Believing the Disproven – An Adventure in Science

Wesley KimeBy Dr. Wesley Kime:

Adventism, from it’s origin in the mid-19th century, has always been, for a religion, uniquely heavy into science, particularly medical science, with a respected medical school and schools of related science, now called Loma Linda University.  One of the earliest medical schools in California, recently celebrating its centennial, LLU has always taught and researched cutting-edge medicine, right along with religion courses (in my day, Pauline epistles).  I’m a graduate, an MD, class of ’53.

That has been the pattern for all our educational institutions.  At La Sierra College (now university), I took a BA in biology, which included the study in detail of Darwinian Evolution as well as Creation Science, with proofs and disproofs, and, of course, due reproofs of the former and honest promotion of the latter.  Science and theology students may have tended to go their own ways, subject, alas, to the sin of pride of status, but without talk of fundamental incompatibility.

Thus Adventist science, supported by data and evidence, and Adventist theology, sustained by faith, coexisted together without gratuitous conflict, undue quibble or niggle, or inordinate compartmentalization.  Science and religion were married and enjoyed a little frisson but got along fine.

That was 70 years ago. Back then our preachers and pastors thought well of scientists (if not the moneyed lifestyle of doctors, but that’s another story), and we all were Bible students of greater or lesser seriousness, and not embarrassed about it.  Meanwhile, Darwinian Evolution was, even in the non-Adventist world, a theory, the parochially favored theory to be sure, but still a theory, not the law.  It was the Golden age of science, Adventist and non-Adventist.

Since then things have changed, drastically, and have gotten downright weird, I’d say kinky, may I say scary.

Evolution has evolved, breathtakingly, and evolved in unexpected directions and dimensions.  In the court and from the lectern more than in the field or the lab, Evo has evolved from theory to doctrine to law and beyond. No longer a tool of science, it is science itself.   Once Evo was taught; now it’s mandated, in court and classroom.  Who could have known?

And suddenly we are scholars, embarrassed that once we were Bible students, and abounding with doctorates and degrees in every traditional and pop field, preponderantly in sociology and philosophy and culture which know science better than science itself does, from the best universities, where we learned that prayer is less reliable than humanism, higher hermeneutics, and culture, knowledge not learned from Adventism but academia, wherewith the Bible itself must be judged, and usually found wanting, starting at the beginning, Genesis 1, Creation.

Our updated peer-reviewed scientists now know, therefore, that there is no evidence for Creation as the Bible presents it, not a shred.  There isn’t, and there can’t be.

By academic peer review and court order, evidence used either to disprove Evolution or prove Creation has been declared invalid hokum, not admissible in court, and furthermore illegal, evidence being Evolution’s patented private creative property, and any unauthorized use is piracy and subject to penalty, loss of tenure and disbarment for professors and lawyers respectively, loss of accreditation, investigation by the FBI, court actions, and flaming blogs, and lampooning in collegiate humor magazines.

The evidence is all for Evolution.  Creation has been disproven.

But – I’m not making this up — being as rigid cultural Adventists as once we were doctrinal, our resident scientists feel obliged to make Creationism fit into our culture, somehow.  But how in God’s name can scientists, Adventist scientists, do that, believe the disproven!

They cannot.   But they do, they somehow must.

How in God’s name!

By faith, is how.

Ah, faith.  Heretofore persona non grata anathema in the lab, and stoned and beheaded by scientists, faith, unsupported and even belied by authorized evidence, has evolved headlong into witless, autistic, blinkered, fideistic ex cathedra credulity, freestanding faith divorced from the Bible or reality and flitting dreamily somewhere parallel to God, validated only by a sort of burning within the breast, orphaned, a free-floating whatever; faith which actually feels more at home deep in nirvana or chanted at a monastery than at a seminar or seminary or church, much less the lab.  We don’t believe it, we just have faith in it.  Now faith, nirvanic faith, is exercised more absolutely in our labs than in our pews.  To hell with Galileo, heretofore our scientists’ patron saint.

So changed and overridingly powerful has our scientific faith become that anyone who still values evidence and cites it in behalf of Creation, is branded an atheist.  I’m not making this up.

But even if it wanted to, which it doesn’t, academically virtuous faith cannot reconcile God speaking and it happening, in six days, with the mandated randomness and eons.  So Adventist scientists, again following higher protocol, go theistic and allow God into creation after all, but only as an accessory after the fact, only after Darwin has rested from his work.

And having thus treated Genesis 1, this kind of transforming faith proceeds to send the rest of the Bible, even Jesus’s nature, mission, and resurrection, into the swamp up from which Evoean fishy creatures once crawled.  I’m not making this up either.

Thus this new faith, espoused with casuistic justification for the nonce, ostensibly intended to accredit factually discredited Creation, demolishes the whole Bible – taking with it the need of bothering with faith in the Bible at all, in either lab or pew.

Becoming suddenly serious, actually dead serious all along, our scientists agree that such a faith-adulterated science is more appropriately taught, must be taught, as religion, not science, in separate buildings, under separately endowed professorships, holding their own galas and eligible for separate awards.

I’m so glad I’m not taking pre-med now.  I would find myself majoring in theology, not biology.

_________________________________

Re-posted with permission from Dr. Kime’s Blog: I Say There
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150 thoughts on “Believing the Disproven – An Adventure in Science

  1. This really is an excellent article that highlights the changing views of faith and science over time within the Seventh-day Adventists Church. Whereas faith and science used to be seen by most as working together in a complimentary and even necessary relationship, many if not most now see faith and science as being completely independent of each other – completely separate ways of thinking were neither the twain shall meet. This is a serious mistake, a form of fideism, that has been engaged in and promoted by many within our church – to include many of the leaders, pastors, and teachers within our church who are responsible for the education of young and old alike.

    Thank you Dr. Kime for such a thoughtful presentation of this important problem. Hopefully it forms a steppingstone to cause many to think more seriously about how empirically evidence, science and faith can and should work together in harmony – as they did in Bible times and once did in the Adventist Church and even among most leading scientists as well…




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  2. Wesley
    Thank you for your comments. I have appreciated your erudite contributions here. That you are heavily embedded in a modernist perspective is clear and you perhaps see post-modernism as completely unintelligible and intellectually moribund.

    I only have one real question. Do you agree with Sean in his statement.

    I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. 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” .

    I realize that this may be an unfair question as you may not wish to be impolite to Sean but if you would give some indication of your perspective on whether Christianity is so monolithic that it stands or falls on the basis of one observation of deep time for life that would help me understand your position and perspective.




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        • @pauluc:
          No, Paul, you are again mistaken. Sean’s position is completely intellectually sound. It just rests on different presuppositions than yours. After years of thorough investigation, I hold the same position as Sean, that any faith tradition that is to influence our behavior in the real world needs to be supported by real-world falsifiable evidence.

          Your position seems to rests on the assumption that we believe God without a reason to do so. But you have never given a clear answer to why we should believe in God versus Krishna, tree spirits, or gurus. Do you have a direct answer to this? You evade this question every time Sean or someone else asks it. Worshippers of Krishna or tree spirits have faith, too.




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    • Your argument that fideism, or entirely subjective “gestalt” or feelings-based faith, is the only alternative to philosophical naturalism is a huge argument in favor of the rationality or reasonableness of full-blown atheism.

      As Richard Dawkins put it:

      “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist” – Dawkins, Richard. 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: Norton.

      I don’t see where you have any reasonable challenge to this argument? Richard Dawkins’ atheistic perspective is not at all questioned, in a meaningful way, by your internally-derived “gestalt” feelings of faith. He doesn’t care about your subjective desire for the validity of the incarnation of Christ or a Heavenly reward in the life to come. And, neither does anyone else who is considering the atheistic perspective. They would all just smile sympathetically at you and then dismiss you with a wave of the hand. The only meaningful counterargument to those proposed by Dawkins and the other “new atheists”, a counterargument to which any reasonable person would actually take some notice, is an argument from the weight of empirical evidence that is equally available to all to objectively consider… something that goes beyond what anyone may or may not feel or want to be true.

      Short of this, you have no logical reason to argue against atheism – by your own admission. You just subjectively “feel” that atheism is wrong… not convincing.

      For me, on the other hand (and for the biblical authors), I see very good reasons, that are both logical and rational, to argue strongly against atheism and neo-Darwinism as intellectually tenable positions and in favor of the existence of God and the truth of Christianity as expressed by the Bible.




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    • @pauluc: Likewise thanks to you, pauluc! I am pleased to have this opportunity to tell you in person, Paul, that for years, I’ve lost track of how many, at least 3, I have followed with ever-increasing awe your uniquely informative comments on this site. You have become the regular that I always check first, noted especially for your signature Socratic question, as good a dialectic as has ever graced this site, with which you now greet me, complete with gentlemanly pleasantries, to wit:

      I only have one real question. Do you agree with Sean ..: “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. 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.” I realize that this may be an unfair question as you may not wish to be impolite to Sean …

      Indeed, and I so wish not to be impolite to you either. Therefore, just as you, in responding to your inquisitors, value the precedence set by others whom you quote to the point of tedium, I shall follow Christ and his way of responding to such a baited question (to wit, “…the law commanded us that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” John 8), and avert my head and begin scratching delicately in the dust. In the ensuing silence do I hear Sam Donaldson ceremonially demanding, “Why don’t you answer my question!”? Scratch scratch.




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  3. Excellent article! However this is not unique or strange for the truth presenters. How many times in the Bible we read of the ‘truthers’ accommodating error? Legion; just check the record of the kings of Israel and Judea. Did not our mother inherit that from satan in the Garden under the forbidden tree? Check how she evangelized her husband, our father! But then again, God had and still has His remnant!! Good to know that. Evolution? Just open satan’s box of strategies for planet earth and see some of His plans!




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  4. This is a very thoughtful article from Wesley Kime. In Adventism, we need to get away from fideism and back to science and theology happily coexisting side by side. We also need to lay aside methodological naturalism and return to a Newtonian view of science.




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  5. “By faith, is how.”

    Indeed. And one can come by the faith by many means: empirically, spiritually, belief in the credibility of scientific knowledge over time, prayer, belief in the biblical word of God, belief in an institution, etc.

    If belief in God was simply an empirical, scientifically testable exercise, would any modern day Adventist men or women of science accept a modern day EGW going into trances and visiting other worlds? Not likely. That takes faith. Is the idea that once the world was perfect without death or decay scientifically provable? Not likely; that takes faith. Can the layperson, or non expert, understand all the complexities of the research of evolutionary biologists, geologists, physicists, etc., that support the weight of evidence pointing towards evolution being the ‘current’ best explanation for the origins and development of life on earth? Not likely; that takes faith in consensus of scientific opinion to ‘date’.

    Ahhh, but which faith is more rational? Pauluc’s? Sean’s? Dr. Kime’s? Well of course not, it is mine!!!! 🙂 That is the problem with ole’ Rationality seldom is it found in Narcissus’s reflecting pool. So friends might I respectively advocate that we can all take a bit of wisdom from each other’s perspective without necessarily watering down our strongly held convictions?

    In a world where the dangers of religious fundamentalism are apparent, maybe a wee bit of tolerance and laughter at one’s own follies is not a bad thing 🙂

    OK, my brothers in thought, that is all from the ontological peanut gallery for now.




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    • That’s exactly right. Determining which position is “most rational” is a personal effort. No one else can do it for you. It’s all based on one’s own personal abilities to think rationally. However, the very effort to try to come up with one’s own logical or rational argument for why one chooses to believe this way vs. that way about the world that exists outside of the mind goes completely counter to the fideistic perspective that those like Pauluc are promoting.

      Fideism isn’t based on a personal effort to discover the most rational or logical option, among many competing options, to explain the external physical world. Rather, fideism is based on determining which option feels the best or which option is most desirable or which option has the best “gestalt” sensation to it. As far as I can tell, it’s a choice based on emotions that are very similar to wishful thinking, if not identical. It is not an effort to discover empirical truth based on weighing the empirical evidence that is currently in hand. It simply isn’t a logical position – by definition as fideists like Pauluc himself explain with some mystical pride.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Dont worry I as a scientist engaged in the process of scientific research have looked at the consequences of rigorous application of these same methods to all of life including the provenance of the Canon and of EG White. I accept the conclusions of the best biblical scholarship on the origins of the canonical text and of the writings of the Adventist pioneers.

        By those methods I have arrived precisely at your “..If I ever…” dilemma and have concluded that fundamentalism and its assumptions are fatally flawed. I have concluded that there are evidences beyond the empiricism of the enlightenment that warrant belief in the divinity of Christ and the Way of the followers of Christ.




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        • Like what? What are these evidences of yours that would appeal to anyone other than you? What is the difference between your subjective “gestalt” argument and wishful thinking? Why avoid answering this question?




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  6. @ Ron

    “However this is not unique or strange for the truth presenters. ”

    Perhaps your comments are somewhat ironic in light of the title of this site? Do you, by implication, pose yourself as a “lack of truth presenter”? 🙂




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  7. Bob Helm: we need to get away from fideism and back to science and theology happily coexisting side by side.

    Problem is fundamentalism and science cannot coexist side by side as they are mutually contradictive unless of course you redefine science away from the acceptred Kuhnian, Popperian or wiki definitions and descriptions. This is what we witness here.

    On the other hand Christianity and science conventionally define can coexist if you abandon a fundamentalist inerrant view of scriptture and are willing to try to explore the Bible as a text about the revelation of God incarnate. Suprenaturalism and an understanding of Jesus as God cannot be anything else than an act of faith supported by evidence not by enlightenment evidentialism




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    • What is the difference between your subjectively derived “gestalt” type of faith and wishful thinking? And, how is your fideistic position not a form of “fundamentalism” which cannot be questioned or challenged by logical argument or any form of empirical evidence no matter how strong?

      What you’re trying to do is turn the Bible into a moral fable like “Moby-Dick” where only the ethics of the Bible remain true. However, you still wish to believe some of the empirical claims of the Bible regarding real history or the future world to come – such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and a future in a real place called Heaven someday. Talk about “mutually contradictory” positions. Upon what basis do you believe various claims of the Bible that go well beyond the mere moral or ethical statements of a moral fable? – especially since your “gestalt” is so selective about which of these empirical claims of the Bible are or are not true?

      Beyond this, you yourself admit that scientific methodologies and empirical arguments can in fact be used to determine the need to invoke, in your words, “creative intelligence” to explain various phenomena – to include phenomena where extremely high levels of creative intelligence and power would be required. Given such empirical evidence, making the leap of faith that a being indistinguishable from a God was most likely responsible is not at all illogical or irrational – even for the scientific mindset – which is what Bob Helm was trying to explain by citing the Newtonian mindset.




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  8. Sean Pitman: such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and a future in a real place called Heaven someday

    How many times can I say it. There is not now and never can be any empirical evidence (ie scientific evidence) to support these events no matter how many times you can claim there is with some hand waving. You and I both accept these aspects of Christian belief as just that Christian beliefs based on faith. It is only you that claims they are directly supported by empirical evidence. No sorry I am wrong; there are also a few other people here that are confused about the nature of scientific or empiricial evidence that give you an uptick whatever you may say.




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    • How many times can I say it. There is not now and never can be any empirical evidence (ie scientific evidence) to support these events no matter how many times you can claim there is with some hand waving.

      There’s a difference between an empirical claim (like “the moon is made out of blue cheese”) vs. empirical evidence upon which to actually believe that the empirical claim is literally true (like sending some astronauts to the moon to get a piece of it – see Link).

