.

    You are correct but the text uses the same formula for each patriarch

    “the patriach” was x years when he had his first son
    he had many other sons and daughters
    he lived for y years after his first son
    he lived at total/died/was translated at z years.

    In most translations including the NIV phrases 2 and 3 are concatenated. I am reading that as saying during the y years he had many sons and daughters and that he was reproductively active during all the y years. Why else provide the redundant information if not to define his reproductive life?

    “Given the linear model (which I agree with) an increased rate of 2 mutations per year, starting at the age of 30 years, works out to less than 1600 mutations at the age of 800 years. This is in line with the yearly average mutation rate we humans currently suffer per generation (about 2-3 mutations per year on average or between 50-100 SNPs per generation).”

    You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either we are on the brink of mutational meltdown ala John Sanford and your previous posts or we are tolerant of mutations as you suggest by allowing for 1600 mutations per generation rather than the currently measured 100 mutations at paternal age of 29.7 years. Which is it? Can humans tolerate 1600 mutations per generation or not?

    “As already discussed, we are headed toward an eventual genetic meltdown. We are not in meltdown mode now, of course, but we are clearly headed downhill genetically and will eventually reach the tipping point.”

    If we can tolerate 309-1600 mutations over the current 102 when precisely do you predict the tipping point?

    “I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that it was you who wanted to invoke God to explain such things – not me. I’ve never invoked God to explain genetic bottlenecks or the current state of affairs starting with a single breeding pair. The available scientific evidence is perfectly consistent with the Biblical account of such a bottleneck as well as the decline of genetic quality of all slowly reproducing gene pools since their original creation. You’re the one who is trying to say that this is not possible outside of a miracle, not me.”

    Yes indeed I am saying either there is a miracle to explain the genetic variety in all species starting from a gene puddle some 4000 years ago or the creation of the gene puddle did not occur. You want magically to have front loading of vast genetic potential in a population of 2 and the development of essentially all the allelic variation found in species today to have arisen over a period of 4000 years. I think you will find most geneticists would agree with me in finding that scenario scientifically incomprehensible.

    “It is the Bible that testifies of Jesus Christ, His nature and origin. Undermine the Bible’s credibility, and you undermine any rational faith you may have in the story of Jesus and any of His claims. You can’t rationally have one without the other. They go hand-in-hand. Certainly Jesus Himself saw it that way. He took the Scriptures seriously – to include the Genesis account of origins. He believed the stories of Genesis and referenced them as literally true. He even claimed to have personally witnessed prehistoric events. Do you believe Him or not?”

    Of course I believe Him, after all I am a disciple of Christ. But do I interpret the canon describing his life and sayings that were selected by the church some 200 years after His death? Of course I do, just like you do. That our interpretations differ is not surprising since you have an american adventist heritage and I do not. (as an aside are you related to the Pitmans of Wawona?). After spending 2 weeks in the US I can see that one cannot be impervious to cultural influences any more than were the inspired writers whose writings were collected in the canon. I accept that the writings in the canon and many of those excluded were inspired but hold to the Adventist doctrine on inspiration that does not see the text as inerrant. I accept that those included in the canon were better quality and contained less error as judged by the Church closer to the events. I do not have a black and white view of what is truth and what is not or what is inspired and what is not. Whether we have a nuanced view of inspiration and truth or not what is critical is not our knowledge or understanding but our acceptance of Gods grace and salvation and our willingness to live a life of discipleship that reflects that Grace. Whether I am right or wrong in specific issues of understanding of the natural world or biblical interpretation is unimportant and will be revealed with time. I do worry that your belligerance toward honest people of science such as Lee Grismer at La Sierra poorly reflects that Grace.

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    • @pauluc:

      Concerning reproductive life of the antedeluvians, [you wrote], “I don’t see this “implied” by the text. The Bible simply doesn’t say when the antediluvians became too old to have children”.

      You are correct but the text uses the same formula for each patriarch

      “the patriach” was x years when he had his first son

      he had many other sons and daughters
      he lived for y years after his first son
      he lived at total/died/was translated at z years.

      In most translations including the NIV phrases 2 and 3 are concatenated. I am reading that as saying during the y years he had many sons and daughters and that he was reproductively active during all the y years. Why else provide the redundant information if not to define his reproductive life?

      The Hebrew writers were often redundant for emphasis or other reasons. Redundancy, therefore, does not necessarily suggest that the antediluvians were virile their entire lives.

      Regardless, however, it hardly matters as your point is mute anyway. It doesn’t matter if they were or were not virile their entire lives as it doesn’t really affect the average yearly mutation rate to any substantial degree.

      You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either we are on the brink of mutational meltdown ala John Sanford and your previous posts or we are tolerant of mutations as you suggest by allowing for 1600 mutations per generation rather than the currently measured 100 mutations at paternal age of 29.7 years. Which is it? Can humans tolerate 1600 mutations per generation or not?

      Do you not understand that 1600 mutations realized after 800 years is essentially the same thing as 100 mutations realized at 50 years? – as far as the gene pool is concerned? The mutation rate is effectively the same over the same period of time. Just because a generation time is shorter now than it was before doesn’t mean that the yearly mutation rate is all that different. It is effectively the same over the same given period of time.

      Beyond this, any detrimental mutation rate that outpaces the ability of natural selection to remove them from the gene pool cannot be tolerated without a reduction in the informational quality of the gene pool. Just because this reduction does not immediately result in a “genetic meltdown” does not mean, therefore, that there hasn’t been a decline in the informational quality of the gene pool. There has been, obviously.

      If we can tolerate 309-1600 mutations over the current 102 when precisely do you predict the tipping point?

      As I’ve already explained to you, we can know that we are headed downhill, genetically, but it is much harder to determine where the “tipping point” is. We just know that eventually we will get there. It is interesting to note, however, as Sanford does, that an average individual sustains ~60,000 mutations in an average somatic cell line by 60 years of age. . .

      “I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that it was you who wanted to invoke God to explain such things – not me. I’ve never invoked God to explain genetic bottlenecks or the current state of affairs starting with a single breeding pair. The available scientific evidence is perfectly consistent with the Biblical account of such a bottleneck as well as the decline of genetic quality of all slowly reproducing gene pools since their original creation. You’re the one who is trying to say that this is not possible outside of a miracle, not me.” – Sean Pitman

      Yes indeed I am saying either there is a miracle to explain the genetic variety in all species starting from a gene puddle some 4000 years ago or the creation of the gene puddle did not occur. You want magically to have front loading of vast genetic potential in a population of 2 and the development of essentially all the allelic variation found in species today to have arisen over a period of 4000 years. I think you will find most geneticists would agree with me in finding that scenario scientifically incomprehensible.

      No “magic” or supernatural intervention is needed here. There is plenty of evidence to show that the allelic variation that exists today could rapidly evolve in very short order from just two individuals. After all, we are only talking about very low levels of functional complexity here. You’ve presented no rational or “scientific” reason why such allelic variation would require significantly longer periods of time to achieve.

      “It is the Bible that testifies of Jesus Christ, His nature and origin. Undermine the Bible’s credibility, and you undermine any rational faith you may have in the story of Jesus and any of His claims. You can’t rationally have one without the other. They go hand-in-hand. Certainly Jesus Himself saw it that way. He took the Scriptures seriously – to include the Genesis account of origins. He believed the stories of Genesis and referenced them as literally true. He even claimed to have personally witnessed prehistoric events. Do you believe Him or not?” – Sean Pitman

      Of course I believe Him, after all I am a disciple of Christ. But do I interpret the canon describing his life and sayings that were selected by the church some 200 years after His death? Of course I do, just like you do. That our interpretations differ is not surprising since you have an american adventist heritage and I do not.

      In other words, you pick and choose what you want to believe as “true” from the Bible – even with regard to Jesus’ own claims regarding the historicity and literal nature of the Genesis account of origins and of his own memory of prehistoric events. How then do you know that anything attributed to Jesus was really said or done by Him? You are forced into your untenable position, of course, in order to hang onto two otherwise mutually exclusive concepts of reality.

      Whether I am right or wrong in specific issues of understanding of the natural world or biblical interpretation is unimportant and will be revealed with time. I do worry that your belligerance toward honest people of science such as Lee Grismer at La Sierra poorly reflects that Grace.

      I have no problem with honest people with whom I disagree. Some of my best friends are agnostics and atheists. The difference, of course, is that they don’t claim to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church and wouldn’t dream of taking a paycheck from the church to present views that fundamentally oppose the teachings of the church while on the church’s dime. This is where I do in fact become “belligerent”, if you will. It simply isn’t honest to fundamentally undermine one’s employer on the employer’s dime.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  7. Help us out, Dr. Pitman. I’m certainly in your camp that God created humans with genomes in His image, and that they have not evolved from lesser forms over millions of years. However, I think you push the envelope way too far, as does virtually every other SDA scientist.

    I’m finding a contradiction in your key claims, as Pauluc has alluded to. You have insisted that, statistically, the human genome is accumulating deleterious mutations at a rate that will cause genetic meltdown. Yet you are also insisting that no junk DNA–DNA that fails to do its job properly or any job at all–exists. You are insisting that all DNA, including the substantial mutations which you claim have accumulated and continue to accumulate in the genome, still serves important functions.

    So which is it? Is our genome full of accumulated DNA sequences that do not function properly because of mutations and “devolution,” or are there no such “junk” sequences?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      I’m finding a contradiction in your key claims, as Pauluc has alluded to. You have insisted that, statistically, the human genome is accumulating deleterious mutations at a rate that will cause genetic meltdown.

      You mean that the human genome is accumulating deleterious mutations that will eventually cause a genetic meltdown. We have yet to get to that state.

      However, we are indeed and have always been headed downhill genetically speaking. An eventual genetic meltdown is inevitable for the human race. The same is true for every other slowly reproducing species on Earth.

      Yet you are also insisting that no junk DNA–DNA that fails to do its job properly or any job at all–exists.

      Where did I say this? You know full well that I have pointed out to you and Pauluc and others in this forum many cases of detrimental mutations where genetic sequences have indeed lost their prior functionality and are no longer useful to the gene pool. This is one of my main arguing points – that detrimental mutations disrupt and often destroy pre-existing systems of function. In this very thread, if you will actually read what I wrote in response to Pauluc, I pointed out that there are in fact truly pseudo pseudogenes that are no longer functional due to mutations that destroyed their original function.

      However, the majority of DNA, to include non-coding DNA, remains functional. That is why the majority of our DNA has not been removed by natural selection – because most of it still functions in a beneficial manner that is positively selectable by nature.

      You are insisting that all DNA, including the substantial mutations which you claim have accumulated and continue to accumulate in the genome, still serves important functions.

      Again, I’ve never made this claim…

      So which is it? Is our genome full of accumulated DNA sequences that do not function properly because of mutations and “devolution,” or are there no such “junk” sequences?

      There have only been a few hundred generations since our original parents. While we are in fact heading downhill genetically, in each generation, this is hardly enough time to result in a meltdown of our gene pool with detrimental mutations. At a rate of 2 or 3 detrimental mutations per year since the Fall (in each ancestral lineage), we’re talking less than 20,000 detrimental germ cell mutations per person living today (unless of course you wish to count indel mutations, in which case the absolute number of nucleotide changes may be one or two orders of magnitude higher). Because of the significant redundancy built into our genome, it seems to me that many more tens of thousands of mutations (most of which would be near-neutral detrimental mutations) would need to be realized before we’d arrive at a state of genetic “meltdown” as a species. As discussed with Pauluc, we simply aren’t in a state of genetic meltdown at the present time.

      Regardless of the actual number required to achieve genetic meltdown, the fact that we are headed downhill in genomic quality, in each generation, is quite clear given the information that is currently in hand.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  8. Sean Pitman: Professor Kent: “Yet you are also insisting that no junk DNA–DNA that fails to do its job properly or any job at all–exists.”

    Where did I say this?

    You wrote, “There is precious little junk DNA left in the human genome.” Okay, so let’s change my wording from “no” to “precious little.”

    Sean Pitman: Professor Kent: “You are insisting that all DNA, including the substantial mutations which you claim have accumulated and continue to accumulate in the genome, still serves important functions.

    Again, I’ve never made this claim…

    Okay, you wrote, “A genome where the significant majority of sequences within the genome are functional has important implications for evolutionary theories.” The research itself certainly implies that we can expect most of human DNA to be involved with regulation and expression.

    My point remains: you’re stretching credibility to suggest that both (1) the relative lack of junk DNA accumulation and (2) the increasing amount of junk DNA accumulation both support creation theory and refute evolutionism. Creation and evolutionary theory are equally accommodating to these interpretations.

    This is my problem with your approach. As data accumulates, knowledge changes, interpretations change, views shift, and those who are dogmatic in their views look increasingly irrelevant. I realize you despise my position.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      Okay, you wrote, “A genome where the significant majority of sequences within the genome are functional has important implications for evolutionary theories.” The research itself certainly implies that we can expect most of human DNA to be involved with regulation and expression.

      Indeed. This was a prediction of creationists/IDists, not naturalists or neo-Darwinists. The discovery that most of the human genome is actually functional to one degree or another came as a huge shock to evolutionary biologists.

      My point remains: you’re stretching credibility to suggest that both (1) the relative lack of junk DNA accumulation and (2) the increasing amount of junk DNA accumulation both support creation theory and refute evolutionism. Creation and evolutionary theory are equally accommodating to these interpretations.

      So, you’d really expect absolutely no detrimental mutations if the Biblical story of creation were true? It’s all or nothing for you? The fact is that a genome where the majority of sequences are functional to one degree or another increases the known detrimental mutation rate far far beyond what natural selection can get rid of in each generation. Does this not tell you anything?

      All this is exactly in line with a theory that proposes an originally perfect creation that then started to degenerate over time in relatively recent history. I really don’t understand your attempts to counter here? Scientists who favor intelligent design and/or Biblical creation as the most reasonable conclusion for the origin of life on this planet have long predicted this scenario. This evidence we’re seeing is right in line with these predictions. This is not true of the naturalist predictions for non-coding “junk” DNA or the detrimental mutation rate.

      This is my problem with your approach. As data accumulates, knowledge changes, interpretations change, views shift, and those who are dogmatic in their views look increasingly irrelevant. I realize you despise my position.

      The problem here, for naturalists, is that as data accumulates the Biblical account of origins looks better and better, not worse and worse. This weight of empirical evidence has the power to strengthen, not weaken, faith and a solid rational hope in the future. I really don’t know why you don’t see this as a positive for Christianity? – except for the fact that you have an inexplicable need to de-emphasize empirical evidence in favor of some kind of blind faith religion that is open to anything and everything as the winds of popular opinion shift this way and that. It seems like you can’t be wrong, by definition, since you’re always siding with popular opinion. Where are your own ideas that are independent of the opinions of others?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  9. I don’t think ad hoc interpretions to shore up a theory are particularly useful–for either side.

    Let’s face it: no matter what the evidence is, you will always interpret it one way because your mind requires physical evidence to support your predetermined views (since faith is not rational enough for you) and you abhor uncertainty.

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  10. Sean

    I have a difficult time understanding your position religiously or scientifically.

    “There have only been a few hundred generations since our original parents.”

    This is based on a particular exegesis of religious text not published data derived from experiment.

    “While we are in fact heading downhill genetically, in each generation”,

    This is based on exegesis of religious text and you have not yet provided any compelling direct evidence from data on genomics beyond showing the rate of new mutations from generation to generation which we all can accept. What of the rate of loss of mutations from the generation to generation within a family? After all only half the genetic material and the newly acquired maternal of paternal mutations are transmitted to a single progeny. Your calculation of never-ending accumulation of detrimental mutations seems to be oblivious to this constant gain and loss of new genetic material.

    “this is hardly enough time to result in a meltdown of our gene pool with detrimental mutations. At a rate of 2 or 3 detrimental mutations per year since the Fall (in each ancestral lineage), we’re talking less than 20,000 detrimental germ cell mutations per person living today (unless of course you wish to count indel mutations, in which case the number may be 10 times a high).”

    In talking of mutation you seem to infer SNP as the variation driving selection and evolution but seem to exclude the other sources of variation that any biologist would accept; indels, VNTR, variation in transposable elements, and CNVs. Together these account for 0.5% sequence diversity between individuals identified in hapmap. To put this in perspective two random, apparently unrelated individuals selected from geographically different regions are likely to differ by up to 15000000 bases in sequence. What is 100 more against that level of variability?

    “Because of the significant redundancy built into our genome, it seems to me that many more tens of thousands of mutations (most of which would be near-neutral detrimental mutations) would need to be realized before we’d arrive at a state of genetic “meltdown” as a species.”

    On this I am sure we can agree.

    Now against this backdrop of existing variability found in hapmap what happens if we introduce a model of homogenization of the genetic repertoire with a genetic bottleneck of 2 individuals [or in the case of man 5 genetically distinct individuals] in 2349-2348 BC and I think we do have significant problems. You must then postulate that most of the inter-individual variability averaging 15E6 bases was introduced to the human gene pool over a period of 4360 years. Assuming a generation time of 30 years that translates to accumulation of variation at a rate of 103211 bases per generation.

    Again the measured 102-120 per generation pales into insignificance at that level of postulated inter-generational variability.

    The problem as I see it is you want to propose there was a miraculous origin by Divine Fiat Creation 4004 BC and a Divine intervention with a miraculous worldwide flood in 2349 BC but you want the biology to exclude miracles? Where is the logic in that? I cannot see why you seem averse to any miracles in the biological realm. Are you just contrary and because I say that I can only understand the literalist position by invoking miracles at the time of the flood to explain the existing biodiversity and the existing speciation you feel compelled to disagree and say no it is all by natural mechanism and we do not need to invoke miracles. The logic totally escapes me.

    This insistence that there is no miracles in biology beyond the original creation raises the question of where you actually are in terms of the belief in origins. Are you saying that origin of species is by highly accelerated natural mechanisms? You seem to accept the ID paradigm and postulates but unlike most of the adherents to ID want to put it into a short time frame of a few thousand years. From reading your responses in the posts here on canid evolution you accept macroevolution (change beyond the species level) of the canid species by a natural process of genetic variation and natural selection. You however constrain this process by saying that any mutations that arise enabling speciation must be at very very low levels of complexity. This seems quite a disconnect to me. Are you insisting that the genetic basis of speciation is genetic changes of very very low levels of complexity?
    It is all very puzzling and makes me very curious how you would actually commit yourself in terms of a position on origins.
    Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism#Types_of_creationism classifies creationism as
    1] YEC
    2] Gap Creationism
    3] Progressive creationisms
    4] Intelligent design
    5] Theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism.

    The classification uses 4 aspects of origins (origin of humanity, origin of biological species, origin of Eath and age of universe) to differentiate
    1] Did God directly create man? You seem to indicate this is true but in light of your acceptance of macroevolution do you see man as arising by natural mechanisms of speciation from the primate kind?
    2] Did god directly create biological species? You seem to indicate a belief in creation of kinds and then evolution of species by natural mechanisms ie macroevolution this is at least a belief of progressive creationism and is denied by YEC.
    3] When was the earth created? You seem to accept the YEC position of <10000 years
    and has it been changed by global flood? You seem to believe this.
    4] What is the age of the universe. I have never seen you commit on this but it seems you allow for a conventionally old universe. Is this so?

    Of course you do know that people like David Read, Bill Sorenson or Kevin Paulsen might consider you a heretic since you do depart from the YEC of GMP. Not unlike the way you consider Lee Grismer a heretic for perhaps being somewhere further down the list than you are. As always I worry as Christians within the Adventist community we completely miss the point of our eternal need of the Grace of God. We forget the message of the mote and beam and wanting to justify ourselves seem to see people as heretically different rather than fellow sinners redeemed by His power but struggling to live the life of discipleship as honestly as we can.

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    • @pauluc:

      “There has only been a few hundred generations since our original parents.”

      This is based on a particular exegesis of religious text not published data derived from experiment.

      I personally see a great deal of empirical evidence to suggest that life on this planet, to include human life, is of recent origin – consistent with the claims of the Bible, to include the claims of Jesus Himself who is quoted as saying that He had personally witnessed pre-history and was/is The Creator of it all.

      “While we are in fact heading downhill genetically, in each generation”,

      This is based on exegesis of religious text and you have not yet provided any compelling direct evidence from data on genomics beyond showing the rate of new mutations from generation to generation which we all can accept.

      We know far more than just the rate of mutations. We also know the minimum rate of detrimental mutations vs. beneficial mutations and the death rate that would be required to effectively remove the detrimental mutations from the gene pool in a manner that would keep them from building up over time. I’ve presented what seems to me to be very compelling evidence that the detrimental mutation rate is far far too high for natural selection to cope with in any sort of meaningful way (even based only on the SNP mutation rate). The death rate required to remove the detrimental mutations from the gene pool as fast as they are entering it in each generation would be far beyond the reproductive capacity of humans or any other slowly reproducing species.

      What of the rate of loss of mutations from the generation to generation within a family?

      As you know, or at least as you should know, detrimental mutations are not lost or removed nearly as fast as they are gained in each individual in each generation. That is why no known naturalistic mechanism comes remotely close to solving this devastating problem for neo-Darwinism.

      After all only half the genetic material and the newly acquired maternal of paternal mutations are transmitted to a single progeny. Your calculation of never-ending accumulation of detrimental mutations seems to be oblivious to this constant gain and loss of new genetic material.

      One problem, of course, is that the genetic material from both parents sustains detrimental mutations in each generation at a rate far far higher than the coping potential of natural selection or any other naturalistic mechanism. I’m really not sure what you think you gain from your argument here? After all, even if mutations only occurred in one parent, instead of both parents, the number of mutations transferred to any given child would still be far far too high for natural selection to deal with in slowing reproducing populations. As I’ve already explained many times now, the real problem here is the minimum required death rate that natural selection would need to effectively deal with the detrimental mutation rate. Regardless of how you look at the problem, the required death rate would still be far far too high.

      Obviously, you still have yet to sit down and actually deal with the statistics involved with this particular problem.

      In talking of mutation you seem to infer SNP as the variation driving selection and evolution but seem to exclude the other sources of variation that any biologist would accept; indels, VNTR, variation in transposable elements, and CNVs.

      Not true. I did mention indel mutations and other forms of genetic mutations, but I thought I’d give you a huge benefit of the doubt by only considering SNPs. In any case, all forms of genetic mutations are almost always detrimental. Very rarely will any kind of mutation be selectably beneficial – and always at a low level of functional complexity.

      Together these account for 0.5% sequence diversity between individuals identified in hapmap. To put this in perspective two random, apparently unrelated individuals selected from geographically different regions are likely to differ by up to 15,000,000 bases in sequence. What is 100 more against that level of variability?

      Indeed. Prior estimates of average human similarity of around 99.9% didn’t take into account all the various types of mutational changes that occur. The current estimate you cite of around 0.5% diversity is based on this consideration.

      http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-09-03-dna-differences_N.htm

      This variability has built up over generations and has been enhanced over what SNPs could alone achieve – as you correctly point out. However, this only adds to my point that the human gene pool is degenerating over time – even faster than what could be assumed using only the SNP mutation rate. In other words, the total number of nucleotide changes resulting from all forms of genetic mutations combined is far higher than the SNP mutation rate of <100 per person per generation. Again, of those that affect function, the vast majority are detrimental to one degree or another.

      Now against this backdrop of existing variability found in hapmap what happens if we introduce a model of homogenization of the genetic repertoire with a genetic bottleneck of 2 individuals [or in the case of man 5 genetically distinct individuals] in 2349-2348 BC and I think we do have significant problems. You must then postulate that most of the inter-individual variability averaging 15E6 bases was introduced to the human gene pool over a period of 4360 years. Assuming a generation time of 30 years that translates to accumulation of variation at a rate of 103211 bases per generation.

      For argument’s sake, let’s assume that all the current inter-individual variability started, say, 5000 years ago (since there were certainly mutational differences between the individuals on Noah’s Ark):

      So, 15e6 / 5000 = 3000 mutation differences per year or ~1500 per individual per year since random mutations are unlikely to affect the same spot in unrelated lineages. As far as the length of an average generation, “For much of human history the average generation length has been determined socially by the average age of women at first birth, about 16 years.” But, let’s round up a bit and use a generation time of 20 years. Given a generation time of 20 years, there would be ~30,000 mutational differences per person per generation.

      Although substantially less than your calculation, 30,000 mutational variations per generation still seems like a very large number. How can all of these DNA differences be produced in such a short time?

      Well, the per-generation mutational nucleotide rate of change is roughly as follows for the various types of mutations listed below:

      Nucleotide substitutions: ~70
      Satellite mutations: 3,000
      Deletions: 5,000
      Duplications/ insertions: 5,000
      Inversions/translocations: 10,000
      Conversions: 10,000

      As you can see, a per generation variation rate is reasonably over 30,000 nucleotide variations per generation within each individual. Note that this would produce over 60,000 nucleotide differences on a person-per-person comparison between different lineages in each generation.

      Again the measured 102-120 per generation pales into insignificance at that level of postulated inter-generational variability.

      I agree…

      The problem as I see it is you want to propose there was a miraculous origin by Divine Fiat Creation 4004 BC and a Divine intervention with a miraculous worldwide flood in 2349 BC but you want the biology to exclude miracles? Where is the logic in that? I cannot see why you seem averse to any miracles in the biological realm. Are you just contrary and because I say that I can only understand the literalist position by invoking miracles at the time of the flood to explain the existing biodiversity and the existing speciation you feel compelled to disagree and say no it is all by natural mechanism and we do not need to invoke miracles. The logic totally escapes me.

      Perhaps the logic escapes you because you’re not considering the evidence properly? Again, note that you’re the one arguing for Divine intervention here, not me. There simply is no need to invoke Divine miracles or any other kinds of intelligent intervention to rationally explain the features you think require vast periods of time to explain.

      The mutation rates and allelic diversity that currently exists can be explained via known naturalistic mechanisms acting over a very short period of time.

      I’m sorry, but you’re the one who has yet to present anything that would require a Divine miracle to explain – short of the origin of the informational complexity of life itself. The degenerating nature of all slowly reproducing gene pools necessitates the “front-loading” the informational complexity of life on this planet via a very very intelligent and creative Mind. It could not have been produced any other way that is known to modern science.

      This insistence that there is no miracles in biology beyond the original creation raises the question of where you actually are in terms of the belief in origins. Are you saying that origin of species is by highly accelerated natural mechanisms?

      No significant acceleration is needed beyond the current rates observed for mutational changes and divergence within isolated gene pools.

      You seem to accept the ID paradigm and postulates but unlike most of the adherents to ID want to put it into a short time frame of a few thousand years. From reading your responses in the posts here on canid evolution you accept macroevolution (change beyond the species level) of the canid species by a natural process of genetic variation and natural selection.

      I don’t like the terms “micro” or “macro” evolution because they aren’t well defined as far as any kind of predictable limit to evolutionary progress is concerned. The same is true for the “species” concept. That is why I prefer to define unique “kinds” of gene pools based on differences in functional complexity at higher levels of functional complexity (i.e., beyond the level of systems requiring more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues). I do admit that this concept is fairly unique. IDists have some great ideas, of course, but I find ID arguments significantly limited in this particular regard.

      You however constrain this process by saying that any mutations that arise enabling speciation must be at very very low levels of complexity. This seems quite a disconnect to me. Are you insisting that the genetic basis of speciation is genetic changes of very very low levels of complexity?

      Yes. It is indeed my position that no novel systems of function are or have ever been produced by RM/NS which require a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues. There isn’t a single observable example of such within all of scientific literature and statistically such an event is extraordinarily unlikely this side of a practical eternity of time.

      It is all very puzzling and makes me very curious how you would actually commit yourself in terms of a position on origins.
      Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creationism#Types_of_creationism classifies creationism as
      1] YEC
      2] Gap Creationism
      3] Progressive creationisms
      4] Intelligent design
      5] Theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism.

      As I’ve already explained to you several times now, I’m a young-life creationist. I think that all life on this planet was created less than 10,000 years ago by God. Before this time, no life existed on this particular planet. I do, however, believe that the universe itself and even the material of this planet may be very old indeed.

      Of course you do know that people like David Read, Bill Sorenson or Kevin Paulsen might consider you a heretic since you do depart from the YEC of GMP. Not unlike the way you consider Lee Grismer a heretic for perhaps being somewhere further down the list than you are. As always I worry as Christians within the Adventist community we completely miss the point of our eternal need of the Grace of God. We forget the message of the mote and beam and wanting to justify ourselves seem to see people as heretically different rather than fellow sinners redeemed by His power but struggling to live the life of discipleship as honestly as we can.

      Again, this has to do with Biblical credibility. When it comes to the literal 6-day creation week of all life on this planet within recent history, all who support the Seventh-day Adventist view on origins are in agreement. There may be disagreements on other issues, but this is the key fundamental position of the church when it comes to origins. Those like Lee Greer or Lee Grismer who actively undermine the church’s position on this topic within our own schools (like La Sierra University) are misrepresenting their employer and what their employer has expressly hired them to do. That’s simply wrong in anyone’s book. It would be far more honest and forthright for those who disagree with the church’s perspective on such a fundamental issue to go and work in the public sector for an employer who is more than happy to pay to promote the popular philosophies of most modern scientists.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  11. “Did god directly create biological species? You seem to indicate a belief in creation of kinds and then evolution of species by natural mechanisms ie macroevolution this is at least a belief of progressive creationism and is denied by YEC.”

    Pauluc, the idea that God created basic kinds of animals that then diversified, giving us the large number of “species” that we have today, is a young-earth creationist (YEC) model. It has not been denied by knowledgeable young earth creationists for a century. Kurt Wise writes, “In perhaps as few as three centuries, scores of new species arose within most mammal baramins, and thousands of species arose within many of the insect and plant baramins.” Leonard Brand writes, “According to the theory presented here, much of our current taxonomic diversity has been the result of limited evolutionary change after a worldwide catastrophe. The original groups of plants and animals have diversified into multitudes of species as they adapted to fill specific niches in the changed conditions after the catastrophe.” These scientists are both young earth creationists. So this concept has been YEC orthodoxy for a very long time.

    “Of course you do know that people like David Read, Bill Sorenson or Kevin Paulsen might consider you a heretic since you do depart from the YEC of GMP.”

    I assume GMP is George McCready Price. Price did not deny a rapid post-Flood speciation. To the contrary, he promoted this concept in his writings. He wrote:

    “If the Seventh-day Adventist people will all get behind these two ideas, Flood geology and plenty of species-making since the Flood, . . . I believe it would not be long before the scientific world would sit up and take notice.”

    The main area where modern YEC theorists disagree with Price is that Price denied order in the fossil record, whereas modern exponents of YEC typically explain the order in the fossil record as the result of ecological zonation or biome succession. I disagree with Price in his insistence that there is no order in the fossil record. His examples were all from orogenous zones and reflected post-Flood (or at least post-original deposition) mountain-building activity. Another area where modern YECers disagree with Price is that Price denied the post-Flood glaciation, whereas most modern YECers acknowledge that there was a relatively short post-Flood Ice Age.

    But these geological issues have little connection to the biological issues you are debating with Sean. The astonishing complexity of life at the cellular and molecular level was unknown in Price’s day, so I’m not sure that there would be any disagreement between Price and Pitman.

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    • @David Read:

      Leonard Brand writes, “According to the theory presented here, much of our current taxonomic diversity has been the result of limited evolutionary change after a worldwide catastrophe. The original groups of plants and animals have diversified into multitudes of species as they adapted to fill specific niches in the changed conditions after the catastrophe.”

      Indeed. I don’t know where Pauluc gets his information regarding YEC or YLC? Like my friend Leonard Brand, pretty much all other scientists who believe in a recent arrival of life on this planet also believe in a limited form of evolutionary change and adaptability that has occurred very rapidly since the Flood.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman: Like David Read who seems to cite precisely the same Price statements as Ronald Numbers I got most of my information from a scholar I trust. Unlike you I readily concede I do not know everything so have accept in good faith information from people with track record.

        I think perhaps you would not fare as well as David Read thinks you would with GMP. I think you would like Clark be seen by Price as ceding much too much to naturalism and the evolutionists.

        There is no question you, like him, share a degree of hubris that would like a good purge from Adventist institutions of any views other than your own.

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        • @pauluc:

          There is no question you, like him, share a degree of hubris that would like a good purge from Adventist institutions of any views other than your own.

          What I would like to see taught within all Adventist schools is the Adventist position on origins as stated by the organized Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is clearly wrong, in my view, for any employee of the church to go around actively attacking and undermining the Adventist position on origins on the church’s dime.

          This has nothing to do with my own personal views. If my views where not in line with those of the Adventist Church, I’d have no problem leaving Adventism behind over this one issue. The same should be true for paid employees of the church organization. Are those who are employed by the church going to do what they are being paid to do? Are they going to support what the church says is fundamental to its own primary goals and ideals?

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman: Concerning YEC YLC views I think you are well in the minority. I dont think CMI adherents would see it the same way as you or Leonard Brand might. I have read and suffered through enough of their presentations to know they do not at all want even a minimal naturalist macro-evolutionary foothold in the door.

        That you agree with me and concede species variation has arisen by a process of mutation and natural selection is anathema.

