@pauluc: Did the disciples have more or less faith …

Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by Sean Pitman.


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

Sean Pitman Also Commented

The End of “Junk DNA”?

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

The End of “Junk DNA”?

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

The End of “Junk DNA”?

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

“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

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.

The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.

God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.

The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.

For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”

That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Bill Sorensen:

Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.

God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28

Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.

Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.

This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…

Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.

Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.

Sean Pitman

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…

Sean Pitman