      Upon what basis do you believe that at least some of the empirical claims that the Bible makes about real history and real future places and events, claims which are not directly testable, are literally true? How does this basis of your belief in the reality of these specific empirical claims of the Bible go beyond wishful thinking? Remember, you’re no longer talking about a mere belief in the ethics of the Bible. You’re talking about a belief in empirically real physical events and places. This goes way beyond comparing the Bible to a moral fable like “Moby-Dick” you understand.

      Now, I’ve already explained why I believe the claims of the Bible (not just the moral claims, but the empirical claims as well) – based on the established credibility of the Bible when it comes to those empirical claims that are actually testable in a potentially falsifiable manner. It is not enough to believe the empirical claims of the Bible because the ethical claims are good. In order for the empirical claims of the Bible to be reasonably viewed as credible, to include those claims that are not directly testable, the Bible must prove itself credible regarding its empirical claims that are actually testable. This is the basis for my position.

      You, on the other hand, have yet to explain why you believe that certain non-testable empirical claims of the Bible about history and the future are literally true – beyond an appeal to your “gestalt” feelings (compared to my appeal to Biblical credibility based on its testable empirical claims). How are these subjective feelings of yours fundamentally different from wishful thinking?

      You and I both accept these aspects of Christian belief as just that Christian beliefs based on faith. It is only you that claims they are directly supported by empirical evidence.

      I never said any such thing. It’s pretty obvious that empirical claims like the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and the existence of Heaven cannot be directly evaluated or directly supported by empirical evidence. That’s why I picked these particular claims as examples – because these biblical claims, in particular, are not directly testable. Again, an empirical claim isn’t the same thing as an empirical demonstration or empirical evidence in support of the claim. One can make all the empirical claims one wants – like “the moon is made out of blue cheese.” That doesn’t make them true.

      So, why do you believe these particular non-testable empirical claims of the Bible? – beyond an appeal to wishful thinking? And, why do you cherry-pick these particular empirical claims of the Bible to believe as true? – when you reject so many other less fantastic empirical claims of the Bible as false? Are you not being inconsistent in your belief in something as fantastic as the Resurrection of Jesus while rejecting the less fantastic story of the Noachian Flood? How do you know what to pick and choose as “true” and “false” when it comes to statements from the same source? How do you know that you’re correct in your inconsistency? Does your “gestalt” tell you which empirical claims coming from the same source are true and which ones are false? If the Bible claimed that the moon was made out of blue cheese, upon what basis would you accept or reject this claim? How are the Bible’s claims for the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, or the literal existence of Heaven any different?




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    • @pauluc: My dear, dear etc. etc. new best friend! Since you do not require any evidence whatsoever for what God says, you surely don’t on the web or email either. (My lucky day!) Wow, have I got a phish for you! Just close your eyes and click on the attached document.




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  9. Just checked this site again this evening and am once again astounded at the arrogance of Pauluc. He seems to attack everyone on this thread including Wesley, Bob, Gene and of course particularly Sean. I appreciate your patience Sean in dealing with each of his silly niggles. I don’t think anyone here really agrees with any of his arguments but I guess it is useful to know how some people who are totally committed to naturalism in science can still imagine they are Christian let alone Adventist. It is now clear that he has not really been listening to what you are actually saying in responding to what I think is becoming a “new fideism”.

    This last post in particular is extremely clear that you are talking of how you use empirical evidence to address the empirical claims of the bible. It is very clear from the context that this is about the claims the bible makes about reality that has to be tested against reality. You are rightly advocating an approach that recognized that you cannot provide direct physical, empirical or scientific evidence for some of these things but there are things that the Bible claims such as in prophecy that can be demonstrated by scientific methods and each of these that is verified makes the untestable claims much more likely to be true. This is clearly the way that EG White was asking us to come to faith in God in her comments about the weight of evidence and dealing with doubt.

    But what does Pauluc do? He doesn’t really understand the issues and just goes on an on about how you are committed to “enlightenment evidencialism” as the basis for your faith as though that is a bad thing. I don’t think he really appreciates that Adventists have always had a high view of scripture as the Word of God. We believe in Sola Scriptura and know that there can be no conflict between the Bible and science when it is rightly understood. I think Sean you have made it so clear that Faith and science are working hand in hand. As Wesley says sometime faith helps us understand about science and other times the science can increase our faith but they are dependent on each other,

    Just wanted to encourage you Sean. As Ted Wilson said at the Autumn Council the Devil really does come to afflict us and interrupt our course and I think that Pauluc is probably just such an instance. Hopefully he will go quiet as he usually does after a series of mischaracterizations and ad hominem attacks.




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      • Hang in There Sean!

        How Do We Answer Fools?
        by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. *
        “A house divided against itself will not stand” is an easily understood truth.1 The same concept applies to logic used in debates and arguments. If an argument is self-contradictory, it is clearly wrong. Some accuse Proverbs 26:4-5 of self-contradiction. This is because they fail to comprehend that those twin verses teach related, but not identical, truths about arguing with fools. And arguing with fools is a frequent scenario in origins debates.
        Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5)
        Unlike Genesis, Proverbs is a book of Hebrew poetry that communicates truths through the use of parallelisms.2 It can compare similar things, opposites, a part of something with the whole, etc.2 Because parallelisms are used in combination to convey truth, both verses in Proverbs 26:4-5 must be compared with each other in order to understand the composite truth that God gives us. This composite truth is very practical, because most of us interact with overconfident fools on a frequent basis.
        Applying Proverbs 26:4-5, Dr. Jason Lisle has cautioned that one needs to avoid accepting foolish assumptions whenever discussing a controversy with a fool:
        In verse 4 we learn that we should not embrace the folly of the unbeliever lest we be like him. But in verse 5 we are instructed to show where his folly would lead if it were true. We make it clear that we do not actually accept his standard (Prov. 26:4), but if we hypothetically did, it would lead to an absurd conclusion; thus the fool cannot be wise in his own eyes (Prov. 26:5).3
        But some would argue that the two verbs used for “answer” are the same word, so the twin verses are nevertheless countering each other. However, that is not the case. It only appears that way because we are reading an English translation of the original Hebrew text. Although both verbs are forms of the same Hebrew verb anah, the consecutive verses employ two different forms of that verb. That makes quite a difference in the meanings. Consequently, as God intended, those two verses complement rather than contradict each other.
        Simply put, the verb form in verse 4 is an imperfect verb, describing a scenario where the fool is not being answered. However, the verb form in verse 5 is an imperative verb, instructing the reader to take action.4 Verse 4 is descriptive—it tells us how a fool behaves if he is not rebuffed in his folly. But verse 5 is a command—it mandates that the fool be refuted or else he will be “wise in his own eyes.” The overall meaning, therefore, is that if we don’t answer fools, we will face looking like fools ourselves. But when we refute fools (and we should), they will face the fact that they aren’t as wise as they claim to be. Obeying Proverbs 26:5 is an important part of what ICR’s apologetics school is all about.5
        References
        1. Matthew 12:25.
        2. See Johnson, J. J. S. 2011. Genesis Is History, Not Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not. Acts & Facts. 40 (6): 8-9.
        3. Lisle, J. 2009. The Ultimate Proof of Creation. Green Forest, AR: Master Books. 71, 74.
        4. The verb ta‘an translated “answer” in Proverbs 26:4 is a second person masculine singular qal imperfect describing an unfinished action. However, the verb ‘enêh, translated “answer” in Proverbs 26:5, is a second person masculine singular qal imperative, commanding the reader to take action.
        5. No need to be redundant or wasteful, of course. If a fool is refuted properly once but does not respond, it’s usually time to move on to someone more teachable (Mark 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:2; Jude 1:3). For more information, go to ICR.edu
        * Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        Sean, there are a lot more people that read your site and agree, although they do not comment because they may not be able precisely to articulate a defense against the attacks made on those who speak.




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    • @philcromwell: Amen from the “onlooking universe,” those many silent friends of this site who are so delighted with Sean’s stand and so relieved that finally someone is pushing back, and with such articulateness and clarity and, considering, politeness and patience.




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  10. Many of you continue to claim that Christianity and SDA beliefs are superior because the claims of Scripture can be verified by science (or historical accounts, which are equated with science). You further insist that the claims of atheism and origins through evolutionary processes defy probability, and that anyone who accepts them (or claims of scripture without an evidentiary basis) is a fideist.

    Here are a few tenets of evolution that are statistically very improbable:

    1. Abiogenesis
    2. Construction of molecular machines
    3. Evolution of complex molecules (1000 or more fairly specified amino acid residues with a new function)
    4. Beneficial mutations keeping pace with or exceeding deleterious mutations in long-lived organisms

    Sean points out that the probability of these events happening are so infinitesimally small that they simply could not happen. And therefore one cannot believe in abiogenesis or common descent.

    Yet there are many claims of Scripture and Christianity that are clearly refuted by science as well:

    1. A living, breathing human can be formed from a pile of dirt upon a voice command (Adam) or from a human rib (Eve)
    2. A virgin human (Mary) can give birth to a child (Jesus)
    3. A deceased human body can return to life after being dead for three days (Lazarus, Jesus)
    4. A living, breathing human can lift skyward without any visible means of propulsion until it disappears from sight (Jesus)

    If we are going to claim that our beliefs are superior to those of Mormons or even atheists because we have so-called “reason” and “evidence” to back them, we really should reconsider. Many of the claims of scripture, including these four which are foundational to our beliefs, have been shown by science to be physically impossible. Evolutionary claim #1, for example, is no less scientifically tenable than Scriptural claim #1; yet we mock the former and insist it is impossible, when science offers not a speck more support for the latter. The same can be said for Scriptural claims #2 and #3. There have been trillions upon trillions of mammalian births and deaths, involving a wide range of genome configurations under highly diverse conditions, yet there has never been one recorded instance of virgin birth or a life revived three days subsequent to death. And Scriptural claim #4 has been clearly refuted: humans have experimented endlessly with flight. We have as good a grasp–if not a better–on the physical laws that are defied by the Scriptural claims as we do those that are defied by the Evolutionary claims.

    Sean has insisted that these claims of scripture are “metaphysical,” and cannot be falsified. This is total rubbish. Why would “life cannot assemble on its own from basic elements” be any more testable or falsifiable than “a human life cannot assemble from elements of dirt when a sound is made,” or “a human life cannot be assembled from a human rib.” If anything, the latter hypotheses are easier to test, as they are much more restrictive. None of these claims of scripture are any more “metaphysical” than the claims of abiogenesis and common descent. If anything, there have been far more experiments (millions of mammalian births and deaths EVERY YEAR) showing the impossibility of scriptural claims #2 and #3 than all experiments of science to date in the history of mankind that have sought to demonstrate evolutionary claims #1-4 combined.

    So, Sean, Wesley, Gene, Ron, Bob, and Phil, upon what basis do you believe that these empirical claims of Scripture, which are as directly testable as many claims of evolution, are literally true when science offers abundant evidence to show they are flat-out wrong? If you are claiming that other evidences from the cannon of Scripture (the stories of a handful of men) can be supported, which prompts you to accept ALL claims of scripture, then why is your “reasoning” superior to the claim that other evidences from the cannon of evolutionary theory (the detailed, replicable experiments of thousands of men and women scientists) can be supported, which prompts someone to accept abiogenesis and common descent?

    And who is the “fideist” among us?




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    • If we are going to claim that our beliefs are superior to those of Mormons or even atheists because we have so-called “reason” and “evidence” to back them, we really should reconsider. Many of the claims of scripture, including these four which are foundational to our beliefs, have been shown by science to be physically impossible.

      You mean they’ve been shown to be impossible by the mechanisms that science has actually investigated. However, the Bible doesn’t claim that these events were produced by any of the mechanisms that have actually been investigated by science so far. Rather, the Bible claims that these events were produced by Divine power as one time historical events. Such a mechanism is not open to scientific investigation. That means that these particular empirical claims of the Bible cannot be directly investigated by science – obviously.

      How then is it rational to believe that these empirical claims of the Bible actually happened? Because of the established credibility of the Bible regarding those empirical claims that can be directly investigated with the use of scientific methodologies and which can only be reasonably explained by divine power as well – such as the origin of the universe or the origin of biblical prophecies or the origin of life and its high-level diversity on this planet. Such empirical phenomena can be directly investigated to see if the Bible’s claim that only God could produced such phenomena is supported by the empirical evidence – empirical evidence that shows that no other known mechanism, short of what anyone would call intelligent design on a level that would be indistinguishable from a God or God-like power, could reasonably explain such phenomena. I for one believe that the empirical evidence is quite clearly in favor of the Bible’s claims, thereby providing the Bible with a great deal of credibility which can then be used, quite rationally, to support the Bible’s empirical claims which cannot be directly tested.

      Sean has insisted that these claims of scripture are “metaphysical,” and cannot be falsified.

      These particular claims that you cite are not “metaphysical” claims. They are empirical claims. Now, not all empirical claims can be directly tested or evaluated by scientific methodologies. However, they are still empirical claims in that they are claims about real historical events that are physical events. This is different from a metaphysical claim – such as the Bible’s claim that Jesus was able to forgive sins. Such is not a claim about physical reality, but about metaphysical reality.

      This is total rubbish. Why would “life cannot assemble on its own from basic elements” be any more testable or falsifiable than “a human life cannot assemble from elements of dirt when a sound is made,” or “a human life cannot be assembled from a human rib.”

      Again, you’re testing the wrong mechanism. The mechanism cited by the Bible is a direct physical act of God. Such is not a testable mechanism even though it is an empirical claim. Such claims that are not directly testable can only be rationally supported based on the established credibility of the source of such claims. This credibility must, of course, be established by other means – as noted above.

      If you are claiming that other evidences from the cannon of Scripture (the stories of a handful of men) can be supported, which prompts you to accept ALL claims of scripture, then why is your “reasoning” superior to the claim that other evidences from the cannon of evolutionary theory (the detailed, replicable experiments of thousands of men and women scientists) can be supported, which prompts someone to accept abiogenesis and common descent?

      Because, as you’ve already noted, there are very clear limitations to what evolutionary theory can explain (i.e., it only works at very very low levels of functional complexity and the detrimental mutation rate for slowly reproducing creatures is too high for such populations to survive very long). This means that the evolution mechanism is unable to do what neo-Darwinism requires of it. And, this means that common descent via RM/NS and abiogenesis are both rationally untenable.

      The testable claims of the Bible, on the other hand, have passed test after test which has been brought against them – which gives the Bible superior credibility and provides us with a rational basis to also believe those empirical claims made by the Bible that are not directly testable. And, that is why faith in even the non-testable empirical claims of the Bible need not be a fideistic or “wishful thinking” type of faith.




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    • @Kristen Schmidtz: @Kristen Schmidtz:

      Kristen,
      The Bible does not make “empirical” claims. It gives a history of the origins of life on earth.

      Can one test the validity of this history?

      Why not?

      The Bible stated that the Universe had a beginning. The scientific community finally agrees.

      The Bible stated that time had a beginning, science agrees.

      The Bible states we are all one race, Science now agrees.

      The Bible states that humans are all descended from one man and one woman.

      I could go on and on.

      The Bible has proved reliable, over and over again.

      It gives credibility to the rest of the story.

      Evolution, on the other hand, is mostly supported by “just so stories”.

      As far as abiogenesis goes, the laws of physics and chemistry indicate it is impossible.