        God did it I believe it. Of course they would see that God can act at any time and that new species can occur. Once you accept a miraculous flood and original creation any additional explanation by miracle is inconsequential. Why concede to the naturalists and even try to have an economy of miracles as you seem to want to do.

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        • @pauluc:

          Concerning YEC YLC views I think you are well in the minority. I dont think CMI adherents would see it the same way as you or Leonard Brand might. I have read and suffered through enough of their presentations to know they do not at all want even a minimal naturalist macro-evolutionary foothold in the door.

          It is actually very easy to find, within the publications of Creation Ministries International, statements in support of rapid speciation over time. Here’s one, by Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. and Michael Matthews, for example:

          But no reputable creationist denies speciation—in fact, it is an important part of creationist biology. In the previous chapter, I showed that the real issue is whether evolution can explain the increase of genetic information content—enough changes to turn microbes into men, not simple change through time. (Link)

          So, your argument that I am in the distinct minority here when it comes to scientists who accept the Biblical model of origins seems to be more than just a bit exaggerated.

          That you agree with me and concede species variation has arisen by a process of mutation and natural selection is anathema.

          Not for most well-educated scientists who also support the Biblical model of origins.

          God did it. I believe it. Of course they would see that God can act at any time and that new species can occur. Once you accept a miraculous flood and original creation any additional explanation by miracle is inconsequential. Why concede to the naturalists and even try to have an economy of miracles as you seem to want to do.

          Invoking the Divine, or even some lesser form of intelligent design, when such an invocation is not needed removes the rational basis for invoking the God or ID when the God or ID really is the most rational explanation for a given phenomenon.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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        • @Sean Pitman:

          You are absolutely correct and I admit my error.

          That denial of speciation was and perhaps still is part of the YEC platform in some quarters is indeed suggested by the fact that this is specifically listed as an argument that YECs should not use (see both CMI and AIG). Among the better informed it seems that “speciation” now seems to be acceptable and that “after their kind” now has a revised interpretation. What is clearly not acceptable is that there is generation of any new “information” as that would clearly play into the hands of the evolutionists. As we discussed in detail concerning the vast predominance of allelic variation in canids and man that must have arisen de novo from the breeding pair or breeding 5 do you or do you not think that new allelic variation contains new “information”?

          If you say yes then you are certainly outside the current YEC convention. If you say no then you are suggesting that species with very different phenotypes can evolve without any new information. A position that most biologist would find surprising.

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        • @pauluc:

          What is clearly not acceptable is that there is generation of any new “information” as that would clearly play into the hands of the evolutionists. As we discussed in detail concerning the vast predominance of allelic variation in canids and man that must have arisen de novo from the breeding pair or breeding 5 do you or do you not think that new allelic variation contains new “information”?

          The vast majority of allelic mutational changes do and did not produce qualitatively new information – only changes to the degree of expression of pre-existing systems (i.e., more or less of the same thing). More or less of the same thing isn’t what I would call “new” information.

          However, there are relatively rare examples of truly new information that is qualitatively unique entering the gene pool. The problem, of course, is that all such examples are at very very low levels of functional complexity (i.e., requiring less than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues).

          So, its relatively easy to evolve a novel beneficial system that is based on a specified 3-character sequence. It’s exponentially harder to evolve a truly novel system that is based on a minimum of 20 specified characters. And, it is effectively impossible to evolve a qualitatively novel system that requires at least 1000 specifically arranged characters (regardless of the type of information system you’re dealing with).

          If you say yes then you are certainly outside the current YEC convention. If you say no then you are suggesting that species with very different phenotypes can evolve without any new information. A position that most biologist would find surprising.

          I have been invited to speak in numerous venues, to include those largely populated by YECs and YLCs – as you can imagine. Yet, after I present evidence for low-level evolution the vast majority of creationists I’ve spoken to respond very favorably – even enthusiastically. After all, it simply makes good sense that the random discovery of novel beneficial sequences within sequence spaces would be exponentially easier to achieve when you’re dealing with 3-character sequences vs. 20 character sequences. It just makes sense to most people – including well-educated creationists.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  12. Sean Pitman: I don’t like the terms “micro” or “macro” evolution because they aren’t well defined as far as any kind of predictable limit to evolutionary progress is concerned. The same is true for the “species” concept. That is why I prefer to define unique “kinds” of gene pools based on differences in functional complexity at higher levels of functional complexity (i.e., beyond the level of systems requiring more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues). I do admit that this concept is fairly unique.

    Back to this, eh? Unique is an understatement, as you’re the only person in the entire world who uses this criterion. The problem, again, is that no one, including you, can tell us how many fairly specified amino acid residue (FSAAR) differences exist among sister taxa.

    Consider this simple test. Look at Fig 6 in this article: http://bit.ly/SJNhKQ. Tell us which of the Pitta species are valid species (>1000 FSAAR differences) and which are synonomous (<1000 FSAAR differences). You can't even tell us with certainly whether Pitta is a valid genus, because you don’t have a clue how many FSAARs separate it from the other genera.

    I can readily predict the answer: you don’t know. I doubt you can even suggest a pragmatic approach to figure out how many FSAARs separate sister taxa.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      Back to this, eh? Unique is an understatement, as you’re the only person in the entire world who uses this criterion. The problem, again, is that no one, including you, can tell us how many fairly specified amino acid residue (FSAAR) differences exist among sister taxa.

      The biosystems themselves within different gene pools are what can be evaluated as far as levels of functional complexity are concerned. This is not beyond the capabilities of modern science.

      Also, the basic concept of levels of functional complexity is not unique to me. This concept has been defined in mainstream literature. My only contribution is the observation that the Darwinian mechanism is exponentially less and less able to discover qualitatively novel beneficial systems with each step up the ladder of functional complexity. The mechanism of RM/NS is therefore limited to very very low levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time.

      Consider this simple test. Look at Fig 6 in this article: http://bit.ly/SJNhKQ. Tell us which of the Pitta species are valid species (>1000 FSAAR differences) and which are synonomous (<1000 FSAAR differences).

      All the Pitta species can interbreed and produce viable and virile offspring. Therefore, they share the same basic “kind” of gene pool.

      What you need to do is consider individual systems within separate gene pools to see if those systems are 1) qualitative unique with regard to function and 2) at a level of functional complexity that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues.

      You can’t even tell us with certainly whether Pitta is a valid genus, because you don’t have a clue how many FSAARs separate it from the other genera.

      There are many examples of different genera that can also interbreed to produce viable and virile offspring – such as crosses between sheep and goats. There are even some hybrids between animals classified in different family groups (Link). Such would also be placed within the same basic “kind” of gene pool when it comes to evolvability.

      Of course, the ability to interbreed to produce viable offspring isn’t the only criterion upon which to determine if two gene pools were originally derived from the same basic “kind” of gene pool. After all, mules and hinnies are sterile, yet belong to the same gene pool as do horses, donkeys, zebras, and the like. Virility is also dependent upon chromosomal structure, not just similar information content (Link).

      I can readily predict the answer: you don’t know. I doubt you can even suggest a pragmatic approach to figure out how many FSAARs separate sister taxa.

      Again, the qualitatively unique systems within gene pools are what can be evaluated with regard to levels of functional complexity and qualitatively novel functionality. Also, just because one gene pool contains a complex system that another gene pool lacks does not necessarily mean that they were not derived from the same ancestral gene pool. Complex systems can be lost over time in one gene pool while being maintained in another. They just can’t be evolved if they weren’t already part of the original ancestral gene pool to begin with (i.e., if they weren’t “front-loaded” at the very start).

      A key observation here is that slowly reproducing gene pools are and have always been devolving, not evolving. They’ve been degenerating over time. That means that humans could not have evolved from a common ancestor with apes 5-6 millions of years ago. Both species would have devolved out of existence by now over such a period of time.

      The other key observation is that the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS is not able to create beyond very very low levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time. All qualitatively novel highly complex systems had to have been deliberately created in the original parental gene pool. No such systems were produced by random mutations combined with natural selection. This notion is statistically untenable and has never been demonstrated in observable time. All that mainstream scientists really have to prop up this concept are fantastic just-so stories that have no more scientific value than fairytales for children.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  13. I have studied only elementary courses in science and thus much of what I read in the discussions on this thread are a bit over my head.

    Still, I think I have come common sense and that is the tool that I have for drawing the conclusions that I hold.

    The Bible describes a 2000 year old event in which the God/human man we know as “Jesus” raised Lazarus from the dead. The event, as described, set a scenario in which Lazarus clearly was dead and his body decomposing. Jesus, in a miraculous way, put “LIFE” back into that decomposing body.

    Now either that account is a true event, or it is not. What do you choose to believe? Where is the empirical evidence that this could happen? If you believe the account is true, how do your scientific ideas reconcile to the story?

    You can study the building blocks of living creatures / plants and observe much of how life is operating. But without that operational essence that is “LIFE”, those building blocks do not exist.

    So Mr “Scientist”, please show me first how to take the elements in their raw forms and put LIFE into them. Then I can believe that you have an understanding of our origins. You are looking at living forms (dead or alive) and drawing conclusions about your observations without explaining the most fundamental cause of it all: How did it get started?

    Please don’t make a claim: Demonstrate it. If you understand how it was done, show me. I will make the question even more simple: “What is life?”

    “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

    “…should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

    Now if you want to tell me that “God” was some brilliant scientist from another planet who created our beginnings in a laboratory, I will point back to the demonstration by Jesus of the raising of a dead man (Lazarus) after three days of decomposition. Jesus simply called him back to life. There was a reason that Jesus did this and the account of it in scripture makes that reason clear.

    I choose to believe that most of our “reality” (including “life”) is beyond our comprehension. There is much about reality that God has reserved to Himself. If you think you can explain it, then you are buying into the lie told by the serpent, “you will become as God…”

    Use the intelligence that God has given you to acknowledge your limitations and His role in our existence. Accept by FAITH those things that you cannot understand.

    We have been given a few decades of life to live in the world we know and understand today. Empirical evidence available to us would suggest that when we die, that is the sum total and end of it. Of the billions of humans on earth, where is a person among us who has been risen from the dead?

    If you have a hope that there is something beyond your death, then you must shed the notion that you can explain our origins as anything besides an unexplainable mystery that God does not share; except for the account of it that He left to us by His servant, Moses.

    I choose to accept my limitations and I place my trust and faith in the word that God has left to us, to help us understand how we got here, why we are here, and how it all ends.

    “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

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    • @Charles:
      Charles. I appreciate your pain and confusion.

      I comment here because I fear the results of Seans destructive impulses and a world view of strict law and order forged as it seems to have been in US military service. He wishes to regulate and homogenize belief in the Adventist church to the extent that some who have more knowledge or insight than he, must deny what they truly believe in order to be an Adventist Christian. I happen to believe that God does not require us to tell lies to somehow justify Him.

      This site as a vehicle for attack of Adventist education. The process of education itself however is a two edged sword. Ignorance, blind faith and following orders are by far the safest option for the military and for those in secular society. If you do not question or think you cannot doubt. Unfortunately we have this strange notion that knowledge is useful and in both secular and religious society particularly as Adventists we value a process of education and particularly the cargo of technology that attends it.

      Fundamental to an education system is that people are taught new information and more importantly encouraged to seek new information and insights for themselves. To develop new and better ways of expression and creativity. This is extremely dangerous to a young person taught that faith and certainty are virtuous. At tertiary level he is now asked to accept and not question in one proscribed area at the same time as he is asked to develop patterns of critical analysis and thinking in all else. This cognitive dissonance is what Sean would have as normative. He asks that we accept a static world of certainty where everything to known about God is justaposed with a modern scientific approach where cause and effect and explanation by natural mechanism are valued. He seems to believe he has the secret sauce for reconciling this but does not allow for any other educator to come to a different view. Further he believes that belief should be so rigidly structured that as he has suggested if he himself has any doubt on theories of origins as he currently understands them he would leave the Adventist church and probably Christianity entirely. This fragility of belief, certainty and hubris is what I fear most about his world view and the approach he would impose on education. In contrast you express your philosophy;

      “I choose to believe that most of our “reality” (including “life”) is beyond our comprehension. There is much about reality that God has reserved to Himself. If you think you can explain it, then you are buying into the lie told by the serpent, “you will become as God…”

      Use the intelligence that God has given you to acknowledge your limitations and His role in our existence. Accept by FAITH those things that you cannot understand.”

      This is certainly a safe option but unfortunately some of us are involved in education and research, processes predicated on questioning and trying to understand not placidly accept as unknowable. I am always interested when people articulate the view you have to know if you are happy to accept the cargo of my profession? You clearly use a computer and telecommunications. You probably have had medical interventions and use medications to prolong your life. You probably use a car and fly in an airplane. You probably live in a suburb with sewerage rather than emptying your latrine bucket over the back fence. Do you think these things came about because people said reality is beyond our ken, dont even try to understand it. Because they had faith God as the goto person to explain the things that did not understand? I dont know, God just did it?

      You may have the luxury of your philosophy and critique others as you freeload on the questioning and research efforts of others but not everyone can do that least of all the many mr “scientists” that improve your life and life expectancy beyond the 30-50 years expected in traditional agrarian societies.

      Where I absolutely agree with you is in having the humility to know that I could be very wrong religiously or scientifically. Acceptance that we are ignorant is the first premise of a scientific process just as acceptance of our sinful state before God is the basis for salvation. But to be driven to try to eleviate that ignorance is what drives scientists just as the acceptance of the Grace of God calls us to be disciples and live disciplined lives. In science there is a way of open and honest dialogue, creativity with postulates of natural mechanism and experimental testing against the data, the reality we can observe.

      As a Christian and as an Adventist I accept that the natural world understood by natural law and process is not all there is and that the reality beyond has broken into the natural world in the person of Jesus Christ the incarnate God. That is where my faith is, not in some caricature of God that exists in my ignorance and gives me comfort as it to fills in my lack of knowledge to generate some militant certainty that can be used to beat up others.

      View Comment
      • @pauluc:

        As a Christian and as an Adventist I accept that the natural world understood by natural law and process is not all there is and that the reality beyond has broken into the natural world in the person of Jesus Christ the incarnate God. That is where my faith is, not in some caricature of God that exists in my ignorance and gives me comfort as it to fills in my lack of knowledge to generate some militant certainty that can be used to beat up others.

        You are perfectly free to preach and teach and call yourself whatever you want. I’m a very strong supporter of the freedoms of religion, speech, and general expression within the confines of civil law and government… regardless of how strongly I may personally disagree with what is being said and/or done.

        However, church employment is an entirely different matter. Church employment is a privilege, not a basic human right. No one should expect payment from any particular organization, to include a church organization, just because one claims the name of that organization – especially if one is actually going around undermining and directly attacking the clearly stated goals and ideals of that organization. It is the employer, not the one desiring employment, who gets to decide who does and does not get hired for the job.

        So, even though I’m not sure why any neo-Darwinist would want to take on the name of “Seventh-day Adventist”, feel free to do so. This is a free country after all, as is Australia. However, don’t expect a paycheck for attacking the church’s position on origins… regardless of how backward and simple minded it may seem to someone as brilliant as you think you are.

        The freedom of expression and the ability to hire only those who will most accurately reflect one’s views is also extended to the “ignorant”.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

        View Comment
        • @Sean Pitman:
          “I’m a very strong supporter of the freedoms of religion, speech, and general expression within the confines of civil law and government………………church employment is an entirely different matter. Church employment is a privilege, not a basic human right. No one should expect payment from any particular organization, to include a church organization, just because one claims the name of that organization”.

          Does your rhetoric and claimed principle really just come down to concerns about administrative process and control of thought by economic leverage? Do you have no respect for education as a process that involves academic freedom?
          Your approach seems to be blind to the progressive history of Adventism. Adventist have no creed and what you believe about origins is not precisely what early adventists would believe. Adventism has had a doctrine of creation like all christians. Most have adopted a YEC view but that YEC in general has not always believed that the earth was old or that a big bang occurred. The idea that there has been a single standard of belief over the last 150 years is naive. Are you advocating that what you believe now in 2012 including your belief on natural mechanisms of macroevolution (as it is usually defined) and the age of the earth is the gold standard manifests to me a huge amount of hubris and lack of perspective. Have you not read the statement of fundamental beliefs and its preamble? What do you want to do. Sack people every time there is new perspective on mechanisms of creation? Do you have a purge your educational faculties with every change in administration? Doesnt seem to have worked very well for ADRA. Do you think you are the one who can determine the “truth” to which we must educate. How about a little academic freedom and acknowledgment of the true standard. Recognition of a doctrine of creation rather than judging people by the nuances of some theory of creation.

          I do not really know the people who teach science at La Sierra but as Prof Kent has suggested it seems to me they may well have projected a lack of respect for traditional Adventist positions and heritage in the past but I suspect you are now beating a dead horse and the University has done what it can to be responsibly responsive to the expressed concern.

          “The freedom of expression and the ability to hire only those who will most accurately reflect one’s views is also extended to the “ignorant”.”

          Yes we are all ignorant it is a question of whether we are able to admit it and concede expertise to those who manifest it. I have never claimed to be brilliant, I simply try to practice my craft as honestly and consistently as I can and that means accepting the tradition and process of science as a window to understand the natural world and accepting the value and insight of both the Adventist tradition and the Christian faith as it has been practised by our spiritual fathers for 2000 years. I ask only that we practice charity rather than condemnation toward those who are trying to educate in science and in knowledge of God.

          View Comment
  14. Sean

    We return again to wonderland and to unique definition of species and argument;

    ‘And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’

    ‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

    ‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    Your glory seem to be that classification of phenotypic and genotypic diversity “means what I say it means” completely disregarding the conventions of 150 years of biology and biologist who have gone before. As I have said before and will say again; you appear to have supreme regard for your own knowledge, abilities and imagination but only a snearing regard for any scientist who publishes in the peer reviewed literature and readily accept that they are not omniscient and stand on the shoulders of giants. You do however concede;

    “The biosystems themselves within different gene pools are what can be evaluated as far as levels of functional complexity are concerned. This is not beyond the capabilities of modern science.”

    Indeed that is true but as far as I can see it so far has been beyond you to use the tools of modern science to evaluate your hypothesis. Certainly you do not even seem to have attempted to do so. There are complete genomes of at least 30 mammalian species as I have given reference to before. You seem to believe that there are differences between the mammalian species that would conform to your criteria of limits insuperable by an evolutionary process. Most biologist have long since past the point of worrying about these supposed limits so you cannot rely on someone else to do your research. Sit down at your computer and use the available free online resources and compare these genomes and tell us what and where are the 1000faar limits in these genomes that unequivocally destroy the argument that these mammalian species have arisen from a common mammalian ancestor.

    “All the Pitta species can interbreed and produce viable and virile offspring. Therefore, they share the same basic “kind” of gene pool.”

    Pardon my scepticism but I am reluctant to take this on your say so. Please provide a reference for the statement “All the Pitta species can interbreed”.

    “What you need to do is consider individual systems within separate gene pools to see if those systems are 1) qualitative unique with regard to function and 2) at a level of functional complexity that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues.”

    No Sean. This is not what someone else needs to do but what YOU need to do. You need to show us the data not some constructed projection that is uniquely and passionately yours!

    “There are many examples of different genera that can also interbreed to produce viable and virile offspring – such as crosses between sheep and goats.”

    Trying to establish a model based on exceptions is hardly kosher in science.

    Prof Kent says
    “I can readily predict the answer: you don’t know. I doubt you can even suggest a pragmatic approach to figure out how many FSAARs separate sister taxa.”

    You respond

    “Again, the qualitatively unique systems within gene pools are what can be evaluated with regard to levels of functional complexity and qualitatively novel functionality. Also, just because one gene pool contains a complex system that another gene pool lacks does not necessarily mean that they were not derived from the same ancestral gene pool. Complex systems can be lost over time in one gene pool while being maintained in another. They just can’t be evolved if they weren’t already part of the original ancestral gene pool to begin with (i.e., if they weren’t “front-loaded” at the very start).”

    This is simply obfuscation and a restatement of your postulate and does not at all respond to the question. Of course there is incomplete lineage sorting as is included for example in the Scally et al paper on comparison of primate genomes (Nature 2012 483:169). You cannot however use this mechanism to say that the 1000fsaar differences have been lost from all the sequenced genomes. Either the differences between mammalian species includes genes or DNA sequences fulfilling your criteria of 1000fsaar or it does not. I find it hard to accept that there are 1000fsaar differences that limit evolution somewhere beyond the species level but at the same time that you insist that all extant canid species arose over 4000 years from 2 animals by a process of mutation and natural selection. You seem to be insisting there is a rapid natural mechanism for speciation and that speciation occurs by multiple minor mutations (very very low complexity) yet there is some profound barrier at some arbitary point that you then use to define a kind.

    I am happy you can accept as a faith position these extraordinary contradictory positions because of a particular literal reading of the biblical text. But to say

    “All that mainstream scientists really have to prop up this concept are fantastic just-so stories that have no more scientific value than fairytales for children.”

    and to imagine that even a fraction of the genomic and genetic data supports your unique and peculiar models without even actually examining the genomic data with a view to testing your models compels me to think that you have little understanding of the process of science or the explanatory value of natural process.

    View Comment
    • @pauluc:

      We return again to wonderland and to unique definition of species and argument;

      Why do you continually misrepresent my position? As I’ve explained to you and Professor Kent several times now, I’m not presenting a new definition of “species” – not at all. The mainstream definition of species works just fine for its intended purpose and does have value. My definition is a definition of unique “kinds” of gene pools that contain qualitatively unique functionality that cannot be evolved by RM/NS. This is not the same thing as the species concept and I’m not sure why you both continue to try to equate the two? That is why different species can indeed evolve, quickly evolve, over short periods of time while different “kinds” of biological systems cannot evolve beyond very low levels of functional complexity regardless of how much time is allotted this side of a practical eternity of time.

      Note also that you’ve presented several demonstrably false assertions so far in this particular thread. You started off with the claim that the increasing mutation rate for men with age is clearly too high to consider the Bible’s claim for antediluvian reproductive life spans of several hundred years remotely tenable. You were wrong. You also claimed that other forms of mutations besides SNP-type mutations are too high to be consistent with the Biblical model. You were wrong. And, your claim that deleterious mutations can be effectively removed from slowly reproducing gene pools (via some form of genetic recombination?) is also clearly mistaken.

      Why not just admit that Neo-Darwinism is obviously bankrupt and move on? Still clinging to your top-down approach “as Darwin did”? How is that valid “science” when your mechanism is so obviously bankrupt?

      Your glory seem to be that classification of phenotypic and genotypic diversity “means what I say it means” completely disregarding the conventions of 150 years of biology and biologist who have gone before.

      Not at all. The classification conventions of 150 years of biology are just fine for what they do. However, they do not, as you well know, draw a distinction between what can and cannot evolve via the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selection (RM/NS). My definition of qualitatively unique “kinds” of biological systems at various levels of functional complexity does draw this distinction and is not a redefinition of the species concept – despite your repeated attempts to paint it as such. The reality is that mine a unique concept that is independent of the species concept.

      What is on the line here is the neo-Darwinian mechanism of random mutations combined with natural selection vs. the Biblical model of origins.

      Does the mechanism of RM/NS have limitations that can be clearly defined? The answer to that question is yes. Any qualitatively novel system of function that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues has not been observed to evolve and statistically is extremely unlikely to evolve this side of a practical eternity of time.

      As a practical illustration, let’s say that we are comparing eukaryotic vs. prokaryotic motility systems for single-celled organisms. One type is based on a rotating flagellar system while the other is based on a back-and-forth sliding system. These two systems are qualitatively unique and they both require a minimum of far more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues to work as motility systems. It is quite safe to say, then, that these two populations did not share a common ancestor – unless one wishes to propose that the common ancestor of both had both types of motility systems “front-loaded” in the original parental gene pool.

      Another example would be the different kinds of vision systems in existence from a single light-sensitive cluster of cells to a cup-shaped “eye” to a compound eye to an eye with an inverted retina to an eye with a verted retina to an eye with a lens, etc. All such visions systems are qualitatively unique beyond the level of 1000 specifically arranged residues. Therefore, any comparison between gene pools containing codes for vision systems with such differences would suggest that these two gene pools do not share a common evolutionary ancestor – unless one wishes to propose that the original parental gene pool contained codes for both types of vision systems being compared… etc.

      The other issue in play here, of course, is the credibility of the Bible. Has the Biblical account of origins been effectively falsified by the claims of modern scientists so as to require a non-testable Divine miracle to overcome? So far, based on what you’ve personally presented, the answer to this question is clearly no. You’ve not come remotely close to falsifying the Biblical claims regarding origins or even calling them into serious question. If anything, you arguments have ended up supporting the Biblical model. In short, the significant weight of the empirical evidence that we currently have in hand fits very very well within the Biblical model while effectively falsifying the neo-Darwinian perspective on origins.

      “The biosystems themselves within different gene pools are what can be evaluated as far as levels of functional complexity are concerned. This is not beyond the capabilities of modern science.”

      Indeed that is true but as far as I can see it so far has been beyond you to use the tools of modern science to evaluate your hypothesis. Certainly you do not even seem to have attempted to do so. There are complete genomes of at least 30 mammalian species as I have given reference to before. You seem to believe that there are differences between the mammalian species that would conform to your criteria of limits insuperable by an evolutionary process. Most biologist have long since past the point of worrying about these supposed limits so you cannot rely on someone else to do your research. Sit down at your computer and use the available free online resources and compare these genomes and tell us what and where are the 1000faar limits in these genomes that unequivocally destroy the argument that these mammalian species have arisen from a common mammalian ancestor.

      I have given you multiple examples of qualitatively unique systems that could not have evolved by RM/NS. Any such systems in any gene pool would be beyond the powers of Darwinian mechanisms. What you seem to want is an analysis of innumerable gene pools with published dividing lines for each. That simply isn’t needed before the basic concept becomes clear – that there is a limit to the creative powers of RM/NS to very low levels of functional complexity and a steady devolution of slowly reproducing gene pools.

      If you really think I’m wrong, you’re the one who needs to show how the high level qualitatively unique systems within modern species of plants and animals could actually have evolved given only a few billion years (a drop in the bucket compared to what the average time needed to achieve anything beyond the 1000saa level)? – and get rid of detrimental mutations faster than they are currently entering all slowly reproducing gene pools? That is the just-so story telling fairytale that is beyond scientific tenability.

      “All the Pitta species can interbreed and produce viable and virile offspring. Therefore, they share the same basic “kind” of gene pool.”

      Pardon my scepticism but I am reluctant to take this on your say so. Please provide a reference for the statement “All the Pitta species can interbreed”.

      There are many examples of hybrids between Pitta bird species and no reason to think that any particular Pitta cross breed would be genetically impossible.

      http://www.bird-hybrids.com/engine.php?search=pitta&searchby=nomenclature&nomenclature=ALL&family=ALL

      This is simply obfuscation and a restatement of your postulate and does not at all respond to the question. Of course there is incomplete lineage sorting as is included for example in the Scally et al paper on comparison of primate genomes (Nature 2012 483:169). You cannot however use this mechanism to say that the 1000fsaar differences have been lost from all the sequenced genomes. Either the differences between mammalian species includes genes or DNA sequences fulfilling your criteria of 1000fsaar or it does not. I find it hard to accept that there are 1000fsaar differences that limit evolution somewhere beyond the species level but at the same time that you insist that all extant canid species arose over 4000 years from 2 animals by a process of mutation and natural selection. You seem to be insisting there is a rapid natural mechanism for speciation and that speciation occurs by multiple minor mutations (very very low complexity) yet there is some profound barrier at some arbitary point that you then use to define a kind.

      I’m afraid I do not follow you here? I don’t see that you’ve presented any barrier to rapid canid speciation or any example of any kind of qualitatively unique system within various species of canids that is beyond low levels of functional complexity?

      I also don’t see where you’ve presented any example of any qualitatively novel system of function evolving beyond low levels of functional complexity or how this might even be statistically tenable?

      I also don’t see where you’ve explained how any naturalistic mechanism can deal with the very high detrimental mutation rate that is realized in every individual in every generation within slowly reproducing gene pools?

      Where then is the “science” behind your position?

      Oh, you want to me to list off distinct differences innumerable gene pools that could not be evolved. To a limited, but sufficient degree, I’ve already done this – as noted above. Other examples I’ve discussed with you include various qualitatively unique differences between reptiles and birds at high levels of functional complexity (like the breathing system for instance). Or, what about the qualitatively unique differences between human and ape brain structure and function that are based on unique genetic sequences?

      I really don’t see why I need to get much more detailed here to get my basic point across? If no higher level system can evolve via RM/NS and slowly reproducing gene pools are devolving, not evolving, over time, then Neo-Darwinism is rationally and scientifically untenable while the claims of the Bible are right in line with the significant weight of the scientific evidence that is currently in hand.

      I am happy you can accept as a faith position these extraordinary contradictory positions because of a particular literal reading of the biblical text. But to say

      “All that mainstream scientists really have to prop up this concept are fantastic just-so stories that have no more scientific value than fairytales for children.”

      and to imagine that even a fraction of the genomic and genetic data supports your unique and peculiar models without even actually examining the genomic data with a view to testing your models compels me to think that you have little understanding of the process of science or the explanatory value of natural process.

      It is not a blind faith position to recognize the clear limitations of the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS or to see that humans and all other slowly reproducing species are devolving toward eventual extinction over time.

      All of you who accept the claims of mainstream scientists at face value without considering the limitations of the proposed Darwinian mechanism are not buying into science, but into a popular philosophy of mainstream scientists – a fairytale story that should have no more status in science than any other fairytale told to children at bedtime…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
      • @Sean Pitman: You claim I have been incorrect on 3 points.

        “You started off with the claim that the increasing mutation rate for men with age is clearly too high to consider the Bible’s claim for antediluvian reproductive life spans of several hundred years remotely tenable. You were wrong.”

        I am sorry but my prose seems to have allowed you to parse my comments but miss the intent. In response to your suggestion that we are devolving and accumulating mutations at a dangerously high rate and that we are in eminent danger of genetic meltdown I simply asked you to factor in paternal age as a mitigating factor in allaying your concerns. I made no comment on the veracity of the Bibles claims of paternal longevity other than to point to similarity in paternal age to that in the existing Sumarian book of the kings. I still do not see that your argument that the yearly mutation rate is the same whether the generation time is 29.7 or 800 years has any value for the person who may have gained 1600 mutations and has high risk of autism as the original research suggested, but that is beside the point.

        “You also claimed that other forms of mutations besides SNP-type mutations are too high to be consistent with the Biblical model. You were wrong.”

        Oh I see your model premised as it is on a fundamentalist interpretation is the Biblical model but my understanding of Biblical Christianity is not Biblical? I certainly dont see it that way. I see your model as based on selective biblical literalism if not inerrancy which to me is incomprehensible outside multiple continuing divine interventions to make the world the way it is. I am happy to concede you are Christian and Adventist though you do not believe the same as me on some points. To me issues of mutation rate are orthagonal to the my Christian belief which is based on following Christ as the incarnation of the God of Grace.

        “And, your claim that deleterious mutations can be effectively removed from slowly reproducing gene pools (via some form of genetic recombination?) is also clearly mistaken.”

        Beyond process of natural selection I do not know how deleterious mutations might be removed from the gene pool but I am intrigued that long lived animals have lower rates of mutation. Sexual reproduction diploidy is clearly important but I do not at all imagine that we know all about the rate of removal of deleterious mutations despite your modelling assuming we do. What I am not convinced of is that you are correct that death is the only mechanisms of removal and that your conclusion that we are on track for genetic meltdown, subject as it is to huge pressure for confirmational bias from your assumption of devolution, is correct.
        That you allow for this toxic accumulation as the basis for speciation and generation of allelic variation to me is a glaring contradiction.
        That there is a paucity of research on this suggests that the arguments you advance have no traction in genetics perhaps because as I have said many times before is theoretical not real.

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        • @pauluc:

          I am sorry but my prose seems to have allowed you to parse my comments but miss the intent. In response to your suggestion that we are devolving and accumulating mutations at a dangerously high rate and that we are in eminent danger of genetic meltdown I simply asked you to factor in paternal age as a mitigating factor in allaying your concerns. I made no comment on the veracity of the Bible’s claims of paternal longevity other than to point to similarity in paternal age to that in the existing Sumarian book of the kings. I still do not see that your argument that the yearly mutation rate is the same whether the generation time is 29.7 or 800 years has any value for the person who may have gained 1600 mutations and has high risk of autism as the original research suggested, but that is beside the point.

          I’m sorry, but it seemed to me like you presented this argument to question the ability of humans to actually live and reproduce for almost 1000 years. What you still don’t seem to understand is that it isn’t the per generation mutation rate that matters as far as the gene pool is concerned or even the number of detrimental mutations for the offspring born in a given year (compared to some reference point in time). It is the yearly mutation rate that matters when it comes to the gene pool as a whole and the risk for new offspring. This yearly rate stays the same regardless of the generation time. A child born at any given point in time has the same risk of inheriting detrimental mutations regardless of if his father had lived 800+ years or if he/she was born after 800+ years worth of paternal generations. The detrimental mutation load would be essentially the same. I’m really not sure why you’re having such difficulty with this concept?

