@Professor Kent: Mark Houston was right in pointing out that …

Comment on Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism by Sean Pitman.

@Professor Kent:

Mark Houston was right in pointing out that the amazing camel is exceptionally well designed for life AFTER the flood, and not before it.

I actually agree with this point…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism
@Stan Hudson:

I was a speaker at the Yes, Creation series at the GC (and manned the Geoscience Booth a few days), and have known Ben Clausen (casually) over the years. I think Ben has been affected by various creationist statements over the years that are weak scientifically, in his mind. He is rather rigorous in this, even combative on the idea that Genesis can be supported with a scientific model. I think he does believe Genesis, wishing to place it in a separate mental box, so to speak. Not science, but more personal faith. This is a common practice among some.

This is also my understanding of Clausen’s position. The problem I see with such a position is that it makes the SDA position on origins appear to have no more scientific or even rational validity than those who subscribe to the flat-Earth society. The notion that the SDA position on origins is only a matter of personal faith, despite all evidence to the contrary, is simply not a helpful position in my opinion. One might as well leave the SDA Church given this perspective. I certainly would if I thought the same way.

As for me, I prefer stating the obvious weaknesses scientifically of the evolutionary model for origins. They are numerous, easy to explain. And the idea that design is clear should also be easy. Good science is an ally here. But to go so far as to say we can build a “scientific model” for a six-day creation…well, Ben is correct on that. We can’t! And here we do enter into the neighborhood of the brain called “religious faith.” And FYI, that puts it next door to “scientific faith.”

We might not be able to build a scientific model to specifically support a literal 6-day creation week, but we can build one to support a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent and sudden catastrophic model to explain much of the geologic column and fossil record. While not all questions can be answered, of course, the weight of evidence in this regard appears to me to be overwhelmingly on the side of the Genesis account of origins. This adds weight to those aspects of the Genesis account that cannot be directly tested or evaluated in a scientific manner.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism
@Ken:

Clausen sees the Sabbath as symbolizing what Anselm said about “faith seeking understanding.” In conclusion he urged us to place our faith in the Bible because there is not enough support from science.

I disagree with Ben Clausen. The clear weight of evidence, as far as I’ve been able to tell, is strongly supportive of the SDA position on origins. The genetic, geologic, and fossil evidence all speak to a recent formation of life on this planet and to a sudden worldwide watery catastrophe that produced much of both the geologic and fossil records in very short order.

Because of this weight of evidence, I think that Ben Clausen has done and is doing the Church a disservice in his employment with GRI. GRI isn’t supposed to be a place where one argues that the only thing we have is blind faith in the biblical statements. GRI is supposed to be a place where scientific evidence is used to back up the biblical statements. If Ben cannot recognize this evidence, then he should be asked to move on and get his paycheck from some organization that is more in line with his personal views and blind faith.

Ronny Nalin, who does sedimentological research in Italy, chose to address a similar theme: “Dealing with Uncertainty.” He answered four key questions:

1. Have I found the synthesis between the Bible and geology? No, just more unresolved issues.
2. Should we downplay geology? No, the rocks have a story to tell.
3. Should we give up our faith when there is conflict? No, faith is not based on empirical evidence (Hebrews 11:1, 2 Corinthians 5:7).
4. Why is there a conflict? Incomplete understanding is part of the human condition; our God is bigger than we are. The answer lies in knowledge we do not see. Jacob’s struggle and conflict is a good illustration. Genesis 32:31 (NIV) says: “The sun rose above him” even though he was limping. It was a sign of symbolic life after struggle.

Such arguments are like saying, “Well, there is overwhelming evidence that the Earth is spherical, but because our sacred text tells us that the Earth is flat, we believe that the Earth is flat in spite of all the overwhelming evidence that is against us.”

To suggest, therefore, that faith is not based on empirical evidence of any kind is to suggest that the Christian gospel is no more reasonable than believing in a flat Earth or Dawkins’ Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Santa Claus or garden fairies. This notion is completely ridiculous in my opinion – not at all helpful as a solid rational basis for actually believing in the reality of the Gospel’s message of hope.