      There is absolutely no evidence that confirms that “Evolution” can produce the new information required to produce new organs and body types.

      You may not realize it but creationists believe in common descent too, from the Ark of Noah, not from some “warm pond” billions of years ago.

      There is no Darwinian tree of life upon which “common descent” is based.

      BTW,

      You have yet to give evidence for;

      1. Abiogenesis
      2. Construction of molecular machines
      3. Evolution of complex molecules (1000 or more fairly specified amino acid residues with a new function)
      4. Beneficial mutations keeping pace with or exceeding deleterious mutations in organisms with slow reproductive rates.

      You can’t, and you know it, because the science it not there.




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  11. Sean Pitman: So, why do you believe these particular non-testable empirical claims of the Bible? – beyond an appeal to wishful thinking?

    Let me answer this question by way of a paradox.

    Suppose there is a belief system that is historically well established and has significant consequences in terms of happiness life expectancy and quality of life. This belief system is however self referential and has through most of its history not been examined for the external consistency of its beliefs.
    Now suppose there is a continuing critique of this belief structure because of this very self referential and illogical structure by a number of impeccably trained logicians who find that indeed this belief system lacks the formal logic and consistency of thought of the surrounding culture and almost universally accepted as consistent with a healthy intellectual life. Indeed the belief structure of this group, perhaps we can call them “the way” cannot be considered anything but illogical when viewed within the paradigms of the dominant cultures. It makes unjustified assumptions and comes to illogical conclusion about the existence of supernatural events and structures. Although it is less common now they have in the past had a whole system of classification of such supernatural creatures they referred to as demonology. Its supernaturalism still relies on an intricate array of unprovable assumptions and caveats that can never be justified by logic or modern experimental data and the strong attachment to the irrational beliefs can be accurately characterized as a group delusion. The dilemma however is that in fact the existence of this whole edifice of belief and delusional thought may be explained in terms of its utility and survival advantage to the adherent. As the logician considers it he sees that this illogical belief exists because it has clearl benefits for survival. It seems to have survived as a adaptation that improves reproductive fitness for the group. This is clear from experimental data using large surveys of the adherents. They on average have bigger families, lower infant mortality, live 10 years longer than those who hold logically consistent views. They are on all objective measure of such terms happier and more contented. They hold totally irrational views on governmental structures and believe in peace and avoid involvement in war and violence and as far as can be determined objectively are more likely to show kindness to those who believe like them and are astonishingly gracious even to those who consider them the enemy.

    The real dilemma for the logician however is that these benefits only seem to accrue to those who hold these views consistently up to the point of being prepared to die for their beliefs. Indeed when presented with all the objectively true facts about the delusional nature of their irrational beliefs the adherents of “the way” seem to think that continuing to follow “the way” is the most logical and intellectually consistent thing to do. They even have a parable about this approach they refer to as the pearl of great price.

    Now the question. Who is most logical and rational? The adherents to “the way” or the logician? Which is most consistent with the empirical data?




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    • So, if a lie helps you be happier, you’d rather believe the lie? I thought you told me that you’d rather believe an “ugly truth” rather than a “beautiful lie”? Now you’re telling me that as long as the lie makes you happier, you’re willing to go with the lie and simply ignore the truth of reality? This is the very definition of fideism – and the basis of “religious fundamentalism” regardless of the particular flavor of one’s chosen religion. Of course there’s no argument against such a mindset! Someone who believes like this is not interested in reality or searching for “the truth” – only in what makes him/her happy.

      That’s not me. I’d rather know the truth even if it happened to be an “ugly truth” that made me a lot less happy than the “beautiful lie”. However, this little story of yours does provide a good deal of insight into why you believe the way you do. It seems like you’re promoting the idea that one should ignore reality and live in a fantasy world as long as that fantasy world makes one happier than living in the real world. It also explains why you cherry pick what you do and don’t want to believe as far as the empirical claims of the Bible – you seem to pick those claims that you like and discard those you don’t like. You seem to simply prefer to choose your own fantasy world, a world that makes you feel good, rather than worry too much about empirical reality. And, many people would agree with you – which is a big reason why “reality altering drugs” are so popular.

      Again, what is the difference between your faith and wishful thinking? Why not have faith that you’re a billionaire while you’re at it? Wouldn’t that make you happier if you really had faith in that reality? Of course not – because you know, intellectually, that it just isn’t true.

      It’s like the little Catholic boy who was asked by the nun teaching the Sunday school class to defined faith, to which he responded, “Faith is what you believe when it know it just ain’t so.”

      Thank God, it doesn’t have to be this way. Faith walking hand-in-hand with science can allow us to be, to paraphrase Dawkins, “Intellectually fulfilled Christians”.
      _____________

      P.S. By the way, your “paradox” isn’t a paradox at all. It is simply additional empirical evidence that the empirical claims of the Bible, if put into everyday practice, produce positive results which can be empirically recognized.




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  12. @ Sean

    “That’s exactly right. Determining which position is “most rational” is a personal effort. No one else can do it for you. It’s all based on one’s own personal abilities to think rationally.”

    But is the mystical rational, especially if one does not have not had first hand experience of it? As we have discussed, you and I have never witnessed a miracle or do not have personal conversations with God. In fact everyone I know personally – although they may have gestalt-spiritual feelings – has never witnessed a miracle or spoken to God. Thus such phenomena do not likely occur or are extremely rare in nature. Would you agree that is a rational conclusion?

    Now on the surface, I think we can all agree that the story of Christ and his resurrection as the son of God, is one of the if not the most incredible stories ever told. And I am not being disparaging here, it simply is! But is it rational? Why on one hand would God flood the world killing innocent children but then on the other hand sacrifice his own son- part of Him – for the sake of saving, in many instances, much worse humans? To me this juxtaposition of the OT God and the NT God is irrational as being the same ‘perfect’ deity.

    Let’s take it a step further: if the scientifc consensus over the course of time points to the likelihood of old life on the planet from many scientifc disciplines is it rational to believe in young life; especially if the proponents of same all stem from believers in the paramountcy of the biblical story?

    So, is Pauluc, and for that matter Dr. Kime ( even though their perpectives differ) that far off the mark when they say it takes faith?

    In my case I have a great deal of faith: in the progress of science to better and better approximate the reality of the universe and life on earth devoid of the biases of religion or atheism ( a fundamentalist religion!) I have faith in the cross cultural study of religions to understand the basis of their formation, their variance and similarities, their evolution(s) as it were. And yes I confess: such faith exalts human reason- perhaps hubristically- above the suppossed word(s) of God. Now perhaps in the future I will have relgious experience whereby I will subordinate my reason to connection with God. Rationally I have to leave open that possibility because I have no rational explanation for First Cause- the ultimate basis for agnosticism.

    Or perhaps – because your position offers more hope- you are more rational?

    Or perhaps – Pauluc is more rational as he sees the dilemma between the empirical weight of the evidence and the literal creation story- but has a deep reverence for the beauty of Christianity?

    What thinks Sage Kime?




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    • But is the mystical rational, especially if one does not have not had first hand experience of it? As we have discussed, you and I have never witnessed a miracle or do not have personal conversations with God. In fact everyone I know personally – although they may have gestalt-spiritual feelings – has never witnessed a miracle or spoken to God. Thus such phenomena do not likely occur or are extremely rare in nature. Would you agree that is a rational conclusion?

      I witness miracles every day. Every living thing is a miracle of intelligent design. The universe is also a miracle of unbelievably intelligent design. The same is true for biblical prophecies which are clearly miracles of Divine Design. There are no tenable naturalistic explanations for these things.

      Now on the surface, I think we can all agree that the story of Christ and his resurrection as the son of God, is one of the if not the most incredible stories ever told. And I am not being disparaging here, it simply is! But is it rational? Why on one hand would God flood the world killing innocent children but then on the other hand sacrifice his own son- part of Him – for the sake of saving, in many instances, much worse humans? To me this juxtaposition of the OT God and the NT God is irrational as being the same ‘perfect’ deity.

      You don’t know all the factors involved in such decisions – except for the claim that the world before the Flood was evil beyond repair. Only an omnipotent being who perfectly knows the future as well as the past can accurately make such decisions – knowing what would have happened if no Flood had been sent. It’s kind of like asking if you would kill Hitler as a child if you could be sent back in time? Only a God can know such things as what evils an individual will do in the future and how to balance the scales so that good can continue to survive.

      Let’s take it a step further: if the scientifc consensus over the course of time points to the likelihood of old life on the planet from many scientifc disciplines is it rational to believe in young life; especially if the proponents of same all stem from believers in the paramountcy of the biblical story?

      It would not be rational to go against the scientific consensus unless you’d done some of your own study and research for yourself that cause you to conclude that the consensus was wrong. However, this is in fact possible to do…

      So, is Pauluc, and for that matter Dr. Kime ( even though their perpectives differ) that far off the mark when they say it takes faith?

      The difference between Paulus and Dr. Kime is that Dr. Kime says that it takes both faith and empirical evidence whereas Pauluc says that it only takes fideistic faith in your fantasy world without any need to worry about the empirical evidence at all.

      In my case I have a great deal of faith: in the progress of science to better and better approximate the reality of the universe and life on earth devoid of the biases of religion or atheism ( a fundamentalist religion!) I have faith in the cross cultural study of religions to understand the basis of their formation, their variance and similarities, their evolution(s) as it were. And yes I confess: such faith exalts human reason- perhaps hubristically- above the suppossed word(s) of God. Now perhaps in the future I will have relgious experience whereby I will subordinate my reason to connection with God. Rationally I have to leave open that possibility because I have no rational explanation for First Cause- the ultimate basis for agnosticism.

      You don’t understand that both you and mainstream scientists are affected by philosophical biases that are equivalent to any religious bias out there. It is best to at least be aware of such biases and consider that they can affect one’s efforts to think rationally and scientifically.




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  13. Sean Pitman: So, if a lie helps you be happier, you’d rather believe the lie? I thought you told me that you’d rather believe an “ugly truth” than a “beautiful lie”? Now you’re telling me that as long as the lie makes you happier, you’re willing to go with the lie and simply ignore the truth of reality?

    Sean You just so do not get post-modernism.

    Truth and lies and claims to superiority are so 20th century. You like Dawkins do not even seem to get the dilemma. Let me spell it out. If the God delusion persists because it is an evolutionary adaptive mechanism built into the psyche of man and can be explained by natural mechanism simply as a stage in evolution then what is the moral imperative to interrupt a process that is highly adaptive and at very core a mechanism of evolution of the human brain. Do you destroy a highly adaptive and clearly utilitarian process of thought on the assumption that knowing facts makes you a better, altruistic and more socially adaptive individual? Telling people to follow the Golden rule will somehow usher in a new and more transparent world. John Lennon at a white piano in a bright white palace drawing back the curtains and singing Imagine. Dawkins like Lennon even as he lets the sun shine into his little bit of heaven is reverting to a metaphor that calls to rememberence some metaphysical reality that exists in the hope of a Heaven.

    Post-modernism is a recognition of this simple fact. We dont exist in the oppressive meta-narrative of a monolithic truth that excludes all others that do not agree with us but in the stories we tell or our reality and our vision of a future. A future that can only exist when we have a vision of something transcendent that informs us of what could be. The of glory evident in a Kenotic God that loved unto Death even the death of a Cross. My soul yearns for that not the cold harsh reality of empirical fact, a 1984 dystopic reality that you seem to want to use to quash any aspiration for a reality based on visions and irrational hope.

    And yet, and yet, contrary to your view that I am

    “Someone who believes like this is not interested in reality or searching for “the truth” – only in what makes him/her happy” ,

    a postmodernist like myself can still use tools of logic to understand the physical world by certain rules of naturalism and logic, belong and fully participate in a community of science and still have a life of faith. (Arguably based on objective measures such as H indexes and publications one could make the case that I have done it more successfully than you even with your devotion to the supremecy of emprical evidence and objective realities). Isn’t that a paradox worth considering? You can have your cake and eat it too but you have to be a little willing to ask what the cake really is and in my experience it is a vision and a metaphor not an alternative competing reality that requires one like the White Queen to believe 6 impossible things before breakfast.




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    • Sean You just so do not get post-modernism.

      You can say that again…

      Truth and lies and claims to superiority are so 20th century.

      Oh, for the good ol’ days when there was a difference between truth and lies, right and wrong. It just amazes me that post-modernists can claim that, “There is no absolute version of reality, no absolute truths.” – “that religious truth is highly individualistic, subjective and resides within the individual” (see Link). Do you post-modernists not realize that this claim of yours is itself a statement of truth? – which contradicts your entire philosophy? Post-modernism is self-contradictory in its very essence.

      Yet, many have fallen into this trap since the beginning of time. Eve, in the Garden, listened to the post-modern suggestions of the serpent who ask, “Has God really said…?” So, Eve decided to create her own truth based on feelings and desire rather than choosing to go with the very strong empirical evidence of objective external truth that God had already given her of His creative power and strong love and care for her. She therefore doubted His word in favor of her own subjectively derived “truth”. (Link)

      It also makes me wonder how you can claim postmodernism as some kind of ideal while at the same time telling me that various things that I do or have done are “wrong”? There is no ultimate “right or wrong” or “superiority” of your views vs. mine in postmodernist thinking! You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth.

      If the God delusion persists because it is an evolutionary adaptive mechanism built into the psyche of man and can be explained by natural mechanism simply as a stage in evolution then what is the moral imperative to interrupt a process that is highly adaptive and at very core a mechanism of evolution of the human brain. Do you destroy a highly adaptive and clearly utilitarian process of thought on the assumption that knowing facts makes you a better, altruistic and more socially adaptive individual?

      I would destroy any lie in my mind for the very reason that I’d prefer to know the truth – even if its an ugly truth. I’d rather not base my life and happiness on a lie. It’s as simple as that. For me, real Truth has its own reward – its own inherent beauty that surpasses everything else.

      Post-modernism is a recognition of this simple fact. We dont exist in the oppressive meta-narrative of a monolithic truth that excludes all others that do not agree with us but in the stories we tell or our reality and our vision of a future.

      I don’t agree. I believe in absolute truths that exist outside of my own wishful thinking and self-generated stories about what I might want to be truth. I didn’t create the universe or world in which I find myself. It is a “truth” that exists outside of my mind and my will – a “universal truth” that nobody can control or change at will.

      If you want to live in your own little fantasy world, fine. Just don’t think to go around telling me that I need to live in your fantasy world too or that there is no universal truth – except for the “truth” that there is no universal truth. That’s patently ridiculous for those who are trying to be honest with themselves and the realities that do in fact exist outside of the mind.

      You seem to want to use a 1984 dystopic reality to quash any aspiration for a reality based on visions and irrational hope.

      Again, I’m just not a fan of wishful thinking. I’d rather know the truth for all aspects of what I believe (to include my religion). Clearly, you’d rather believe a lie rather than live with what you consider to be an “ugly truth”. You simply weren’t telling the truth when you said otherwise. Well, that’s fine, but call it what it is – nothing more than wishful thinking. It doesn’t matter that you can come out of your fantasy world to study science in the real world on occasion. I only have a problem with your religious fantasy world when you try to suggest that it is somehow superior to wishful thinking. That just isn’t true – as you yourself have clearly explained with your appeal to post-modern philosophy.




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    • Paul

      “We dont exist in the oppressive meta-narrative of a monolithic truth that excludes all others”
      Sure we do, God is Truth.