          Also, autism and other genetically-based diseases would not have been as significant a risk when mankind was fresh from the Creator’s hand. Deleterious mutations had not built up to their current levels and associated genetic-based disease risks. Again, such genetic-based diseases will only get more and more prominent as our collective gene pool continues to degenerate over time.

          “You also claimed that other forms of mutations besides SNP-type mutations are too high to be consistent with the Biblical model. You were wrong.”

          I see your model as based on selective biblical literalism if not inerrancy which to me is incomprehensible outside multiple continuing divine interventions to make the world the way it is. I am happy to concede you are Christian and Adventist though you do not believe the same as me on some points. To me issues of mutation rate are orthagonal to my Christian belief which is based on following Christ as the incarnation of the God of Grace.

          Again, the Biblical authors who wrote Genesis clearly intended to be taken literally – to be describing real historical events. The question is, were they right or wrong in their testable statements regarding empirical reality? If they were wrong, the credibility of the metaphysical statements of the Bible also declines – to include claims regarding the life, death, and very nature of Jesus Christ (especially given that He personally confirmed the historicity of the Genesis account of origins).

          So, what about your challenges to the credibility of the Bible’s claims regarding historical times and events? You’ve thrown out a multitude of arguments that supposedly falsify the Biblical narrative of history. The problem, of course, is that your claims are the ones that have turned out to be false. The hypothesis that the Bible’s claims regarding origins is empirically tenable remains intact and more vindicated in modern times than ever before. Why then do you try so valiantly to undermine the empirical basis for faith in the credibility of the Bible? Why do you even think Jesus existed and acted in the manner described in the Bible at all if you yourself pick and choose what you will and will not believe? How is this different than wishful thinking?

          “And, your claim that deleterious mutations can be effectively removed from slowly reproducing gene pools (via some form of genetic recombination?) is also clearly mistaken.” – Sean Pitman

          Beyond process of natural selection I do not know how deleterious mutations might be removed from the gene pool but I am intrigued that long lived animals have lower rates of mutation. Sexual reproduction diploidy is clearly important but I do not at all imagine that we know all about the rate of removal of deleterious mutations despite your modelling assuming we do. What I am not convinced of is that you are correct that death is the only mechanisms of removal and that your conclusion that we are on track for genetic meltdown, subject as it is to huge pressure for confirmational bias from your assumption of devolution, is correct.

          Natural selection does not work without the premature death of individuals within a population. And, genetic recombination doesn’t solve this problem (as discussed below).

          Also, long-lived animals do not have significantly lower rates of gene pool mutation compared to humans – even with regard to animals demonstrating negligible senescence. In other words, the overall yearly mutation rate for the gene pool as a whole is not significantly different among all types of long-lived animals.

          As far as sexual vs. asexual reproduction is concerned, the problem remains even for sexually reproducing species. This is because genetic recombination during meiosis is a random process that does not preferentially select to remove detrimental mutations vs. beneficial or neutral mutations. The only advantage genetic recombination provides is a statistical chance that a percentage of the offspring will have less detrimental mutations compared to their peers. In other words, when it comes to sexually reproducing populations, the ability for genetic recombination during the formation of gametes makes it possible to concentrate both good and bad mutations.

          For example, let’s say we have two individuals, each with 2 detrimental mutations. Given sexual recombination between these two individuals, there is a decent chance that some of their offspring (1 chance in 32) will not have any inherited detrimental mutations. But what happens when the rate of additional detrimental mutations is quite high – higher than 3?

          To look into this just a bit more, consider another example of a steady state population of 5,000 individuals each starting out with 7 detrimental mutations and an average detrimental mutation rate of 3 per individual per generation. Given a reproductive rate of 4 offspring per each one of the 2,500 couples (10,000 offspring), in one generation, how many offspring will have the same or fewer detrimental mutations than the parent generation?

          Inherited…….After Ud = 3
          7……………901
          6……………631
          5……………378
          4……………189
          3……………76
          2……………23
          1……………5
          0……………0.45
          < or = 7........2202 This Poisson approximation shows that out of 10,000 offspring, only 2,202 of them would have the same or less than the original number of detrimental mutations of the parent population. This leaves 7,798 with more detrimental mutations than the parent population. Of course, in order to maintain a steady state population of 5,000, natural selection must cull out 5,000 of these 10,000 offspring before they are able to reproduce. Given a preference, those with more detrimental mutations will be less fit by a certain degree and will be removed from the population before those that are more fit (less detrimental mutations). Given strong selection pressure, the second generation might be made up of ~2,200 more fit individuals and only ~2,800 less fit individuals with the overall average showing a decline as compared with the original parent generation. If selection pressure is strong, so that the majority of those with more than 7 detrimental mutations are removed from the population, the next generation will only have about 1,100 mating couples as compared to 2,500 in the original generation. With a reproductive rate of 4 per couple, only 4,400 offspring will be produced as compared to 10,000 originally. In order to keep up with this loss, the reproductive rate must be increased or the population will head toward extinction. In fact, given a detrimental mutation rate of Ud = 3 in a sexually reproducing population, the average number of offspring needed to keep up would be around 40 per breeding couple (2 * 1 / e^-Ud) – for two to survive without an increase in detrimental mutations. Humans simply don’t reproduce that fast and cannot tolerate a 95% death rate per generation. Even within mainstream literature clear limitations to mutation rates are known because of this particular problem. Even rapidly reproducing bacteria and viruses have a fairly small limit to the number of mutations that can be sustained per generation. Based on research coming out of Harvard University, that number is less than 6 mutations per individual per generation - for bacteria and viruses as well as most other living things! This is a total number of mutations affecting functional regions of DNA - counting detrimental, beneficial, and neutral varieties. Eugene Shakhnovich Eugene I. Shakhnovich

          If enough mutations push an essential protein towards an unstable, non-functional structure, the organism will die. Shakhnovich’s group found that for most organisms, including viruses and bacteria, an organism’s rate of genome mutation must stay below 6 mutations per genome per generation to prevent the accumulation of too many potentially lethal changes in genetic material. (Link, Link-2, Link-3)

          For viruses in particular, the limiting mutation rate was found to be just 2.5 mutations per genome per generation (Link). This is the total mutation rate, not just the detrimental mutation rate. Also, the population here is assumed to be infinite in size. For finite populations the maximum tolerable mutation rate would obviously be smaller. The smaller the population, the lower the mutation rate that can be tolerated without an eventual genetic meltdown.

          But what about the effect of beneficial mutations?

          “Whitlock included beneficial mutations and calculated that N-crit ~(U-deleterious/U-beneficial)^1/3, which depends only on the balance of beneficial to deleterious mutations and not on the mutation rate itself. Both of those examples contradict our results, which show that N-crit and τ depend dramatically on |U|. The dominant reason for the discrepancy is that those authors assumed that deleterious mutations occur “one at a time,” which is not true when the rate that mutations are introduced (U) exceeds the rate at which selection removes them (~1/s). When U/s≫1, the population experiences “Hill-Robertson interference”, which both accelerates extinction and also makes analytic solutions intractable.” (Link)

          The nail in the coffin, of course, is the realization that the detrimental mutation rate is significantly higher than Ud = 3 or even Ud = 6 for humans. The original estimate of Ud = 3 was based on the notion that over 95% of the human genome is not functional. Of course, we now know that this notion is mistaken. The majority of the human genome is functional to one degree or another. That means that the detrimental mutation rate is much closer to the overall mutation rate for humans – i.e., at least several dozen detrimental mutations per person per generation (if one limits one’s self to only considering the SNP mutation rate. As we both know, the actual nucleotide mutation rate is much much higher than the SNP mutation rate). Now, we’re talking about trillions of offspring needed per couple in each generation to keep up with even the minimum likely detrimental mutation rate.

          The conclusion is quite clear to anyone who considers this problem with a candid mind. All slowly reproducing species are inevitably headed for eventual genetic meltdown and extinction. This is simply no rational naturalistic means to explain this very clear problem away. You simply haven’t done the math for yourself or considered this problem in any real detail.

          “That you allow for this toxic accumulation as the basis for speciation and generation of allelic variation to me is a glaring contradiction.” – Pauluc

          Where is the contradiction? While beneficial allelic variants can and do evolve all the time (especially in large populations), they are vastly outnumbered by detrimental allelic mutations and other mutations within non-coding DNA. There is no contradiction here. These are well-established facts.

          That there is a paucity of research on this suggests that the arguments you advance have no traction in genetics perhaps because as I have said many times before is theoretical not real.

          What do you mean by “real”? Do you not realize that all scientific theories are, by definition, theoretical? The conclusion of a devolving gene pool is very “real” as far as a scientific theory is concerned – just as “real” as any other scientific theory is “real”. You do realize that science is based on hypotheses and theories, not direct absolute demonstration? – right? There is always the potential for any scientific theory to be wrong – to end up being falsified. Science isn’t about absolute proof, but about statistical probabilities of a theory being correct based on the less than complete information that is currently in hand.

          The research that is in fact in hand regarding the build-up of detrimental mutations is quite clear. It is really beyond any serious debate that the vast majority of mutational changes that have a functional effect on DNA are deleterious to one degree or another. This not only makes intuitive sense, it has been demonstrated over and over again under laboratory conditions. As far as removing these detrimental mutations from the gene pools in a meaningful manner, many suggestions have been forwarded, such as eliminating detrimental mutations in clusters. However, no one has come up with a naturalistic mechanism by which such preferential clustering of detrimental mutations might be achieved.

          The fact that you do not recognize any way to falsify your notions on this topic removes your ideas from the realm of science. If you really want to call yourself a scientist, there really is no way around the conclusion that the current evidence we have in hand strongly supports the theory that our gene pool is degenerating over time – as are the gene pools of all other slowly reproducing species on this planet.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          View Comment
  15. Pauluc’s responses to Sean Pitman:

    No Sean. This is not what someone else needs to do but what YOU need to do. You need to show us the data not some constructed projection that is uniquely and passionately yours!

    Trying to establish a model based on exceptions is hardly kosher in science.

    This is simply obfuscation and a restatement of your postulate and does not at all respond to the question [by Proferssor Kent].

    You seem to be insisting there is a rapid natural mechanism for speciation and that speciation occurs by multiple minor mutations (very very low complexity) yet there is some profound barrier at some arbitary point that you then use to define a kind.

    That there is a paucity of research on this suggests that the arguments you advance have no traction in genetics perhaps because as I have said many times before is theoretical not real.

    These points, among others you make, summarize well the difficulties I have with Sean’s arguments. Well stated.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      You guys present a string of false dichotomies and mistaken assumptions and call it “science”. You refuse to deal with the evidence that is currently in hand because it doesn’t match with your personal philosophies or those of whom you hold in high esteem.

      You say that I’m redefining the species concept when I’m not. Then you say that if I cannot personally draw clear lines between every gene pool you can imagine that it cannot be done at all and there is therefore no value in determining the limits of the the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS based on levels of functional complexity – despite the numerous examples I’ve provided along these lines.

      Your minds are made up regardless of the weight of evidence given to you. You can lead a horse to water…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  16. Sean Pitman: Why do you continually misrepresent my position? As I’ve explained to you and Professor Kent several times now, I’m not presenting a new definition of “species” – not at all. The mainstream definition of species works just fine for its intended purpose and does have value. My definition is a definition of unique “kinds” of gene pools that contain qualitatively unique functionality that cannot be evolved by RM/NS. This is not the same thing as the species concept and I’m not sure why you both continue to try to equate the two?

    Um…it’s because you make statements like this:

    Sean Pitman: I don’t like the terms “micro” or “macro” evolution because they aren’t well defined as far as any kind of predictable limit to evolutionary progress is concerned. The same is true for the “species” concept. That is why I prefer to define unique “kinds” of gene pools based on differences in functional complexity at higher levels of functional complexity (i.e., beyond the level of systems requiring more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues). I do admit that this concept is fairly unique.

    To state the obvious, you set up your viewpoint as an alternative to species concepts. And then, based on your own definition that simply cannot be applied with real life data, as Pauluc and I keep pointing out to you, you use your own concept to redefine micro and macroevolution.

    You remind me of one who said “there isn’t a sexual relationship” to dispel the notion, by clever use of present tense, that there was no sexual relationship. Meaningless words.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      To state the obvious, you set up your viewpoint as an alternative to species concepts.

      Modern species concepts do not deal with the topic in play here – i.e., the potential and/or limits to the Darwinian mechanism of random mutations and natural selection. That is why a concept that does actually address this issue is needed. Why not, then, actually address my concept for its intended purpose instead of making it out to be something it was never intended to be?

      And then, based on your own definition that simply cannot be applied with real life data, as Pauluc and I keep pointing out to you, you use your own concept to redefine micro and macroevolution.

      Again, the concepts of “micro” and “macro” evolution do not specifically address the limitations to the mechanism of RM/NS and how this limitation could be measured in a testable manner.

      My definition allows for such measurements which can be tested. I’ve given you many real-life examples of such. I’m not sure why you refuse to accept these examples as meaningful?

      You want a fully fleshed out system for all living things before you can recognize that levels of functional complexity have something to do with the potential for evolutionary progress? You really don’t comprehend the evidence for an exponential decline in evolutionary potential with each step up the ladder of functional complexity? Where is your evidence for this? – beyond your usual repeated examples of snake venom and other toxins that clearly don’t come anywhere near the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  17. Pauluc, thanks for taking the time to read my book “Dinosaurs: An Adventist View,” and review it on Amazon (and also Sean’s book, “Turtles All the Way Down”).

    Sean, I would appreciate it greatly if you would indulge me by allowing me to address Paul U. Cameron’s review of my book here, rather than at Amazon, which seems rather a public place to be hashing out an intramural dispute among Adventists (I assume that Paul Cameron purports to be some sort of Adventist).

    Paul I do take issue with some of your statements, so I will address them here as has become Sean’s habit of addressing them, by first quoting your statement, then responding to it below.

    “This book is appropriately subtitled since the “Adventist View” given will only be comprehensible by a subset of Seventh Day Adventists [sic] who believe in the inerrency [sic] of both the canon and the writing of the Adventist prophet Ellen G White.”

    Yes, Paul, I cleverly used the title of the book to describe its contents. Yes, the book is written for believing Seventh-day Adventists, and for those who want to know what we believing Adventists believe. No, Adventists do not believe in the verbal inspiration or inerrancy of Scripture or Ellen White, but we do believe these writings to be inspired by God and to hence contain divine wisdom and otherwise unavailable truth.

    “This book is apologetic [sic], written for a lay audience and lacks the documentations [sic] expected of a work of scholarship.”

    Yes, Paul, it is an exercise in apologetics and it is written for the lay audience. No, it does not lack scholarly documentation; it has almost eleven hundred footnotes (1,096, to be exact).

    “There is not the portrayal of the 2 positions expected in a scholarly work. It is written in a “they say, but I tell you” style with alternating chapters where the scientific consensus is given, superficially but mostly accurately, and then the “Adventist” view is given with partisan recouching and trivializing of the scientific view.”

    Paul, don’t you see that your second sentence contradicts your first one? Yes, I do accurately give the mainstream scientific consensus before critiquing it and giving the Adventist view. Yes, I argue for the correctness of the Adventist view, but if I have been inaccurate in my description of the Darwinian view, tell me where.

    “Most the references are to books biased to the creationist literature which forms a vanishingly small fraction of the primary literature on dinosaurs.”

    Most of my citations are to mainstream sources; the bibliography lists 103 works that were the main sources for the book, and about 42 of them could be characterized as creationist or design-oriented. Since the book is not only about dinosaurs, but about many other things as well, there was no reason to concentrate on the primary literature on vertebrate paleontology.

    “Where original scientific literature is cited it is mostly through the citation of others who have cited the original. Hearsay.”

    Most of the secondary sources I cite (things like dinosaur encyclopedias) were written and edited by experts with impeccable credentials in their fields. To try to track down primary sources in the scientific literature for all citations in a work of this nature would have been completely impractical and would not have added value commensurate with the effort involved.

    “In chapter 6 on the the ability of a Christian to accept Darwinian mechanisms and in chapter 26 on choice of paradigms a case is made for choosing divine revelation over the scientific process of explanation of the natural world on the basis of natural process and law.”

    As I’ve explained to you many times, Paul, I do not reject science or the scientific method. I reject philosophical atheism (and methodological naturalism applied to origins is essentially philosophical atheism). But, yes, I do accept God’s word regarding origins over human speculations about origins.

    “Further the premise of this book is not at all nuanced and assumes you must either believe in divine revelation alone or accept naturalistic understandings and logically reject God. The evidentiary basis for his fideist position is never adequately established and it remains “God said it I believe it” without examining the basis or mechanism for knowing how God said it. One is expected to accept this as an axiom.”

    Rubbish. If I were a fideist, I wouldn’t have bothered to write the book; in fact, it would have offended my principles to write such a book. You correctly termed the book a work of apologetics, and if you actually understood what that term means (other than as a buzz word that your Darwinists friends will take to be a pejorative), you’d know that I’m not a fideist, because fideism (insisting on faith without reason or evidence) is obviously inconsistent with apologetics (providing evidence and rational argument in support of faith).

    “There are some peculiar views that almost all Adventist scientists would now likely reject. The ultimate explanation for the dinosaurs, and such intermediate forms or “missing links” as Read seems able to recognize, is that they are the product of a process of amalgamation. This is based on some particularly enigmatic statements from the prophet EG White from 1864. Read is dismissive of the contention that this likely reflects a popular 19th century view that saw blacks as the product of mating of man and beast. Interestingly EG White wisely did not subsequently write of this amalgamation but Read has seized on this and built a whole edifice that he sees as being a viable alternative to conventional models.”

    As I point out, most of the Mesozoic vertebrate fossil forms, while having mixed-class characteristics, are NOT “missing links” or transitional forms, nor do Darwinists even argue that they are. The two main exceptions–the purported dinosaur-to-bird transition and the mammal like reptiles—are extensively discussed in the book.

    As to amalgamation, Ellen White never said that mating between man and beast was the origin of the black race; that is something her critics argue that she must have meant, as a way to impeach her prophetic authority. That idea is inconsistent with everything else Ellen White ever wrote on the topic of race; it is without context in her entire voluminous corpus of writing, which is why I am dismissive of it.

    “Rather than seeing this amalgamation as natural process of interbreeding he sees it as the product of genetic engineering by the great minds of the antediluvian world. Again as evidence he takes EG White statements about the advanced intellect and understanding of men before the Noachian flood and extrapolates from the neolithic understanding of astronomy to argue that they had recombinant DNA technology.”

    Paul, if you do not believe in the prophetic authority of Ellen White then of course you would find my book frustrating. But, in fairness, your issue is with Ellen White, not with my book. As to the extreme sophistication evidenced in the neolithic monuments, it is not predicted in a Darwinian worldview, it is well documented in mainstream scientific sources, and it does provide some evidentiary support for Ellen White’s statements regarding the extreme sophistication of the antediluvians, and hence of early post-Flood humanity.

    “The authors naivity [sic] about the nature of genetics and necessary infrastructure for use of recombinant DNA technology is unlikely to be of concern to the likely audience for the book but if you do have basic high school understanding of biology it will rankle.”

    I do discuss this issue in the book, Paul. The fact is that we don’t know what sort of infrastructure the antediluvians had, nor what they would have needed given that their superior minds and bodies.

    “This book was not a good investment. It cost me $60 and a week of train journeys to read. Overall I would suggest spend you money elsewhere on Amazon books.”

    The book is well worth $35.00 American dollars; it is not my fault that you live in Australia, Paul.

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    • @David Read:

      David Christian Read

      Of course it should come as no surprise to anyone who is even a little savy to find out pauluc is actually Paul U Cameron. It has never been a secret and I do not resile from anything I have written here or in my review of your book.

      1] I would dispute your contention that you are not fidiest. As in many things my view is a little more nuanced than yours. A fideist can of course practice apologetics. As Encyclopenia Britannica says;

      “Moderate fideists, on the other hand, generally assert that some truths at least (e.g., God’s existence, moral principles) can be known by reason subsequently reinformed and clarified by faith—reason can or must play a role in the search for religious truths. This position frequently affirms that reason can, in some cases, partially comprehend religious truths after they have been revealed; or at least it shows negatively that no contradiction is necessarily involved in them or that there is a rational basis for accepting truths of faith that the human mind can in no way comprehend. Faith predominates, but reason is not ignored. Thus, the 17th-century French writer Blaise Pascal held that natural faculties are inadequate for religious certainty but suffice to justify religious faith in matters otherwise unknowable.”

      This I would contend is a accurate description of your views. You will never change your mind based on data or science since you accept as a faith position the overarching authority of scripture which you do not subject to any critique by reason or logic.

      You claim that you do not reject science “I do not reject science or the scientific method. I reject philosophical atheism (and methodological naturalism applied to origins is essentially philosophical atheism). But, yes, I do accept God’s word regarding origins over human speculations about origins.” yet you have effectively negated all of science by misconstruing science by labelling it philosphical atheism and like the CMI you seem to accept the fundamentalist position that is impervious to reason and change since anything troubling you can simply relabel as invalid.

      “By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.” CMI What we believe D6.

      I would call that fideism moderate though it may be.

      2] Just because I do not accept your fundamentalism does not mean I am not an Adventist as you condescendingly imply by “purports to be some sort of Adventist” and your usurpation of an authoritative position with statements like “we believing Adventists”.

      Unlike Sean I would contend I am a Christian from an Adventist tradition whose faith would remain in the Grace of God and the person Jesus Christ as the incarnate God whether man is shown unequivocally descended from a common ancestor or not.

      3] What was the molecule that you cloned and manipulated in your molecular biology classes? If none then I contend you do indeed not have a clue about the infrastructure and knowledge required for recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering of large vertebrates.

      4] Don’t worry I consider it a virtue to live in the antipodes and freight costs a minor burden compared to having to endure red necks in jeeps with bumper stickers asserting their precious first amendment right with “Buck Ofama”.

      5] Pound for pound it may represent good value but I do feel a little cheated in that I bought it expecting something a little more scholarly and considered, given your frequent reference in blogs to a tome that was product of 2 years of full time careful study of the data that it would be more honest in actually portraying both sides of an argument. As I said it is apologetic not scholarly and doesn’t fare well against a a true scholarly work such as the Creationists by Ron Numbers.

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  18. Sean Pitman: Your minds are made up regardless of the weight of evidence given to you. You can lead a horse to water…

    Oh really? And your mind is not made up?

    And we can’t drink water unless we agree with you?

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  19. Pauluc, the Encyclopedia Britannic definition you are using would expand the meaning of fideism such that it essentially means the same thing as “faith”; any Christian believer would be classified as at least a “moderate fideist.” That definition is eccentric. The commonly accepted definition of a fideist is one who believes that religious propositions must be accepted by faith alone, without any attempt to support them with reason or evidence (i.e., without any attempt to support them with apologetics). Fideism is not, and never has been, a mainstream Christian position, as even Paul said that Christians should always be prepared to give a defense (“apologian”) of our faith. 1 Peter 3:15. Certainly, no one who has spent as much time as I have on apologetics could ever remotely be called a fideist.

    Regarding the scientific method, modern science was started by Christian, mostly creationist, Western men. If there were any contradiction between biblical Christianity and true science, the enterprise would not have gotten underway when and where it did. The engrafting of philosophical atheism onto science is a perversion of science, not a requirement of science.

    You may be a Christian, but you are not a believing Seventh-day Adventist Christian if you reject the prophetic authority of Ellen White and reject the basis for the Sabbath doctrine, which is the creation in a literal week, with God resting on the Sabbath day and hallowing it. You may be a cultural Adventist–that is, you may have come from an Adventist background, had Adventist parents, perhaps even been educated at Adventist schools–but you are not a believing Seventh-day Adventist. You may be offended to hear that, but it is the truth. Adventism is primarily a religious faith, a system of doctrines and beliefs, and only secondarily a subculture.

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    • @David Read:
      It may startle you to know but the wikipedia entry on fideism says;
      “The term fideist, one who argues for fideism, is very rarely self-applied. Support of fideism is most commonly ascribed to five philosophers: Montaigne, Pascal, Kierkegaard, William James, and Wittgenstein; with fideism being a label applied in a negative sense by their opponents, but which is not supported by their own ideas and works or followers.”

      I am happy to be called a fideist in the tradition of some of these philosophers as I have acknowledged before in the realm of faith and religious belief it is not possible to argue from logic. God is revealed in Jesus and we take a leap of faith in accepting him as Karl Barth has argued. In contrast to you I accept that the natural world is explicable by natural law and process and in acknowledging that do not at all negate a belief in the supernatural or a world of faith.

      Why do I say you are fideist? You as a lawyer may use reason and logic for apologetic ends but just as your would use tradition, logic, words and argument to mount a defence you do not at all believe in the power of reason and evidence which is the basis of science. You accept a world view by faith and anything that may contradict it has no value except as it can be used polemically to argue for the position that is completely dependent on your faith presuppositions.

      In citing Alvin Plantinga the wiki article says

      “The fideist therefore “urges reliance on faith rather than reason, in matters philosophical and religious,” and therefore may go on to disparage the claims of reason.[4] The fideist seeks truth, above all: and affirms that reason cannot achieve certain kinds of truth, which must instead be accepted only by faith. Plantinga’s definition might be revised to say that what the fideist objects to is not so much “reason” per se — it seems excessive to call Blaise Pascal anti-rational — but evidentialism: the notion that no belief should be held unless it is supported by evidence.”

      This precisely your position, clearly illustrated in your subsequent elaboration of why I am not a “believing” Adventist.

      My idea of a rational faith is one that honestly takes account of the realities of the natural world and seeks to define the basis of Christian and Adventist belief and its meaning in a world where we no longer accept God as simply the explanation of what is not known. In this I differ totally from you. In seeking reasons for your faith position you do not at all take a position that is open to evidence from the natural world but you mine experimental data, accumulated knowledge and quotes for the points that may reinforce your preconceptions based as they are on a faith position. You manifest extreme conformational bias in your use of source and logic.
      I believe in EG White as a prophet in precisely the same way as I believe in old testament prophets. I do not mouth an acceptance of the Adventist position of inerrancy of either the canon or EG White and then go on to practice an exegesis based on assumptions of inerrancy which you seem to do in making statements about the Sabbath and its complete dependence on a literal 24/6/6000 year world view. If you are correct why does Deuteronomy 5 reinterpret it as a sign of God’s salvation. Why am I wrong in following that tradition and accepting sabbath observance as a sign of commitment to Gods Grace. Since when do you have the right to so narrowly and exclusively define what is Adventist?

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      • @pauluc:

        It seems to me that you all appeal to fideism, or the supremacy of faith over human reason. Pauluc seems to be a little less strong in this regard compared to Professor Kent or Phil Brantley. However, the same can be said of the general position of David Read and even my friend Shane Hilde. All of you believe that, when push comes to shove, faith trumps reason or rational empirically-based approaches to determining “truth”.

        For me, on the other hand, fideism is self-contradictory in that if there is no rational argument for faith, why choose to place one’s faith in a particular position vs. any other competing position? What “reason” can be given in favor of accepting fideism? None – be definition. By definition, the fideist is not required to and really cannot provide a rational reason for faith. It is internally derived independent of the requirement for evidence or reason that might be generally appreciated outside of one’s own personal mind and experience. It is therefore immune from even the potential for testing or falsification – in any meaningful sense of the word anyway.

        Kind of goes against the Bible’s recommendation to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV), or to “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NIV). The pure fideist simply cannot present such a rational appeal.

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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        • @Sean Pitman:
          Sean I think you manifest some significant lack of self awareness in your characterization of yourself as so difference to mainstream Christianity in the position you take on the role of faith.

          You tout reason as trumping faith but do not appear to see that the enlightenment enterprise took precisely the position you think desirable. The logical and consistent end of that road is nihlism. That people like Richard Dawkins and the new atheists unlike the old atheists arrived at a faith position of meaningfulness in humanism rather than meaningless nihlism I think reflects the essential desire in all man for meaning and some higher meaning or faith. In that you have not reached the point of nihlism or recognized that is indeed the end of your disparaging of faith seems to me a lack of insight, logic or reasoning.

          What can the reasonable man conclude? Most all agree that the anthropic principle gives indication that there is some meaning to the universe and to the process of life whatever its precise origin. Deism is the logic and reasonable position. To go beyond that to theism is not supported by the data and is a faith position.
          At the other end in biology species diversity has arisen from some common ancestors both you and I would agree by a process of natural selection. How far back do you go in allowing for commonality of ancestors? I would agree with the consensus view of biologists and say the compelling evidence is that all life has arisen from a common ancestor. You would take a faith position and say that it did not and have at best a rationale that there is some 1000fsaar limit at some arbitrary level of kind, a position for which evidence is scant or nonexistent as is clear from your expositions on this topic on this site and in your book.

          When did life arise? You take a position contrary to most practitioners of science and say that it is very recent and that life is very young. I cannot see that this is anything but a faith position. It is not at all a conclusion based on data but is a position first assumed and then bolstered by any evidence you can eek out of the published literature.

          Where did life come from? Conventional science would say there are plausible mechanisms but no compelling data but given the success of naturalism and natural law as the basis for all other areas of science there is no compelling reason to use a God of the gaps argument here. You in contrast say by faith that God created life and that it is impossible except that God or some great designer did so. You privilege some statistical inferences against real observations on this point failing to recognize that post hoc statistical analyses are meaningless.

          Where does a personal God come into this? I as a Christian in the neo-orthodox and Adventist tradition would say that by faith I beleive that the supernatural personal God is seen in the person of Jesus who is indeed the incarnation of God. My faith in him is orthagonal to my reasoned positions on scientific evidence. On the personhood of Jesus Christ we cannot at all establish this by mechanisms of reason. It can only be a position of faith. I joyfully embrace that realization.

          If you take the position of rational and reasonable investigation of the basis for our faith and start searching for the historical Jesus as the basis for your faith you will find like Schweitzer that you end up with nothing but a vague premise of respect for all life, valuable though that may be. It is ironic that you should think that you privilege reason over faith and yet be so unwilling to subject your religious position to rational examination. What if you take the origins of our church and faith and subject it to the blowtorch of reason. What do you make of for example Walter Rea and Ron Numbers examination of EG White? What of higher criticisms examination of our sacred text? You cannot rationally say that the human endeavour of science is fair game for vigorous critique but the human endeavour of theology or religious reasoning is not.

          Why am I a Christian? What is the reason and logic of that? I am a Christian because having heard of the good news of the God revealed in the life of Jesus Christ, in the writings of his followers and exemplified in the church the body of Christ I accept that the message of Grace gives meaning, an ethic and a call to be part of that body of Christ.
          The reason for that faith if you must have one is that I choose meaning over nihlism I choose a life of discipleship and grace over a life of selfish regard for me alone. To me sociopathy is the antithesis of Grace. Is Grace and self sacrifice personally rewarding and therefore completely rational and reasoned? Maybe not, but it is the life of discipleship to which I am called and compelled. In that discipline and connection with the Divine I find a spiritual life that gives meaning. I practice the Christian disciplines of reading the sacred texts, prayer, fellowship within the body of Christ because it is through these that I do have communion with the divine. Is that rational and reasoned? It may indeed be so in a utilitarian and sociological way but it is primarily because it is the way of Faith to which I am called by the revelation of God not by some rational attempt to climb up to God through my own strength or brainpower.

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        • @pauluc:

          You tout reason as trumping faith but do not appear to see that the enlightenment enterprise took precisely the position you think desirable.

          I didn’t say that reason trumps faith. What I said was that faith does not trump reason. There’s a difference. What I’ve also said many times in this forum is that a useful or rational faith must go hand in hand with reason. One cannot exist in any kind of meaningful or useful way without the other. Even science itself is dependent upon making leaps of faith into that which is not absolutely known or knowable. Faith and reason are equals in my mind, both created by God. I believe that God gave us our reasoning minds for a reason and He does not expect us to then forgo its use (to paraphrase Galileo).

          The logical and consistent end of that road is nihlism. That people like Richard Dawkins and the new atheists unlike the old atheists arrived at a faith position of meaningfulness in humanism rather than meaningless nihlism I think reflects the essential desire in all man for meaning and some higher meaning or faith.

          There is no doubt that all mankind desires meaning. However, a desire for meaning is just wishful thinking if desire isn’t backed up by evidence. The same is true for faith. Faith, without the backing of evidence-based reasoning is nothing but wishful thinking.

          Also, if God is the God of reason as well as faith, the honest and sincere use of the Divine gift of reason will lead one toward the God of reason; not nihilism.

          “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

          Motivation is vital, but given the sincere motivation of the heart, the Divine miracle is that God steps in and interacts with Human reasoning capabilities to guide the mind, based on evidences He has provided, toward Himself. God never asks for acts of faith without first providing evidence as a rational basis for the act or leap of faith. We are even asked to test various claims, to “test the spirits” to see what is and what isn’t from God. (1 John 4:1 NIV) Throughout the Bible God is constantly providing evidence as a basis for His claims and a reason to follow, serve, and worship Him. Nowhere is God portrayed as expecting blind faith in any naked claim coming from His mouth. The claims are always backed up by some form of evidence or prior experience with God and evidence of who He claims to be.