If I actually believed like this, I’d have the intellectual honesty to leave the SDA Church and even Christianity behind and to admit that the Bible is really not any more reliable or useful than a collection of moral fables…

In response to the question, “Please explain dating,” he said, “Radiometric dating is our only method; there is no alternative.” The follow up question was “Then explain six literal days.” His response, ”I feel comfortable because I have a larger world view though it cannot be reconciled with science. There is no shame in having problems.” Another question: “Is there room for believers who think differently in the church?” Response: “Yes, how would you deal with someone who had a mythical experience? No, forget the word ‘mythical’! The main point to realize is that you can’t use Genesis to form a scientific model. If you’re an advocate for other views, be humble, accept the fact that you may not have followers.” Last question: “Are there presuppositions in geology?” Answer: “Yes, the assumptions are reasonable and intrinsically connected with the laws of nature. When it comes to things that are supernatural, you can’t fully understand them, you can just speculate.”

Radiometric dating methods are not all we have to estimate elapsed time. There are all kinds of other methods to evaluate the passage of time – to include erosion rates, molecular decay rates, sedimentation rates, real time mutation rates, bioturbation rates, etc.

Beyond this, if the overwhelming weight of evidence is against you, why on Earth do you believe like you do? What is your basis for belief beyond some emotional need for a particular story to be true? And, where is the confidence to be found in a blind-faith emotion-driven belief system?

The presentation by Jim Gibson, Director of GRI, responded to the question, “Do Millions of Years Solve the Problem?” In a nutshell, his answer was “no,” but he carefully spelled out the reasons as follows…

Faith has to be the key because “there is not enough evidence to resolve the tension between science and the Bible; one has to believe the Bible without the support of science.” “Science works well when tests can be repeated; history is not testable in that way.” “Science is a closed system governed by physical laws so tension [with the Bible] has to be expected.”

Gibson is mistaken to think that various views of history are not in any way testable in a falsifiable manner and are therefore not empirically based. There is plenty of physical empirical evidence to support the biblical model of origins which is both testable and potentially falsifiable and is therefore scientific.

The statement, yet again, that “faith” is all that we have is nonsense. Blind faith, devoid of any backing by empirical evidence, is completely worthless as a basis for a real solid hope in the future. Richard Dawkins, William Provine, and others like them, are correct to note that such appeals to “faith” are no more useful to the believer than is essential atheism when it comes to a rational understanding of reality.

As far as the details of why I belief that the significant weight of evidence found in geology, fossils and genetic clearly supports the SDA perspective on origins, please refer to my website and the many extensive comments I’ve made along these lines in this forum and in many others…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism
@Ron Nielsen:

Get a grip and stop this insane witch hunt. Instead of focusing on that which is devisive, why not focus on what brings unity? There are plenty of theologians who think evolution is compatable with creation, and there are plenty of scientists who believe evolution is compatible with faith in God. Why don’t you focus on them?

I dare say that there are very very few, if any, theologians or scientists who believe in evolution or naturalism in general who can point to any particular feature of nature and say, “This required the finger of God or a God-like intelligence”.

This is the whole point of those like Dawkins and Provine and others who note that Darwinism is only consistent with religion or various beliefs in God if such beliefs are effectively indistinguishable from atheism as far as their ability to produce any solid evidence or predictive value in their behalf. In other words, as Dawkins so eloquently put it, if your belief in God cannot be readily distinguished from a belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Santa Claus, or garden fairies, what good is your belief in God?

This is what is important about the SDA position on origins. The SDA position on a literal creation week and evidence for the literal interpretation of Genesis demands the existence of a God whose handiwork or Signature can be clearly seen in nature as requiring very high level deliberate intelligence.

Those who disagree are welcome to their opinions. However, they are not welcome to expect, much less demand, a paycheck from the SDA Church to promote their opinions on the Church’s dime. Such a position is not a “witch hunt”, as you put it. It is simply a matter of practicality for any viable organization. No organization can long afford to pay those who go about publicly undermining the primary goals and ideals of the organization…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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