      That is your problem. Relativism makes you intolerant of views that disagree with yours. That is where your angry against Sean’s theology comes from.

      John 8:32 [Full Chapter]
      and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
      Romans 1:25
      They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator

      Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair




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  14. Sean Pitman: The testable claims of the Bible, on the other hand, have passed test after test which has been brought against them – which gives the Bible superior credibility and provides us with a rational basis to also believe those empirical claims made by the Bible that are not directly testable. And, that is why faith in even the non-testable empirical claims of the Bible need not be a fideistic or “wishful thinking” type of faith.

    I have described testable claims of Scripture that have CLEARLY and UNMISTAKABLY failed the test of science. They have absolutely failed and failed miserably, and you know perfectly well they have failed. Yet you declare that their failure is evidence that the claims must be true. In other words, you insist that testable claims of Scripture that can be supported prove the claims are accurate, and testable claims that cannot be supported prove the claims are accurate.

    Obviously, you have set up your reasoning such that there is no test by which Scripture can fail. And you apply much more stringent tests to Evolution than you do for Scripture. Any intelligent reader can see your asymmetrical application of reasoning to Scripture versus Evolution.

    Honestly, I think you’re a bit delusional.




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    • I have described testable claims of Scripture that have CLEARLY and UNMISTAKABLY failed the test of science.

      No you haven’t. Again, how can science “test” any historical event when this event is suppose to have been generated by Divine power? Now, the science you cite certainly does show that no non-divine mechanisms have been able to produce the phenomena in your list – which is actually consistent with the Bible’s claim that Divine power was required. You see, the hypothesis that God produced a particular historical phenomenon, like the Resurrection, is quite obviously not directly testable or falsifiable by scientific methodologies. Surely you understand the truth of something so self-evident?

      Obviously, you have set up your reasoning such that there is no test by which Scripture can fail. And you apply much more stringent tests to Evolution than you do for Scripture. Any intelligent reader can see your asymmetrical application of reasoning to Scripture versus Evolution.

      Hardly. It is quite easy to falsify my position. One way to do it is by showing how a mindless naturalistic mechanism, like RM/NS, would likely create complex functional systems beyond very low levels of functional complexity in a reasonable amount of time (i.e, this side of trillions upon trillions of years). Such a demonstration would effectively falsify the hypothesis that only an intelligent mind could produce such things. Of course, this demonstration would also effectively falsify the hypothesis that God is the most likely candidate for the origin of the high level functional complexity found within all living things and within the fundamental constants of the universe as well.

      The same is true for the hypothesis that biblical prophecies are real and could only be produced by Divine power. This empirical claim is both testable and easily falsifiable. All you have to do is show one of two things to effectively falsify this biblical claim: 1) that the “prophecy” was written after the fact or 2) that that the prophecy didn’t come true in real history.

      Another way to effectively undermine the credibility of the empirical claims of the Bible is by showing that the historical claims of the Bible are false. This is what happened to the Book of Mormon when many of its historically claims were falsified by modern science – such as its claim that the American Indians were descendants from the “lost tribes of Israel.” Such falsifications of historical claims undermine the credibility of such texts regarding other empirical and metaphysical statements that have not yet been tested or are untestable.

      Many have in fact tried to overcome such biblical claims, in an effort to discredit the Bible (which is basically a clear admission that the empirical claims of the Bible are in fact theoretically falsifiable – despite your assertions to the contrary). However, the more the “higher critics” have tried to falsify the testable claims of the Bible, the more the Bible has been vindicated. For example, for a long time Biblical critics cited the Bible’s claim that Nebuchadnezzar built the city of Babylon when other historical references attributed this feat to the Queen Semiramis of Assyria. It wasn’t until modern archelogical discoveries proved that Nebuchadnezzar did in fact build Babylon (his name is on every brick in the city) that this particular claim of the Bible was spectacularly vindicated – supporting the argument that only someone living during the time of Nebuchadnezzar could have written the Book of Daniel since such information was lost, outside of the Bible, soon after this period of time. Such efforts have only increased the credibility of the Bible and put to shame the critics who’ve fought against it. In fact, the critic R. H. Pfeiffer lamented this problem:

      “We shall presumably never know how our author learned that the new Babylon was the creation of Nebuchadnezzar, as the excavations have proved, and that Belshazzar was functioning as king when Cyrus took Babylon in 538.”




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    • Kirsten.

      You have stated that the following are clearly refuted by science;

      1. A living, breathing human can be formed from a pile of dirt upon a voice command (Adam) or from a human rib (Eve)
      2. A virgin human (Mary) can give birth to a child (Jesus)
      3. A deceased human body can return to life after being dead for three days (Lazarus, Jesus)
      4. A living, breathing human can lift skyward without any visible means of propulsion until it disappears from sight (Jesus)

      Please provide the scientific evidence that a supreme intelligence cannot do the above and that it never happened.




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  15. Sean Pitman:
    “You don’t know all the factors involved in such decisions – except for the claim that the world before the Flood was evil beyond repair”.

    No Sean it is written in the Scriptures. According Genesis 6 account the flood was all about the spiritual beings or Angels (bənê hāʼĕlōhîm) mating with human women and generating men of renown that manifest some of the supernatural; the risk of course being that they would perhaps eventually become immortal maybe by a process of back-crossing which would remove all traces of mortality. then Earth itself would be populated by the same evil as was manifest in heaven according to your literal and non-contextual reading. This was more than your simple eisigesis of good men mating with bad women would suggest. Indeed the message by your interpretation would be we always have to be vigilant about male headship and keep those temptress women in their place. God intervened in this debacle both by limiting human life to 120 years and killing the progency of this unholy union in a deluge. All very logical and rational; You dont have to speculate it is all there if you read it without your biases and devotion to empiricism. You do of course believe in spiritual being, angels and demons? These biblical concepts of course inherit their scientific validity according to empirical evidence applied to other parts of the Bible. The Pitman doctrine of inherited scientific verification of untestable events. You are of course the company you keep. No need to test empirical claims directly you can do it vicariously and give the total enterprise the seal of empirical validity en mass.

    The difference between Paulus and Dr. Kime is that Dr. Kime says that it takes both faith and empirical evidence whereas Pauluc says that it only takes fideistic faith in your fantasy world without any need to worry about the empirical evidence at all

    .

    And you wonder why I suggest you do not parse me correctly. How can you imagine I have no concern about empirical evidence when I have said repeatedly that I work as a scientist and have applied that method to understand the world using a process of hypothesis testing experimentation and publication which are the core activities of science. I have looked at the biblical account and concluded that it cannot be verified by such methods and have asked myself how do I hold a scientific methodological view of the natural world in tension with the claims of the spiritual and supernatural aspects of life. I conclude that there are other tools for understanding the meaning of the world outside the enterprise of science and a demand for empirical evidence. Faith is just such a tool. I have formed a view of what is fodder for scientific approaches and what is not. You in contrast having become enamoured with the hammer of hypothesis testing and empiricism and imagine that everything there is must therefore be a nail. That is the philosophical naturalists trajectory to atheism as I have repeatedly said.

    You don’t understand that both you and mainstream scientists are affected by philosophical biases that are equivalent to any religious bias out there. It is best to at least be aware of such biases and consider that they can affect one’s efforts to think rationally and scientifically

    .

    Indeed Sean that is sage advice. Something you should take to heart while you confidently assert;

    It would not be rational to go against the scientific consensus unless you’d done some of your own study and research for yourself that cause you to conclude that the consensus was wrong. However, this is in fact possible to do…

    You either have to have a very lay superficial knowledge of everything or your genius must be astounding to have read the primary literature in all relevant fields of knowledge.

    Beyond that you are being a little duplicitous to suggest that post-modernisms of subjective nonsense when you are yourself are using post-modern arguments in your criticism of any aspect of the enterprise of science with which you disagree. In you enthusiastic attack on “conventional” science you claim that there are biases and a world view involved in the practice of science. Indeed there are as has been recognized both by Kuhn and by a post-modern writers such as Lyotard.

    You imagine that a post-modernist who discounts the value of dominant meta-narratives must per se discount the value of the scientific enterprise with its search for models of reality based on naturalism and empirical evidence and discard it as simply subjectivism. This shows your lack of appreciation of what science is as a human enterprise or the eclecticism of post-modernism.

    I know logically since you have sufficient knowledge to disregard any expertise in any field there is no need to actually read any of the books I suggest but for others I suggest Lyotard’s “The post-modern condition: A report of knowledge.” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0816611734/ref=rdr_ext_tmb as a useful introduction to post-modernism and science. As you will see from reading the text there is not really much distance between Kuhn who you seem to enthusiastically accept and Lyotard.




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    • No Sean it is written in the Scriptures. According Genesis 6 account the flood was all about the spiritual beings or Angels (bənê hāʼĕlōhîm) mating with human women and generating men of renown that manifest some of the supernatural; the risk of course being that they would perhaps eventually become immortal maybe by a process of back-crossing which would remove all traces of mortality.

      Oh please. The “sons of God” statement here is a reference to those who still worshiped God – not to angels mating with humans. This passage in Genesis 6:1-5 twice describes the Nephilim as being “men”, using two different Hebrew words. It does not use the Hebrew words used to describe angels. Beyond this, Adam was called a “son of God” after all – as are Christians who follow after Christ (Luke 20:36; Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26, Psalms 82:6). Jesus also explained that angels are neither male nor female and therefore could not have mated with humans even if they wanted to (Luke 20:34-36 and Matthew 22:30). Also, Mrs. White clearly explains this passage as follows:

      For some time the two classes remained separate. The race of Cain, spreading from the place of their first settlement, dispersed over the plains and valleys where the children of Seth had dwelt; and the latter, in order to escape from their contaminating influence, withdrew to the mountains, and there made their home. So long as this separation continued, they maintained the worship of God in its purity. But in the lapse of time they ventured, little by little, to mingle with the inhabitants of the valleys. This association was productive of the worst results. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair.” The children of Seth, attracted by the beauty of the daughters of Cain’s descendants, displeased the Lord by intermarrying with them. Many of the worshipers of God were beguiled into sin by the allurements that were now constantly before them, and they lost their peculiar, holy character. Mingling with the depraved, they became like them in spirit and in deeds; the restrictions of the seventh commandment were disregarded, “and they took them wives of all which they chose.” – Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p.81

      This is obviously the most reasonable meaning of the text and consistent with the overall claims of the Bible – to include the comments of Jesus about the reasons for the Flood and how the evils that resulted in the Flood will be seen again in this world just before the Second Coming.

      And you wonder why I suggest you do not parse me correctly. How can you imagine I have no concern about empirical evidence when I have said repeatedly that I work as a scientist and have applied that method to understand the world using a process of hypothesis testing experimentation and publication which are the core activities of science.

      As you very well know, I’m talking about empirical evidence as an integral part of religious faith. You clearly reject such a concept and define religious faith as equivalent to post-modern wishful thinking. I think you’ve made yourself abundantly clear in this regard.

      You either have to have a very lay superficial knowledge of everything or your genius must be astounding to have read the primary literature in all relevant fields of knowledge.

      I have in fact read a great deal of literature on a number of topics. I’ve especially studied the potential and limits of the evolutionary mechanism in great detail over 20 years. I dare say I know something about it. And, I don’t really care if you or anyone else agrees with me. If you don’t have a counterargument that makes sense to me, I’m not going to say that your position makes sense when it doesn’t – given what I’ve learned about the topic.

      Beyond that you are being a little duplicitous to suggest that post-modernisms of subjective nonsense when you are yourself are using post-modern arguments in your criticism of any aspect of the enterprise of science with which you disagree. In you enthusiastic attack on “conventional” science you claim that there are biases and a world view involved in the practice of science. Indeed there are as has been recognized both by Kuhn and by a post-modern writers such as Lyotard.

      There’s a difference between recognizing biases and arguing that biases cannot be overcome or that in reality no absolute truth exists nor can anyone learn about or approach these external truths that exist outside of the mind in any kind of objective manner. That’s the difference between my position and the self-contradictory claims of postmodernism.

      You imagine that a post-modernist who discounts the value of dominant meta-narratives must per se discount the value of the scientific enterprise with its search for models of reality based on naturalism and empirical evidence and discard it as simply subjectivism. This shows your lack of appreciation of what science is as a human enterprise or the eclecticism of post-modernism.

      If by “eclecticism” you’re arguing that many postmodernist aren’t consistent, I agree. You seem to function just fine outside of the strictly postmodernist mindset in your lab, but not so when you’re talking about religion and suddenly start using wishful thinking once again without an appeal to anything in the empirical world. For you, postmodernism is like a light-switch that you can flip on or off at will.

      As you will see from reading the text there is not really much distance between Kuhn who you seem to enthusiastically accept and Lyotard.

      Many of the things Kuhn said did indeed seem to be supportive of the postmodernist viewpoint. Kuhn did describe science at large as a subjective enterprise where nothing happens until there is a sudden and dramatic “paradigm shift” within the scientific community. For example, Kuhn himself argued that ideas that have been rejected by contemporary science (that heat, for example, is caused by phlogiston or that mental health is regulated by humors in the body) have been rejected not because they were wrong but because they no longer served the needs of scientists. In other words, the truth is up for grabs. There is, according to Kuhn, “no standard higher than the assent of the relevant community.” Kuhn compared paradigm shifts within the scientific community to the switches in perception put forward by “Gestalt psychology” (like the popular example of a picture that is seen as a duck suddenly being seen as a rabbit – identical to the picture of the young woman and the hag that you previously presented as an illustration of your “gestalt” ideas of truth).

      I would argue, of course, that this is an irrational view that attacks the whole rationality of the sciences or the basic usefulness of scientific methodologies at large – and opens the way for extreme subjectivity. However, I would agree with Kuhn where he argues that a popular “paradigm” is often upheld within the scientific community in an authoritarian manner. In this sense, Kuhn compares scientific groups to the ruling classes of Orwell’s “1984” where anyone who disagrees with the dominant scientific paradigm is “read out of the profession.” I believe that this is what is happening with the paradigm of neo-Darwinism and even philosophical naturalism within the scientific community today.

      Also, Kuhn did seem to modify his postmodernist views of science over time. Kuhn did actually believe in absolute truths and a reality that exists outside of the mind. Kuhn actually objected to purely relativistic arguments and insisted in “The Road Since Structure” that the world had an objective existence. Kuhn even argued that scientific exploration is bound by the nature of that world. I would argue that same – that there are indeed subjective biases that should be recognized and efforts should be made to overcome these biases, but that it is actually possible for the honest seeker for truth to discover and learn, even on an individual basis, more about the world that exists outside of the mind regardless of the personal or collective biases that may also exist.




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  16. Gene Fortner: Please provide the scientific evidence that a supreme intelligence cannot do the above and that it never happened.

    Wishful thinking indeed. What Irony. Haven’t you been listening to Sean. You cannot talk about what may be shown in the future. You have to talk only about what has been demonstrated now. I don’t think any of Kirsten’s hypotheses have been tested by anything approaching the scientific method. Scientifically you of course know that you can never really prove a negative. You cant prove there never was a Spagetthi Monster. The absence of evidence becomes the evidence itself. Science is based on creating an hypothesis and testing with outcomes measured empirically and subjecting results to open scrutiny. Sean at least has that bit mostly right. If these are you hypotheses where is the test and documented result. Sans them there is no science or empirical evidence.