          God understands the importance of evidence and the natural human desire for evidence. After all, He’s the one who made us this way.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.” – Galileo Galilei

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  20. pauluc

    More than a half-century has passed since I first attended an SDA school. I know what we believe.

    With all due respect, sir, you appear to be among the vast throng who believe differently, your SDA label notwithstanding.

    And please believe me, I mean no disrespect. You are a descendant from Adam and Eve, (created about 6,000 years ago), just as I am. That makes us brothers. Still what you say in your words cannot be reconciled with SDA belief.

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    • @Charles:
      Charles
      I agree we are brothers in Christ and like our brothers in the first century who met in the council at Jerusalem described in Acts 15 we can agree to differ in our understanding of some aspects of the message and practical applications of the Gospel of Gods Grace. In that tradition we can disagree on time frames for creation and be both Christian and Adventist.
      I am a scientist who has made different observations on biology than you have and am compelled to be honest with those facts and with the Christian and Adventist tradition and belief which I accept.
      I believe that what I say is totally consistent with the progressive nature of traditional SDA belief that would not be constrained by a creed but is open to Gods continuing revelation. You are right however in that it may be more difficult to reconcile with SDA belief that is formulated in the fundamentalist tradition as well articulated here by David Read.

      View Comment
      • @pauluc:

        So do I understand correctly that your “faith” is subject to your scientific provabilities?

        You have not yet addressed what I asked about demonstrating from whence comes “life”? Do you believe that life could exist apart from a miracle working God? Do you believe in miracles? Or do you believe that God is just a very brilliant scientist or magician? OR… is it all just a hoax to persuade us to (whatever)…

        At what point do we acknowledge our limitations and that our observations can deceive us?

        For what reason was the SDA church founded? Is that reason relative to the reason for its continued existence today?

        The name of the church was carefully chosen to reflect the reason for its existence. The “Seventh-Day” refers to the holiness of the the seventh day of the week – in memorial of the literal seven day creation week. The “Adventist” part of the name proclaims that we believe that Jesus is coming again very soon in a very miraculous, splendid, and un-scientific way. BUT, the reason for the existence of this church is the proclamation of these things we believe to be true. It’s not just a club of folks who hold these “beliefs” – although it could sometime seem that way.

        No, the seven days of creation were not vast periods of evolutionary development and the clouds of Heaven are not going to be space ships. But in all honesty, from viewing what you write, I would not know what to expect that you believe, relative to our existence and the advent of Jesus in the near future.

        I speak in respect to you, with honesty.

        I see truth, not as progressive, but absolute. Our perceptions about truth can be progressive or regressive.

        Prov 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but…..

        Do you believe what you observe? Or do you believe the record that was provided by the Creator?

        You claim to be a Seventh-Day Adventist, it seems. I wonder, just what is it about the SDA faith (it seems inapproprate to me to label it as a “tradition”) that, for you, distinguishes it from other “religions”? What is the compelling doctrine or belief that drives you to choose this faith over the abundance of others that are in the world?

        Again, with all due respect, I honestly wonder.

        View Comment
  21. Sean Pitman: All of you believe that, when push comes to shove, faith trumps reason or rational empirically-based approaches to determining “truth”.

    When all evidence tells us that a mountain cannot be moved, God tells us that, with faith, it surely can. Who are you going to trust: your senses and your own reason, or God’s sure word?

    View Comment
    • @Professor Kent:

      My own reasoning capabilities, given to me by God, are what tell me that the Bible, among all the competing options, is the “sure Word of God”. I did not arrive at this conclusion blindly, without what I personally perceive to be the weight of empirical evidence to back up my conclusion. And, God never expects anyone to take even His Word at face value without some kind of evidentiary support that it is really God who is speaking or asking one to act on “faith”. Of course God never provides absolute knowledge. A leap of faith is always required where the outcome is not absolutely known ahead of time outside of God’s Word. However, God does provide the weight of evidence necessary for the candid intelligent mind to act in a rational way to trust in His Word. Therefore, the leap of faith in response to a true command of God is never completely blind or devoid of the weight of evidentiary support – support that has the power to appeal to the intelligent candid mind.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  22. Sean

    I think you endorse an idea of rational Christian belief but I find your writing rather naive in the application of this premise. Your unquestioning acceptance of the Christian and Adventist traditions seems incongruous with your claims of rational examination. I don’t see evidence that you have really grappled with the hard questions or you would not so easily denigrate the faith of others who have and who recognize that Christianity is about following a person by faith not some intellectual exercise. How do you respond to what I think is a very insightful summary by one of the classic writers of the 19th century concerning Christian belief and the sacred text;

    “..In respect of all the divergences of my rendering from the Church’s authorized text ,the reader should not forget that the customary conception that the four Gospels with all their verses and syllables are sacred books is a very gross error.

    The reader should remember that Jesus never wrote any book himself, as Plato Philo or Marcus Aurelius did; nor even, like Socrates, transmitted his teaching to educated men, but that he spoke to many uneducated men and only long after his death did people begin to write down what they had heard about him. The reader should remember that there were very many such accounts from among which the Churches selected three Gospels and then one more, and that in selecting those best Gospels as the proverb, – ‘There is no stick without knots’
    says- they had to take in many knots with what they selected from the whole mass of writings about Christ, and that there are many passages in the canonical Gospels just as poor as in the rejected apocryphal ones.
    The reader should remember that it is the teaching of Christ which may be sacred but certainly not any definite number of verses and syllables, and that certain verses picked out from here to there cannot become sacred merely because people say they are.

    Moreover the reader should remember that these selected gospels are also the work of thousands of different human brains and hands, that they have been selected, added to, and commented on, for centuries, that all the copies that have come down to us from the fourth century are written in continuous script without punctuation, so that even after the fourth and fifth centuries they have been subject to very diverse readings, and that there are not less than fifty thousand such variations of the Gospels.

    This should all be borne in mind by the reader, that he may not be misled by the customary view that the Gospels in their present form have come to us direct from the Holy Ghost.

    The reader should remember that far from it being blameworthy to discard useless passages from the Gospels and elucidate some passages by others, it is on the contrary irrational not to do so and to hold a certain number of verses and syllables as sacred.

    On the other hand I beg readers to remember that if I do not regard the Gospels as sacred books that have come down to us from the Holy Ghost, even less do I regard them as mere historical monuments of religious literature. I understand the theological as well as the historical view of the Gospels, but regard them myself differently, and so I beg the reader not to be confused either by the church view or by the historical view customary in day among educated people, neither of which I hold.
    I regard Christianity neither as an inclusive divine revelation nor as an historical phenomenon, but as a teaching which – gives us the meaning of life. I was led to Christianity neither by theological nor historical investigations but by this – that when I was fifty years old, having asked myself and all the learned men around me what I am and what is the meaning of my life, and received the answer that I am a fortuitous concatenation of atoms and that life has no meaning but is itself an evil, I fell into despair and wanted to put an end to my life; but remembered that formerly in childhood when I believed, life had a meaning for me, and that for the great mass of men about me who believe and are not corrupted by riches life has a meaning; and I doubted the validity of the reply given me by the learned men of my circle and I tried to understand the reply Christianity gives to those who live a real life. And I began to seek Christianity in the Christian teaching that guides such men’s lives. I began to study the Christianity which I saw applied in life and to compare that applied Christianity with its source.

    The source of Christian teaching is the Gospels, and in them I found the explanation of the spirit which guides the life of all who really live. But together with this source of the pure water of life I found, wrongfully united with it, mud and slime which had hid its purity from me: by the side of and bound up with the lofty Christian teaching I found a Hebrew and a Church teaching alien to it. I was in the position of a man who receives a bag of stinking dirt, and only after long struggle and much labor finds that amid that dirt lie priceless pearls; and he understands that he was not to blame for disliking the stinking dirt, and that those who have collected and preserved these pearls together with the dirt are also not to blame but deserve love and respect.”

    Leo Tolstoy Preface to “The Gospels in Brief”

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    • @pauluc:

      I think you endorse an idea of rational Christian belief but I find your writing rather naive in the application of this premise. Your unquestioning acceptance of the Christian and Adventist traditions seems incongruous with your claims of rational examination.

      It’s rather uncharitable of you to suggest that I have arrived at my own acceptance of the Adventist perspective without question or any real investigation or evaluation. I dare say that I’ve studied this topic more than most (regarding the nature of inspiration and the origin and credibility of the Scriptures). Just because I’ve come to very different conclusions doesn’t mean I haven’t really thought about the issues in play.

      Again, you can call yourself whatever you want (however meaningless the labeling of yourself as an “Adventist” seems to me). Regardless, unless the “progression” of your views is similar to the state of progression of the organized church, don’t expect a paycheck from the church.

      And no, the SDA Church isn’t about supporting the “academic freedom” of those who wish to attack the church on the church’s dime. There are plenty of others who are perfectly willing to pay for that sort of thing. Adventist education should be about supporting and promoting the clearly stated fundamental goals and ideals of the Adventist Church – i.e., the unique Adventist perspective. The Church should not be supporting the privately held so called ‘progressive’ views of every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

      So, feel free to teach and preach whatever you want – on your own dime.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
    • @pauluc:

      How do you respond to what I think is a very insightful summary by one of the classic writers of the 19th century concerning Christian belief and the sacred text;

      “..In respect of all the divergences of my rendering from the Church’s authorized text, the reader should not forget that the customary conception that the four Gospels with all their verses and syllables are sacred books is a very gross error.

      The reader should remember that Jesus never wrote any book himself, as Plato Philo or Marcus Aurelius did; nor even, like Socrates, transmitted his teaching to educated men, but that he spoke to many uneducated men and only long after his death did people begin to write down what they had heard about him. The reader should remember that there were very many such accounts from among which the Churches selected three Gospels and then one more, and that in selecting those best Gospels as the proverb, – ‘There is no stick without knots’ says – they had to take in many knots with what they selected from the whole mass of writings about Christ, and that there are many passages in the canonical Gospels just as poor as in the rejected apocryphal ones.

      The reader should remember that it is the teaching of Christ which may be sacred but certainly not any definite number of verses and syllables, and that certain verses picked out from here to there cannot become sacred merely because people say they are.

      For me, it is precisely because the Gospels were written by different people with different perspectives, highlighting different features of the same event and having conflicting statements regarding minor details that they gain credibility as true witnesses of said events. If they were all very similar or carbon copies of each other, they would lose credibility as true eye-witness accounts of real historical events – the empirical reality of which all who observed them and described what they saw in writing were willing to lay down their lives.

      Moreover the reader should remember that these selected gospels are also the work of thousands of different human brains and hands, that they have been selected, added to, and commented on, for centuries, that all the copies that have come down to us from the fourth century are written in continuous script without punctuation, so that even after the fourth and fifth centuries they have been subject to very diverse readings, and that there are not less than fifty thousand such variations of the Gospels.

      This view is no longer true today. We now have dozens of manuscripts dating from well before the fourth century. There are, currently, eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts.

      What is also interesting is that as older manuscripts are discovered, a pattern emerges:

      “As with all the previously published New Testament papyri (127 of them, published in the last 116 years), not a single new reading has commended itself as authentic. Instead, the papyri function to confirm what New Testament scholars have already thought was the original wording or, in some cases, to confirm an alternate reading—but one that is already found in the manuscripts. As an illustration: Suppose a papyrus had the word “the Lord” in one verse while all other manuscripts had the word “Jesus.” New Testament scholars would not adopt, and have not adopted, such a reading as authentic, precisely because we have such abundant evidence for the original wording in other manuscripts. But if an early papyrus had in another place “Simon” instead of “Peter,” and “Simon” was also found in other early and reliable manuscripts, it might persuade scholars that “Simon” is the authentic reading. In other words, the papyri have confirmed various readings as authentic in the past 116 years, but have not introduced new authentic readings. The original New Testament text is found somewhere in the manuscripts that have been known for quite some time. These new papyri will no doubt continue that trend. But, if this Mark fragment is confirmed as from the first century, what a thrill it will be to have a manuscript that is dated within the lifetime of many of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection!

      http://www.dts.edu/read/wallace-new-testament-manscript-first-century/

      So, you see, older manuscripts have lent support, not taken away from, what scholars have long assumed was the original wording of the Gospels. There are differences, of course, but these are almost never substantive (see Link for further discussion along these lines).

      This should all be borne in mind by the reader, that he may not be misled by the customary view that the Gospels in their present form have come to us direct from the Holy Ghost.

      The reader should remember that far from it being blameworthy to discard useless passages from the Gospels and elucidate some passages by others, it is on the contrary irrational not to do so and to hold a certain number of verses and syllables as sacred.

      What is potentially sacred is the eyewitness accounts of the Gospels and the claims of these men with regard to what they said they saw, heard, touched, and personally experienced. They were all willing to put their lives on the line for what they wrote (all dying a martyr’s death, save John, because of their claims regarding the empirical reality of their experience). The testable elements of these claims need to bear up under investigation in order for such extraordinary claims to be truly viewed as remotely credible.

      On the other hand I beg readers to remember that if I do not regard the Gospels as sacred books that have come down to us from the Holy Ghost, even less do I regard them as mere historical monuments of religious literature. I understand the theological as well as the historical view of the Gospels, but regard them myself differently, and so I beg the reader not to be confused either by the church view or by the historical view customary in day among educated people, neither of which I hold.

      The Gospels, as with the other Scriptures found in the Bible, have proven themselves to be very accurate historical documents. Their claims regarding historical events have proven themselves more reliable than any other source of historical information regarding similar times and places. This is what gives the authors of Biblical accounts additional credibility. For, if they cannot be trusted as reliable historians regarding the events of their own day, how can they be trusted with regard to any of the other elements of their accounts of truly fantastic events that they claimed really did happen before their very eyes?

      I regard Christianity neither as an inclusive divine revelation nor as an historical phenomenon, but as a teaching which – gives us the meaning of life. I was led to Christianity neither by theological nor historical investigations but by this – that when I was fifty years old, having asked myself and all the learned men around me what I am and what is the meaning of my life, and received the answer that I am a fortuitous concatenation of atoms and that life has no meaning but is itself an evil, I fell into despair and wanted to put an end to my life; but remembered that formerly in childhood when I believed, life had a meaning for me, and that for the great mass of men about me who believe and are not corrupted by riches life has a meaning; and I doubted the validity of the reply given me by the learned men of my circle and I tried to understand the reply Christianity gives to those who live a real life. And I began to seek Christianity in the Christian teaching that guides such men’s lives. I began to study the Christianity which I saw applied in life and to compare that applied Christianity with its source.

      The source of Christian teaching is the Gospels, and in them I found the explanation of the spirit which guides the life of all who really live. But together with this source of the pure water of life I found, wrongfully united with it, mud and slime which had hid its purity from me: by the side of and bound up with the lofty Christian teaching I found a Hebrew and a Church teaching alien to it. I was in the position of a man who receives a bag of stinking dirt, and only after long struggle and much labor finds that amid that dirt lie priceless pearls; and he understands that he was not to blame for disliking the stinking dirt, and that those who have collected and preserved these pearls together with the dirt are also not to blame but deserve love and respect.”

      Leo Tolstoy Preface to “The Gospels in Brief”

      I agree that Christian churches throughout history have mixed in a lot of “dirt” amongst the pearls of the Scriptures. However, the credibility and meaning of the Scriptures, and the hope that they claim to offer is all tied up with the historical elements and claims about empirical reality that can actually be investigated and tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. Otherwise, Tolstoy, like the rest of you who want something to give life meaning, is engaging in nothing more than wishful thinking in order to avoid the abyss of nihilism. I mean really, upon what basis is nihilism a false conclusion? How do we really know that the conclusions of nihilists aren’t actually true? Is the best we have the wishful hope that they aren’t true? Or, do we have something more solid upon which to hang our hats?

      It’s nice to desire meaning and to cling to those who claim to offer meaning to our lives. However, it is quite another thing to move beyond mere wishful thinking to a place where one can be very confident that life really does having an ultimate eternal meaning and purpose – to the position of having a “blessed assurance” in the reality of the Gospel message of hope. I don’t think it very easy get to a state of mind of confidence and peace and a lack of fear and anxiety without coming to a conscious realization that the clear weight of evidence strongly favors the Biblical claims as authentic and credible. This is certainly the case for me.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  23. Your comments here are illuminating. It appears I was wrong in supposing that you do not bring a similar critique to religion and our sources as you do to the published scientific literature.

    You parse Tolstoys words about his personal experience of faith and the way in which he embraced the message of Christianity with not at all a recognition of his leap of faith in the face of uncertainty but with an insistence that in fact there is no uncertainty at all. As evidence of certainty about the provenance of the Christian text you appeal to a comment from a news item from the Dallas Theological Seminary. As though this is an unbiased view and rigorous examination of the historicity of the canonical text. I do not think you would believe and take at face value an account of the Third Reich by Goebels or consider a Leni Reifenstahl documentary authoritative nor accept and LDS account of Joseph Smiths archeology? It is called conflict of interest or at least vested interest and is a potent source of confirmation bias.

    Wallace says “…we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts”. What of the provenance of the other 57%? That there remains doubt is clear from the fact that Wallace cites his debates with Bart Ehrman an evangelical who in searching for the historically authentic words of Jesus followed a similar trajectory to Schweitzer and moved from the position of certainty you express to a position of agnosticism beyond even the deism of Schweitzer. If there was no doubt there would be no debate with Ehrman.

    When confronted with any question of fact or evidence that most Christians would see as source of uncertainty and a call for faith you respond with a claim that there is no doubt or uncertainty [the clear weight of evidence] and denigrate anyone who does not accept the evidence in the same way as you. You claim;

    “I don’t think it very easy get to a state of mind of confidence and peace and a lack of fear and anxiety without coming to a conscious realization that the clear weight of evidence strongly favors the Biblical claims as authentic and credible. This is certainly the case for me.”

    It seems you are suggesting that rather than accept that one must take the leap of faith in the face of uncertainty which is the response of most of the people of faith you critique in this blog as “wishful thinking”, your impulse is to change the facts or at least the perception of reality by careful selection of facts so that there is no uncertainty.

    I can see now that in this you are indeed very consistent in your approach to religious belief and your understanding of the natural world. But isn’t this faith, though it may differ from the usual approach in that it is manifest in the way you direct your selective consciousness of reality?

    Sean I really worry for your influence in the Adventist Church. With your denigration of faith, are you really even at core Christian? Are you connected in an emotional and committed way to Christ and His redemptive acts? Your writings do not reveal much beyond an intellectual assent to Adventism, its lifestyle and it propositions. I worry that your “evidence based” committment is fragile, rigidly defined and lacks depth and is pathologically dependent on confirmation bias for its existence [“This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” 19 Aug 2011 Biblical Interpretation by Sean Pitman”] Is this the model of Christianity we want Adventist youth at our colleges to emulate? As EG White in her latter year recognized in her more mystical and most profound writings “Christ and Him crucified” is truly the core of Adventism and we as a Christian church will surely fail when we do not recognize that.

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    • @pauluc:

      First off, I can’t believe any rational person would actually try to promote the virtues of a belief in any one particular admittedly “irrational” concept. Why choose to believe something that is admittedly irrational or opposed to one’s own reasoning abilities vs. anything else that is admittedly irrational?

      There is no rational response to this question – right? That’s what makes such a “faith” position so irrational. The fact that you use the word “faith” here doesn’t change the fact that what you’re choosing to believe is admittedly nothing more than wishful thinking or some deep desire on your part.

      If I’m wrong here, please do explain why any other rational person should also choose to follow the particular path that you’ve chosen for yourself? compared to any other irrational path that might also be chosen?

      You parse Tolstoys words about his personal experience of faith and the way in which he embraced the message of Christianity with not at all a recognition of his leap of faith in the face of uncertainty but with an insistence that in fact there is no uncertainty at all.

      I do in fact recognize Tolstoy’s “leap of faith” in the face of his own uncertainty and very strong doubts regarding what he saw as the “evidence”. I just don’t recognize such leaps of faith as being substantively superior to wishful thinking.

      Also, I’ve explained over and over again that there is no such thing as absolute certainty. The “weight of evidence”, as one is personally able to evaluate it, is not the same thing as absolute certainty. The very same thing is true of any scientific hypothesis or theory. There is always room for doubt as well as the possibility of being wrong whenever one takes a leap of faith – even in science. However, a leap of faith that is not based on evidence of any kind from one’s own perspective is not any more rational or helpful than is wishful thinking.

      In other words, a rational faith is dependent upon evidence as perceived from one’s own individual perspective. Such a faith is not dependent upon absolute certainty, since such is impossible to obtain, but upon the perceived weight of evidence that directs one’s faith in a reasonable or “rational” manner over and above mere wishful thinking.

      As evidence of certainty about the provenance of the Christian text you appeal to a comment from a news item from the Dallas Theological Seminary. As though this is an unbiased view and rigorous examination of the historicity of the canonical text. I do not think you would believe and take at face value an account of the Third Reich by Goebels or consider a Leni Reifenstahl documentary authoritative nor accept and LDS account of Joseph Smiths archeology? It is called conflict of interest or at least vested interest and is a potent source of confirmation bias.

      Oh please. Everyone is biased to one degree or another. The problem here is that the facts in question are pretty straight forward. I mean really, which one of the facts listed, in particular, do you take issue? Which one of these is clearly mistaken in your mind?

      Wallace says “…we have as many as eighteen New Testament manuscripts from the second century and one from the first. Altogether, more than 43% of all New Testament verses are found in these manuscripts”. What of the provenance of the other 57%?

      What of them? Science isn’t about what isn’t known, but about what can be extrapolated based on what is known. The pattern based on what is known is quite clear – at least from my own perspective thus far.

      That there remains doubt is clear from the fact that Wallace cites his debates with Bart Ehrman an evangelical who in searching for the historically authentic words of Jesus followed a similar trajectory to Schweitzer and moved from the position of certainty you express to a position of agnosticism beyond even the deism of Schweitzer. If there was no doubt there would be no debate with Ehrman.

      I never said that there was no room for doubt or that the evidence in hand is absolutely conclusive. What I said was that the weight of evidence in hand seems very clear – to me. Again, with which one of the facts mentioned do you take issue?

      When confronted with any question of fact or evidence that most Christians would see as source of uncertainty and a call for faith you respond with a claim that there is no doubt or uncertainty [the clear weight of evidence] and denigrate anyone who does not accept the evidence in the same way as you. You claim;

      Do you not realize that the “weight of evidence” is different for different people? When I use this phrase, I’m speaking for myself and my own perspective. The “weight of evidence” may be quite different for you and your perspective. That’s fine. God takes individuals where they are.

      Salvation isn’t based on knowledge anyway, but on motive. Because of this, as I’ve noted many times before, even agnostics and atheists can be saved. One does not need to have a solid “faith” in the Bible as the true Word of God, the existence of God or Jesus, or knowledge that the Seventh-day Adventist perspective is the best available in order to be saved. Knowledge is useful, however, when it comes to establishing a solid hope in the reality of our bright future here and now.

      It seems you are suggesting that rather than accept that one must take the leap of faith in the face of uncertainty which is the response of most of the people of faith you critique in this blog as “wishful thinking”, your impulse is to change the facts or at least the perception of reality by careful selection of facts so that there is no uncertainty.

      Again, there is always uncertainty to one degree or another. However, the greater the evidence, the less the uncertainty and the greater the potential for faith. Without any evidence, there is maximum uncertainty where belief in the face of which is not readily distinguishable from wishful thinking.

      Let me ask you, do you think the disciples of Jesus had more or less faith after His resurrection? What does that tell you about the relationship of faith to evidence?

      Again, rational faith and evidence walk hand-in-hand. Each being dependent upon the other with neither one trumping the other.

      I can see now that in this you are indeed very consistent in your approach to religious belief and your understanding of the natural world. But isn’t this faith, though it may differ from the usual approach in that it is manifest in the way you direct your selective consciousness of reality?

      I don’t see my view of reality as being any more biased or “selective” than anyone else’s view of reality – including yours. I have no desire to fool myself. I want to know the actual truth – even if that reality is not in my favor. I’d rather know. I see no need to fool or trick myself into believing something or having faith in something that has no more substance outside of my own mind than do my own wishful thoughts. That is why I have such a problem with your notion of “faith” as being devoid of the need for any real basis in evidence.

      If anyone is being subjectively selective as far as what one wants to believe, it’s you – as you yourself freely admit.

      Sean I really worry for your influence in the Adventist Church. With your denigration of faith, are you really even at core Christian?

      I don’t denigrate faith at all – at least not the type of faith described in the Bible. The problem here is that you’ve redefined the word to mean a belief in something that is inherently irrational. That’s not how the Bible defines faith.

      Tell me, was it irrational for the disciples to place their faith in Jesus after seeing His miraculous power? after seeing him heal all manner of diseases and even raising the dead? Was it irrational for them to put their faith even more strongly in Him once they saw Him risen from His own grave? I think not. All of this “faith” was evidence based. It is because the evidence was so incredibly strong that they were so incredibly strong in their testimony for their risen Lord.

      Are you connected in an emotional and committed way to Christ and His redemptive acts?

      Of course – or I wouldn’t be here.

      Your writings do not reveal much beyond an intellectual assent to Adventism, its lifestyle and it propositions. I worry that your “evidence based” committment is fragile, rigidly defined and lacks depth and is pathologically dependent on confirmation bias for its existence [“This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” 19 Aug 2011 Biblical Interpretation by Sean Pitman”] Is this the model of Christianity we want Adventist youth at our colleges to emulate? As EG White in her latter year recognized in her more mystical and most profound writings “Christ and Him crucified” is truly the core of Adventism and we as a Christian church will surely fail when we do not recognize that.

      I appreciate your concern and all for my own personal relationship with Jesus. However, with all due respect, where do you get off? You think yourself able to judge the quality of my relationship with Jesus when you have only seen a very very limited spectrum of what I do in my public and personal life?

      Now, I most certainly do agree that the most important event in Christian history is indeed the reality “Christ and Him Crucified” – regardless of if one does or does not recognize this reality. This reality, independent of one’s knowledge of it, gives all humanity the possibility of an eternally bright future.

      Again, it is the love of truth, not the actual conscious recognition of it, that has the power to save because of Jesus’ sacrifice for all of us. Shocking as it may sound, you don’t have to be an SDA fundamentalist to be saved! 😉

      However, true knowledge has the power to give us a conscious hope and assurance, here and now, in the reality of the Gospel story. And, the credibility of this story is dependent upon evidence – evidence that has the power to appeal to rational candid intelligent minds.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  24. Sean

    What you say here makes plenty of sense.

    “However, with all due respect, where do you get off? You think yourself able to judge the quality of my relationship with Jesus when you have only seen a very very limited spectrum of what I do in my public and personal life?”

    Sorry if I offended you. As you know I have never met you and do not know anything about your life other than what you have revealed in your writing here and at other blog sites. I have every expectation that you do live a pious life even though I wonder how a Christian who follows the ethic of kingdom of heaven can willingly be a soldier.

    What concerns me is if you really hold to your earlier claim that you have carefully avoided mentioning in your response.

    “This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” Educate truth 19 Aug 2011 “Biblical Interpretation” by Sean Pitman”

    If so then I do think that you think the message of Christianity reported as it has been by mortal fallible man is only ever of secondary value to your own thoughts and rationalizations. This is the fragile acceptance of Grace that I find most curious and is the core of the argument I have with your philosophy and its denigration of the faith of a person who would choose God in the face of the compelling arguments and overwhelming evidence for meaninglessness when approached by reason alone. It is not at all about whether I believe and accept the methodological naturalism that is the basis of science. It is about how I value the message of Christ about the present and future Kingdom of Heaven.

    You consider it wishful thinking to accept a Christian perspective and have faith in a spiritual encounter with God in the face of overwhelming evidence in the physical world for long ages, common ancestry and a natural process for origins.

    In claiming the mantle of orthodox Adventism I think your writing lacks a long term perspective on Adventism and its growth in understanding and practice. It arose from a message that was in most respects wrong. If I am to believe your statement about rationalism and monolithic structure of belief as an orthodoxy you would among the majority that left the Advent movement after 1844. Would you have also left later when the closed door theory was discarded. When the church after much divergence of opinion became trinitarian, at 1888 when the church moved from a catholic to a protestant position on righteousness by faith? When EG White embraced the Sanatoriums and largely discarded the reliance on the water cure of her vision of 1864 for the evidence based approach championed by her protege Kellog? In 1919 when the church reconsidered the role of EG White. When it became a church and published QOD? When at Glacier View it largely accepted Des Ford’s views on the sanctuary in Hebrews? We have changed our orthodoxy in the past and the preamble to the fundamental beliefs recognizes that we are likely to again.

    As you know the Church both Protestant and Catholic has been wrong on the science before [You should read what Luther thought of science]. Do you not think it may be wrong now? Do we reject Christianity when we find that our “biblical” views on astronomy and a geocentric universe were wrong. Are we to do it yet again when we find that we were perhaps mistaken in our beliefs in the area of origins.

    Do we turn tail and run when we find that the evidence is actually overwhelmingly against us or do we like the believers in 1844 say perhaps we are fallible and have misinterpreted the Word of God and say; for this pearl of great price; the Logos, the Grace of God I can endure a little cognitive discomfort and uncertainty for by faith I trust in His salvation.

    You further denigrate this concept with your statement equating a mature faith with simply wishful thinking since it is beyond your own mind. I know you think you have an outstanding analytical mind and indeed that may be true but I’m not sure I can accept it reaching to heaven itself.

    “I see no need to fool or trick myself into believing something or having faith in something that has no more substance outside of my own mind than do my own wishful thoughts. That is why I have such a problem with your notion of “faith” as being devoid of the need for any real basis in evidence.”

    It strikes me as completely incongruous that I, a person who has on one hand expressed a rationalism that includes complete acceptance of methodological naturalism as the best approach to understanding the natural world should be defending the orthodoxy of Faith as the way to spiritual understand and communion with God against a fundamentalist who surprisingly rejects this fundamental Christian orthodoxy.

    View Comment
    • @pauluc:

      What concerns me is if you really hold to your earlier claim that you have carefully avoided mentioning in your response.

      “This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” Educate truth 19 Aug 2011 “Biblical Interpretation” by Sean Pitman”

      You failed to address my question regard the faith of Jesus’ disciples: Did they have more or less faith after they saw His Resurrection?

      I don’t know how much more clear I can be? Neo-Darwinism is, in my view, fundamentally antithetical to Adventism as well as Christianity at large. If Neo-Darwinism is in fact true, then Christianity is false and the Bible is nothing more than an interesting collection of nice moral fables. There simply is no point subscribing to both as such would be completely irrational. The empirical evidence itself dictates which one is more likely true as both cannot be true at the same time.

      The same thing happened to Jesus’ disciples. The empirical evidence of His resurrection was, for them, the nail in the coffin when it came to any possible doubts regarding their understanding of who He really was/is. This evidence is what held them steady through the rest of their difficult lives and through martyr’s deaths. Without this evidence, they would never have been able to stand as they did.

      That is why faith increases with increasing evidence. They walk hand-in-hand.

      If so then I do think that you think the message of Christianity reported as it has been by mortal fallible man is only ever of secondary value to your own thoughts and rationalizations. This is the fragile acceptance of Grace that I find most curious and is the core of the argument I have with your philosophy and its denigration of the faith of a person who would choose God in the face of the compelling arguments and overwhelming evidence for meaninglessness when approached by reason alone. It is not at all about whether I believe and accept the methodological naturalism that is the basis of science. It is about how I value the message of Christ about the present and future Kingdom of Heaven.

      If your notions of reality have no potential for fragility, no potential of being wrong, then what you have isn’t really all that useful. Wishful thinking isn’t fragile at all because it isn’t based in reality or rational thought. It is precisely because of its ability to cling to the irrational in the face of all evidence that it is so robust – and so worthless when it comes to establishing any kind of solid hope in a very real future. It is also for this reason that scientific hypotheses that are proposed in a non-testable non-falsifiable manner aren’t really scientific or rational or in any other way useful outside of science fiction.

      So, the question is why you place “value” on the message of Christ or anything else in the Bible beyond what you would place on any other good moral fable? There’s a difference between those who appreciate the inherent goodness of the values promoted by Christ and those who actually believe in the miraculous stories told about Christ as being literally true. Many have thought to remove all the miracles from the Bible and only accept the moral message of Christ. However, to remove the historical reality of the virgin birth, the miracles performed by Christ to include His power to raise the dead, and finally to undermine the claim to His own resurrection from the dead, is to undermine the key claims of Jesus to be the very Son of God and the One who will give all who accept Him eternal life.

      You seem to have “faith” only in the moral message of the Bible, which is fine, but you have no real faith in many of the miraculous claims of the Bible regarding fantastic historical events – to include those that Jesus Himself is said to have recognized and performed. What you have, then, is a very limited faith that is in no way a rational basis for hope or faith in all that Jesus claimed to be or do.

      You consider it wishful thinking to accept a Christian perspective and have faith in a spiritual encounter with God in the face of overwhelming evidence in the physical world for long ages, common ancestry and a natural process for origins.

      If the very basis of Christianity resides in the claims of the Bible, and the Bible is shown to be fundamentally unreliable in those claims that can be tested and potentially falsified, then upon what rational basis can anyone accept the metaphysical claims of the Bible? vs. the claims of any other competing option? Why the Bible and Jesus? Why not the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an or any other book claiming to speak for God?

      You really cannot respond to these questions in a meaningful manner when you yourself claim that your position is not a rational position. You can’t have it both ways. That is why it really isn’t worth your time even trying to argue in a rational way when you admittedly have no rational basis for discussion.

      In claiming the mantle of orthodox Adventism I think your writing lacks a long term perspective on Adventism and its growth in understanding and practice. It arose from a message that was in most respects wrong. If I am to believe your statement about rationalism and monolithic structure of belief as an orthodoxy you would among the majority that left the Advent movement after 1844. Would you have also left later when the closed door theory was discarded. When the church after much divergence of opinion became trinitarian, at 1888 when the church moved from a catholic to a protestant position on righteousness by faith? When EG White embraced the Sanatoriums and largely discarded the reliance on the water cure of her vision of 1864 for the evidence based approach championed by her protege Kellog? In 1919 when the church reconsidered the role of EG White. When it became a church and published QOD? When at Glacier View it largely accepted Des Ford’s views on the sanctuary in Hebrews? We have changed our orthodoxy in the past and the preamble to the fundamental beliefs recognizes that we are likely to again.

      The understanding of truth is not monolithic. Truth itself is monolithic and does not change. However, our understanding or approximation of it can grow over time as more of it is discovered. As our understanding grows over time prior errors may be corrected as the “weight of evidence” changes. Again, however, a rational change in belief or faith is based on a change in the perceived weight of evidence. You are immune from even the potential of such changes in faith or belief because your faith is not based on the weight of evidence, but upon some mystical knowledge that is beyond the realm of evidence and rational thought.

      You also mistake the nature of truly privileged communication with God – such as the Biblical prophets and Ellen White claimed to experience. There was no vision from God suggesting His coming in 1844. This error was entirely based on a human misreading of the Biblical prophecies and were in direct conflict with the warning of Jesus that no one knows the time of His coming except for the Father (Mark 13:32). This mistake was realized when overwhelming empirical evidence falsified prior assumptions. Again, evidence played a key role in changing the beliefs and faith of the church founders. Also, you misunderstand the whole “closed door” and “Trinitarian” issues (Mrs. White was never a Unitarian and it was because of her visions that the founding fathers eventually accepted the Trinitarian view), as well as the debates over “righteousness by faith” (which Mrs. White ardently supported) and Mrs. Whites visions on health (which were never abandoned).

      Sure, prophets are human and are therefore subject to error and mistakes. However, the messages they receive from God are not in error if they are truly from God. In fact, the Bible proposes a test along these lines to determine the true from the false prophet. If what a prophet claims he/she was told by God doesn’t come true or is shown to be false, that is a “prophet” through whom God has not spoken. Deuteronomy 18:22

      In other words, you can’t have it both ways. A prophet cannot claim to represent God and yet be shown to be fundamentally wrong regarding the very statements that supposedly came from God.

      As you know the Church both Protestant and Catholic has been wrong on the science before [You should read what Luther thought of science]. Do you not think it may be wrong now? Do we reject Christianity when we find that our “biblical” views on astronomy and a geocentric universe were wrong. Are we to do it yet again when we find that we were perhaps mistaken in our beliefs in the area of origins.

      Again, what does the Bible itself say about science? where what is said is quoted as coming directly from God? There are views of empirical reality within the Bible that are not entirely accurate. But, such views are clearly those coming from a limited human perspective and are not being attributed to a Divine origin or Inspiration. This is not true with regard to the literal nature of the 7-day Creation Week or of the world-wide nature of the Noachian Flood, etc. Such are described as historical realities by the Biblical authors as being revealed by God Himself. And, from the Adventist perspective, Mrs. White also claims to have been shown, directly by God, the literal nature of the 7-day Creation Week within recent human history.

      Such claims cannot be overturned without completely undermining the credibility of both the writers of Bible and Mrs. White as having any kind of privileged communication with God.

      Do we turn tail and run when we find that the evidence is actually overwhelmingly against us or do we like the believers in 1844 say perhaps we are fallible and have misinterpreted the Word of God and say; for this pearl of great price; the Logos, the Grace of God I can endure a little cognitive discomfort and uncertainty for by faith I trust in His salvation.

      Not when it comes to such direct forms of claimed Divine revelation. One cannot easily misinterpret a descriptor of “evenings and mornings” without concluding that God simply doesn’t know how to communicate in any kind of human language system – especially when He reiterates, to a modern prophet, the very same claims for the literal nature of the 7-day creation week and Noachian Flood.

      You further denigrate this concept with your statement equating a mature faith with simply wishful thinking since it is beyond your own mind. I know you think you have an outstanding analytical mind and indeed that may be true but I’m not sure I can accept it reaching to heaven itself.

      You’re the one telling me that your faith is beyond rational thought or even the potential of testing or falsification – reaching up to heaven itself? That’s quite a claim. And, I’m happy for you. However, what does such a mystical faith experience have to offer anyone else besides yourself? anyone who exists outside of your own mind? Where is the rational basis upon which you can suggest that anyone else should consider your own ideas regarding the existence and nature of God superior to any other competing ideas regarding the same?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      P.S. I really hope you don’t truly subscribe to the notion that those who serve in the military or the police force cannot be good Christians. I have never met better people than during my time serving in the US Army. You do realize that the freedoms this country (and yours) enjoy are very expensive? Governments “do not bear the sword for nothing” (Romans 13:4). If there were no standing army or police force, how long do you think the relative peace of civil society would last in your country? Hmmmm?

      View Comment
    • @pauluc: @pauluc:

      When at Glacier View [the church] largely accepted Des Ford’s views on the sanctuary in Hebrews?

      Desmond Ford Admits His Duplicity (Graffiti in the Holies)

      CHINA LETTERS
      D A V I D L I N

      David Lin’s letters and articles appeared in various Adventist periodicals at a time when Desmond Ford’s teachings were the center of attention in the Adventist church. Due to a revival of interest in him in recent years many readers have requested that Lin’s analysis of Ford’s theology be published in book form.

      http://amazingdiscoveries.org/webstore/ca/p/lin-china-letters-book

      CHINA LETTERS

      http://www.temcat.com/003-Advent-H-History/China-Letters-1.pdf

      Like Chess Players
      We succeeded in removing a cancer. But the process which led up to it was an exposure of our naivety. The Chinese have a saying that in a game of chess, the onlooker has a better grasp of the situation than the contestants. It might be so in this case. On one side of the chess board was Desmond Ford, and on the other the committee of 120. And after the game was over, Ford exulted over the fact that his 120 antagonists had been pulled over to his side, because “the brethren had made tremendous progress in the past few days and that the church’s position was closer to his than it had ever been before. He expressed the thought that if we have come thus far in four days, imagine how far the church will go in four years in changing its position.” Ministry, October 1980, pg. 9

      Should We Cover Heresy? Or Divulge It?
      The reluctance of our leaders to treat Ford as an open foe even in the face of his bold attacks against the fundamentals of our faith may be attributed in part to sentimental reasons. Old friendship ties blinded their eyes to his true identity. As we overdid ourselves in being honest, generous, and fair, it eventually dawned on us that he was employing the double-dealing tactics of the arch-deceiver.

      “we are disgusted with the slipshod thinking of this “peer” of Adventist theologians. If Londis, who was present at Glacier View, would seriously consider all the cases of poor methodology in Ford’s use of sources, his wild, sweeping assertions and purposeful falsification of evidence (as best exposed in Ralph Larson’s “Reply”), Londis would blush to own him as his peer, much less express sympathy for his lost cause. In his zeal to win recognition for the new generation of Adventist theologians, Londis has chosen a poor specimen. When we first stepped into the water to wade across this “Ford,” we were fearful of being drowned in its depths, but now we know that we were intimidated by Londis’ attempt to magnify the office of our “experts.” Actually, the
      profoundest thoughts Ford can present are ankle-deep.”

      View Comment
      • @AzGrandpa:

        My only contention was that the view of Hebrews was different after Glacier view. A point that David Lim admits in chapter 23 of his book with the statment;

        “THE April 1985 issue of the Ministry reprinted an Adventist Review article,
        “Issues in the Book of Hebrews,” which addressed the questions, “Does Hebrews 6:19-
        20 indicate that Christ entered the Most Holy Place at His ascension?” and “Does
        Hebrews teach that the Day of Atonement type was fulfilled at Calvary?” This article
        represents the official attitude of the General Conference regarding these questions,
        since it was prepared by the officially appointed Daniel and Revelation Committee.”

        He then goes on to critique this statement from the Daniel and Revelation committee.

        I am quite sure Lin was a sincere man but he was certainly not at glacier view and it is not clear that he has actually read Fords book on the investigative judgement that was prepared for that meeting.

        View Comment
        • @pauluc:

          Hebrews 9:3-5

          Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

          3 Behind the second parokhet was a tent called the Holiest Place, 4 which had the golden altar for burning incense and the Ark of the Covenant, entirely covered with gold. In the Ark were the gold jar containing the man, Aharon’s rod that sprouted and the stone Tablets of the Covenant; 5 and above it were the k’ruvim representing the Sh’khinah, casting their shadow on the lid of the Ark — but now is not the time to discuss these things in detail.

          It is obvious there are two vails.

          The Greek word for “sanctuary” in this chapter is ta hagia which means “the— plural.” hagia means “holies,” or “holy places.” Paul is speaking of the sanctuary of two holy places, or rooms. Ta hagia is used only nine times in the N.T., and all are in the book of Hebrews (8:2; 9:1,2,8,12,24,25; 10:19; 13:11). Paul defines terms in 9:1-3, where he tells us about the entire sanctuary, then the first apartment, and then the second apartment. He gives us two meanings of ta hagia: 9:1 (“sanctuary”)—the entire sanctuary of two apartments, and 9:2 (“sanctuary”)—the first apartment. Ta hagia means the entire sanctuary, but in 9:2 he applied it only to the first apartment. Can ta hagia also mean “second apartment?” No, it cannot, for in 9:3, Paul specifically tells us the word he has in mind when he speaks of the most holy place,—and he uses a different Greek word: hagia hagion (“holy of holies”—literally). The King James Version correctly translates ta hagia in 9:24 (“holy places”), and incorrectly translates it in 9:8 (“holiest of all”), and 10:19 (“the holiest”). In 9:12 and 9:25 it gives “holy place.” Ta hagia can only mean “first apartment” or “two-apartmented sanctuary,” and nothing else. On the basis of the correct meaning of ta hagia, Jesus did not enter once and for all into the most holy place in 31 A.D. He entered the sanctuary and first apartment then.

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  25. Sean

    So the answer is yes Yes YES, you absolutely stand by your threat:

    “This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” Educate truth 19 Aug 2011 “Biblical Interpretation” by Sean Pitman”

    In answer to your nonsense question about a supposed direct correlation between knowledge and faith I would simply ask you to read Hebrews 11. Do you really think this supports the notion that faith increases as certainty increases?

    “1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

    3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

    4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

    5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

    8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

    13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

    17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

    20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

    21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

    22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

    23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

    24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

    29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

    30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

    31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

    32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

    39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

    Nowhere does it say here that faith was because they had great intellectual gifts that could calculate the probability of truth much much better than any of their peer. That they had knowledge above all scientists and could with impunity disregard anything they might say. That they could consider any theologian or student of the biblical text or any historian as dross because they themselves had looked assidiously into all these things and knew it was true by the weight of evidence. No it simply says

    “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

    “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

    In terms of science I was going to ask you to look at the recent data on DUF1220 but I tire of the tedious repetition here. To give you a hint, the DUF1220 are the human specific repetive elements in a couple of genes that define some of the unique characteristics of the human brain. I can not at all see that there is any 1000fsaars limit in any of these genes or any of the other genes associated with mans unique brain structure unless you invoke some very creative accounting. I will leave that with you to show us the data and the interpretation. Unlike the ENCODE study or the Eugene I. Shakhnovich mutation data, I fear the DUF1220 data will not be making the rounds of the literal creationist sites so you will not be able to scrape the information that way. Incidently I was interested to see he damns with faint praise such site from min 35 in the video you linked http://cssb.biology.gatech.edu/node/2961.

    View Comment
    • @pauluc:

      In answer to your nonsense question about a supposed direct correlation between knowledge and faith I would simply ask you to read Hebrews 11. Do you really think this supports the notion that faith increases as certainty increases?

      Yet again, you didn’t actually answer my “nonsense” question:

      Did Jesus’ disciples have more or less faith after the Resurrection?

      Did Paul himself have more or less faith after his vision on the road to Damascus where he personally saw and heard Jesus? Do you think Paul (Saul) would have changed his mind if Jesus had not given him this extra bit of evidence?

      Paul demonstrated to all who heard him that his change of faith was not from impulse nor fanaticism, but was brought about by overwhelming evidence. – Ellen White, LP, p 33

      In this light, do you really think Hebrews 11 (which some suggest was probably written by Paul) is about a type of faith that has no basis in evidence or any form of rational thought? Why did Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, etc., believe in what was not yet seen? Because of blind faith? Really? No. Not at all. They believed in what was not yet in hand because of the Word of a God whom they did know and had proved through many past experiences – experiences or evidences which established a very rational faith in His Word regarding the future.

      When the Bible says, “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”, this is an expression of the results of faith – not the reason for faith.

      It’s like when I told my little three year old boy that I was going to get him a bicycle for his birthday. He really believed me and got all excited before he actually had the bike in hand. Why did he believe me? Because, he had past experience with me and had evidence that I actually do what I tell him I will do.

      The same is true for the patriarchs in the Bible. They all had very good evidence that God exists and that He will do what He says He will do. If they did not have this evidence, they would be no more rational or praiseworthy that those who go about believing anything that any Joe-blow tells them or who are prone to wishful fanciful thinking.

      In short, nowhere in the Bible is there a promotion of blind faith or wishful thinking or any kind of faith that has no basis in evidence. All the accounts of faith listed in the Bible are based on solid evidence, the weight of evidence, that God has provided. That is why I believe that Jesus will really come back to this Earth again to take His children home to live with Him for eternity – because I recognize the evidence of His reliability throughout the Bible in those elements that can be tried and tested.

      As the Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias points out, “What your mind rejects, your life will eventually reject also, however close it may be to your heart.”

      Nowhere does it say here that faith was because they had great intellectual gifts that could calculate the probability of truth much much better than any of their peer. That they had knowledge above all scientists and could with impunity disregard anything they might say. That they could consider any theologian or student of the biblical text or any historian as dross because they themselves had looked assidiously into all these things and knew it was true by the weight of evidence. No it simply says

      “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

      “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

      Again, why should one believe that God exists, much less rewards the righteous, without any solid evidence upon which to base such a fantastic belief? while rejecting any other admittedly irrational beliefs? – like the existence of Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Outside of wishful thinking, why have faith in one particular story of God’s existence and His desire to reward you? – just because you especially like that story? That’s it?

      In terms of science I was going to ask you to look at the recent data on DUF1220 but I tire of the tedious repetition here. To give you a hint, the DUF1220 are the human specific repetive elements in a couple of genes that define some of the unique characteristics of the human brain. I can not at all see that there is any 1000fsaars limit in any of these genes or any of the other genes associated with mans unique brain structure unless you invoke some very creative accounting. I will leave that with you to show us the data and the interpretation. Unlike the ENCODE study or the Eugene I. Shakhnovich mutation data, I fear the DUF1220 data will not be making the rounds of the literal creationist sites so you will not be able to scrape the information that way. Incidently I was interested to see he damns with faint praise such site from min 35 in the video you linked http://cssb.biology.gatech.edu/node/2961.

      It isn’t any one gene or genetic sequence, but the minimum system requirements needed for a particular system to produce a particular function that forms basis for measuring levels of functional complexity.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      P.S.

      God never asks us to believe anything without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith. – Ellen White, SC, p. 105

      The word of God, like the character of its Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. But God has given in the Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine authority. His own existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. True, He has not removed the possibility of doubt; faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration; those who wish to doubt have opportunity; but those who desire to know the truth find ample ground for faith. – Ellen White, ED, p. 169

      “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.” Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church 4:232, 233; Testimonies for the Church 5:675, 676. MOL 497.2

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  26. It is to be noted that the most abject kind of faith in creation is being advocated by some of our most articulate scientists. Instinctively this would seem a curious compartmentalization of thought. But maybe not. Could it simply be the natural carrying over into creation science the fresh newly apotheosized and unquestioning evolutionary science, court and curriculum mandated?

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  27. Since Sean is mischaracterizing my position on faith thinking it blind I thought I should look up wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith to see that the general consensus is on what is faith.

    I believe my views are totally in line with mainstream Christian view of faith.

    Faith in Christianity is based on the work and teachings of Jesus Christ.[8] Christianity declares not to be distinguished by faith, but by the object of its faith. Rather than being passive, faith leads to an active life aligned with the ideals and the example of the life of Jesus. It sees the mystery of God and his grace and seeks to know and become obedient to God. To a Christian, faith is not static but causes one to learn more of God and grow, and has its origin in God.[9]

    ” In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks a greater understanding of God. Faith is not fideism or simple obedience to a set of rules or statements.[10] Before the Christian has faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith. Without understanding, there cannot be true faith and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the believer.[11] In English translations of the New Testament, the word faith generally corresponds to the Greek noun πίστις (pistis) or the Greek verb πιστεύω (pisteuo), meaning “to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure”.[12] The Bible says that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

    Out of interest I note this critique of faith attributed to Richard Dawkins

    “Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins criticizes all faith by generalizing from specific faith in propositions that conflict directly with scientific evidence. He describes faith as mere belief without evidence; a process of active non-thinking. He states that it is a practice that only degrades our understanding of the natural world by allowing anyone to make a claim about nature that is based solely on their personal thoughts, and possibly distorted perceptions, that does not require testing against nature, has no ability to make reliable and consistent predictions, and is not subject to peer review.”

    which bears an uncanny resemblance to the position Sean takes with his criticism of his strawman construct of “blind faith” and his mantra which he seems to stand by though given the chance on at least 3 occasions to recant.

    “This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” Educate truth 19 Aug 2011 “Biblical Interpretation” by Sean Pitman”

    Seems Sean had a huge investment in confirmation bias and not considering data that might create doubt. I wonder if everyone on this site feels the same way? Wesley? AZgranpa?

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    • @pauluc:

      I ask, yet again:

      Did Jesus’ disciples have more or less faith after the Resurrection?

      You’re the one telling me that faith need not be tied to or dependent upon evidence or rational thought. Let me ask you, how else would you define fideism other than a type of faith or belief that has no required basis in evidence or rational thought? I’m probably confused yet again here, but didn’t you just admit, in this very thread, that you subscribe to a form of fideism?

      In this forum, you need to consider how the founders of the Adventist Church defined faith (as noted in my prior response), not now some Wiki article defines faith. An understanding of the object of one’s faith or belief is not the same thing as having a rational basis in evidence for faith or belief or in the actual empirical existence of the object of faith. It’s like saying that having a good understanding of Vishnu or being a part of a community that believes in Vishnu is all it takes to establish “faith” – independent of any actual evidence that can be used to rationally support the existence of Vishnu.

      Dawkins has a very good point regarding this particular issue. How is your faith in the existence of Jesus and His supposed care for you any different than someone else’s faith in any other imaginary entity that happens to have the support of a community of believers? Upon what basis should anyone choose one particular faith among all the competing options? – without any appeal to empirical evidence of any kind or any rational argument outside of cultural tradition or the beliefs of one’s ancestors? Again, doesn’t this just boil down to personal desire? If not, please do explain to me what else there is backing up your faith position? In short, please address my very simple question about what happened to the faith of Jesus’ disciples after they witnessed His Resurrection. Did their faith increase, decrease, or stay the same?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  28. Did the disciples have more or less faith after the resurrection? This is a semantic argument. Do you make a distinction between belief and faith? If you concatenate faith and belief then you will come to different conclusions that I do when I make a distinction between the 2. Obviously after a demonstration [evidence] they have stronger belief but was there less requirement for faith? If by faith you mean the Hebrews 11 faith that acts when there is uncertainty or lack of evidence then they clearly needed less faith when the evidence was clear.

    Your premise that evidence and faith are positively correlated only makes sense if you think faith is belief. If as I suggest faith is what carries you beyond evidence then there is a negative correlation between evidence/belief and faith.

    Concerning wiki I was simply suggesting that this is the consensus view of faith. If you disagree then get on there and change it if you have the evidence.

    “I’m probably confused yet again here, but didn’t you just admit, in this very thread, that you subscribe to a form of fideism?”

    Not exactly. I said that I would be happy to be included among those philosophers to whom the designation was applied as I do appreciate their emphasis on God as a revelation not something we can appreciate or apprehend by rational thought alone. To me faith is action in the absence of data and is not the same as belief.

    To go back a few steps in the logic. As I have expressed it on many occasions here I am committed to rationalism and naturalistic premise of science as a way of understanding the natural world for I believe it is consistent and true. Like you I practice medicine in exactly the same evidence base way that does not rely on miracles. It is clear that the anthropic principle argues for at least some conception of a purpose or some diety. I do not at all think that rationalism can take us beyond that point. I do not ascribe to some God of the gaps that can give us certainty in understanding the natural world or fill in our ignorance but consider there are and always will be gaps where we can only honestly say we do not know but there is no reason to abandon the premise of methodological naturalism.

    As a scientist I appreciate that there is expertise in all areas of knowledge and investigation. I take scholarship as a serious enterprise undertaken by honest men in good faith. They are wrong on occasions but that is the nature of scholarship; to root out error and correct it with better understandings. I do not at all imagine that the textual criticism and higher criticism of the scripture has no real basis or that any holy text cannot be subject to analysis by rational process. I understand that any position has a history. I know there were very many sacred writings that did not become canonical and that God likely inspired the writers of these texts in as far as they often have parallels in the canonical text. I do not pretend that there is overwhelming or predominance of evidence in an objective sense that would support the Christian canon as being an absolutely accurate account of actual events notwithstanding popularist contributions such as Lee Strobel’s. In this objective sense do I even know if the account of the resurrection was true? We can rationalize and propose probabilities but we do not truly know except by a leap of faith.

    And that is where I stand as a Christian. There is uncertainty that only increases with the investigation but I accept that God is revealing himself in Jesus and accept that premise by faith. A faith born of the spirit.

    “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

    You ask
    “How is your faith in the existence of Jesus and His supposed care for you any different than someone else’s faith in any other imaginary entity that happens to have the support of a community of believers? ”

    It is not but I have a witness. I have seen the Grace of God and his call to discipleship and accept his commission to tell the good news of his Grace and his Kingdom. A call to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” That is faith. To create an edifice based on your own assumptions and intellect and think it unassailable and completely logical is to assume omniscience is frankly delusional.

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    • @pauluc:

      Did the disciples have more or less faith after the resurrection? This is a semantic argument.

      It’s not a semantic argument at this point. It’s just a simple question:

      Did the Resurrection have any affect on the disciple’s faith? – yes or no?

      However, I do understand why you really don’t want to directly answer this question – despite the fact that the answer is obvious to the vast majority of people.

      Do you make a distinction between belief and faith?

      Yes, but that doesn’t answer my question…

      As far as faith vs. belief, it is impossible to have faith without belief. However, it is possible to have belief without faith. As you point out, “the devils also believe and tremble” (James 2:19). The difference, of course is that the devils do not love the truth. They do not love God or what they know is true. Therefore, faith is superior to belief only in that faith also requires that one love that which is known to be true.

      If you concatenate faith and belief then you will come to different conclusions that I do when I make a distinction between them. Obviously after a demonstration [evidence] they have stronger belief but was there less requirement for faith? If by faith you mean the Hebrews 11 faith that acts when there is uncertainty or lack of evidence then they clearly needed less faith when the evidence was clear.

      Again, you misunderstand Hebrews 11 as describing the basis of faith when it is in fact describing the results of faith. That is why you define faith as being opposed to evidence. You argue that an increase in evidence results in a decrease in faith. That is not a Biblical concept. The Bible describes them as going hand-in-hand. Faith always increases as evidence increases (as long as there is a love of truth).

      Upon what basis does the faith of my own son increase in me and my love for him? Does this increase in faith not have a basis in increasing evidence in his mind?

      Think about it. If the disciples of Jesus had maintained their faith in Him as the Son of God at his death, they would not have been fearful. If their faith remained, they would not have hidden in the upper room, trembling for their very lives. They would not have run away when Jesus was captured in the garden.

      It was only after the Resurrection that the disciples became strong in their faith in Jesus as the true Son of God. Before this time, their faith was shakable. After this time their faith was unshakable – even in the face of a painful martyr’s death.

      Over and over again the Bible ties faith in with evidence. Consider the following examples of this:

      The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. – John 11:44-45

      Many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” – John 7:31

      [Regarding the miracle of turning water into wine] This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. – John 2:11

      Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. – John 2:23

      He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” – John 3:2

      And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. – Exodus 14:31

      And the list goes on and on. Perhaps John is foremost in the New Testament pointing out evidences for Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God – evidences which John calls “signs”. John refers to these signs as a reason why people did and should put their faith in Jesus and believe His claims. Without the demonstration of these “signs” there really would have been no rational reason to have faith in Jesus as the Son of God vs. the claims of any other rabbi of the day.

      Your premise that evidence and faith are positively correlated only makes sense if you think faith is belief. If as I suggest faith is what carries you beyond evidence then there is a negative correlation between evidence/belief and faith.

      Not true. Belief also carries one beyond evidence. Any scientist who believes a particular hypothesis or theory to be “most likely true” is going beyond what the evidence itself can definitively support. So, belief also requires a “leap of faith” beyond that which can be definitively known. Therefore, in this regard, faith has no advantage over belief.

      Concerning wiki I was simply suggesting that this is the consensus view of faith. If you disagree then get on there and change it if you have the evidence.

      There’s no point in trying to change a consensus view on Wiki. It will just get deleted. The problem with using Wiki for your reference is that the consensus or popular view isn’t always right.

      “I’m probably confused yet again here, but didn’t you just admit, in this very thread, that you subscribe to a form of fideism?”

      Not exactly. I said that I would be happy to be included among those philosophers to whom the designation was applied as I do appreciate their emphasis on God as a revelation not something we can appreciate or apprehend by rational thought alone. To me faith is action in the absence of data and is not the same as belief.

      Isn’t that the very definition of fideism? – i.e., a type of faith that is independent of evidence?

      To go back a few steps in the logic. As I have expressed it on many occasions here I am committed to rationalism and naturalistic premise of science as a way of understanding the natural world for I believe it is consistent and true. Like you I practice medicine in exactly the same evidence base way that does not rely on miracles. It is clear that the anthropic principle argues for at least some conception of a purpose or some diety. I do not at all think that rationalism can take us beyond that point. I do not ascribe to some God of the gaps that can give us certainty in understanding the natural world or fill in our ignorance but consider there are and always will be gaps where we can only honestly say we do not know but there is no reason to abandon the premise of methodological naturalism.

      So, you’re a deist. That is your view of God? – nothing more? You do not have a belief or faith in a God that is detectable as personally interacting with anything in this universe in a manner that is evident as deliberate and intelligent?

      As a scientist I appreciate that there is expertise in all areas of knowledge and investigation. I take scholarship as a serious enterprise undertaken by honest men in good faith. They are wrong on occasions but that is the nature of scholarship; to root out error and correct it with better understandings. I do not at all imagine that the textual criticism and higher criticism of the scripture has no real basis or that any holy text cannot be subject to analysis by rational process. I understand that any position has a history. I know there were very many sacred writings that did not become canonical and that God likely inspired the writers of these texts in as far as they often have parallels in the canonical text. I do not pretend that there is overwhelming or predominance of evidence in an objective sense that would support the Christian canon as being an absolutely accurate account of actual events notwithstanding popularist contributions such as Lee Strobel’s. In this objective sense do I even know if the account of the resurrection was true? We can rationalize and propose probabilities but we do not truly know except by a leap of faith.

      Again, you are defining knowledge in absolute terms. That’s not the correct definition of knowledge. Very little that we think we know about the world in which we find ourselves do we know with absolute certainty. That is why science is not based on absolute knowledge, but upon the weight of evidence. The same can be said for faith. It is possible to base one’s faith upon the weight of evidence. This is the type of faith promoted by the Bible. While you may not have seen the Resurrection, those that did see it were able to use it as the basis for their strong faith in the face of otherwise overwhelming obstacles. Today, we have other evidences that are, collectively, just as remarkable and therefore have, if appropriately recognized, the power to sustain a very strong faith in the face of otherwise overwhelming obstacles.

      And that is where I stand as a Christian. There is uncertainty that only increases with the investigation but I accept that God is revealing himself in Jesus and accept that premise by faith. A faith born of the spirit.

      “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

      You ask “How is your faith in the existence of Jesus and His supposed care for you any different than someone else’s faith in any other imaginary entity that happens to have the support of a community of believers? ”

      It is not but I have a witness. I have seen the Grace of God and his call to discipleship and accept his commission to tell the good news of his Grace and his Kingdom. A call to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” That is faith. To create an edifice based on your own assumptions and intellect and think it unassailable and completely logical is to assume omniscience is frankly delusional.

      You don’t think the call to “taste and see” is a call to empirically test the claims of God? – to establish a personal form of evidence upon which to base one’s faith? A “taste test” is a scientific type of test – or at least it can be.

      Also, you continue to bring up this notion of absolute knowledge. You argue that I consider my position unassailable. Yet, you also claim, at the same time, that my faith is fragile because of the fact that my faith position is open to the potential for falsification. How can you have it both ways? How can my position be unassailable and assailable at the same time? The reality is that it is your position, not mine, that is unassailable because you do not allow for even the potential of falsification. You do not allow your faith positions to be subjected to any kind of test. You can’t be wrong – by definition!

      You also seem to suggest that there is no useful or reliable knowledge short of absolute knowledge. You don’t seem to recognize the value of the weight of evidence. Again, do you not know that this notion of yours (where you appear to negate the value of partial or limited knowledge) is inherently opposed to all forms of scientific and rational thinking in general?

      I also think it quite interesting that one who admittedly believes in what you describe as an “irrational position” thinks himself clear to call the faith or beliefs of anyone else “delusional”. How do you know that your irrational faith position is at all superior to that of anyone else? – if you have no generally accessible evidence upon which to make such a determination?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  29. Belief and faith

    “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
    – Daniel 3:17-18

    To paraphrase;
    i know that God is mighty and all powerful and can do anything he chooses. He may be the source that sustains us and actively intervenes in my every activity in a miraculous way.
    But even if he did no more than create only the natural laws that control our universe and allowed it to develop in a continuing creative process over long eons of time I will still not forsake him, serve other Gods and retreat to nihilism or humanism.

    Thats it; belief and faith. Even the Devils believe; the children of faith steadfastly follow God.

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    • @pauluc:

      Daniel’s friends were able to stand firm in this case precisely because they had been given abundant evidence of the existence and love of God prior to this particular trial. They did not stand blindly, without evidence to back up their position. Do you not remember the evidence of Daniel’s dream, given to him by God, regarding the vision of Nebuchadnezzar?

      Your view of a God that could have actually used naturalistic mechanisms to create living things over eons of time through an extremely painful and even evil processes of the “survival of the fittest” is a very distorted view of God. This is not the God of the Bible where God is portrayed and taking notice and experiencing pain when even a small sparrow falls wounded to the ground (Matthew 10:29).

      It seems like you want to believe in any kind of God, regardless of what that God is really like, in order to avoid what you see as your only alternative – nihilism. This is not true for me. I would prefer nihilism to the reality of a God who creates using such evil methods. I would not like to live forever in such a place.

      Thankfully, God has granted to tell us, through the medium of the written Word, about His own love and power – power which is strong enough to create a vast array of living things in an instant, without the need for trial and error over eons of time. After all, if you believe in a literal resurrection of the dead, you must also believe that God is in fact powerful enough to create in this manner.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  30. Jesus said to believe His Words based on His works. (Evidence). What if on the other hand – he lived his life as a drunk in the gutter saying — “believe that I am the Messiah even though you have no evidence of such a thing”?

    That is what our blind faith evolutionists claim about Christianity being nonsensical.

    Those who saw the empty tomb and the angels were called upon to believe – and then others were called upon to believe the eye witnesses of those facts just as in a courtroom today.

    According to Paul in Romans 1 “they are without excuse” precisely BECAUSE the “invisible attributes of God … are CLEARLY SEEN in the things that have been MADE” (by God).

    in Christ,

    Bob

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  31. “What if on the other hand – he lived his life as a drunk in the gutter saying — “believe that I am the Messiah even though you have no evidence of such a thing”?”

    Matt 11:16
    “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
    17“‘We played the flute for you,
    and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’

    18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

    Sean Pitman
    “I would prefer nihilism to the reality of a God who creates using such evil methods.”

    Philipians 2:6
    Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
    7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
    8 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!

    Why do we accept the death of the cross as the defining moment of reconcilation of man to God but shy away from creation as eminating from acts of sacrificial death?

    And in the most excellent pharisaic tradition we sacrifice God once again on the alter of our certainty.