    Of course you can bootstrap all of this with the weight of empirical evidence in some other tenuously or vaguely related area by the astounding “Pitman Doctrine of inherited empirical verification”.

    As I have been consistently saying, short of these extraordinary contortions of logic there is a simple biblical solution. Biblical position is the tool you need is faith. As Heb 11:1-3 says
    1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
    2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
    3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

    Faith is the thing you use when the emipirical evidence is absent or cannot ever be demonstrated. Do you believe the clear word or live in submission to the Pitman doctrine, pretending that science can give you all the answers to everything past, present, and future. This itself is an extraordinary demonstration of faith. Have “faith” in Sean, we know we are on the right track, we just know we have just enough empirical evidence, just wait a little bit and it will all be clear by a mighty demonstration of science.




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    • You obviously don’t understand, or at least don’t want to understand, Gene’s point… or mine. For you, faith is defined by postmodernist wishful thinking. For us, our faith in the claims of the Bible that cannot be directly tested is based upon the empirically established credibility of the Bible as a witness to historical events that we cannot witness – not on simply wishing such stories were true.

      Exactly the same thing is true for the faith of Paul and for all of the disciples who based their faith on the empirical demonstrations of the Resurrection as solid “evidence of things not seen.” Their faith was just wishful thinking – according to their own arguments for why they believed what they believed. They themselves argued that they were not following “cunningly devised fables” because they were “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). That’s not a type of faith without a basis in empirical evidence. The same can be and should be true for our faith today.




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    • @pauluc: After the lead-in, “What irony! Haven’t you been listening…?”, Pauluc proceeds to — what irony — scripture, proof texts of all things, quoting, I assume, from his favorite version, “The Blinkered Bible,” published by the same people, I assume, as Publish “The Pimply Person’s Genderfree Bible.” Alas, the Blinkered version doesn’t seem to include John 10:38, wherein Christ says, apparently with divine dudgeon: “though ye believe not me, believe the works.” Many other texts along that line have already been presented, like manna, on this site. He that hath unblinkered eyes, let him see.

      And yours truly foresees seeing Paulucic hands thrown up in mock frustration at the Bible’s oxymoronity and a victory lap for Postmodernism. Whereupon yours truly shall surely, with eagerness, respond.




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      • @wesley kime:

        After scrathing in dust for a little while
        He lifts his head with a bemused smile
        Descends Olympus and joins the fray
        With mortals there who wander and stray
        As they circle and carp about things ethereal
        Divining poor what’s substance not immaterial

        The method they argue is the critical stance
        Do you favour the gestalt, cause purely by chance
        We arrive where we are by virtue of genes
        A weltanschauung cast like minting machines
        Groups and people defined by kith and kin
        Apprehending vaguely any concept of sin

        By culture and tribe we start where we are
        But some hear the call of the hope from afar
        And then where we are the divine intervenes
        And asks us to think beyond such routines
        To intuit a logic that is sensible too
        To dream and imagine a place that’s true

        Though seldom its found by the intellectual few
        But by a leap of faith with danger, and risk too
        For when you can’t compute the whole score
        You’re left with no option but to try to explore
        The will to power or faith in a spiritual realm
        And follow the God we trust’s at the helm

        But some need more substance, proof too
        Empirical facts undeniable, abundant, not few
        Hypothesis, experiment, results, to publish verboten
        But to believe without proof that’s completely broken
        Empiricism and science we need to maintain
        that holy writ’s empirically real, straight and plain

        We draw up a new thesis that helps us see
        You can transfer the virtue to a claim you agree
        Can’t be tested because its just intractable
        As long as that claims empirical or actual
        if it belongs to a group clustered by religious intent
        Then testing one claim in the group gives assent
        To the truth and verity of the group as a whole
        ’cause empirical proof’s needed to save our soul

        To the claim this makes a fragile approach
        a monolithic construction too difficult to broach
        we’re proffered a defence that claims for its virtue
        the alternatives lack sense are have no logic
        wishful thinking, insubstantial and certainly toxic
        For faith comes by knowledge that’s ever been clear
        For only by logic can God’s spirit draw near.

        And back and forth they go. Claiming text,
        proofing same to make their point, perplexed,
        And why indeed should not these mortals cite
        Their holy texts and argue whose right
        To believe without substance is irrational, obscene
        To claim faith as the substance for thing not seen

        But he shakes his head in sorrow and funk.
        How wrong are these mortals to believe such bunk,
        Words tapped by mortals, versions, ceaseless suppositions
        Must divinity come and show their sacred propositions.
        Cannot they see the words of the prophets spoken then
        exist only as words serving the logos to come again.




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        • If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
          But call it faith and maybe they will,
          realize the truth of God on their side;
          and knowledge of Darwin, virgins, and horses until,
          the Word and science are both cast aside,
          for a truth that is found by taking a pill.




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        • @pauluc:
          ODE TO PAULUC

          What ho! Who cometh down the hall,
          Bearing gifts of frankincense, demur,
          And empiric iambic pentameter,
          Gut gestalt and extrapolated parameter;
          Peddling virtual faith bereft of reason fer,
          With widely opened yet blinkered eyes
          And cultured mind wherewith to philosophize —
          Who? Who but suddenly poetically polemic Paul?

          My frail aging heart your poetry doth win over,
          Like Schulz’s Lucy bowling over Shroeder.
          When proof and reason simply can’t, will not go,
          I’m subsumed by trope, synecdoche, and by rhyme.
          Please, Ogden Nash not Kant or Edgar Allen Poe,
          And buddy can you spare the paradigm?

          If for faith you’ve forsaken Galileo for sure,
          Kiss me quick you fool, I’m all yours,
          My funny little provocateur.

          Faith, O faith, trope and temerity,
          These three, the greatest being disparity.




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    • Paul,

      LOL

      Kirsten made an allegation that the following are clearly refuted by science;

      1. A living, breathing human can be formed from a pile of dirt upon a voice command (Adam) or from a human rib (Eve)
      2. A virgin human (Mary) can give birth to a child (Jesus)
      3. A deceased human body can return to life after being dead for three days (Lazarus, Jesus)
      4. A living, breathing human can lift skyward without any visible means of propulsion until it disappears from sight (Jesus)

      You obviously you agree with that his statement is in error,

      Your “check in the mail” is the excuse of the desperate.

      BTW,

      Sean’s belief in the accuracy of the Bible is well founded on evidence.

      The TOE is founded on methodical naturalism and has NO evidence that it can produce new organs and/or body type, in fact the empirical evidence suggests the opposite.

      You have been seduced by relativism.




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    • Paul,

      A “Spagetthi Monster” is the perfect creator for atheists and theistic evolutionists. It fits perfectly with all the “just so” stories used to promote evolution.

      Can you prove the “Spagetthi Monster” exists? 😉




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  17. Sean Pitman: Oh please. The “sons of God” statement here is a reference to those who still worshiped God – not to angels mating with humans. This passage in Genesis 6:1-5 twice describes the Nephilim as being “men”, using two different Hebrew words. It does not use the Hebrew words used to describe angels. Beyond this, Adam was called a “son of God” after all – as are Christians who follow after Christ (Luke 20:36; Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26, Psalms 82:6). Jesus also explained that angels are neither male nor female and therefore could not have mated with humans even if they wanted to (Luke 20:34-36 and Matthew 22:30). Also, Mrs. White clearly explains this passage as follows:

    Indeed and we have here encapsulated the reality distortion field that is educate truth.
    Avoidance;
    No answer to my question about belief in angels spiritual being and demons as empiricial realities.
    Discounting of conventional scholarship.
    Look at Jude and 2 Peter and look at the word used for sons of God. Only used in 3 other places in each case they were spiritual beings or angels. Job 1:6, 38:7 and Psalms 29:1. Even Wiki entry on sons of God has this as the consensus view. That you and EG White should both feel queazy with this interpretation does not make it wrong. Indeed to suggest it refers intermarriage between the good and bad people moves the reasons for the mass killing of the deluge from being a cosmic crisis to make it seem like some petty veneagance. And what then is the reason for the specific mention of a lifespan trunction to something like 1/6 of the antedeluvian?
    Unilateral proclamation of genius
    You indeed may have read a lot but I find it hard to believe you have read all the primary data in the fields where you proclaim expertise sufficient to discount conventional understanding. Talking in the blogosphere does not you a scientific expert make. You have to be a participant. By the criteria of science with which you are so enamoured that you would extend it to all knowledge you have expertise as evidenced by peer reviewed publication only in haematological malignancy and even in that area you have published nothing in the last 7 years. (sorry if you think I am tending to the ad hominem but I am just applying the very useful Pitman doctrine of inherited empirical verification and the accepted practice of the ad hominem in the case of citing yourself as an authority).
    In science we accept that we see further by standing on the shoulders of giants. You and most of the ID proponents seem to think we should level the playing field by cutting them off at the knees by inventing a new basis for science in supernaturalism and a paring down of science to simply be personal hypothesis testing with a n of 1.




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    • No answer to my question about belief in angels spiritual being and demons as empiricial realities. Discounting of conventional scholarship.
      Look at Jude and 2 Peter and look at the word used for sons of God.

      I’ve already explained where Jesus argued that angels, while empirically real beings, are not sexual beings and cannot “mate” with humans or anyone else. I’ve also explained that the term “sons of God” is applied to humans in several different contexts throughout the Bible.

      Only used in 3 other places in each case they were spiritual beings or angels. Job 1:6, 38:7 and Psalms 29:1.

      The story of Job is about the representatives of each of many inhabited worlds meeting together at a conference, and Satan shows up as a representative of Earth – since he took the position from Adam at the Fall as “prince of this world” (John 12:31). Otherwise, Adam would have been the representative “son of God” or “prince” from this world. Also, the term “sons of God” is used many times in the New Testament, as previously explained. Consider, as another example, the following passage:

      The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS ‘? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be set aside–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? – John 10:33-36

      Clearly then, Jesus argued that humans who accept the word of God are also “sons of God”.

      To argue then, as you do, that the term “sons of God” in the Bible can only refer to angels is simply unwarranted and out of context from everything that the Bible has to say about angels being asexual beings and the reasons for the Flood (i.e., the overwhelming evil of the pre-Flood world that threatened to destroy all traces of good in human society).

      Even Wiki entry on sons of God has this as the consensus view.

      Not that it matters, but Wiki does say that your view has become especially commonplace in modern-day Christian commentaries. Of course, for both of the terms “sons of God” and “Nephilim” Wiki also points out that various groups of Christians and orthodox Jews have long argued against your view. Consider the following passages in this regard:

      Likewise, a long-held view among some Christians is that the “sons of God” were the formerly righteous descendants of Seth who rebelled, while the “daughters of men” were the unrighteous descendants of Cain, and the nephilim the offspring of their union. This view, dating to at least the 1st century AD in Jewish literature as described above, is also found in Christian sources from the 3rd century if not earlier, with references throughout the Clementine literature, as well as in Sextus Julius Africanus, Ephrem the Syrian and others…

      Some individuals and groups, including St. Augustine, John Chrysostom, and John Calvin, take the view of Genesis 6:2 that the “Angels” who fathered the nephilim referred to certain human males from the lineage of Seth, who were called sons of God probably in reference to their prior covenant with Yahweh (cf. Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:5); according to these sources, these men… took wives of the daughters of men, e.g., those who were descended from Cain or from any people who did not worship God. (Link)

      So, the Adventist position certainly isn’t without precedent or reasonable argument within Christianity. And, in any case, it seems to me that the testimony of a prophet of God and Jesus Himself trumps your view.

      That you and EG White should both feel queazy with this interpretation does not make it wrong. Indeed to suggest it refers intermarriage between the good and bad people moves the reasons for the mass killing of the deluge from being a cosmic crisis to make it seem like some petty veneagance.

      It isn’t “petty vengeance,” but mercy on the part of God who moves for the preservation of the good in the face of horrendous evil that threatens to completely overwhelm all traces of good. Also, how can a postmodernist argue for a particular interpretation of the Bible as being “right” or “wrong”, “superior” or “inferior”? You’re being inconsistent again…

      You indeed may have read a lot but I find it hard to believe you have read all the primary data in the fields where you proclaim expertise sufficient to discount conventional understanding.

      Great, then explain to me how I’m wrong if it is so clear to you. It should be easy if you know so much more than I do about how the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS can be so creative beyond very low levels of functional complexity. The problem, of course, is that you have absolutely no idea – and nobody else does either.

      Talking in the blogosphere does not you a scientific expert make. You have to be a participant.

      I don’t have to talk to or convince anyone else before I can know that the neo-Darwinian mechanism simply cannot do what you neo-Darwinists claim. Your argument that no one can use scientific methodologies or discover any empirical truths on an individual basis is nonsense. Now, if you disagree with me, great. Show me how I’m wrong. Where is your math? Where is your demonstration? Where is your empirical evidence of any kind? Where is your “science” beyond just-so story telling and your usual wishful thinking?




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  18. Sean Pitman: Also, Kuhn did seem to modify his postmodernist views of science over time. Kuhn did actually believe in absolute truths and a reality that exists outside of the mind. Kuhn actually objected to purely relativistic arguments and insisted in “The Road Since Structure” that the world had an objective existence. Kuhn even argued that scientific exploration is bound by the nature of that world. I would argue that same – that there are indeed subjective biases that should be recognized and efforts should be made to overcome these biases, but that it is actually possible for the honest seeker for truth to discover and learn, even on an individual basis, more about the world that exists outside of the mind regardless of the personal or collective biases that may also exist.

    I have no objections to any of these ideas. I am curious though have you read “The road since structure” or are you citing as metadata from some other sources? I suspect the latter and happily admit I have not read the road since structure yet but the in structures of scientific revolutions, there is a 1969 postscript with a section on “revolutions and relativism” which does address to some extent what you saying.
    The boundaries of science are the physical structure of our world. I practice science as defined by methodological naturalism which is of course bound by the physical structure of the universe. I of course believe in one external reality defined by that structure but within that physical reality there is an organic living structure that is a human brain. Adaptive and self aware and asking is there anything more. Our western society is fast moving to the position that the insight and mental life of this brain has constructed certain views of reality and a understanding of supernatural and transcendent events that give meaning and comfort against the uncertainty of life and inevitability of death within carbon based life. Can we ever know if this model of the supernatural as a construct of the human brain is true or not? That there is anything beyond the natural and its elaboration within the constructs of the human brain? I do not believe that the methodology of science can ever lead us to the position of knowing anything of a transcendent reality and we are left with the choice; Nietzsche’s “the will to power” or the way of the mystic who experienced the transcendent and reality of an encounter with God.

    You of course think that there is an omnipotent supernatural God external to our brain and our societal constructs that is active in our lives and can be detected by physical measurement. Moves the atoms about in a real way. physically changes our brain which is the playground of a real devil and the spirit of God. A God that responds to our petitions in tangible and physical ways altering the course of history. Appears as ethereal beings among us, spirits, demons and forces of darkness incarnate and real. Except of course they cannot indulge in sex even when incarnate as a man. Responsible for our health, our sickness and our death. The mystics and our forefathers saw all these things as empirically real although it is unclear from the text if they really considered them as physically verifiable by scientific process. They were and are of course detected by our vision and our physical senses. According to your reality all of these things are and will be verified by the methods and instruments of science.

    I am happy for you to accept all these things but I think you are not really self aware if you think these are things of science and can be verified by empirical evidence tested by experiment and documented for open scrutiny.