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    • @pauluc:

      So, why don’t you have faith that some drunk calling to you from the gutter today, claiming to be Jesus, really is God? Why don’t you have faith in the claims of Joseph Smith? After all, millions of people do have faith in his claims. There’s also a long tradition here to boot. Or, what if I claimed to be God (very effectively disguised of course)? would you put your faith in me? No? Why not?

      You’re just not making any sense here when it comes to why someone should or shouldn’t put his/her faith in something or someone in particular among many competing options (which I guess is the whole point of fideism). I think you know it, but are in too deep at this point to admit it. That is why you will not directly answer my question about the change in the faith of Jesus’ disciples following the Resurrection.

      The existence of other religions puts a fundamental question to fideists—if faith is the only way to know the truth of God, how are we to know which God to have faith in? Fideism alone is not considered an adequate guide to distinguish true or morally valuable revelations from false ones. An apparent consequence of fideism is that all religious thinking becomes equal. The major monotheistic religions become on par with obscure fringe religions, as neither can be advocated or disputed. As articulated by Friedrich Nietzsche, “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything” – at least not the type of faith that is independent of evidence or rational thought for anyone else outside of one’s own mind (Link)

      I also can’t believe that you think the torture and death of billions of sentient animals over eons of time can be justified as a “sacrificial death”. A sacrifice for what? And you wouldn’t mind living for eternity in such a place? It wouldn’t bother you at all?

      And, why would a God who suffers over the suffering and death of even a little sparrow call such a place “very good” (Genesis 1:31)? Why would He suggest that this place needs to be remade so that there is no more suffering and death for any sentient creature in His universe? – if it was all so perfect to begin with? (Romans 8:22)

      What you seem to be doing is creating your own God in whom you put your faith. Unless, of course, it is your claim that God has spoken directly to you in a manner that gives you greater privileged information about God than one can gain through other sources – like the Bible. As far as I can tell, you don’t seem to allow God to define Himself through the Bible since you view the Bible as being full of errors regarding supposedly miraculous acts of God throughout recorded history. So, you make up your own God that is really independent of the God of the Bible.

      Why then should I accept your version of God vs. the version described in the Bible? Are we going to create our own picture of God based on our own subjective inner feelings or needs or desires? I don’t think so. We need to let God speak to us through His own chosen medium that caries evidence of His own Divine Signature. For me, that medium is first and foremost, the Bible as the clearest revelation of God that we humans have ever been given.

      Therefore, what needs to be sacrificed here are the “gods” we humans have created for ourselves out of our own imaginations throughout history. In particular we need to sacrifice the notion of an evil God who desires to deliberately create in a manner calculated to cause untold suffering to the innocent. That notion, more consistent with the blood thirsty Gods of the heathen, is what needs to be sacrificed for all who call themselves Bible-believing Christians.

      “But wisdom is proved right by her actions…” – yet another Biblical appeal to testable evidence and reason as a basis of faith? You tell me, in what direction does neo-Darwinism tend to lead most minds who accept it? – toward the loving God of the Bible or away from Him?

      Cornell University professor William Provine once told a crowd in Tennessee on “Darwin Day” in 1998 that, “Darwinism is the greatest engine for atheism ever invented.” He went on to add, “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.” (Link) Likewise, Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins famously argued that, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”

      For those who accept as reality the claims of the neo-Darwinists, I would have to agree… unless, of course, you’re a fully committed fideist (very few truly are).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  32. You can rail against my acceptance of the current scientific models of physical reality as much as you want but that doesn’t change the overwhelming nature of that data. Your use of statements by Dawkins and Provine are really tiresome and you do not all believe them and use them only as some supposed rhetorical trick. You consider yourself superior to every scientist that may have spent their life investigating the various aspects of reality with which you disagree on the basis of what exactly? The superiority of your own mind.
    The essential difference between you and me is that I recognize both the overwhelming evidence for long ages of life on earth and the possibility of a natural origin of life as well as the legitimacy of the higher critical and textual criticism of the holy text. You do neither but what is the epistemological basis then of your Christianity? The certainty of the facts and evidences in your own mind.

    Let’s see what is the probability of the current scientific consensus from the data published in the more than 20 million scientific papers indexed in pubmed is closer to “the truth” than highly selected thoughts from Sean Pitman? [Bring on the arguments about truth and votes it only highlights further your hubris and lack of respect for anyone who may have considered these issues before you]

    This lack of respect for evidence may be of some concern but my real beef is that your faith in Christ is fragile and highly dependent on the house of cards that is your certainty and supreme confidence in your own abilities. That you alone among “scientist” and theologian have the right paradigm.
    And if you are wrong in one of these points then you consider all of Christianity in null and void and you would reject all aspects of Christian faith and I am sure call for others to follow you in your vendetta against faith, nascent though that critique may be at present.

    Im sorry I have seen enough messianic delusions in my life and you will pardon me if I do not want any part of your construct and do not want you to infest Adventist educational institutions with your essential hostility to the revelation of God in Jesus as the basis of Christian faith.

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    • @pauluc:

      I really see no point in continuing a discussion with someone who defines the topic under discussion as being completely beyond rational investigation and testability (a true fideist), who refuses to directly respond to simple relevant questions (such as if there was or wasn’t a change in faith of Jesus’ disciples following the Resurrection), and who continually misrepresents my positions despite repeated correction (such as your latest false claim that I do not recognize the revelation of God in Jesus as the basis of the Christian faith).

      You will also pardon me if I see it as rather ironic that you wish to prevent Adventist institutions from becoming infested with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  33. Sean Pitman: Because of this, as I’ve noted many times before, even agnostics and atheists can be saved.

    Very interesting proclamation, Dr. Pitman. A Kodak moment, showing one’s true colors.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      My true colors? colors I’ve shown off many times in this forum and this particular thread? It’s certainly no secret that I believe salvation is based on motive, the love of the truth, not the level of one’s actual knowledge.

      In any case, do you agree or disagree?

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  34. pauluc: Your premise that evidence and faith are positively correlated only makes sense if you think faith is belief. If as I suggest faith is what carries you beyond evidence then there is a negative correlation between evidence/belief and faith.

    I think you are correct, Pauluc, in pointing out this conflation in usage, which is a big problem that Dr. Pitman and his disciples overlook. Faith has multiple meanings (see, for example, http://tinyurl.com/9tsbk4x). The two most frequent are probably:

    1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something (i.e., belief, and the meaning Sean Pitman uses when describing the increase in faith the disciples gained after Christ’s resurrection).

    2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on convictions that extend beyond logical proof or material evidence (i.e., the faith that you and I and many others think of when we choose to believe something when data, or evidence, is unavailable or appears to be contradictory).

    In neither case is it necessary to assert that one’s position is “blind,” which is, as you point out, Sean’s straw man argument when elevating human reason above simple faith in God’s word. There is no sense in further discussion of faith versus evidence when the great defender of human reason insists that faith can meet only his own narrow definition (which includes blindness), and that any other use, including what others put in Wikipedia to convey contemporary meaning, must be wrong.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      However you wish to define faith, it is quite clear to most that the disciples of Jesus lost all faith in Jesus as the Son of God at His death on the cross. It wasn’t until after His Resurrection that they gained back their faith and had it strengthened far more than it ever was before they saw their Risen Savior.

      Clearly then, the authors of the New Testament wish to link faith with evidence. They specifically and deliberately link the change in the disciple’s faith with the realization of the empirical reality of the Resurrection of Jesus. This event changed everything for them. Clearly then, the type of faith described in the Bible is a faith that is in fact affected by the perceived weight of evidence that is made clear to the rational mind. Had Jesus not been physically raised from the dead as an empirical demonstration, all faith in Him as the Son of God would have been “in vain” – completely worthless. If the body of Jesus could be found, what would be the benefit of placing one’s faith in His claim to be the Son of God?

      As Paul put it, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:14,17

      Here Paul ties faith to empirical reality – to empirical evidence. He argues that without the reality of a particular historical event on this planet, faith in Christ would be completely useless. It is interesting then to note that the mere fact that one places one’s faith in something or someone doesn’t make it worthwhile or beneficial. Faith can be placed in all kinds of worthless individuals, objects or ideas. How then do we know, as Christians, that our faith in Jesus and His claim to the Godhead is at all meaningful? How do we know that our faith is not “vain” or ultimately “useless”? Because, our faith need not be blind to evidence or rational thought. Faith may be sustained by the weight of evidence that God has graciously given to us – a weight of evidence that has the ability to appeal to the rational candid mind that is honestly searching for truth.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  35. Sean

    You are absolutely right. I certainly do get frustrated in commenting here and too often it shows. I assume as a graduate of Adventist premier educational institution and a fellow practitioner of evidence based medicine you will have a certain perspective that you do not have. Because I do not understand how you can truly hold the positions you do I am want to misrepresent your true position. For that I apologize.
    You have every right to expect that comments from a Christian on your site should be delivered with a deal more charity than I have manifest.
    Again my apologies. As I have said before this site brings out the very worst in me and I must again take leave for the good of your readers and myself.

    Grace to you.

    View Comment
    • @pauluc:

      I wish you all the best as well…

      Even though I strongly disagree with your perspective and believe it to be destructive to the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, it seems to me that you are honest and sincere in your motivations. I respect that and personally believe that these elements form the basis of salvation in Christ. I see that the discussion here is about how we know what we think we know – not about salvation or one’s personal relationship with God (which I believe is based on motivation, the love of truth, not the amount of truth one actually comprehends).

      Again, all the best. I look forward in meeting you in Heaven someday, if not before then, when things will be much much clearer for both of us.

      Sincerely,

      Sean

      View Comment
  36. pauluc: I was led to Christianity neither by theological nor historical investigations but by this – that when I was fifty years old, having asked myself and all the learned men around me what I am and what is the meaning of my life, and received the answer that I am a fortuitous concatenation of atoms and that life has no meaning but is itself an evil, I fell into despair and wanted to put an end to my life; but remembered that formerly in childhood when I believed, life had a meaning for me, and that for the great mass of men about me who believe and are not corrupted by riches life has a meaning; and I doubted the validity of the reply given me by the learned men of my circle and I tried to understand the reply Christianity gives to those who live a real life. And I began to seek Christianity in the Christian teaching that guides such men’s lives. I began to study the Christianity which I saw applied in life and to compare that applied Christianity with its source.

    Most Christians, Pauluc, would congratulate you for your decision to serve Jesus, but it is readily overlooked at this website where being “wrong” on certain (non-salvational) issues earns you derision, put-downs, and a “get out of here, you don’t belong with us” (not to mention a swift boot in the rear). I apologize for the angry treatment from fellow SDAs who value rightness above tje only relationship by which men under heaven are saved.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      I also congratulate pauluc and all others who wish to follow the example of Jesus – for whatever reason (rational, non-rational, or irrational). Choosing to value and follow the ethical lifestyle of Christ has great value – even if one is not convinced with regard to those claims of Jesus having to do with fantastic historical events or other miraculous empirical realities (in the mode of those like Thomas Jefferson who also believed only in the ethics of Christ).

      I’m also not sure why you keep accusing me of valuing rightness over righteousness? – despite knowing that I’ve repeatedly pointed out, even in this very thread a few posts prior, that salvation is based on motive, not the level of one’s knowledge or “rightness”. Why then do you continue to misrepresent me like this?

      As you very well know, my real problem is not with those with whom I have doctrinal or scientific disagreements. My problem is with those who wish to attack the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church from the inside – while on the church’s dime. It’s fine to try to undermine the church from the outside – but not while claiming to represent the church as an official paid employee. For those who are determined to maintain such a course, I see no viable recourse but to remove them from their positions and invite them to seek employment elsewhere…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
    • @Professor Kent:
      Just to set the record straight. I fear you have here attributed to me a quote I have taken from Tolstoy in his book the Gospels in brief.

      My own crisis of faith was more prosaic and came after a time of increasing discomfort with the viability of the traditional Christian fundamentalist view of origins. As a graduate student I had an epiphany when I decided that God really didn’t need me to protect him from the truth and that there was on one hand compelling if not overwhelming evidence for common descent in genetics and on the other hand a compelling argument for a meaningful faith in Jesus within the Christian tradition.
      I resolved this dilemma in the opposite way to which Sean advocates and accept Jesus and the revelation of God by a leap of faith.

      View Comment
  37. Sean Pitman: It’s certainly no secret that I believe salvation is based on motive, the love of the truth, not the level of one’s actual knowledge.
    In any case, do you agree or disagree?

    I’m surprised that ultra-conservative SDAs like you and your disciples here would believe that an atheist, who avowedly believes there is no God, would be in heaven. Your heterodoxy, and its popularity here, is certainly very entertaining to a middle-of-the-road dude like myself.

    View Comment
    • @Professor Kent:

      I’m glad you’re entertained, but there are honest atheists out there who are sincerely ignorant of the evidence for the existence of a kind loving God who personally cares for them. The only view of God they’ve ever seen is a God who is evil, a God who delights in eternal torment of humans in the fires of Hell. Understandably, they reject such a God. However, these misguided individuals may still live a Christ-like life in their kind and tender treatment of their neighbors (without consciously knowing that they are being influences by the guidance of the Holy Spirit). They heed the “still small Voice” without realizing it.

      For example, Raoul Wallenberg, the WWII hero who saved over 100,000 Jews from the Nazi’s, was an atheist. Yet, he sacrificed himself for “the least of these”. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find someone like him in heaven sitting at the feet of Jesus hearing the true story about God for the very first time…

      Again, we are not saved based on our level of knowledge about God, but on if we love what little truth we have been given to know.

      The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  38. Sean Pitman:
    @Professor Kent:

    However you wish you defined faith, it is quite clear to most that the disciples of Jesus lost all faith in Jesus as the Son of God at His death on the cross. It wasn’t until after His Resurrection that they gained back their faith and had it strengthened far more than it ever was before they saw their Risen Savior.

    Clearly then, the authors of the New Testament wish to link faith with evidence. They specifically and deliberately link the change in the disciple’s faith with the realization of the empirical reality of the Resurrection of Jesus. This event changed everything for them. Clearly then, the type of faith described in the Bible is a faith that is in fact affected by the perceived weight of evidence that is made clear to the rational mind. Had Jesus not been physically raised from the dead as an empirical demonstration, all faith in Him as the Son of God would have been “in vain” – completely worthless. If the body of Jesus could be found, what would be the benefit of placing one’s faith in His claim to be the Son of God?

    As Paul put it, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith… your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:14,17

    Here Paul ties faith to empirical reality – to empirical evidence. He argues that without the reality of a particular historical event on this planet, faith in Christ would be completely useless. It is interesting then to note that the mere fact that one places one’s faith in something or someone doesn’t make it worthwhile or beneficial. Faith can be placed in all kinds of worthless individuals, objects or ideas. How then do we know, as Christians, that our faith in Jesus and His claim to the Godhead is at all meaningful? How do we know that our faith is not “vain” or ultimately “useless”? Because, our faith need not be blind to evidence or rational thought. Faith may be sustained by the weight of evidence that God has graciously given to us – a weight of evidence that has the ability to appeal to the rational candid mind that is honestly searching for truth.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    Your reasoning, again, is highly entertaining. To insist that one meaning of faith (referring unmistakably to belief) which increases with evidence clearly illustrates that all meanings or forms of faith are similarly buoyed by evidence is disengenuous.

    Ironically, the example itself is valid only when exercising faith.

    View Comment
    • @Professor Kent:

      Not according to the Bible. The Biblical authors clearly link the increase in the faith of Jesus’ disciples to the evidence of the Resurrection. Surely you can’t be suggesting that their faith remained intact at the cross while their belief took the hit? – that their belief caught up to their faith at the Ressurection?

      Are you suggesting that you can have faith without belief? Really? I see how it is possible to have belief without faith, but please do explain to me how one can have faith without belief?

      “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

      Again, notice that Paul ties faith to belief here… and belief is tied to evidence… etc. Faith is only superior to belief in that faith also requires a love of that which is believed to be true (i.e., a “love of the truth” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  39. Sean Pitman: My problem is with those who wish to attack the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church from the inside – while on the church’s dime

    Then why do you treat Pauluc as a problem? You know that he’s not on the church’s dime.

    View Comment
    • @Professor Kent:

      I didn’t go after Pauluc. Pauluc came after me. I have no problem with him doing his own thing on his own dime. However, when he comes after me and what I’m doing, I’m going to respond.

      Like you, Pauluc came to my forum telling me that pastors and teachers working for the Adventist Church should be allowed to preach and teach according to their own individual beliefs – even if they happen to be directly opposed to the primary goals and ideals of the church. Obviously, I disagree and gave him the respect of carefully explaining exactly why I disagree with his position.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
      • @Sean Pitman:
        This is not how I see it at all.

        1] I object to your vigilante attacks against teachers in an Adventist Educational institution. As a soldier you must understand order and process. As far as I can see problems at LSU have been resolved by process even if not to your satisfaction.

        2] An Adventist scientist should have respect for the consensus Adventist position but should not be expected to tell lies for God. Science depends on integrity not orthodoxy. An institute of higher education and research is different to a church; its meant unearth different perspectives and to contribute to new knowledge.

        3] A University is a hedge against the future but it does come with the cost of the uncertainty of academic freedom. As in biology, novelty and new knowledge are adaptive but the removal of variation you seem to favour is a deadend for an institution.

        View Comment
        • @pauluc:

          I did follow process and chain of command for many years within the church. I notified the leadership as to what was taking place. I even spoke several times at LSU on this issue. However, nothing was done of any substance. So, as any good soldier is required to do when harm threatens and the leadership is not doing anything about it, I finally sounded the alarm to the church at large so that no one would be tricked into sending their children to an institution claiming one thing but really doing the complete opposite.

          As far as scientists teaching in our schools “having respect” for the Adventist position, but still expecting “academic freedom” to teach contrary to the Adventist position according to their own conscience, that is not what Adventist education is about. If a professor cannot honestly support the Adventist position on origins or any other topic, that professor should remain true to his/her conscience and go and teach somewhere else.

          No one is asking any professor to “lie for Jesus”. That’s just ridiculous. What we’re asking for is professors who really believe in the Adventist position to take the job. We don’t want anyone to take the job just for the money (which would be pretty sad considering how meager professor’s salaries are in our own schools).

          In short, if you don’t believe that the Adventist position on origins is correct or that it is supported by the weight of evidence, go teach in the many many schools who wish to promote neo-Darwinism. Don’t try to pass off neo-Darwinism in our schools under the cloak of “Academic Freedom”…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          View Comment
        • @Sean Pitman:
          So do you have a different standard to everyone else?

          “So, as any good soldier is required to do when harm threatens and the leadership is not doing anything about it, I finally sounded the alarm to the church at large so that no one would be tricked into sending their children to an institution claiming one thing but really doing the complete opposite.”

          So you can go postal against Adventist educators in the name of God but an educator seeing danger in your extreme position which you unilaterally define as authentically “Adventist” should;

          “If a professor cannot honestly support the Adventist position on origins or any other topic, that professor should remain true to his/her conscience and go and teach somewhere else.”

          Why the double standard? You can protest the leaderships decisions but the teachers should just sneak away?

          You contend it ridiculous; “:No one is asking any professor to “lie for Jesus”.

          But in your criteria for educators you suggest exactly that; if they want the job;
          “In short, if you don’t believe that the Adventist position on origins is correct or that it is supported by the weight of evidence, go teach in the many many schools who wish to promote neo-Darwinism.”

          Whether they know it or not to contend that the weight of evidence favours the YEC/YLC position is in my view, and I would think the scientific community in general, telling lies for God, either through ignorance of the magnitude of the data or through lying to ones self thorough a mechanism of conformation bias.

          I would contest that in reality most Adventist educators in science including many at the GRI can and do accept that “the Adventist position on origins is correct” but reject the notion that “…it is supported by the weight of evidence…” It is the concatenation of these criteria that rankles.

          Is it your contention that people who have a doctrine of creation but accept it as it truly is “a faith position” cannot be tolerated or accepted in the Church as educators?

          View Comment
        • @pauluc:

          Why the double standard? You can protest the leaderships decisions but the teachers should just sneak away?

          What double standard are you talking about? I called out the Adventist leadership as well as the professors as being responsible for the problems at LSU. In fact, in many ways, the leadership is more responsible than are the professors for allowing anti-Adventist teaching to continue on for decades in our schools.

          Regardless, it isn’t right that anyone operate under the cloak of actually supporting Adventist goals and ideals when that isn’t what is really happening. Parents and students deserve, as moral right, upfront transparency from our leadership and our institutions about what they can really expect to receive for their hard-earned dollars.

          Advertising one thing while delivering something very different is called stealing. There simply is no other word for it. And, stealing is wrong in anyone’s book. There is no moral justification for it within our school system.

          You contend it ridiculous; “No one is asking any professor to “lie for Jesus”.

          But in your criteria for educators you suggest exactly that; if they want the job;

          If you’re going to lie to obtain or keep a job within the Adventist educational system, how is that the responsibility of the church? The church asks that only those who actually believe and wish to promote the clearly stated goals and ideals of the church apply for the job. Is it possible that some may lie to get or keep a job within the church? to include pastors? Of course, but that is on their heads. It is impossible for the employer to perfectly screen for motives – to always sort out those who are deliberately lying from those who are really being honest in informing the employer as to what they believe and wish to support.

          Really, if a professor is not good enough to get a job outside of the church school system, why would the church want to maintain such a professor anyway? It is not the church’s responsibility to guarantee anyone a job, much less those who wish to undermine the church’s primary goals and ideals.

          Whether they know it or not to contend that the weight of evidence favours the YEC/YLC position is in my view, and I would think the scientific community in general, telling lies for God, either through ignorance of the magnitude of the data or through lying to ones self thorough a mechanism of conformation bias.

          Oh please. So now you’re accusing me of lying for Jesus because I really do think that the significant weight of evidence clearly favors the Adventist position on origins? Even if I were ignorant as to some key piece of data out there in support of the Darwinian perspective (which I highly doubt), that wouldn’t make me a liar. Ignorance is not the same thing as deliberately lying. The fact that you try to equate them simply reflects on your own ignorance or the uncharitable passion you have for your own agenda.

          Is it your contention that people who have a doctrine of creation but accept it as it truly is “a faith position” cannot be tolerated or accepted in the Church as educators?

          There simply is no point for our church to hire any professor of science to tell students, “The best we have here is empirically blind faith against the otherwise overwhelming support of the science behind neo-Darwinism.” Anyone with a grain of rational intelligence would say, “So, why should I believe the Advenist position on origins? – if it makes absolutely no rational sense?”

          Again, we shoot ourselves in the foot by teaching in this manner vs. hiring professors (like Ariel Roth or Arthur Chadwick, etc) who actually do believe and teach that there is abundant evidence in favor of the Adventist position on origins – evidence which has the power to strengthen the faith of our young people.

          Now, if the church really does wish to become more fideistic in its approach to teaching science through the eyes of empirically blind faith, they have all the right to do so. It is just that they also have the obligation to inform parents and students and the church membership at large regarding what we all can expect to have our young people taught in our own schools.

          Transparency is a basic right which our church and our schools should guarantee…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          View Comment
  40. pauluc:
    @Professor Kent:
    Just to set the record straight. I fear you have here attributed to me a quote I have taken from Tolstoy in his book the Gospels in brief.

    My own crisis of faith was more prosaic and came after a time of increasing discomfort with the viability of the traditional Christian fundamentalist view of origins. As a graduate student I had an epiphany when I decided that God really didn’t need me to protect him from the truth and that there was on one hand compelling if not overwhelming evidence for common descent in genetics and on the other hand a compelling argument for a meaningful faith in Jesus within the Christian tradition.
    I resolved this dilemma in the opposite way to which Sean advocates and accept Jesus and the revelation of God by a leap of faith.

    Ahhh…the font errors with this thread (all italics) makes it difficult to distinguish a reader’s remarks from inserted quotes. I’m still pleased with how you handled your own crisis of faith, even though my position on origins is closer to Sean’s (albeit for different reasons) than yours.

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    • Sean Pitman: – Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 637-638

      This passage describes those who will be in heaven who were ignorant about Jesus and religion, not those we think of as “atheistic” who deliberately chose to reject God (and even more so those who rejected Jesus). I don’t think you’ll find scriptural or EGW support for your contention that such individuals will be in heaven.

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      • @Professor Kent:

        The principle of the passage remains. Is it possible for people to get a mistaken view of God? Of course. Most Christians would agree along these lines. Is it possible for such to still uphold the Royal Law to “love one’s neighbor as one’s self”? Yes. Therefore, the principle of the passage says that such are in line with the single point of judgement by which all lives will be judged…

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  41. Sean Pitman: I’m glad you’re entertained, but there are honest atheists out there who are sincerely ignorant of the evidence for the existence of a kind loving God who personally cares for them.

    I actually agree with you. I believe most SDAs would disagree and see your view in this regard (and mine) as way too liberal. And I don’t think you can readily support it from scripture (though of course you certainly believe you can).

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    • @Professor Kent:

      Romans 2:14-15

      When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another.” Thus Christ on the Mount of Olives pictured to His disciples the scene of the great judgment day. And He represented its decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering…

      Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.

      How surprised and gladdened will be the lowly among the nations, and among the heathen, to hear from the lips of the Saviour, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me”! How glad will be the heart of Infinite Love as His followers look up with surprise and joy at His words of approval!

      – Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 637-638

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  42. Sean Pitman: The Biblical authors clearly link the increase in the faith of Jesus’ disciples to the evidence of the Resurrection. Surely you can’t be suggesting that their faith remained intact at the cross while their belief took the hit? – that their belief caught up to their faith at the Ressurection?

    It depends on which meaning of faith is being used, as Pauluc pointed out. There’s no point deliberating this when you can’t acknowledge the different meanings of faith.

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  43. Sean Pitman: Like you, Pauluc came to my forum telling me that pastors and teachers working for the Adventist Church should be allowed to preach and teach according to their own individual beliefs – even if they happen to be directly opposed to the primary goals and ideals of the church.

    I have NEVER stated that pastors and teachers should be allowed to preach and teach according to their own individual beliefs, and you know it. Moreover, I don’t think Pauluc has made this argument either.

    We have both expressed our dismay at your heterodox views regarding faith and evidence and your public attacks against those who disagree with you. You and your disciples have criticized and ridiculed dozens of SDA faculty and administrators at all levels. You not only insist that all employees believe exactly as you do, but also for the same reasons. It’s not enough to believe and teach, for example, in Young Life Creationism. You insist that employees must teach that the “weight of evidence” favors this position, else they are unfit for employment. You ridicule anyone who believes that God’s word can be trusted at face value–including Richard Davidson, Mark Finley, Ed Zinke, and other leading luminaries of the Church like–by declaring their faith utterly useless. It’s your arrogant language and intolerance that irks us both.

    We also detest your cherry-picked use of data to support your views, which as Pauluc points out is highly subject to confirmation bias.

    In sum, we see you as a danger to the Church.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      I have NEVER stated that pastors and teachers should be allowed to preach and teach according to their own individual beliefs, and you know it. Moreover, I don’t think Pauluc has made this argument either.

      Pauluc has argued and continues to argue for “Academic Freedom” within Adventist schools that allows professors to teach contrary to the Adventist position on origins.

      Your position is different, but still contrary to the position of the Church on this issue. The Church, as an organization, has asked all who wish to be professors in our schools actively promote a scientific basis for the Adventist position on origins.

      In line with this sentiment, the Executive Committee of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church issued the following mandate to all boards and educators working for the Church:

      We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.

      As a response to the “An Affirmation of Creation–Report”, this document was accepted and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church Executive Committee at the Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 13, 2004.

      So, you see, the church is in fact asking its professors to promote the Adventist position on origins beyond faith statements that are not dependent upon a basis in empirical evidence.

      We have both expressed our dismay at your heterodox views regarding faith and evidence and your public attacks against those who disagree with you.

      As far as Adventism is concerned, my views on faith and evidence are orthodox. Your fideistic views are the ones that are heterodox from the Adventist interpretation of the Bible.

      You and your disciples have criticized and ridiculed dozens of SDA faculty and administrators at all levels. You not only insist that all employees believe exactly as you do, but also for the same reasons. It’s not enough to believe and teach, for example, in Young Life Creationism. You insist that employees must teach that the “weight of evidence” favors this position, else they are unfit for employment. You ridicule anyone who believes that God’s word can be trusted at face value–including Richard Davidson, Mark Finley, Ed Zinke, and other leading luminaries of the Church like–by declaring their faith utterly useless. It’s your arrogant language and intolerance that irks us both.

      Again, the church itself, as an organization, is the one asking all teachers in all of our schools to teach evidence-based creationism from the Adventist perspective. The church is not asking for mere faith-only lip-service that is blind to the weight of empirical evidence regarding its own position on origins.

      We also detest your cherry-picked use of data to support your views, which as Pauluc points out is highly subject to confirmation bias.

      In sum, we see you as a danger to the Church.

      And you don’t think mainstream scientists are biased? You think them somehow immune from cherry picking or re-interpretting the data to match their own preconceived notions of reality? You don’t think it most interesting that someone like Dawkins, who has long promoted the concept that 95% of the human genome was “worthless” as far as functionality is concerned:

      “Leaving pseudogenes aside, it is a remarkable fact that the greater part (95 percent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes.” – Richard Dawkins

      recently commented on the ENCODE discovery that most of the genome is in fact functional:

      “I know there are some creationists who have jumped on it because they think it is awkward for Darwinism. Quite the contrary, of course. It is exactly what a Darwinist would hope for — is to find usefulness in the living world.”

      And you don’t see that as cherry picking to explain anything and everything from the neo-Darwinist perspective as new information comes to light?

      Come on now. We are all subject to bias – even you.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  44. From Last Day Events, p 176.

    “Science, so-called, and religion will be placed in opposition to each other because finite men do not comprehend the power and greatness of God. These words of Holy Writ were presented to me, ‘Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them’ [Acts 20:30]. This will surely be seen among the people of God.— Ev593 (1890).

    I am reading about “the end” and I consider the writing of EW to be inspired information about final events. I ran across the above statement and wanted to share it here.

    If you buy into the notion of our existence being explained by an evolutionary process, then perhaps the words of George Bush (below) would make more sense to you.

    President Bush’s speech to Congress – March 6, 1991:
    “Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a “world order” in which “the principles of justice and fair play … protect the weak against the strong …” A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfil the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.”

    The question rises again and again in this forum. Are we as humans advancing? Or or we declining?

    Without intervention by God, do we perfect our societies and evolve to higher planes of existence? Or do we decline and finally perish?

    Two quite opposite views, yes? No?

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  45. Sean Pitman: Come on now. We are all subject to bias – even you.

    Of course we are. And as we try to nurture young minds to think for themselves, we need to teach them to recognize bias as best they can. That’s why it’s inappropriate to spoon-feed college students a biased data set that confirms their prior church- and family-informed bias, and then tell them, “Look, see, the weight of evidence fits well with the SDA view on origins!”

    To present a “scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation,” we need to be honest in pointing out the limits of evidence. We need to tell students that SDAs reached and maintain their conclusions NOT because of the physical evidence, but because of trust in God’s written word. Should the two testimonies ever diverge, orthodox SDAs will NEVER follow the physical evidence from fossils and DNA; they will follow the written word. Orthodox SDAs do not elevate mute fossils and DNA above God’s word. Never have. Never will.

    As Pauluc has pointed out, your faith is very frail indeed. With your heterodox convictions, you have declared repeatedly that if you saw solid scientific evidence that contradicted what you interpret scripture says about origins, you would give up your beliefs altogether in Adventism and Christianity.

    For orthodox SDAs who have a rock solid relationship with Jesus, it doesn’t matter what the fossils and the DNA have to say. We acknowledge that what they say may be marred by Satan’s efforts to deceive. We also humbly acknowledge that the evidence is very complex, and that the ability of our feeble minds to grasp it is limited.

    Orthodox SDAs believe in God because we have taken time to get to know Jesus one-on-one, and this is what every SDA professor should prioritize ahead of telling students they can believe because of the supposed weight of cherry-picked evidence.

    View Comment
    • @Professor Kent:

      Unless you speak to God, or God speaks to you, in a very privileged manner, equivalent to the standing of a prophet of God, faith in the credibility of the Bible’s claims is based on the “weight of evidence”

      This is the orthodox Adventist perspective on Biblical faith. It is strongly presented in this manner by the founders of the Adventist Church – to include numerous statements by Mrs. White describing the basis of faith in the weight of evidence.

      Now, you can re-define the term “faith” all you want, but your position is essentially fideistic. Fideism is clearly outside of Adventist orthodoxy.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  46. Sean Pitman: No one is asking any professor to “lie for Jesus”. That’s just ridiculous. What we’re asking for is professors who really believe in the Adventist position to take the job.

    No Sean, you’re asking for professors who believe in the Adventist position only for the same reasons that you do–because of the “weight of evidence” rather than simply because the Bible says so. You’re calling for all others to resign or be dismissed. Get honest.

    The reality is that if Sean had his way, there would be next to no one left to teach the students what he wants them to hear. Vanishingly few SDA scientists believe the evidence overwhelmingly supports the Church’s position.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      If it were true that essentially no SDA scientists believe that there is sufficient empirical evidence to make reasonable case for the Adventist position on origins, then the church might as well close its schools or change its position on origins. Teaching our students that the best we have is empirically-blind faith in the Bible is going to be perceived as irrational and pointless – and for good reason.