    Our differences in understanding of science are small compared to our assumptions about the nature of inspiration and the way God intervenes in human life and history. We wont get on to your understanding of the Bible post the application of historical-critical methods or EG White post Walter Rea and Ronald Numbers. As you well know I accept by faith that God was incarnate in Jesus Christ and that is the communication we have with the supernatural; the tangible link between human existence and the eternal. It is a faith position only justified by the consequences and the attendant spiritual life of discipleship. For me that is enough.




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    • I of course believe in one external reality defined by that structure but within that physical reality there is an organic living structure that is a human brain. Adaptive and self aware and asking is there anything more.

      I agree.

      I do not believe that the methodology of science can ever lead us to the position of knowing anything of a transcendent reality and we are left with the choice; Nietzsche’s “the will to power” or the way of the mystic who experienced the transcendent and reality of an encounter with God.

      Again, what is the difference between your religious faith and wishful thinking when it comes to the empirical claims of your own religion? So far, I see no fundamental difference or value.

      Now, I have no problem with coming to an understanding of the goodness of the ethical claims of the Bible without the need for an empirical argument – because such ethical truths are internally derived as a gift of God. However, the empirical claims of your religion are not internally derived and were not mystically revealed to you – unless you claim to speak with God in some kind of privileged manner as some kind of prophet?

      According to your reality all of these things are and will be verified by the methods and instruments of science.

      Again, I’m not a fan of wishful thinking. If God cannot, or at least does not, reveal himself by empirically detectable means, then the empirical claims of the Bible are meaningless – to include the empirical claims of the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth, and a future life in Heaven. Such things were only dreamed up by a bunch of wishful thinkers like you who simply lied when they said, “we heard, we saw, we touched.” That’s just a bunch of nonsense – right? The same is true of the Bible’s claim that God is the creator of the universe and of life on this planet and is the source of the Scriptures as well. All of it might as well be nothing but lies if the Divine hand cannot be detected behind such empirical phenomena by empirical means that make rational sense.

      I am happy for you to accept all these things but I think you are not really self aware if you think these are things of science and can be verified by empirical evidence tested by experiment and documented for open scrutiny.

      There’s plenty of empirical evidence for the existence of God and His creative signature in various features of nature and within the Bible itself. The Bible itself makes this very same claim over and over again. Either its true or its a lie. All you have to do to discover that it is in fact true is do your own independent empirical investigation without worrying what anyone else thinks.

      As you well know I accept by faith that God was incarnate in Jesus Christ and that is the communication we have with the supernatural; the tangible link between human existence and the eternal. It is a faith position only justified by the consequences and the attendant spiritual life of discipleship. For me that is enough.

      That’s great, but how is that different from wishful thinking? The incarnation of Jesus is an empirical claim derived only from the Bible. Upon what basis do you accept such empirical claims from the Bible while rejecting other empirical claims from the very same authors in the very same Bible? Your “faith” is nothing but inconsistent subjective gestalt-type feelings-based postmodernist selective feel-good decision making as far as I can tell. Very unreliable and nothing I want my religion or anything else based on.




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Dont worry Sean you don’t have to say it yet again. I get it. Unless it is shown empirically by a process of science any understanding of the spiritual is wishful thinking. I get it. And the corrollary of this is that if empirically you begin to doubt any characteristic of your understanding of the biblical account including the empirical claims of Genesis the reality of spirits demons and devils then the ethic of Christianity, the understanding of Christ as divine and the manifestation of God is quickly jettisoned for some non-christian philosophy which you have been consistently unwilling to specify. Its all a monolithic truth or its all a lie. I understand. There is nothing nuanced about your understanding. I am just of the opinion that your monolithic understanding that falls on the basis of a single fact is based more on religious fundamentalism than it is on science.

        Of course that is fine there is nothing wrong with fundamentalism. It is comforting, promotes better family relationships and more stable marriages at least that’s what the empirical data suggests.




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        • Dont worry Sean you don’t have to say it yet again. I get it. Unless it is shown empirically by a process of science any understanding of the spiritual is wishful thinking. I get it.

          You obviously don’t “get it” because that’s not what I said.

          As I’ve explained many times now, there’s a difference between how one can understand the truth of the ethics of the Bible vs. how one can understand the truth of the empirical claims of the Bible. You continually confuse these two concepts to the point where it is starting to seem like you’re doing it deliberately. You argue that because you can obtain good ethical values from the Bible, as with a good moral fable like Moby-Dick, that you can therefore determine which empirical claims are true as well? That argument simply doesn’t follow. It isn’t a rational or logical argument. It isn’t superior or fundamentally different from wishful thinking as a basis for determining which empirical claims are or are not most likely true.

          So, in the future, please do limit your discussion to the source of your knowledge regarding the truth or falsity of the empirical claims of the Bible alone… and why you are so inconsistent in which empirical claims you decide are or are not true from the very same book and the very same authors.

          Of course, I’ve asked you to do this many many times now, but you’ve continually ignored this key issue. So I doubt you’re going to actually acknowledge it going forward. Given your reluctance to discuss it, again, what’s the point in continuing a discussion where you continually dodge the actual topic of discussion?

          Until then, all the best to you.




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        • Paul,

          I can see where someone with a bent toward a post-modern philosophy would have a warped view of fundamentalism.

          In fact, how could one even do science?




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      • @Gene Fortner:

        Gene I am a bit confused. Do you follow Sanford or Myers? you seem to advocate both for YEC and ID. They are actually in conflict if you care to read the CMI website you will find their polemic against ID. It seems Sanford is now with CMI and would totally disagree with ID. They consider that if you believe the Bible you should believe in YEC and they critique ID as being “ashamed” to actually follow Gods word and instead try to justify a biblical position by science. Their view is that you should judge science by the BIble as the supreme authority.




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  19. @ Sean

    But how do you ‘know’ that Sean? If you do not know that empirically, then you are making a statement of faith aren’t you, or else you are making a unscientific claim as to the general credibility of the Bible.

    This is where Kristen rightly points out your double standard when comparing claims that cannot be falsified under the Bible ( miracles) vs. your need for evolution- which has happened over billions of years – to prove itself in the laboratory. She’s right. By applying your double standard, you lose credibility as a scientist and instead appear as an Adventist apologist that only uses science when it helps, but not when it weakens your ‘religious’ stance. This is where I find Dr. Kime’s position more credible- he rightly sees that faith is as much if not more part of the equation as empiricism. I, who am without religious faith, find the Kimean blend understandable, but do not see the rationality of your double standard. That is what is giving so many of us with diverse stripes problems with your position.




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    • I’ve explained this already several times. It is rational to accept the testimony of a witness regarding empirical claims that cannot be directly validated or tested if the credibility of the witness can be validated by other means – by testing other claims of the witness that are actually open to empirical testing and evaluation. It’s all about established credibility.




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    • @George: Thanks, pardner, for that affirmation of Kimeanism, and approval of the Kimean War even the futile charge of the right brigade. But you’re not seeing Sean’s contribution to the deployment of both faith and evidence, both, despite the reams of text he has posted here in which that concept is firmly embedded. The man is as appreciative of this particular diversity — faith plus evidence — as I, yea he is the champion I salute. For as a physician he sees how faith and evidence work together as the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems do, the sympathetic surging to respond to emergency stress while the parasympathetic withdraws lest it get in the way, while when dinner is served, the parasympathetic takes over. That’s the beauty of the system. Perhaps MDs, chief of whom is Dr. Pitman, understand that better than exponents of Alternative Medicine, who seem to want only hyped up one-shot cure-all elixirs, or tunnel-vision theologians or single-issue politicians.

      Sean, our respected webmaster, is under all-out attack and extreme stress here by theistic evolutionists, postmodernists, and variously shaded cultural Adventists and/or agnostics, and responds accordingly, not only with spurts of adrenalin (the boluses of which are probably better titrated and less overpowering than mine would be) but also with appropriately adjustments of content, emphasis, and force. Thus, since the challenge here has been a relentless onslaught, wave upon wave of onslaught, against his use of evidence, aided by deployment of a certain novel, highly nuanced and nirvanaic mutant of faith as a weapon of mass destruction, General Pitman has, appropriately, responded specifically to that particular tactic. Very much as St. Paul (no offense prof. Paul), when confronted by works-worshiping antagonists, pushed faith. On other occasions, notably in Romans 1, he was free to take on violators of the law, and did, with a vengeance (in the case of homosexuality) which still rattles violators two thousand years later.

      On this particular battlefield Sir Pitman must wear a hazmat, making him look unhuman; at home, on his facebook, he wears shorts and sneakers. As I see him, he’s a well outfitted soldier, wearing the helmet of faith plus the breastplate of evidence, and spurs, and a flaming sword. Carry on, Sean!




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  20. @ Sean

    “Now, I have no problem with coming to an understanding of the goodness of the ethical claims of the Bible without the need for an empirical argument – because such ethical truths are internally derived as a gift of God.”

    Sorry, this was your quote I meant to preface regarding my previous comment above.

    Here is a philosophical question: is it possible from your perspective that a secular good man can derive his goodness intrinsically from himself and not God? And if not how would you prove such goodness is derived from God?




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    • An understanding of right and wrong has been given, by God, for all to know as an internally derived ethical compass. So, yes, even those who do not know anything of the Bible can follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit because of this ethical compass that has been given to everyone. The universal nature of a basic ethical understanding of absolute ethical truths is evidence of the Divine origin of such truths. Otherwise, there is no rational reason for anyone to claim that anything is inherently or universally right or wrong, good or bad.




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  21. @ Sean

    “You obviously don’t understand, or at least don’t want to understand, Gene’s point… or mine. For you, faith is defined by postmodernist wishful thinking. For us, our faith in the claims of the Bible that cannot be directly tested is based upon the empirically established credibility of the Bible as a witness to historical events that we cannot witness – not on simply wishing such stories were true.”

    Ever wonder why no modern gospels of the Bible are being written in the modern era after the methods of science would be able to examine their claims? Why has the world not yet come to an end as predicted by the Bible, even though many, including EGW, predicted it in her lifetime? And if the predicted prophecies of the Bible coming true are so self evident why is there even any debate about it any more? History isn’t over yet is it? 🙂




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    • As Jesus explained, no one knows when the “End” will be. And, Ellen White did not predict when the end would be. She did believe William Miller’s prediction, but she never did claim that God gave her any revelations or visions as to when the end of the world would be. It seems pretty clear, however, that we are getting close. No further time prophecies are left which haven’t already been realized – to the letter. We are living in the “toes” of the image in Daniel’s prophecy of the sequence of kingdoms. The “rock cast without hands” is rapidly approaching.




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  22. So, I gather from Sean’s and Gene’s responses that science can be conveniently bypassed anytime something happens that defies all probability because, of course, an intelligent being had to do it (and not an intelligent creature that might have arisen through random processes on another of the innumerable planets and stars elsewhere in the universe). And, with this loophole reasoning, science can only support creationism and never refute it. Very clever approach.

    And sorry, Sean, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that if humans one day show that there is a “natural” way by which life and complexity could evolve on their own, then this would prove God could not have done so. God could have simply used the very same means. Your argument is a false dichotomy.

    I see no point in engaging this philosophical mumbo jumbo further. Enjoy your sanctimonious intellectualism.




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    • So, I gather from Sean’s and Gene’s responses that science can be conveniently bypassed anytime something happens that defies all probability because, of course, an intelligent being had to do it (and not an intelligent creature that might have arisen through random processes on another of the innumerable planets and stars elsewhere in the universe). And, with this loophole reasoning, science can only support creationism and never refute it. Very clever approach.

      Let’s say you found a highly symmetrical polished granite cube – on an alien planet like Mars. According to you, science could not explain such a cube because there is no known mindless natural mechanism that can explain it. That’s where you’d be wrong. Science is well aware of a very rational explanation for such a granite cube – at least human level intelligence and creative abilities. That is why sciences such as forensic science, anthropology, and even SETI science exist. These are all valid sciences based on the idea that the scientific detection of intelligently designed artifacts is quite possible using empirical arguments alone.

      And sorry, Sean, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that if humans one day show that there is a “natural” way by which life and complexity could evolve on their own, then this would prove God could not have done so. God could have simply used the very same means. Your argument is a false dichotomy.

      The hypothesis that is open for falsification isn’t that God could have done it, but that only a God or someone with God-like abilities could have done it. Such a hypothesis would be quite effectively falsified by showing that some mindless naturalistic mechanism can produce the phenomenon in question just fine.

      I see no point in engaging this philosophical mumbo jumbo further. Enjoy your sanctimonious intellectualism.

      You’re the one who just doesn’t seem to understand the nature of science or the specific type of scientific hypothesis being proposed here…




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    • Kirsten,

      “I gather from Sean’s and Gene’s responses that science can be conveniently bypassed anytime”

      Nope, you got it all wrong, we are not evolutionary biologists, Sean is a medical Doctor and I am a retired Sr. Staff Engineer / Scientist in Systems Engineering. We don’t make up “just so stories” to get grant $$$$.

      Have another stab at the Law of Biogenesis.




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  23. Sean Pitman: As I’ve explained many times now, there’s a difference between how one can understand the truth of the ethics of the Bible vs. how one can understand the truth of the empirical claims of the Bible.

    And yet if I am to understand your “..If I ever..” statement as you have written it you will jettison all moral and ethical claims of Christianity on the basis of an inconvenient fact of the age of life. Can you not see that it is this statement that is the source of confusion about your real intent,




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    • Where did I ever say I would jettison all moral or ethical claims of the Bible? What I said is that I would leave Adventism and Christianity behind. That’s not the same thing as leaving behind good moral and ethical standards that are promoted by the Bible – and other good “moral fables” as well…




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  24. Sean Pitman: As Jesus explained, no one knows when the “End” will be. And, Ellen White did not predict when the end would be. She did believe William Miller’s prediction, but she never did claim that God gave her any revelations or visions as to when the end of the world would be. It seems pretty clear, however, that we are getting close. No further time prophecies are left which haven’t already been realized – to the letter. We are living in the “toes” of the image in Daniel’s prophecy of the sequence of kingdoms. The “rock cast without hands” is rapidly approaching.

    Are these claims based on empirical evidence or are they simply the consequence of the Pitman doctrine of inherited verification? I suggest that you look again at the closed door if you interested in end time events. It was not a high point of EG White’s prophetic ministry complete as it was with some post hoc dissimiltiude Read both the white estate view and Ron Numbers account. They may both have vested interest but I would trust the historian over the apologist.




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    • The “shut door” argument has been around a long time. Ellen White was well aware of it and addressed it several times herself.

      “Seventh-day Adventist pioneers and E. G. White freely and firmly declare that immediately following the disappointment of October 22, 1844, Advent believers generally held that their work for the world was finished and that probation had closed. Ellen White and Adventist pioneers also declare that while this was generally believed, that neither the first vision [in December of 1844], or any other vision given to Ellen Harmon-White taught that probation had closed for the world generally, but that it had, for those who had rejected the light of the first angel’s message, or having been in the Advent Movement had abandoned their confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy.”

      In 1883 Ellen White addressed this argument herself by writing:

      For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world. This position was taken before my first vision was given me. It was the light given me of God that corrected our error, and enabled us to see the true position. I am still a believer in the shut-door theory, but not in the sense in which we at first employed the term or in which it is employed by my opponents. There was a shut door in Noah’s day. There was at that time a withdrawal of the Spirit of God from the sinful race that perished in the waters of the Flood. God Himself gave the shut-door message to Noah:

      “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3).