      The fact is that there are numerous highly educated Adventist scientists who question neo-Darwinism on scientific grounds. These actually believe that the weight of evidence favors special creation by intelligent design within recent history.

      Such are the ones the church should be seeking out to teach in our schools.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
      • @Sean Pitman:

        “…numerous highly educated Adventist scientists who question neo-Darwinism on scientific grounds”

        Name 5 with a Hirsh index more than 15 and I will personally contact them to verify that they;

        “..actually believe that the weight of evidence favors special creation by intelligent design within recent history”.

        View Comment
        • @pauluc:

          Although still a distinct minority, there are a growing number of scientists who question, on an empirical basis, the creative abilities of RM/NS as well as the ancient age of life on Earth.

          Arthur Chadwick, Ph.D.
          Tim Standish, Ph.D.
          Arthur E. Wilder-Smith, Ph.D.
          Charles B. Thaxton, Ph.D.
          Lane P. Lester, Ph.D.
          John Sanford, Ph.D.
          Ariel Roth, Ph.D.
          James Allan, Ph.D.
          David A. DeWitt, Ph.D.
          Leonard Brand, Ph.D.

          Etc…

          As far as your requirement for a “Hirsch index more than 15”, please, what does that have to do with educational background and qualification as a scientist? How many of the professors at LSU or LLU have a Hirsch index above 15? For example, the H-index for Lee Grismer (head of LSU’s biology department) is just 4 (the same as Leonard Brand’s H-score). Not even Richard Dawkins meets your criterion with his H-index of 11. My own H-index is 2. The H-index for Arthur Chadwick is 8. John Sanford has an H-index of 16.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          View Comment
      • @Sean Pitman:

        Dont change the goal post now Sean.

        “…believe that there is sufficient empirical evidence to make reasonable case for the Adventist position on origins.”

        is not at all the same as

        “..believe that the weight of evidence favors special creation by intelligent design within recent history.”

        The issue is that as EG White and anyone becoming a disciple of Christ recognizes there is “enough” evidence to bootstrap faith but faith is not based on the weight of evidence from the available biomedical literature which is how you seem to want to spin it.

        Like Neuraths boat afloat on the ocean once you have bootstrapped faith and cast off the scientific basis for that faith in fact becomes increasingly unimportant as faith grows and the data is integrated and continually renewed and becomes just one part of the structure we call faith.

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        • @pauluc:

          I’m not changing the goalposts. Any reasonable belief or faith in something that is not inherently known or knowable (something that exists outside of one’s own mind) must be based on the weight of evidence.

          I’m very well aware of your own faith in the biomedical literature. However, given the factual evidence that is in hand (not just the biased interpretation of it by the neo-Darwinists), this evidence clearly supports the Adventist perspective on origins – to include the overwhelming need to invoke intelligent design to explain the origin of life on this planet and its diversity beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. The Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS is completely bankrupt as a creative force beyond very low levels of functional complexity. Also, it is the Adventist perspective that is consistent with the very strong evidence for the genomic degeneration of every slowly reproducing life form on this planet in each generation. And, it is the Adventist perspective that is consistent with the strong and ever growing evidence for the recent arrival of life on this planet. The mainstream notions that life has existed and evolved on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years is effectively falsified by numerous facts that are already in hand.

          Now, I know you still favor the mainstream bias in all of these things. However, you have presented nothing that remotely counters the main points presented in this forum. Your arguments have been shown to be wrong over and over again.

          I’m really not sure what remains that is so convincing to you? Genetic evidence of common descent? – which you must know is just as easily explained by common design? You’re hung up with the similarities of living things, but ignore the functional differences beyond very low levels of functional complexity. The similarities are easy to explain either way. These higher level differences, on the other hand, are what cannot be explained by common descent.

          Of course, your “faith” is not dependent upon evidence. This is very interesting since you think yourself able to pick and choose what to have faith in – based on your own reasoning abilities? I I thought that faith came from God as a gift? If so, is it not God who should be the one telling you what is and isn’t true? Has God told you that the Adventist perspective on origins isn’t true? or that the neo-Darwinian perspective is true?

          Yes yes, I know. You only have faith in Jesus. These other ideas are just “beliefs”, not “faith”. But, you don’t have faith in all that Jesus is quoted as saying? Of course, you believe that there was a lot of editing going on over the centuries and Jesus didn’t necessarily say all that the New Testament attributes to Him. So, you get to pick and choose, based on your own intellect, what Jesus did and didn’t say and do? Or, has God specifically revealed to you privileged information along these lines?

          What about all the miracles attributed to Jesus? Do you have faith that Jesus raised the dead? Do you have faith that Jesus was born of a virgin woman? Do you have faith that Jesus walked on water? What about the Resurrection? You you have faith that Jesus really rose from the dead and lives in Heaven right now? Or, are all these things just symbolic or allegorical? If you do believe these events to be literal historical events, why do you not have faith in all that is attributed to Jesus? – because God has revealed the truth to you in a special way? or because of your own personal decision based on your own wishes and intellect? or what?

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Im sorry I have to disagree;

          “..sufficient empirical evidence to make reasonable case for the Adventist position on origins.”
          is indeed a much lower bar than
          “..believe that the weight of evidence favors special creation by intelligent design within recent history.”

          “Sufficient” and “reasonable case” is different to
          “weight of evidence favours” a minority position uncommonly accepted by tertiary educated people.

          The first is defensible by any Adventist of integrity the second is not.

          You ask me a range of questions that are intelligible only if you assume I am you and have a need for certainty and a watertight monolithic belief structure.

          As I have tried to explain many times. I start from the premises
          1] All knowledge whether in science or religion is open to rigorous examination and scrutiny including for religion writings textual and higher criticism.
          2] I do not and cannot hope to examine all human knowledge in detail. I will therefore always live with uncertainty and must simply rely on people I trust who have examined other parts of human knowledge than I have.
          3] I have to live a life with integrity with incomplete knowledge. In doing so I must make a commitment or a leap of faith.

          In contrast I perceive you;
          1] Have a view that unlike human knowledge, Gods revelation in “the word of God” or the words of His prophets are beyond all critique.
          2] Can personally understand all areas of human knowledge at a depth sufficient to reject most of the theological and scientific knowledge and consensus.
          3] Believe that faith comes from knowledge and acting according to the weight of evidence (predominance of evidence). The implication is that all of life’s actions and commitments must have an empirical basis in fact and do not allow any distinction between truth and fact.

          That you voluntarily joined the Army indicates to me that you may have some personality traits for which fundamentalism is a good fit. I am happy that you can have faith in God within that framework but do not think it is the only possible one.
          I am sorry that our world views are so vastly different that I don’t think you can comprehend my position as having any consistency or legitimacy. Your very concrete fundamentalist perspective sees God intervening and active in anything inexplicable (1000fsaar limit). I recognize that the enlightenment with its child science based on natural mechanism has become pervasive in our society and is tacitly accepted both inside and outside the Church in the overwhelming practice of evidence based medicine. I ask where is Christianity in this modern world and would say it is not as a foile for ignorance and the vanishing gaps in our knowledge but is seen at the point at which Christ as God incarnate entered the world and gave us the principles of Kingdom. Christianity is about discipleship and living a life of faith, within a natural world. It is not as a body of knowledge fighting against the physical reality that most recognize.

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  47. Sean Pitman:
    @Professor Kent:

    Unless you speak to God, or God speaks to you, in a very privileged manner, equivalent to the standing of a prophet of God, faith in the credibility of the Bible’s claims is based on the “weight of evidence”

    This is the orthodox Adventist perspective on Biblical faith.It is strongly presented in this manner by the founders of the Adventist Church – to include numerous statements by Mrs. White describing the basis of faith in the weight of evidence.

    Now, you can re-define the term “faith” all you want, but your position is essentially fideistic.Fideism is clearly outside of Adventist orthodoxy.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com

    I’m in good company with quite a number of other highly respected SDA leaders, including the SDA Biblical Research Institute, Mark Finley, Richard Davidson, Ed Zinke…the list goes on and on. All of these individuals tell us we are out of line to elevate human reason–our capacity to discern and weigh evidence–against God’s express word. Are you going to try to get them kicked out of leadership positions next?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      I seriously doubt that any of these men are fideists to the degree that you and Brantley and Pauluc have been arguing in this forum. They may have expressed fideistic thoughts in some of their writings, but I don’t think that they would be as hard-core about these ideas if really pressed on the issue. In other words, I don’t think they’d have any problem answering a question like, “Did Jesus’ disciples have more or less faith after the Resurrection?” – regardless of how you choose to define “faith”. Or, upon what basis does one pick the Bible as the actual “Word of God” verses the many competing options out there that all claim to be “The Word of God”? Or why do you guys spend so much time talking about fulfilled Biblical prophecy if empirical evidence really doesn’t have any effect on faith?

      Regardless, the fact is that the church, as an organization, does and has always supported the concept of faith that is based on the weight of evidence – right in line with Mrs. White’s numerous comments regarding evidence-based faith. I really doubt any of the leaders you list off would disagree with Mrs. White’s comments in this regard.

      God never asks us to believe anything without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. Yet God has never removed the possibility of doubt. Our faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration. Those who wish to doubt will have opportunity; while those who really desire to know the truth will find plenty of evidence on which to rest their faith. – Ellen White, SC, p. 105

      The word of God, like the character of its Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. But God has given in the Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine authority. His own existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. True, He has not removed the possibility of doubt; faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration; those who wish to doubt have opportunity; but those who desire to know the truth find ample ground for faith. – Ellen White, ED, p. 169

      “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.” Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church 4:232, 233; Testimonies for the Church 5:675, 676. MOL 497.2

      Otherwise, the church would not have seen fit to fund any organization with an express purpose of discovering empirical evidence favoring the church’s position on origins. Clearly, the church recognizes a connection between faith and evidence or at least the fact that evidence has the power to influence or affect one’s faith.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  48. Call one’s trust on God’s word whatever you wish, Dr. Pitman, but I have it on good word that Church leadership is disturbed by your elevation of evidence and human reason above scripture.

    Your pals here have placed their loyalty in your wisdom rather than the clearly articulated position papers of the Biblical Research Institution and other SDA scholars, including Richard Davidson, Ed Zinke, and Mark Finley. Phil Brantley and I have repeatedly brought up the work of these scholars (easily Googled) so that readers committed to the official SDA heurmeneutic can compare the Church’s postion to that of Dr. Pitman.

    I wish you satisfaction, Dr. Pitman, in your intellectual ascent.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      If there is no rational reason to pick the Bible, among many competing options, as the true Word of God, how does one become convinced of it if not already born into Christian culture?

      You and Brantley and the others you mention were born into a Christian culture. You recognize the Bible as true Scripture because you were taught this from birth.

      Yet, you speak of faith as some kind of inherent knowledge given to all mankind where all can intuitively know that the Bible is God’s Word without the need for any empirical support.

      Now, it is true that God has written some things on the hearts of all human beings where there is no need for additional empirical evidence before one can recognize the truth of these things – such as the Royal Law of Love that calls for one to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. However, I don’t see your claim that a knowledge that the Bible is in fact the true Word of God is inherent knowledge independent of rational consideration of the evidence in support of this claim (vs. that for other competing options).

      The same thing was true for Jesus’ disciples. He did not ask them to have faith in His claim to be the Son of God without first providing them with the weight of evidence to support His claim – to include the match of His life to Scriptural prophecies concerning the Messiah, or the innumerable supernatural miracles that surrounded His life, giving additional evidence in support of His claims. All this was crowned by the empirical evidence of His own resurrection from the grave.

      To suggest that God expects anyone to simply pick the Bible out of thin air as the true Word of God among so many competing options, without any rational argument based on the weight of evidence, is to paint God as arbitrary and unfair. It would be wrong for anyone, including God, to expect anyone to believe without first providing a rational reason to believe or have faith.

      That is why, as Ellen White points out, “God never asks us to believe anything without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith.” I highly doubt any of the men you’ve listed would wish to argue this point if pressed on this issue. Which one of them is going to say, in public, that Mrs. White didn’t know what she was talking about on the topic of faith?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:

        No Sean I think they would parse the term weight of evidence the way EG White intended.

        If you search the published writings of EG White at the White estate you will identify 67 instances of this term, none directly addressing science as the basis for evidence. More commonly it is explicitly about the weight of scriptural evidence.

        “God does not compel men to give up their unbelief. He designs that men shall decide not from impulse but from weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture.”HLv 308.3 (From Heaven With Love)

        “God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture. 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.” DA 458.3

        It is all about deciding on doctrine. How many of the church’s doctrines are based on an assessment of the scientific evidence. None at all as the 28 fundamentals makes clear it is decided on the weight of the writings the scripture.

        You have based the whole of this philosophy on incorrect or exceptional reading of EG White. But I think you use the exception as the basis for your scientific interpretation so I shouldnt be surprised to see you having a less than orthodox reading of EG White.

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        • @pauluc:

          It is all about deciding on doctrine. How many of the church’s doctrines are based on an assessment of the scientific evidence. None at all as the 28 fundamentals makes clear it is decided on the weight of the writings the scripture.

          Regardless of the source of evidence, the fact is that Mrs. White understood faith as something that is not internally generated, but is based on the active study and investigation of evidences that exist outside of one’s own mind (with a sincere motive and desire to know and follow the truth whatever it may be). In other words, the honest seeker for truth cannot arbitrarily decide what is and isn’t worthy of one’s faith. Such a decision must be based on the “weight of evidence” that one discovers after sincerely searching out and studying the evidence that is available.

          The determination that the Bible is in fact the true Word of God, worthy of our faith in the credibility of its claims, is itself based on external empirical evidence… according to Mrs. White. Once this credibility is established, the meaning of a particular passage or statement within the Bible can then be determined based upon the study of the Bible as a whole.

          As you point out, one of the empirical evidences to which Ellen White referred was Biblical prophecies as they compared to historical evidence outside of the Bible – i.e., the historical sciences.

          Also, Ellen White presented numerous other forms of empirical evidence as a basis for faith in the Bible’s claims:

          “Science is ever discovering new wonders; but she brings from her research nothing that, rightly understood, conflicts with divine revelation. The book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other…

          Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years…

          The vast forests buried in the earth at the time of the Flood, and since changed to coal, form the extensive coal fields, and yield the supplies of oil that minister to our comfort and convenience today. These things, as they are brought to light, are so many witnesses mutely testifying to the truth of the word of God.” – Ellen White, Education, p. 128

          “God designed that the discovery of these things in the earth, should establish the faith of men in inspired history. But men, with their vain reasoning, make a wrong use of these things which GOD designed should lead them to exalt him. They fall into the same error as did the people before the flood—those things which GOD gave them as a benefit, they turned into a curse, by making a wrong use of them.” —Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts 3:90-96

          So, there you have it. According to Ellen White, the discovery of empirical evidences, outside of the Bible itself, was designed, by God, to establish the faith of those considering these evidences in the credibility of the Scriptures…

          I highly doubt the church leaders you listed would disagree with these statements of Ellen White. The only qualification, of course, is that the correct understanding of scientific evidence and passages in the Bible requires that one have a sincere desire to know the truth (i.e., a love of the truth). God has promised to guide the minds of those who are sincerely seeking to find Truth, to find Him.

          You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

          In other words, finding the truth is more dependent upon motive than upon intelligence or prior knowledge. God will supply the weight of evidence needed for the true seeker for truth to rationally appreciate God.

          However, those who deliberately turn away from the weight of evidence that they currently have been given because they do not like what they know is true, will find plenty of room upon which to hang their doubts. God will not overwhelm such with any kind of absolute demonstration. God provides the weight of evidence, not absolute demonstration, regarding His existence and the credibility of His Word.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

          View Comment
  49. pauluc: I would contest that in reality most Adventist educators in science including many at the GRI can and do accept that “the Adventist position on origins is correct” but reject the notion that “…it is supported by the weight of evidence…” It is the concatenation of these criteria that rankles.

    You are ABSOLUTELY correct.

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  50. Sean Pitman: Otherwise, the church would not have seen fit to fund any organization with an express purpose of discovering empirical evidence favoring the church’s position on origins. Clearly, the church recognizes a connection between faith and evidence or at least the fact that evidence has the power to influence or affect one’s faith.

    And why has the Church desired discovering said evidence if, as you insist, overwhelming evidence already exists in favor of our position? Why waste money trying to support something that no longer needs support?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      The realization of knowledge is an ongoing process. Just because the weight of evidence that is currently in hand favors a particular position does not mean that it will always be so. There is always the potential for effective falsification given additional evidence.

      That is why my faith position is in fact “fragile” in the sense that it is open to at least the possibility of effective falsification. Your faith, on the other hand, is immune from even the theoretical possibility of being wrong. If you know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re right, what’s the need to study or investigate anything further? You already know with absolute assurance!

      Good for you, but I just don’t find such a position rational or helpful when it comes to establishing a solid hope in the future for rational minds who were not brought up from childhood in the Christian mindset.

      Consider also that, “perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” – Ellen White, Letter 19d, 1892, cited in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  51. Sean Pitman: What about all the miracles attributed to Jesus? Do you have faith that Jesus raised the dead? Do you have faith that Jesus was born of a virgin woman? Do you have faith that Jesus walked on water? What about the Resurrection? You you have faith that Jesus really rose from the dead and lives in Heaven right now?

    I’ll speak on behalf of all SDAs on these. I believe in them all on the basis of faith. Same as you, Dr. Pitman, because you know full well there is no evidence to support these claims.

    There is NO problem accepting the SDA position on origins on the same basis. You can ridicule and insult and cry “foul” all you want to, but the reality is no SDA has disqualified himself or herself from employment by accepting the Church’s position on origins by applying a different reasoning than you do.

    It’s shear arrogance and narcissism to insist that every SDA employer must subscribe to the Pitman version of truth. And this is why SDA leadership is increasingly embarrassed by this website.

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  52. Sean Pitman: You and Brantley and the others you mention were born into a Christian culture. You recognize the Bible as true Scripture because you were taught this from birth. Yet, you speak of faith as some kind of inherent knowledge given to all mankind where all can intuitively know that the Bible is God’s Word without the need for any empirical support.

    You truly enjoy judging and disparaging the views of others.

    Sean Pitman:

    I don’t see your claim that a knowledge that the Bible is in fact the true Word of God is inherent knowledge independent of rational consideration of the evidence in support of this claim (vs. that for other competing options).

    No, you don’t, because you choose to ignore what we’ve written many times and keep asking the same inane questions over and over as if no answer can be given unless it matches precisely yours.

    Sean Pitman: Your faith, on the other hand, is immune from even the theoretical possibility of being wrong. If you know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re right, what’s the need to study or investigate anything further? You already know with absolute assurance!

    You’re really reaching here.

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  53. Sean Pitman: “perfect assurance . . . is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence.” – Ellen White, Letter 19d, 1892, cited in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, pp. 1029, 1030.

    Do you suppose Ms. White wrote only of one single form of faith? One that cannot be conflated with belief?

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  54. Sean

    You write

    “In other words, finding the truth is more dependent upon motive than upon intelligence or prior knowledge. God will supply the weight of evidence needed for the true seeker for truth to rationally appreciate God.”

    which may well be correct but the real question is what do you do when there is some apparent conflict as I see between the scientific evidence and the YEC model you support. Do you

    1] pretend, like the CMI at least seems to do, that the data cannot exist or be valid by definition

    2] Accept the data but assume a position of faith that says the evidences from non-scientific sources compel me to a position of faith that I can hold in the face of the acknowledged overwhelming scientific data

    3] Accept the scientific data and reject all faith in Adventism and Christianity as wishful thinking.

    4] Accept the scientific data as compelling and likely true and say I accept a faith position but ask could I be mistaken in my interpretation of the scriptures and need to review my understanding of the biblical position just as we as a proto-church did in 1844.

    We are arguing which of these options follows the logically consistent path that balances integrity and faith. I would clearly choose 4 for the many reasons of consistency and elegance that I have stated, Jeff Kent seems to prefer 2, and I am not sure if you would use 1 or stick with 3 which fits with your fragile attachment to a faithful religion.

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    • @pauluc:

      You write:

      “In other words, finding the truth is more dependent upon motive than upon intelligence or prior knowledge. God will supply the weight of evidence needed for the true seeker for truth to rationally appreciate God.” – Sean Pitman

      which may well be correct but the real question is what do you do when there is some apparent conflict as I see between the scientific evidence and the YEC model you support.

      To be clear, I do not support the YEC model of origins. As already noted several times, I’m a young-life creationist, not a young-Earth creationist. There’s a difference.

      Do you

      1] pretend, like the CMI at least seems to do, that the data cannot exist or be valid by definition

      Data is data. Facts are facts. Obviously data/facts exist and are neither valid nor invalid. Interpretations of the data/facts, on the other hand, may be valid or invalid. That is why scientific hypotheses and theories are always open to the potential for falsification – because they go beyond the mere facts in an effort to try to predict things that are not absolutely knowable based on what little factual information is known. That is also why science is dependent upon the ability to take “leaps of faith” into that which is not absolutely knowable.

      2] Accept the data but assume a position of faith that says the evidences from non-scientific sources compel me to a position of faith that I can hold in the face of the acknowledged overwhelming scientific data

      I accept the data, but I do not interpret the data as most mainstream scientists interpret it. I think that mainstream scientists ignore the weight of data against their preferred world view and personal philosophies.

      3] Accept the scientific data and reject all faith in Adventism and Christianity as wishful thinking.

      If I did in fact view the data as effectively falsifying the Adventist position, or Christianity in general, then yes, it would be irrational to for me to continue to put my faith in the claims of these religious groups.

      4] Accept the scientific data as compelling and likely true and say I accept a faith position but ask could I be mistaken in my interpretation of the scriptures and need to review my understanding of the biblical position just as we as a proto-church did in 1844.

      The possibility of error is ever present. However, if after I consider the data to the best of my ability, and find that the weight of evidence is clearly opposed to the Adventist position, then I would be forced to abandon Adventism as irrational. I would have to do this even if I personally wished the Adventist position to be true. This is because I cannot base my faith on what I personally wish were true. I have to base my faith on what I recognize as the clear weight of evidence at the present time (which is also the basis of the concept of “present truth” proposed by the founders of Adventism). Wishful thinking isn’t faith. It’s, well, wishful thinking…

      We are arguing which of these options follows the logically consistent path that balances integrity and faith. I would clearly choose 4 for the many reasons of consistency and elegance that I have stated, Jeff Kent seems to prefer 2, and I am not sure if you would use 1 or stick with 3 which fits with your fragile attachment to a faithful religion.

      This is something new. Where have you been arguing for a “balance” between integrity, with regard to empirical evidence, and faith? Have you not been claiming that faith must exist entirely independent from any kind of basis in or influence of the weight of empirical evidence? I’m the one who has been arguing for a “balanced” view here – where the weight of empirical evidence most certainly influences one’s faith and faith influences one’s view of empirical evidence. Have I not been the one arguing that faith and evidence should walk hand-in-hand without one trumping the other? I’ve been the one pointing out that one cannot exist without the other. You’ve been the one arguing from and all-or-nothing position here, not me. Have you changed your mind?

      If you do in fact still cling to the fideist position that faith entirely trumps evidence, your position is not “balanced” between faith and evidence. The fideistic approach cannot be falsified – even in theory. That is why the faith of the fideist is more like wishful thinking since wishful thinking, being entirely subjective, cannot be wrong either. No empirical evidence could be brought to bear which would change the fidest’s mind because his faith is not dependent in any way upon what the evidence does or does not seem to tell him about reality. His faith allows him to pick and choose what he personally wants to believe as “truth”.

      For me, that’s the very definition of an irrational position. If I can’t be wrong, even in theory, what good is my faith when it comes to establishing a solid hope, in my own mind, in the future? If I know that I am the source of my own faith, generating faith in my own preferences, I would have no real confidence that what I claim to believe really is likely to be true or not . . .

      This is why Mrs. White uses all kinds of external evidences as a basis for a rational faith in the claims of the Bible – because she believed that a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible requires a basis in the “weight of evidence”. In speaking about the basis of faith in the claims of the Bible, she wrote: “God has given sufficient evidence upon which to base faith if he wishes to believe. In the last days the earth will be almost destitute of true faith. Upon the merest pretense, the Word of God will be considered unreliable…” (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 94-96). This is despite the “sufficient evidence” provided by God for those who are honestly seeking to know the truth to recognize the Bible as having a Divine origin.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  55. Sean

    “Where have you been arguing for a “balance” between integrity, with regard to empirical evidence, and faith?”

    You are right. Mea Culpa. I should not have expressed the relationship of scientific evidence and faith as a balance between integrity and faith as that is so easily misconstrued and does not properly convey my meaning.

    No I have not changed my mind.

    What I have argued consistently is that faith is what guides ones life and understanding beyond those physical evidences that form the substrate of science. I have argued and unequivocally maintain that one cannot at all progress stepwise from scientific knowledge and evidence to faith in God. God is revealed to us not established by our understanding so just as Salvation is entirely a gift of God so is knowledge and conviction of the Grace of God. That revelation however is not diminished by increasing understanding of the physical world. Nor is the naturalist explanation of the physical world diminished by a faith that believes that He exists and calls us to the life of faith beyond the purely physical. That is the balance or tension. The dilemma of Christianity. How do we. who live in a physical world controlled by natural process and law, reach the divine? All of human endeavour, writing and understanding is open to critique and rational explanation but I contend that can never lead to God. God is revealed not discovered. How do we respond to that revelation and what is its basis?
    In trying to understand the basis for our knowledge of God do we privilege the scientific understanding, applicable to the natural world, and pretend it says anything that can establish or abolish faith or do we allow a conception of faith to the extent that we deny the realities of our physicalism? This is by no means a new thought and has consumed the mind of philosophers and mystics for thousands of years.

    Paul expressed this very well in 1 Cor 1 where in discussing the Greek view of the illogic of a dead God he says;
    “17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
    18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
    19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
    20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
    21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
    22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
    23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
    24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
    25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
    27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
    28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
    29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
    30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”

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  56. Sean Pitman: So, there you have it. According to Ellen White, the discovery of empirical evidences, outside of the Bible itself, was designed, by God, to establish the faith of those considering these evidences in the credibility of the Scriptures…

    Obviously, she is referring to “belief” when she writes of faith. Again, faith has several meanings that you seem unwilling to acknowledge.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      Interesting… So, Mrs. White doesn’t mean what she says? Even when she often uses both words in her writings and could easily have chosen to use the word “belief” if she was in fact talking about belief rather than faith.

      I find it most interesting that you guys redefine the term “faith” to actually mean “belief” when it is used by both the Biblical authors and Mrs. White in a manner that clearly doesn’t go along your own fideistic notions.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  57. pauluc: If you search the published writings of EG White at the White estate you will identify 67 instances of this term, none directly addressing science as the basis for evidence. More commonly it is explicitly about the weight of scriptural evidence.

    This is very illuminating, Pauluc. As you have pointed out, Sean’s vulnerability to confirmation bias has lead him to interpret her passages as support for his own heterodox views.

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  58. pauluc: I would clearly choose 4 for the many reasons of consistency and elegance that I have stated, Jeff Kent seems to prefer 2, and I am not sure if you would use 1 or stick with 3 which fits with your fragile attachment to a faithful religion.

    Thank you, Pauluc, you have portrayed my position accurately (in contrast to Sean’s frequent mischaracterizations). In your own words, I “accept the data but assume a position of faith that says the evidences from non-scientific sources compel me to a position of faith that I can hold in the face of the acknowledged overwhelming scientific data.”

    I should add, however, that the data are less the issue than the interpretation of it. Like 99.9% of SDAs, including SDA scientists, I humbly confess that much of the data (particularly in physics and geosciences) is beyond my expertise and I do not have the time, training, nor interest to study it well enough to arrive at a well-informed conclusion. Sean is out of his mind to state that all SDA teachers MUST be able to tell students that overwhelming evidence supports the SDA view. To do so, such teachers are merely parroting his views or those of other self-proclaimed authorities.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      What professors in our schools should be able to do is to honestly tell their students that the weight of evidence that they have personally investigated and think they understand favors the Adventist perspective on origins.

      No one is asking for claims of omniscience here. Again, there is always the possibility of potential falsification for those who do not subscribe to the fideistic position of blind faith acceptance of what is otherwise opposed to the clear weight of the overall evidence that is currently in hand. If you’re not a big fan of wishful thinking, then there is always the possibility of being wrong given an intelligent comprehension and understanding of additional evidence…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      View Comment
  59. Sean Pitman: To be clear, I do not support the YEC model of origins. As already noted several times, I’m a young-life creationist, not a young-Earth creationist. There’s a difference.

    Yes, there is a difference. You believe God did not create the during the six days of creation in Genesis 1. But are you telling us that God is a liar? Did he not write with his finger in stone:

    For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is… – Exodus 20:11″

    How can you reject the very clear statement from God himself? Is it because you place more weight in the evidence which suggests a very old earth than in the express words of God, written with his very own fingers?

    You do recognize, don’t you, that most Adventists are Young Earth Creationists?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      God did create the order and structure of the heavens and the earth needed to support life on this planet – all within six days. Before this time, however, the Earth was formless and empty of life (Genesis 1:2). The basic material itself was likely here in planetary form… as was the universe and the stars. Angels and intelligences on other worlds existed before the creation of life on our planet. And, they sang for joy when God created our world (Job 38:7).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  60. Sean,

    Big question. My daughter is writing a paper and asked me this morning in an email what creationists believe regarding the origin of dinosaurs, specifically Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and Brontosaurus. Did God create these species, or did they evolve from other created animals–reptiles or mammals? I thought I’d ask you what you think before replying.

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  61. God wrote with his finger in stone:

    For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” – Exodus 20:11

    And Sean tells us this is not correct. Sean says:

    God did create the order and structure of the heavens and the earth needed to support life on this planet – all within six days. Before this time, however, the Earth was formless and empty of life (Genesis 1:2).

    What is it about “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth” that you do not understand? Why are you trying to point out the error in this when the words in and of themselves can only mean one thing? In all frankness, Sean, I can’t seem to find the words “order and structure” in Exodus 20:11. Am I missing something? An 8-yr-old should be able to interpret this just as unequivically as an 80-yr-old.

    If God had made the heaven and earth thousands or millions of years before a separate 6-day creation of life, as you argue, then why would God mislead us by stating, very unmistakably, that he did it as a part of the 6 days of creation?

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  62. Here’s a verse for which you believe every word is literal:

    And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. – Genesis 7:19

    You insist that ALL the high hills and mountains were covered, even though the word “all” in numerous other verses of Genesis 7:19 do not literally mean “all.”

    Yet, in the heart of the 10 commandments, where God says he created the heaven and the earth in 6 days, you insist God’y words are absolutely not literal. You claim that God goofed, and really meant say he created the heavens and earth LONG BEFORE the six days.

    So who in the SDA Church gets to decide which verses in scripture are literal and true, and which are figurative and untrue? Is it just you? Is it a committee? Can it be me?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      There were no great mountains before the Flood. Therefore, I do think that the Flood did cover the entire world and that it did kill off all land animal life on Earth – save that on Noah’s ark. I think this position is most consistent with the intent of the authors and the internal consistency of the story itself… not to mention the geologic/fossil evidence for such a universal catastrophe.

      I also believe that God “made the heavens and the earth” livable for complex life forms. The Bible does not clearly suggest that absolutely nothing existed here prior to the creation week of this particular planet. If one considers all of the Biblical accounts of creation throughout the Bible together, the possibility, even the likelihood, of pre-existent basic materials is left open.

      I’ve already explained that the Bible suggests that the universe and other created intelligences pre-existed the creation week for this planet. The opening passages of the Bible can also be reasonably read to suggest that some “formless and empty” planet existed here prior to the creation week. Mrs. White also says the same thing.

      In my opinion, it is a mistake to take a single passage out of context and try to definitively interpret it without any consideration of anything else the Bible has to say about the same event.

      And, this is actually the favored position among Adventist scientists who believe in a literal creation week…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  63. Sean Pitman: Watch my 3ABN video (linked early in this thread) for ~4 minutes from around the 1:30:00 to the 1:34:00 mark.

    If I’m not mistaken, it sounded like you argued for the possibility that these were created life forms that, because they lived many hundreds of years (an unscriptural assertion for animals), they eventually grew to become gargantuan and ugly. You’re arguing that God created these as the distinctive species we know them to be! A tyrannosaurus rex? A little lizard species (now extinct) that lived long enough to grow into something hideous. Not a different species at all. Perhaps a fence lizard like the little tykes that live in my backyard! And the Pterodactyl’s were just normal birds–a created species–that simply lived long enough to change into what got preserved in the fossil record. Maybe sparrows? Or an agamid lizard species that sprouted wings because they lived so long?

    Is this what I should convey to my daughter? I’ve never heard an SDA claim that dinosaurs belonged to a created species that simply lived long enough to become big, ferocious, and hideous.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      Did God make lions and tigers in their current form? Or, where they originally created to be peaceful creatures that “ate straw like an ox” (Isaiah 11:7)?

      Clearly, many things devolved over time from their original design.