      There was a shut door in the days of Abraham. Mercy ceased to plead with the inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot, with his wife and two daughters, were consumed by the fire sent down from heaven.

      There was a shut door in Christ’s day. The Son of God declared to the unbelieving Jews of that generation, “Your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

      Looking down the stream of time to the last days, the same infinite power proclaimed through John:

      “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7).

      I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut door in 1844. All who saw the light of the first and second angels’ messages and rejected that light, were left in darkness. And those who accepted it and received the Holy Spirit which attended the proclamation of the message from heaven, and who afterward renounced their faith and pronounced their experience a delusion, thereby rejected the Spirit of God, and it no longer pleaded with them.

      Those who did not see the light, had not the guilt of its rejection. It was only the class who had despised the light from heaven that the Spirit of God could not reach. And this class included, as I have stated, both those who refused to accept the message when it was presented to them, and also those who, having received it, afterward renounced their faith. These might have a form of godliness, and profess to be followers of Christ; but having no living connection with God, they would be taken captive by the delusions of Satan. These two classes are brought to view in the vision–those who declared the light which they had followed a delusion, and the wicked of the world who, having rejected the light, had been rejected of God. No reference is made to those who had not seen the light, and therefore were not guilty of its rejection.

      — Ms 4, 1883 in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 63, 64.

      For additional information on this topic see: Link




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        For someone so critical of anyone even minimally acknowledging expertise and authority you are astoundingly deferential to EGW and the estate. A scientist would properly look at what the critics say not just look to the choir.
        David Depinho may be disaffected but I think he can critically appraise the data and what he says should be seriously considered.
        http://www.formeradventist.com/studies/topical/shutdoorteaching.html
        Even Olson’s argument that later visions corrected the misunderstanding of that given to her at 18 years of age tacitly admits that the “I was shown… was in fact incorrect.
        http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/shutdoor.html




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        • I have read many of the critics of the whole “shut door” vision. I just don’t find them convincing given the overall credibility of Mrs. White’s own life and work and how she herself explained what happened over time. Of course she herself explains that later visions corrected various misunderstandings that she and others had as far as what happened in 1844. That doesn’t invalidate what she said she was shown in the original vision that December of 1944. This original vision was still “true” as shown. How it was interpreted was not entirely wrong and not entirely correct. The same thing has happened with visions given to biblical characters who didn’t have a full understanding of the Divine vision given to them. That doesn’t mean that the vision wasn’t from God.

          In this particular case, additional visions were given to help correct the initial errors in interpretation. However, at no time did Ellen White ever give a specific time when Jesus would actually show up for the “Second Coming” – as I originally explained.

          Consider your own cited reference to Olson’s essay (Link). In the concluding remarks he makes the following summary comments:

          In December, 1844, Ellen’s first vision led her to the conclusion that the Millerite Movement with its interpretation of Daniel 8:14 was of God after all. This led her to reaffirm once again her view of a shut door. She concluded correctly that there was a shut door on October 22, 1844. She concluded incorrectly that the door of mercy was closed on that day for everyone in the world. She saw that two groups of sinners–the apostate Millerites and the wicked world–had sinned away their day of grace. She failed to recognize, however, that there was a third category–the honest in heart who had never heard or fully appreciated the Millerite message in the first place.

          In February, 1845, the Lord showed Ellen that although one door was indeed shut in heaven on October 22, 1844, another door was opened. Ellen did not understand the meaning of this “open door.”

          It took about seven years, from 1844 to 1851, for most Sabbath-keeping Adventists to realize that a major mission to the world still lay ahead of them in the proclamation of the third angel’s message.

          While the term “shut door” at first was used to indicate probation’s close in 1844, it soon came to mean the close of Christ’s ministry in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. It stood for a change of Christ’s ministry in heaven on October 22, 1844.

          While Ellen White’s personal beliefs underwent a gradual modification during this period, I find no evidence that she at any time taught theological error in her shut door writings.

          You see, I believe that Ellen White, like all biblical prophets of old, was human and subject to error – even regarding the interpretation of visions that clearly present symbolic elements – like open and shut doors. If God is not directly dictating the answers to the meaning of such symbols, it is perfectly understandable that their correct meaning might occasionally be difficult to determine. The very same thing happened to Peter when God gave him the vision of unclean animals along with the shocking message, “kill and eat” (Acts 10:13). Peter was understandably confused by this vision, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t come from God. It did come from God – clearly so. The same is true of Ellen White’s vision of the closed door. God showed her the correct vision, but she misinterpreted its symbolism at first. These early Adventists also misinterpreted some of the prophetic claims of the Bible as well. And so, God had to keep explaining things to her… and to the early church.

          Do such human errors undermine her claim to have had visions from God? They would if she had nothing else to back up such claims. However, the weight of evidence is, in my mind, clearly in favor of her claims to have received very privileged information from God in her visions.




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  25. The same is true for the hypothesis that biblical prophecies are real and could only be produced by Divine power. This empirical claim is both testable and easily falsifiable. All you have to do is show one of two things to effectively falsify this biblical claim: 1) that the “prophecy” was written after the fact or 2) that that the prophecy didn’t come true in real history.

    And this two-prong means of “falsifying” Scripture also has a convenient loophole. Most Biblical prophecies are subject to interpretation, and spiritual things are spiritually (not empirically) discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Thus, fulfillment, as we all know, is very seldom agreed upon universally. And if everyone agrees that the prophecy finds no fulfillment from historical events (if interpreted properly, which will always be subject to disagreement), then the prophecy cannot be falsified, of course, because it is projected into the future.

    Again, Dr. Pitman, your empirical test of Scripture utterly fails.




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    • And this two-prong means of “falsifying” Scripture also has a convenient loophole. Most Biblical prophecies are subject to interpretation, and spiritual things are spiritually (not empirically) discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Thus, fulfillment, as we all know, is very seldom agreed upon universally. And if everyone agrees that the prophecy finds no fulfillment from historical events (if interpreted properly, which will always be subject to disagreement), then the prophecy cannot be falsified, of course, because it is projected into the future.

      Again, Dr. Pitman, your empirical test of Scripture utterly fails.

      Hardly. There are many biblical prophecies that are so specific and unambiguous that biblical critics must resort to arguing that they simply had to have been written after the fact. Daniel’s prophecies about the sequence of kingdom clearly falls into this category. After all, the angel in Daniel’s vision specifically names some of the kingdoms and the others are so clear as to be essentially unarguable as to who they represent. If fact, these prophecies were so clear and so unambiguous that the critics have always been forced to argue that the could not have been written some 600 B.C. The problem here, of course, is that the information contained in the Book of Daniel could only have been written by someone living during the time of Nebuchadnezzar. This is because this information was lost to the rest of the world after this time. And, so, this provides very good evidence for not only the specificity and accuracy of Biblical prophecy, but that it is very unlikely to have been written after the fact.




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  26. @ Sean

    ” It seems pretty clear, however, that we are getting close. No further time prophecies are left which haven’t already been realized – to the letter. We are living in the “toes” of the image in Daniel’s prophecy of the sequence of kingdoms.”

    Of course you would agree that there is no empirical, scientifc basis for this position whatsoever, correct?” I’m OK if you are taliking about your faith here but not science. Do you see how how your beliefs in some respect are pure theology and based on faith?

    “The universal nature of a basic ethical understanding of absolute ethical truths is evidence of the Divine origin of such truths. Otherwise, there is no rational reason for anyone to claim that anything is inherently or universally right or wrong, good or bad.”

    Of course your theological position is not universally accepted as pure reason. Kant argued for a categorical imperative of morality based on human reason. Morality can also be taught and acquired from one’s parents, society, education etc. How do you logically propose it only emanates from God?




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    • Of course you would agree that there is no empirical, scientifc basis for this position whatsoever, correct?” I’m OK if you are taliking about your faith here but not science. Do you see how how your beliefs in some respect are pure theology and based on faith?

      As previously explained, such a conclusion isn’t based on a blind wishful thinking type of faith, but on the evidence that supports the overall credibility of the witness – the Bible in this case. As far as prophecies are concerned, in particular, there is very good historical evidence to support their credibility.

      Of course your theological position is not universally accepted as pure reason. Kant argued for a categorical imperative of morality based on human reason. Morality can also be taught and acquired from one’s parents, society, education etc. How do you logically propose it only emanates from God?

      Nothing is “universally accepted”. It is just that various counterarguments don’t make a the same degree of sense when it comes to explaining the origin of an essentially universal moral compass that people are born with. While it’s true that ethical values can be taught and influenced by one’s surroundings, it is not true that one is born with an ethically blank slate. There is an inherent basic knowledge of right and wrong for all humans. That’s pretty hard to explain with an appeal to “human reason”, which really doesn’t address ultimate origins [of such metaphysical realities].




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    • George,

      What do you base your morality on???

      FYI
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGy_mGogXxM

      Richard Dawkins claims morality is evolved. Ravi Zacharias responds to that claim.
      William Lane Craig also makes a valid argument, but he responds it a little differently. Watch the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKkcZ9

      The difference is Dr. Craig argues from a purely logical point of view, Dr. Zacharias bring both heart and mind into it. Both make great points.

      Apologetic Christians: William Lane Craig, John Lennox, Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias and More.




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  27. Sean Pitman: As previously explained, such a conclusion isn’t based on a blind wishful thinking type of faith, but on the evidence that supports the overall credibility of the witness – the Bible in this case

    I think this is one of your clear mischaracterizations. You are suggesting that faith is blind wishful thinking if one favours faith over strict enlightenment empiricism. Because I have said that faith may be illogical and independent of science it does not mean it is not rational. Everyone accepts that ones actions must be reasonable which is precisely why I recited a parable of the way. An illogical position may be very reasonable. Every decision however must be made with some degree of insight. Knowing why one arrives at ones position I think is indicative of such insight. I do not think you have insight into what you are saying when you claim your “..If I ever…” because it is statement of fundamentalism. A fundamentalism you seem incapable of recognizing or acknowledging. It particularly lacks insight in that you have subsequently intimated that you would not become an atheist which is where I think logic and reason must take you if you accept empiricism as the basis for all thought and belief. Instead you seem to indicate you would retain what you think is intrinsic in man the essential Christian moral and ethical position of the royal law of love. You would do this while rejecting 6000 year chronology. I can only commend you on making at least in prospect a very rational decision. My only remaining concern is that you still maintain that for you Christian belief can only ever really be true if you maintain fundamentalisms insistence that a literal reading of Genesis is foundational to all of Christianity. This is patently untrue historically and experientially. Just move on from that and I think we are in violent agreement if such a thing should be entertained by a pacifist.




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    • An illogical position may be very reasonable.

      The primary difference between logic and reason is that reason can work outside of a previously established set of rules for problem solving – such as skipping steps or working backward to find a solution, whereas logic “follows clearly defined rules and tests for critical thinking” (Link). This means that what is “reasonable” must makes sense or appeal to someone other than one’s own self if one wishes to be viewed as reasonable outside of one’s own mind. In order to achieve this desired “reasonableness” one must offer what at least appear to be good reasons why various steps that are usually followed can be skipped in finding the solution to a particular problem – and the solution itself must prove to be correct. Therefore, either way, what might seem reasonable or logical to you might also be wrong – i.e., effectively falsified by the presentation of additional evidence or other even more “reasonable” arguments. Yet, you refuse to admit the possibility of error because your faith in the truth of various empirical claims cannot be questioned or challenged by reason or evidence or any other means of potential falsification beyond what you feel with your “gestalt” sensations is true, or not true. That means that your position is neither reasonable nor logical.

      Knowing why one arrives at ones position I think is indicative of such insight. I do not think you have insight into what you are saying when you claim your “..If I ever…” because it is statement of fundamentalism. A fundamentalism you seem incapable of recognizing or acknowledging.

      So, I’m a “fundamentalist” and you’re not? Really? The way you describe it, your own faith is what is untouchable, even in theory, because it is subjectively derived through “gestalt” sensations and therefore cannot be challenged at all by any kind of evidence or argument. Clearly then, you’re the fundamentalist who is actually presenting fundamentalist arguments – such as fideistic definitions of faith in various empirical claims of your chosen Scriptures. This is exactly the same type of faith subscribed to by my fundamentalist friends within various religious organizations.

      On the other hand, I’m the one saying that the empirical claims of one’s religion require some kind of empirical support before faith in such claims becomes anything more useful than wishful thinking. That’s not usually described as a “fundamentalist” argument…

      It particularly lacks insight in that you have subsequently intimated that you would not become an atheist which is where I think logic and reason must take you if you accept empiricism as the basis for all thought and belief.

      Again, there are a lot of theists who are not Christian. Are you actually trying to say that all non-Christian theists are illogical and irrational in their beliefs? I would hope not – as there are very good logical and rational reasons for believing in a God of some kind – even if Christianity is rejected.

      Instead you seem to indicate you would retain what you think is intrinsic in man the essential Christian moral and ethical position of the royal law of love.

      That’s right.

      You would do this while rejecting 6000 year chronology.

      Given the truth of neo-Darwinism, yes.

      I can only commend you on making at least in prospect a very rational decision.

      Thank you… but there really is no choice given the internal origin of ethical truths. The problem is that Christianity goes beyond ethical claims alone. Lots of different faiths accept the ethics of Christianity. That doesn’t make the followers of these various faiths Christians.

      My only remaining concern is that you still maintain that for you Christian belief can only ever really be true if you maintain fundamentalisms insistence that a literal reading of Genesis is foundational to all of Christianity. This is patently untrue historically and experientially. Just move on from that and I think we are in violent agreement if such a thing should be entertained by a pacifist.

      Again, Christianity goes beyond ethics alone. Christianity involves empirical claims as well as ethical claims – as you yourself believe.

      So, yet again, I ask you for the basis of your very selective beliefs in various empirical claims of Christianity? You are asking me to reject various empirical claims of the Bible that are not at all ambiguous, while, at the same time, telling me that your faith lets you know that other empirical claims of the Bible that are even more fantastic, sometimes from the very same authors, are actually true? Your “gestalt” tells you these things? Really? – and your fideistic faith in empirical claims like the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and a real place called “Heaven” isn’t “fundamentalistic”? – while mine is?

      I’m sorry, but that’s not logical or rational. That’s inconsistent wishful thinking is what it is – unless you can explain how I’m wrong here? I don’t think you’ll address this question because you know I’m right. You just don’t want to talk about why you believe certain empirical claims of the Bible while you reject many other less fantastic claims… which is fine. Just don’t think to claim that you’re not a standard fideistic fundamentalist – because you most certainly are when it comes to the reasons why you believe like you do.




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  28. Sean Pitman: That’s pretty hard to explain with an appeal to “human reason”, which really doesn’t address ultimate origins [of such metaphysical realities].

    Absolutely true Sean. If you look at a recent book on apologetics which is what we are really talking about here; the basis for our Christian understanding you will find the Alistair McGrath in “Mere Apologetics” characterizes the basis for the reasonableness of faith into 3 categories he cites from Isaiah Berlin
    ” Berlin argued that human convictions can be broken down into three categories:
    1. Those that can be established by empirical observation
    2. Those that can be established by logical deduction.
    3. Those that cannot be proved in either of these ways.”