      Could other factors have been involved in the production of certain kinds of dinosaurs (not all dinosaurs were blood thirsty villains you know and certain kinds of “dinosaurs” still live today)? Possibly. But, as I’ve already noted, such surmisings are based on nothing more substantive than conjecture as far as I can tell.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  64. Sean Pitman: Could other factors have been involved in the production of certain kinds of dinosaurs (not all dinosaurs were blood thirsty villains you know and certain kinds of “dinosaurs” still live today)? Possibly. But, as I’ve already noted, such surmisings are based on nothing more substantive than conjecture as far as I can tell.

    Speaking of substantive conjecture, I’m reminded of your fancial 1000 fsaar limit. It occurs to me that if you allow for Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Brontosaurus, Pterosaurs, and other spectacular dinosaurs to have evolved, they must be the very same created species they evolved from. This is because they could not possibly evolve more than 1000 fairly specified amino acid differences from the original creatures, which also happens to be your proposed functional barrier between species.

    So, are these spectacular dinosaurs the same species as their created non-dinosaur ancestors (with fewer than 1,000 fsaar differences, which you claim cannot evolve within trillions upon trillions of years), or do you reason they could only have come about via antedeluvian or satanic genetic engineering?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      As I said, I don’t know how they came about beyond conjecture…

      I do know, however, that no qualitativley novel systems of function are likely to evolve this side of trillions of years of time which require a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues. Therefore qualitative differences that exist beyond this threshold level are evidence of deliberate design by some kind of intelligent mind(s).

      Note, yet again, that this threshold level is not a definition of “species” – but is a different concept more akin to the Biblical concept of original “kinds” of living things.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  65. Sean Pitman: Did God make lions and tigers in their current form? Or, where they originally created to be peaceful creatures that “ate straw like an ox” (Isaiah 11:7)?
    Clearly, many things devolved over time from their original design.

    Obviously, these creatures must be very different from their created state. If devolution means they gradually acquired spectacular traits for successfully finding and killing prey, rather than succumbing to their mutations, their devolution led to dramatic changes associated with this change in trophic level, including morphology (e.g., claws, jaws, teeth, running and/or leaping capacity), perception (for locating prey), behavior (e.g., foraging tactics, social and reproductive behaviors), ecology (habitat and space use), and physiology (e.g., energy use, thermoregulation, nitrogen elimination).

    If devolution means that these animals acquired all of these traits which rendered them immensely successful, then what the heck would evolution have accomplished? How could devolution have yielded something different from evolution in 6,000+ years? How can both devolution and evolution result in adaptation? If the processes of devolution and evolution are identical, why make any distinction? If evolution is a gradual process in which a lineage changes into a different form, then what is devolution? What’s your point?

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    • @Professor Kent:

      It requires less informational complexity to live off a carnivorous diet compared to vegetarian diet.

      The other adaptations you speak of need not involve the evolution of anything qualitatively novel beyond very low levels of functional complexity. As with many other selectable adaptations, most are the result of quantitative changes along a spectrum of potential already present within the original parental gene pool of options. As such, they can be rapidly realized over a few generations via selective breeding techniques (or the pressures of natural selection).

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:
        This thread is fast moving into the absurd. What do your many atheist scientific friends think of these ideas Sean? I can read what they say on Pharyngula but what of your friends who may have a little more sympathy?

        Could you please clarify. Do you or do you not think there is any data that would support your views here or do you think your ideas on dinosaurs are based on the weight of evidence? This is a critical question as it does go to what is your conception of the weight of evidence.

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        • @pauluc:

          I’ve already explained, several times now, that I don’t know how dinosaurs were made. All the arguments I’ve heard seem like mere conjecture to me.

          So, I don’t know what you want clarified? We’ve discussed my particular argument on the limits of evolution extensively before (regarding the potential and/or limits of RM/NS as a creative mechanism in particular as well as the concept of “front-loaded” genetic information as part of the original design of distinct “kinds” of gene pools).

          You can act all incredulous, but the fact of the matter is that the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS has not been shown to produce anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity and, statistically, it is very unlikely to be able to do so this side of a practical eternity of time (i.e., beyond the level of systems requiring a minimum of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues).

          Beyond this, you’re deliberately ignoring, along with all neo-Darwinists, the very strong evidence for the degeneration of all slowing reproducing gene pools over time. We are not evolving. We are devolving over time – becoming less and less genetically fit due to the continual build-up of detrimental mutations in each individual in each generation at a rate far far faster than natural selection (and the required death rate needed) could possibly keep up.

          This, of course, brings us back to the original topic of this thread…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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        • @Sean Pitman:
          “I’ve already explained, several times now, that I don’t know how dinosaurs were made. All the arguments I’ve heard seem like mere conjecture to me.”

          So what you said on 3ABN about genetic engineering and amalgamation could be best described as just so stories? Lacking completely any evidentiary basis?

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  66. And now we come to the core of my profound concerns about any influence you may have in Adventism. Your statements;

    1] “What professors in our schools should be able to do is to honestly tell their students that the weight of evidence that they have personally investigated and think they understand favors the Adventist perspective on origins.”

    2] “No one is asking for claims of omniscience here. Again, there is always the possibility of potential falsification for those who do not subscribe to the fideistic position of blind faith acceptance of what is otherwise opposed to the clear weight of the overall evidence that is currently in hand. If you’re not a big fan of wishful thinking, then there is always the possibility of being wrong given an intelligent comprehension and understanding of additional evidence…””

    3] “This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well” 19 Aug 2011 Biblical Interpretation by Sean Pitman”

    Why am I concerned? Let me summarize.

    1] Most children work though the cognitive dissonance that invariably comes with the discovery that Santa Claus is a myth http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/200911/why-it-s-hard-stop-believing-in-santa-claus. Almost invariably this is done without rejecting forever their family who have perpetrated this falsehood, the joy of the Christmas spirit and the associated rituals of good food, family gatherings and presents that are associated with the event of Christmas. Most would consider these rituals and the historical basis for them are what is important not the myth that is built up around Santa Claus, the north poles, elves, small factories constructing toys and the sleigh/s delivering such presents down the existent or non-existent chimneys of every house in the Christian world over one night. What would you think of a child who said; I do not believe in santa claus, you have lied about him and I cannot therefore at all celebrate Chrismas, give or receive any present or enjoy the spirit that is Christmas. I believe your statement 3 in the same way shows a level of rigidity and immaturity that I really do not want imposed on any part of an Adventist tertiary institution.

    2] “Professors must honesty tell their students that the weight of evidence …. favours the Adventist perpective on origins”. I am sorry but you will only get either naive and uniformed or dishonest scientist in it for the cash or through desperation if you impose this criteria. Any scientist with a doctorate will know that there are always 2 sides to an argument vast amounts of data and that the history of science over the last 150 years has been a steady and inexorable erosion of the belief in creation by divine fiat. Whether you like it or not this is the reality and any scientist with any degree of integrity and worth having in a university will admit that the vast bulk of the data at this time is not in favour of literal creationism.
    Surprisingly you seem to view the Adventist perspective as synonymous with your position despite your concesion that the weight of evidence is not in favour of YEC even though this is unquestioningly the traditional adventist position. Why having moved from the traditional adventist and Christian position of YEC do you now want to pretend that your position has the weigth of evidence when it is clear almost all scientist with no vested interest in the answer, examine the data and conclude that YEC and YLC are not supported by evidence.

    3] “…the weight of evidence that they have personally investigated and think they understand favors..” suggests an astounding degree of hubris, a lack of imagination and a naivity in what is the biomedical literature. Are you suggesting that one should have personally investiagted and understand to the point of rejecting the consensus view in almost every area of science? I think this position is excusable in a rock star theologian like David Assherick who has never even completed an undergraduate degree and is completely naive on what is available at pubmed but you are one of the most intelligent people in the Adventist church and should know better. Perhaps it reflects that do you have an honorary doctorate (MD) rather than a research PhD and have not experienced first hand the humbling experience of having to advance knowledge and the difficulty in publishing in top tier peer reviewed literature.
    You portray yourself as an iconoclast of great intellect that is on top of the literature in every field of science but in reality most of what you write here comes not from personal examination of the biomedical literature but is triggered by feeds from the creationist and ID literature. This post on ENCODE is one example.
    It would be very good if you listened again to Chistopher Sacks comments on authority in the video you have embedded in this thread. Any scientist worth having in a teaching position understands that he is not the authority in every field and has the humity to know that just as his expertise required a huge investment in time and effort so would knowledge sufficient for rejection of the consensus in other areas. He realizes his limitations while at the same time being prepared to clearly articulate the basis for his belief.

    4] “No one is asking for claims of omniscience here.”
    You may be specifically claiming not to have omniscience but in your rejection of all authority and consensus you are effectively acting as though you are.

    “Again, there is always the possibility of potential falsification for those who do not subscribe to the fideistic position of blind faith acceptance of what is otherwise opposed to the clear weight of the overall evidence that is currently in hand. If you’re not a big fan of wishful thinking, then there is always the possibility of being wrong given an intelligent comprehension and understanding of additional evidence…”

    Here you once again characterize anyone who has a basis for faith beyond the physical evidence as having “blind faith” and see virtue in you tacit acceptance of the supremacy of your reason as an arbitrator of what is true. Anyone who has a PhD should know that all of knowledge is tentative and only true as much as it is not yet falsified. In my experience scientist above all know their limitations and are not want to attack others unless driven by idealogy as are ID proponents or Richard Dawkins and his like.

    Any teacher who makes claims and attacks on “blind faith” should certainly be rejected immediately from consideration for a teaching position as should anyone who has so little deep spiritual conviction or attachment to Christian tradition. You started off this campaign because you thought teachers of science where forcefully expressing their conviction about origins that conflict with the Adventist position. Your criteria for selection of teachers however is precisely designed to select a supremely arrogant teacher that is so convinced of the rightness of his position and so lacking in humility that this scenario is guaranteed to recurr with a vengeance.

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    • @pauluc:

      Lovely arguments from authority, but without useful explanatory value.

      I do love your explanation on how children eventually lose faith in Santa Claus based on the weight of evidence. Why don’t they lose faith in their families as well? Some do. Some parents are abusive and children who eventually escape such abuse realize what has been done to them, and they also lose faith in the notion that their fathers or mothers ever really loved them. Those that do not lose their faith in their families also base their continued faith in the overall weight of evidence provided by their families. Such faith is not detached from or independent of a basis in empirical evidence.

      The same thing could be said of God. It is God, after all, who is on trial in this “Great Controversy” between Christ and Satan. God is on trial before the universe to see if He really is who He claims to be. He must provide evidence to support the continued faith of the universe in His love and leadership abilities – in the correctness of His government. God wants intelligent worship and faith. If He wanted empirically blind faith and worship, He wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to provide so much empirical evidence of the goodness and trustworthiness of His character and the righteousness of His own government.

      As far as my sources on science are concerned, I am fairly familiar with and extensively use the primary literature on various topics (especially having to do with genetics and genetic information) as well as creationists and IDist references. I consistently read the works of those form opposing camps as well as those who are more favorable to my own position and I use whatever makes sense to me. I even read what you write quite carefully. Why would I do that if I only read and listen to those from my own camp?

      You, on the other hand, seem to go largely by who is presenting the argument rather than the argument itself. You seem quite impressed by degrees and H-index scores. I am not so impressed. I guess I know too many Ph.D.s who don’t know their head from a hole in the ground (the same is true for many M.D.s I know by the way). It doesn’t take more brains to become a Ph.D. or to produce a bunch of esoteric papers in order to maintain funding.

      Therefore, I have to go with what I can make of the evidence that I currently understand for myself. I’m not simply going to take your word for it or the word of anyone else just because he/she has a bunch of letters behind his/her name. I really don’t care unless the argument itself makes sense to me.

      As you know, I’m not a big fan of blind faith in the bald statements of others which I don’t personally understand or which seem to me to conflict, fundamentally, with the evidence that I think I do understand very well…

      But, you go ahead and follow your “experts” without really doing your own thinking for yourself. Again, just don’t expect to get paid by the Adventist Church for those efforts which fundamentally undermine the primary goals and ideals of the church. That’s really the key point here in this entire discussion as far as I’m concerned.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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      • @Sean Pitman:
        “Again, just don’t expect to get paid by the Adventist Church for those efforts which fundamentally undermine the primary goals and ideals of the church.”

        This statement raises serious question as to whether you understand the primary goals of the Adventist Church. At least in Australia, the vision is expressed on the web site http://adventist.org.au/about-us as;

        “Our vision is to be a church that knows, experiences and shares our hope in Jesus Christ. This vision expresses the collective feelings of our church members and leaders.

        The vision statement has three parts:

        The head knowledge (studying the Bible)
        The heart experience (unconditional commitment to Jesus Christ and to one another)
        The call to action (sharing our faith) ”

        It does not at all couch it in terms of being an attack vehicle against the integrity or capability of science and scientists nor of fellow believers. Nor does it suggest a primary purpose of attacking people who through a heart experience (unconditional commitment to Jesus Christ and to one another) might be labelled practitioners of blind faith. Your inability to unconditionally commit to Jesus and your completely objectionable committment to leave Adventism and Christianity if the empirical evidence for your supposed model of reality fails to reach some arbitrary misapplied criteria of “weight of evidence” stands in stark contrast to the Church’s vision of people unconditionally committed to Jesus Christ and the church and would certainly fall under the rubric of an effort to “fundamentally undermine” the Church.

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        • @pauluc:

          Lots of non-Adventist individuals and organizations are committed to Jesus Christ – like the Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, etc. However, the simple criteria of being committed to one’s own personal view of Jesus Christ does not qualify one as being a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

          Now, this isn’t to say that being committed to Jesus Christ and His example, as detailed in the Bible, isn’t a good thing. It’s a very very good thing and the motive of love behind such a decision is the very basis of salvation. However, even being in a saving relationship with Jesus is not enough to qualify an individual to be an effective representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in particular.

          The Adventist Church takes on basic Christianity as well as an additional mission – a mission which includes upholding before the world some 28 doctrinal beliefs which the church considers “fundamental” or crucial to its primary goals and mission during the last days of Earth’s history.

          Now, one may be saved without being a part of the Adventist mission or church – thank God! In fact, the vast majority of people who will be saved in Heaven one day will never have even heard of Seventh-day Adventists. So, this isn’t an issue of salvation. It is an issue of appropriately representing the primary goals and mission of an organization as that organization defines itself.

          You, weather you like it or not, are not in line with many of the primary goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That doesn’t make you good or bad or outside of the saving love and grace of God. It just means that you cannot adequately represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a paid representative. Your representation would be counterproductive to the stated goals and missions of the church as an organization.

          That is why it would be much better for you, and for more honest, if you were to take on a label that more accurately represents your current world views…

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  67. Thanks for your response.

    1] You first answer a question I did not ask. In responding you are distracted by irrelevancies and fail to respond to my key point that there is immaturity in your statements on rejection of Adventism and Christianity precipitated by any questioning of your rigid belief structure. The point was that even a child negotiates the negation of the myth of santa claus without loss of faith in family and christmas but you cannot negotiate the loss of belief in the myth of divine fiat without proposing completely rejecting Christianity. It says to me that you think Christianity outside you arguments has no intrinsic value.

    2] Your discourse on the Great controversy and theodicy is really irrelevant to the argument about your expectations for scientists teaching science unless you think that you want theologians teaching science.

    3] None is seriously questioning your skills in reading and comprehension even of scientific papers. My concerns are that you demean the work and conclusions of the majority of earth and life scientists either suggesting they are deceived by the devil and have some alternative agenda or do not understand their field of expertise as well as you do. This is what I mean by you not respecting the integrity or work of science or scientists.
    You may read the primary literature in genetics as a MD but your comments manifest at times a lack of understanding of the basics of population and molecular genetics expected of a scientist with training in genetics. That you think there is no difference is cause for concern.

    Did you actually read in its entirety the original Nature paper and its online supplementary data that is the basis for this whole thread on Junk DNA? If so please give us a summary of the observations and a critique of the conclusions of the writer of this paper. It would allow us to actually assess if you have misconstrued this data or read it properly in context.

    4] I confess I do respect scholarship as a process which is why I reject your calls for purging and replacing scientist with a caricature made in your image. I make no secret that I accept that science is done in good faith and is self correcting. I accept there is a place for tentative acceptance of authority but believe we must with humility question everything including accepting higher criticism of our sacred texts as a legitimate process. However you cant have it both ways. You cant accuse me of on one hand being outside your version of orthodoxy and Christianity itself as you have done many times and at the same time suggest I do not think for myself.

    5] You again project as blind faith the acceptance of Jesus as the incarnate God based on other than rationalism and empirical evidence. Given the option of someone like Jeff Kent who truly and humbly knows the extent and content of the biomedical literature and our ignorance but who maintains a faith in Adventist belief and someone made in your image with an accompanying certainty and rigidity of belief and a tenuous and brittle faith the decision on who should teach our young people is like choosing between light and darkness.

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  68. Sean Pitman: But, you go ahead and follow your “experts” without really doing your own thinking for yourself.

    Do you treat everyone who disagrees with you like this? Your words say much more about you than about Pauluc. Serious.

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  69. I found something this morning that seems so appropriate for this forum and chain. I just want to share it here.

    “The Sadducees had flattered themselves that they of all men adhered most strictly to the Scriptures. But Jesus showed that they had not known their true meaning. That knowledge must be brought home to the heart by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Their ignorance of the Scriptures and the power of God He declared to be the cause of their confusion of faith and darkness of mind. They were seeking to bring the mysteries of God within the compass of their finite reasoning. Christ called upon them to open their minds to those sacred truths that would broaden and strengthen the understanding. Thousands become infidels because their finite minds cannot comprehend the mysteries of God. They cannot explain the wonderful exhibition of divine power in His providences, therefore they reject the evidences of such power, attributing them to natural agencies which they can comprehend still less. The only key to the mysteries that surround us is to acknowledge in them all the presence and power of God. Men need to recognize God as the Creator of the universe, One who commands and executes all things. They need a broader view of His character, and of the mystery of His agencies.” {DA 605.5}

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    • @Charles: I agree this statement is very appropriate to the dialog.
      If you have been following the conversation you will notice it is actually Sean who has been deprecating faith and those Christians who are scientists who while acknowledging the overwhelming evidence for long ages and common origin would nonetheless claim that the mystery of God and has creation are revealed to us in Jesus
      We appropriate this revelation through his word the bible and through belonging to the body of Christ His church. God is revealed by his revelation not by some rationalism that is predicated on the self-deception that the weight of scientific evidence favors

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      • @pauluc:

        The very existence of the God of the Bible and the notion that the Bible, among all competing options, is the very Word of God, is undermined when you effectively falsify the claims of the Bible.

        Your argument for a fideistic form of faith is by definition irrational in that it seeks no empirical explanation for choosing to believe one particular concept among many competing options. In contrast, a child’s faith in his family vs. the concept of Santa Claus is not fideistic. Yet, you write:

        The point was that even a child negotiates the negation of the myth of santa claus without loss of faith in family and christmas but you cannot negotiate the loss of belief in the myth of divine fiat without proposing completely rejecting Christianity. It says to me that you think Christianity outside you arguments has no intrinsic value.

        A child determines what is and is not myth based on the weight of evidence that he can understand. As the weight of evidence builds beyond a certain level, the child starts to question the actual existence of Santa Claus. Yet, he doesn’t question the existence of his own family because of the weight of empirical evidence in favor of their existence. He can see and touch them after all on a daily basis. He also maintains his faith in his family’s love for him based on the continued weight of empirical evidence in favor of this love hypothesis in his own mind. It’s all based on a form of scientific investigation (even if done on a subconscious level).

        However, such hypotheses can be rationally challenged, as with any scientific hypothesis, if the weight of empirical evidence shifts so that this love hypothesis is no longer supported – as I previously described.

        You see, a rational faith or belief is always based on the weight of evidence that the individual can personally understand. A fideistic faith is not any more rational than wishful thinking or one’s own imagination or invention of an image of God – a form of idol making.

        What you’ve done is invented your own God and your own Jesus independent of the claims or credibility of the Bible or any other external authority outside of your own mind. Your inventions are simply not based on the claims of the Bible nor do they reflect the God or the Jesus of the Bible – because you reject what they say about themselves and about historical realities within the pages of the Bible. You pick and choose what elements you will use to build your own image of “christianity”… which is quite different from the Biblical claims.

        That is why I would reject the Biblical version of Christianity as remotely credible if I were to accept the claims of mainstream science regarding origins. Such claims, if accepted, directly undermine and effectively falsify the basis of Biblical credibility regarding the nature of God and of Jesus Himself. What you are left with, at this point, is something of your own creation. Something that I create in my own mind is not reliable or credible as a something in which I can put my faith and hope for a very real and very bright future. Obviously, the significant majority of scientists agree as most are atheists or agnostics or reject the Bible’s view of God as based on nothing more significant than moral fables and myths.

        And, so far, the organized Adventist Church agrees with me. Of course, you can call yourself whatever you want. But, again, that doesn’t mean that the church is going to recognize your claims as actually representing the church’s view of reality. So, why would you expect anyone holding views that undermine the fundamental goals and ideals of the church, the “fundamental beliefs”, to be paid by the church?

        Sean Pitman
        http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  70. Sean Pitman: And, so far, the organized Adventist Church agrees with me.

    When empirical evidence and God’s word go different directions, you will choose the evidence, whereas the SDA Church always has and always will prioritize God’s word.

    You are delusional to believe that the SDA Church will agree to disembody and disavow itself of God if the accumulated evidence goes against its present interpretation of scripture.

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    • @Professor Kent:

      When empirical evidence and God’s word go different directions, you will choose the evidence, whereas the SDA Church always has and always will prioritize God’s word.

      During the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church the founding fathers took on the position that the Bible prophesied that Jesus would return in 1844. The empirical evidence proved this notion wrong. And, these founding fathers were forced, by the empirical evidence, to admit that their faith in what they thought the Bible said was mistaken.

      You see, the SDA Church, from its very beginnings, has been forced to recognize the interplay between faith and evidence for the rational mind. One cannot rationally argue that one’s faith in what one thinks the Bible says, or even the origin of the Bible, is entirely independent of the weight of empirical evidence.

      It is for this reason that the modern Seventh-day Adventist Church is actually concerned over what is being taught at La Sierra University regarding the topic of origins. If all that mattered was a fideistic faith in the Bible and our own special interpretation of the Bible, the church wouldn’t care what people thought of the empirical evidence. It wouldn’t care what was being taught in science classes within its own schools. This simply isn’t the case.

      You are delusional to believe that the SDA Church will agree to disembody and disavow itself of God if the accumulated evidence goes against its present interpretation of scripture.

      But the church has changed its mind before regarding its views of the Bible based on the weight of empirical evidence (as noted above).

      Again, God does not ask us to believe or have faith without the weight of evidence. He does not expect us to believe in something that has no more evidential backing than the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. That simply wouldn’t be reasonable on the part of God nor would it be fair for Him to act in such a manner…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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  71. There is a great gulf between You and I. Where does one start in trying to find common ground and responding to your very concrete thought structure. Its as if the last 200 years have not happened. Your view of natural theology may have been accepted by William Paley but is not an approach to God thought valid by most modern theologians with any acquaintance with science. It is not the 19th century and we are called to preach the grace of God to a secular world. Your vision shows no imagination or understanding of spirituality or the reality and value of vision, myth and abstract concepts that may have no correspondence in concrete realities. Do you agree with Martin Luther in his statement about scripture trumping observation;

    “People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool [or ‘man’] wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
    – Martin Luther, Table Talk

    If you truly privilege scripture over science you should really revamp this web site to be consistent with the supremacy of scripture along the lines of the site http://www.fixedearth.com/ A site that is at least absolutely consistent with biblical literalism as Luther saw it.

    The reality however is that both you and I interpret the scriptures. As I have said before you appear to practice naturalistic evidence based medicine contrary to the biblical description of healing but then pretend that you are following the plain text of scripture when reject entirely naturalism when it comes to origins. You claim;

    “You pick and choose what elements you will use to build your own image of “christianity”… which is quite different from the Biblical claims.”

    But do not at all seem able to see that you are in fact doing exactly what you project in accepting evidence based medicine contrary to a plain reading of scripture but claiming origin by divine fiat and miracle on the basis of one particular reading of scripture.

    You continue to misconstrue the point of my discussion of Santa Claus and Christmas. Children can and do grow in their understanding of reality and are able to see beyond the concrete events of Christmas to see it as a representation of a worthy abstraction that is not invalidated by rejecting a fictitious Santa Claus. You seem unable to move from the concrete to the abstract and yet again claim you will reject Christ if your biblical interpretation is found not to be consistent with a simplistic reality. As though your superior mind trumps any non-rational revelation of God. Your arrogance is unceasingly amazing.

    You claim

    “And, so far, the organized Adventist Church agrees with me. Of course, you can call yourself whatever you want. But, again, that doesn’t mean that the church is going to recognize your claims as actually representing the church’s view of reality. So, why would you expect anyone holding views that undermine the fundamental goals and ideals of the church, the “fundamental beliefs”, to be paid by the church?”

    You are of course right if you think the church that is being rebuilt by Ted Wilson and Clifford Goldstein with their militant fundamentalism and unsavoury and ungracious political manouvering is the legitimate heir of traditional Adventism but I do not.

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    • There is a great gulf between You and I. Where does one start in trying to find common ground and responding to your very concrete thought structure. Its as if the last 200 years have not happened. Your view of natural theology may have been accepted by William Paley but is not an approach to God thought valid by most modern theologians with any acquaintance with science.

      One of the problems I personally have with your perspective, and that of many modern theologians, is that it seems to me to be inconsistent with itself. You yourself describe your own position as “irrational”! You reject the authority of the Scriptures when the Biblical authors describe the miracle of God creating life on this planet in just six literal days (clearly what the author of the Genesis account was trying to convey to his readers)… because of what you view as the contrary evidence of modern science. Yet, at the very same time, you accept the claims of the Biblical authors when they describe the miraculous virgin birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. You accept this portion of the Scriptures contrary to the claims of the vast majority of modern scientists who claim that such things are impossible.

      Does this not then mean that your internally derived “faith” allows you to pick and choose what you will and will not believe independent of the influence of anything else? It isn’t a matter of consistent Biblical interpretation for you because you simply aren’t consistent in how you interpret the Bible or determine what is or isn’t true. You pick and choose based on your own individual desires for what you want to be true. That is why your faith is inconsistent with itself and is, as you yourself explain, completely irrational to the point of overt fideism. You take on a form of fideism that is its own evidence independent of any influence outside of your own mind and your own feelings and desires – to include any consistent influence from the Bible itself.

      What argument can you or any modern theologian present to make what you yourself claim is an irrational position appear remotely attractive to those who appreciate rational thought and careful consistent investigation of fantastic claims?

      It is not the 19th century and we are called to preach the grace of God to a secular world. Your vision shows no imagination or understanding of spirituality or the reality and value of vision, myth and abstract concepts that may have no correspondence in concrete realities.

      But I do find value in various myths, legends, allegories, and fairytales. Even Jesus used such stories to teach various truths about the existence of realities that are not yet seen. However, it makes a great deal of difference if one believes that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a good moral fable vs. true empirical historical reality. If the disciples of Jesus had believed His claims to be the Son of God simply allegorical, rather than empirical reality, they would not have put their own lives on the line. No rational person, who is naturally prone to avoid a martyr’s death, is going to put his life on the line for stories that he believes are mythical or allegorical – devoid of any “correspondence with concrete realities”.

      They key point here is that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead and His disciples had not personally witnessed the empirical reality of this event, there would be no Christian Church of any kind today. All of Christian faith hinges on the literal reality of the Resurrection. Without this reality, there is no mystical experience with God that can rationally support the claims of Christianity.

      Do you agree with Martin Luther in his statement about scripture trumping observation:

      “People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool [or ‘man’] wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
      – Martin Luther, Table Talk

      If you truly privilege scripture over science you should really revamp this web site to be consistent with the supremacy of scripture along the lines of the site http://www.fixedearth.com/ A site that is at least absolutely consistent with biblical literalism as Luther saw it.

      Even though we who live in this modern age know that the Earth does in fact revolve around the Sun, we still speak in everyday terms as the Sun “rising in the east” and “setting in the west” or the “Sun going down”. Such are terms of perspective. In context, therefore, no further interpretation is necessitated in the Bible’s description of Joshua speaking from his own Earth-bound perspective. Surely you can understand the difference between such passages and passages in Genesis where it would be very very difficult to misinterpret the observation of “evenings and mornings” separating the “days” of creation – regardless of perspective. In such passages the author is clearly claiming that God showed him that the days of creation were separated by what clearly appeared to be “evenings and mornings” from his Earth-bound perspective. There’s a big difference here.

      As far as Martin Luther is concerned, he was a great reformer and he did advance important truths for his time. However, he was no prophet and received no privileged revelation regarding such things. He forwarded and acted upon a great many points of misunderstanding regarding the meaning of many Scriptural truths which the Seventh-day Adventist Church has since realized – to include those truths revealed to us by God speaking in a very privileged manner through Ellen White.

      Now, you can either accept or reject the Adventist perspective on such things, but it is very difficult to call yourself an Adventist or a true representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when you are actually fighting against numerous doctrinal ideals that the Adventist Church, as an organization, still holds to be fundamentally important. It would be much better and far more honest for you to describe yourself in terms that more accurately reflect your true beliefs.

      The reality however is that both you and I interpret the scriptures. As I have said before you appear to practice naturalistic evidence based medicine contrary to the biblical description of healing but then pretend that you are following the plain text of scripture when reject entirely naturalism when it comes to origins. You claim;

      “You pick and choose what elements you will use to build your own image of “christianity”… which is quite different from the Biblical claims.”

      But do not at all seem able to see that you are in fact doing exactly what you project in accepting evidence based medicine contrary to a plain reading of scripture but claiming origin by divine fiat and miracle on the basis of one particular reading of scripture.

      There is actually good support for evidence-based medicine in Scripture. Just because the Scriptures also point out the power of prayer and God’s willingness to supernaturally intervene, on occasion, in our lives does not mean that the Scriptures are opposed to evidence-based medicine. Such a notion is completely contrary to the position of the Bible, Mrs. White, and the Adventist Church on the topics of health and medicine in general where the laws of nature, set in place by God, are to be dealt with on a routine basis in the practice of medicine and healthful living.

      You continue to misconstrue the point of my discussion of Santa Claus and Christmas. Children can and do grow in their understanding of reality and are able to see beyond the concrete events of Christmas to see it as a representation of a worthy abstraction that is not invalidated by rejecting a fictitious Santa Claus. You seem unable to move from the concrete to the abstract and yet again claim you will reject Christ if your biblical interpretation is found not to be consistent with a simplistic reality. As though your superior mind trumps any non-rational revelation of God.

      A non-rational revelation of God would not, by definition, make rational sense – right? (any more than a desire to believe in the reality of existence of Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?) Why then should I believe in any irrational “revelation” that makes no sense to me? Can you provide any rational answer to this question? Wouldn’t any response you might submit be irrational by definition? That’s why your position makes no sense to me. Why even try to argue for what you yourself are arguing has no rational explanation?

      Your arrogance is unceasingly amazing.
      You claim:

      “And, so far, the organized Adventist Church agrees with me. Of course, you can call yourself whatever you want. But, again, that doesn’t mean that the church is going to recognize your claims as actually representing the church’s view of reality. So, why would you expect anyone holding views that undermine the fundamental goals and ideals of the church, the ‘fundamental beliefs’, to be paid by the church”

      You are of course right if you think the church that is being rebuilt by Ted Wilson and Clifford Goldstein with their militant fundamentalism and unsavoury and ungracious political manouvering is the legitimate heir of traditional Adventism but I do not.

      Where did Ted Wilson or Clifford Goldstein set up the fundamental doctrinal ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? You give them far too much credit! These fundamentals were set up well before they came on the scene…

      At the very least, you must admit that you are strongly opposed to many of the clearly stated doctrinal positions that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has long held, and currently holds, to be “fundamental” to its very existence. You fundamentally disagree with both the founders and the current leaders of the church on many key points of doctrine. You disagree with many of the modern and historical doctrinal positions of the SDA Church as an organization.

      You are really more of a “social Adventist” who was raised in the Adventist Church but who really doesn’t subscribe to many of the doctrinal positions of the church as an organization. Why then do you wish to continue to take on the title of “Seventh-day Adventist” when this title doesn’t really do you justice? – when it doesn’t truly represent who you really are and what you really believe? And, why on Earth would you expect anyone who holds similar views to your own to be hired by any organization who claims to be fundamentally opposed to what you actually believe and are willing to teach/preach?

      Wouldn’t it be far more honest and ethical for you and those of like mind to more clearly present yourselves and what you stand for and then go and work for those who are more than willing to pay to have such ideas taught in their schools and preached from their pulpits? Why the aversion to completely open and honest transparency here?

      And, if the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as an organization, really has no problem with those from your perspective preaching and teaching on the church’s dime, why then hasn’t the Adventist Church come out in open support of such efforts? Why has the Adventist Church, as an organization, gotten so worked up over Neo-Darwinism being so openly promoted as La Sierra University? – if the church really is as supportive of your position as you seem to suggest?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

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