    McGrath, Alister E. (2012-01-01). Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith (p. 75). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

    What I have argued here is that I believe the physical world must be understood in terms of a science based on naturalism. This I do as my vocation. But that is not all there is. There is a world beyond the natural. We extend empirical observation with logic but the reasonableness of Christian Faith if we are honest is not based on either of these 2 things alone but on some other mechanism for conviction. Like Barth and Kierkegaard I recognized this as a revelation from God. A Gestalt switch in perspective or a conversion that comes when we recognize like the great thinkers of the past that it is about God not the natural world around us; Paul on the road to Damascus, Augustine when he went from Africa to Rome, Abelard when he realized that atonement is not about satisfaction to God but is about Gods demonstration of redeeming love to us, Luther when he had his insight into the book of Romans, Lewis when he became the most reluctant convert to Christianity in all of England. As I have suggested reasonable beliefs can be justified not by logical or empirical evidence but post hoc by the insights it gives into our understanding of the world and by its utilitarian value.
    At core my disagreement is about your privileging of empirical evidence over all other sources of knowledge and your unrecognised fundamentalism. Scientific knowledge alone cannot lead inexorably to faith unless we characterize most of its practitioners as illogical and unable to follow the logical implications or redefine scientific knowledge in bizarre and idiosyncratic ways while again dismissing scientists as ignorant of their methodology.

    On the point of the balance of evidence I do agree but what I do not agree with is that it is the balance of empirical evidence. Faith at its core is not scientific although it may be justified by the same, it may not even be entirely logical but it is always reasonable.




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    • Yet again, I will point out to you that there’s a difference between faith in the existence of absolute metaphysical truths (like ethical truths that are internally derived) vs. faith in various empirical claims. I have no problem at all with your belief in the existence of absolute moral truths – which was the topic of this particular discussion. My problem with your faith is only in regard to the empirical claims of your faith. How are these empirical claims of your faith based on anything more than wishful thinking?

      I must have asked you this question more than a dozen times now, and you’ve always dodged it. Why not answer it?




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean Pitman: My problem with your faith is only in regard to the empirical claims of your faith. How are these empirical claims of your faith based on anything more than wishful thinking?

        I must have asked you this question more than a dozen times now, and you’ve always dodged it. Why not answer it?

        Sorry if I have not answered your question in the way you want. The fault is all mine. I thought I had answered your question. I clearly cannot articulate it in a way that will satisfy you and I have this nagging doubt I never will. I really lack the capability to understand your thinking which I have to confess I do not expect in someone who has had a tertiary education and is familiar with the processes and literature of western thought and Christianity outside fundamentalism.

        Like fundamentalists you seem obsessed with empirical claims of the Bible as if determining their veracity is the basis of Christianity.
        What are these empirical claims? The claims of fundamentalism which if not true negate all of Christianity. I can see them articulated by CMI if you like http://creation.com/what-we-believe
        but include the fundamentalist positions;

        1] The inerrancy of the Bible (in your case near inerrancy)
        2] The literal nature of the Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ’s miracles and the Creation account in Genesis
        3] The Virgin Birth of Christ
        4] The bodily resurrection and physical return of Christ
        5] The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross

        Is this a fair summary of the empirical claims of the bible that you insist must be true for Christianity to be true.

        I can go through each of these claims if you want but I have addressed them already on this site. My response to you can be simply summarized;
        1] I do not think any of these empirical claims can be tested scientifically. In science there is no inheritance of verification. Each data point must be demonstrated by the same process. We cannot know by logic or empirical evidence if they are true.
        2] I do not even think these empirical claims have to be literally true for Christianity as a religion based on following Christ to be true.
        3] If the body of Christ the church universal thinks they are important by acceptance as core beliefs I am happy to accept them as axiomatic beliefs of the Church. I accept the creeds of Nicea and Constantinople as statements of our Christian faith just as I accept the Adventist fundamentals as a summary of our Adventist belief. Statements we should honour by study and examination in good faith in the light of objective knowledge.
        4] Christianity for me is about the revelation of God. It is rational but requires a leap of faith and a doing that is part of that faith.
        For me Brother Lawrence has much more to offer than Ken Ham and Walter Veith.




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        • I do not even think these empirical claims have to be literally true for Christianity as a religion based on following Christ to be true.

          Finally we’re getting somewhere – and I can now understand why you were so unwilling to answer my question as to the basis for your belief in certain empirical claims of the Bible. You really don’t believe that these empirical claims you “believe in” are literally true – or at least they don’t have to be literally true.

          You claim to believe some of the empirical claims of the Bible but these beliefs of yours are more about ethical truths than empirical truths – right? Not even the existence of Jesus has to be literally true? As long as the story is generally accepted and is promoted by the community of faith, that, in itself, is good enough for you. It really doesn’t matter if Jesus was or was not literally God incarnate, was actually born of a virgin, really did rise from the dead, or if there really is a literal resurrection of the righteous or a placed called Heaven – or even if Jesus literally existed at all. None of this really matters to your faith or to your view of Christianity. It could all be nothing more than an elaborate “cunningly devised” moral fable like Moby-Dick as far as you’re concerned. Yours really isn’t anything more than a subjectively derived faith in the ethics of Christianity and nothing more.

          You could actually be an atheist for all the empirical claims of Christianity really matter to you. After all, there are many atheists who do in fact subscribe to all of the ethical standards of Christianity – even to the point that they should be considered for sainthood considering all the good deeds that they’ve done and love that they’ve shown. And, for you, that’s all that really matters. Your position really isn’t an argument against atheism at all. In fact, it tends to draw those away from the rationality of the empirical claims of Christianity toward an atheistic or, at the very least, a theistic position.

          Of course, as far as the basis for salvation is concerned, I would agree with you (which is not a fundamentalistic position). I believe that salvation is not going to be based on true knowledge or honest errors in thinking regarding empirical realities. Salvation is going to be based on motive – on the motive of love for one’s fellow man. That’s it.

          However, the Christian Gospel of hope is based on more than the presentation of true ethics and some nice moral fable with which to present these ethical truths. The Gospel message is based on the literal truth of the empirical claims of the Bible. If you undermine the credibility of these empirical claims, you undermine the rational basis for the Christian hope in a literal future after death. A belief in the ethics of Christianity isn’t enough to give one a solid hope or faith in the reality of the resurrection of the righteous and Heaven to come and a world made new as it was originally intended to be – a world without evil and suffering. A solid hope or faith in such empirical realities requires solid empirical evidence that goes well beyond a good moral fable.




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        • “Fundamentalism”

          One more thing Paul. As far as one of your favorite pejorative charges of “fundamentalist” is concerned, not everyone who believes in the fundamental claims of a group or organization is “fundamentalistic” when it comes to why one believes this or that or in the arguments used to support and promote one’s position to others. In other words, there is a difference between what one believes and why one believes it.

          For example, the “reasons” for your faith are identical to the reasons that my fundamentalist friends of various religions have for their faiths. You all appeal to an internal feeling or “gestalt” type of sensation as the basis of your faith. That’s very different from the reasons I give for why I believe the way I do – i.e., based on “the weight of evidence” that is empirical, testable, and potentially falsifiable.

          To illustrate further, you believe in the fundamental claims of neo-Darwinism. Does that make you a “Darwinian fundamentalist”? Not in and of itself – at least not with regard to why you believe like you do or the arguments you might use to defend your Darwinian position. It all depends upon the reasons why you believe that the main claims of this or that group are most likely correct. Are your beliefs based on reasonable and/or logical arguments? Are they based on what you perceive to be the weight of empirical evidence? Are your beliefs at least potentially falsifiable? If so, you’re really not “fundamentalistic” in why you believe like you do or the way you try to promote your position.

          The same can be true for the Christian and even for the Adventist…




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  29. Sean Pitman: It all depends upon the reasons why you believe in these claims. Are your beliefs based on reasonable and/or logical arguments? Are they based on what you percieve to be the weight of empirical evidence? Are your beliefs at least potentially falsifiable? If so, you’re really not a “fundamentalist” in your thinking.

    Sean you again seem to be obfuscating by making your own definition of Fundamentalism. To some of us more ordinary non-geniuses if it quacks it is highly likely to be a duck.

    fundamentalism ————————–Sean Pitman
    Militantly fighting modernism———Educate truth
    Biblical inerrancy————————–Bible inerrant in everything significant
    Biblical account literal——————-Biblical accounts empirically real
    Genesis literal account of origins—Genesis creation account literal
    Militantly anti-evolutionist————–Educate truth
    6 day creationism————————-6 day 6000 year YLC
    Militant socially and politically——–Republican
    OT God’s militarily avtive—————Combat trained doctor
    Against Homosexuality——————Against homosexuality
    All miracles were as described——-Miracles empirically real
    Virgin Birth of Christ———————-Virgin birth of Christ
    Bodily resurrection————————Bodily resurrection of Christ
    bodily 2nd coming————————-Second coming as carbon based life.
    Christs substitutionary atonement—Anselm based understanding of forensic atonement

    I realize I have perhaps invoked some beliefs that you may not have articulated but I have substituted historical Adventsist position where you have not dissented.




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    • To quote Gould:

      “A self-styled form of Darwinian fundamentalism has risen to some prominence in a variety of fields, from the English biological heartland of John Maynard Smith to the uncompromising ideology (albeit in graceful prose) of his compatriot Richard Dawkins, to the equally narrow and more ponderous writing of the American philosopher Daniel Dennett . . . . ”

      – Stephen Jay Gould, “Darwinian Fundamentalism,” The New York Review of Books.

      Are you a neo-Darwinian “fundamentalist”? In other words, can you honestly claim the title of a “neo-Darwinist” if you don’t subscribe to most, much less any, of the primary or “fundamental” claims of this group? Wouldn’t taking on the label of an organization without subscribing to what that organization is actually teaching make you rather dishonest?

      Also, can you honestly claim that when you do subscribe to the fundamental claims of the neo-Darwinian group, that the reason for your subscription is because of a “gestalt” sensation that can never be challenged? – that you would never abandon neo-Darwinism no matter what evidence might one day be brought to the table? – because your “gestalt” is never wrong? Of course not. So, why then is Christianity any different?

      Yet, as far as your “Christianity” is concerned, you don’t believe that any of the empirical claims of the Bible are necessarily literally true, none of them – not even when it comes to claims as central to Christian teachings as the Incarnation of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, nothing… none of the fundamental empirical claims of Christianity at all are required to be literally true. Yet, you still take on the title of “Christian”? Upon what basis? – the ethical values alone? What is unique about these ethical values compared to any other religion that also promotes an ethically good lifestyle? Honestly, I don’t see any difference between your faith and that of some of my atheist friends who believe very much like you do about good ethical values.

      No wonder you’re such a strong promoter of the postmodern mindset. You stand for nothing of empirical value when it comes to Christianity… yet you still take on the title of Christian? when many other titles would do just fine? What happens when Christianity is no longer popular or tolerated in your community? – or when it becomes a crime to be a Christian or an Adventist? – a crime “worthy of death”? Are you going to conveniently change your Christian or at least your Adventist label? I certainly would if I believed like you do…




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  30. Sean Pitman: Finally we’re getting somewhere – and I can now understand why you were so unwilling to answer my question as to the basis for your belief in certain empirical claims of the Bible. You really don’t believe that these empirical claims you “believe in” are literally true.

    It is clear you still do not understand and retain a naive certainty. You do not seem capable of understanding a spiritual position that is not literal. You cannot believe in Christmas without Santa Claus as I have said before.

    I said
    ” I do not even think these empirical claims have to be literally true for Christianity as a religion based on following Christ to be true.”
    and why do I say that?
    “I do not think any of these empirical claims can be tested scientifically.”

    You of course seem incapable of even understanding such a position as at all reasonable for it seems you would reject Christmas when it dawn on you that Santa Claus is not empirically “real” and would reject Christianity when it dawns on you that people writing in pre-scientific era in the ancient mid-east around 3000 BC thought that the creation happened in 6 literal days some time in what we now know as the neolithic period may not have been writing science.

    I think Paul as he tried to articulate Christianity in a world dominated by Greek thought understood there are true values that transcend empirical knowledge and prophecy when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13
    Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    At the risk of offence I would suggest you grow up Sean. Despite your implication I have never been ashamed that I agree with Paul and would not resile from a reasonable faith that transcends fundamentalisms childish literalism.




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    • I think I understand your postmodern subjective views of faith where nothing literal matters just fine. I’m especially amazed that you cite St. Paul as somehow supporting your position when his own rather sudden paradigm shift and the life-long basis of his Christian faith and hope was entirely the result of the empirical demonstration of the Risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:17).

      You would reject Christmas when it dawn on you that Santa Claus is not empirically “real”

      Are you trying to compare a belief in Jesus, His life, death, and literal resurrection, to a child’s belief in Santa Claus? What would Christmas or Christianity be without the empirically real Christ really being who the Bible said He was and really doing what the Bible said He did? Do you not understand how a literal understanding of these things makes a profound difference to the Christian faith? Of course I would reject the Christian faith if I were to discover that none of these claims about Jesus were literally true – but were just a bunch of made up stories to entertain children while providing adults with a good moral fable. And, the vast majority of thinking people would do the very same thing. No one is going to put his/her life on the line for a good moral fable. Christianity is not unique when it comes to its moral teachings. However, it is unique when it comes to its empirical claims.

      Anyway, I hope to never be as “mature” and “adult” as you are where I no longer see the meaning or importance of my “childish literalism”. I feel very sorry for all those who find themselves where you are. Christianity offers so much more. Fortunately, the Bible’s metaphysical claim that “the greatest of these is love” is true. That means that, if you actually stick with “The Royal Law” of Love, you will be saved. However, the “Good News” of the Gospel and its power to produce a solid hope in a very real future for those who hear it is lost to you. You might as well be a deist since your Christianity doesn’t require the literal existence of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, the incarnation, the Resurrection, or any of the empirical claims of the Bible. I’m sorry that this has happened to you, and I wish you could see the basis of the Gospel for what it is – the truth of the empirical as well as the ethical claims of the Bible. It’s so much more than a “good moral fable”…




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        And yet, yet for all that you would reject what you proclaim as the richness of Christianity if life is not literally 6000 years old. It somehow gives the lie to all other non-empirical claims you may make about Christianity being anything but baggage to be thrown away when you have a concrete contradicting fact.

        The time I have wasted on this site is because of this claim about empirical reality and the worthlessness of Christianity without empirical and scientific support. I am just amazed that a person educated in Adventism and supposedly scientifically aware should have so dramatically missed the point of the good news of the Incarnation of God as a rich faith tradition that gives meaning and illuminates all of life and our ethical and moral behaviour.




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        • But you don’t believe that the literal “incarnation” of Christ or the “virgin birth” is vital to the Christian faith. For you, none of the empirical claims of the Bible concerning Jesus or anything else are really all that important. For you, it’s really nothing more than a good moral fable. I’m sorry, but that’s not what Christianity is to me and it’s not what Christianity was to the disciples of Christ when they went around telling everyone about the literally Risen Savior.

          Yet, you argue “[Your position] gives the lie to all other non-empirical claims you may make about Christianity being anything but baggage to be thrown away when you have a concrete contradicting fact.”

          That’s not true. As I’ve explained several times before, the non-empirical ethical claims of Christianity are not unique to Christianity – but are exhibited by many people of many other religious faiths and even atheists. As you know, I’ve made it quite clear that I would not throw away the ethical claims of Christianity just because I saw that the empirical claims were false – because the ethical claims are written on the hearts of all mankind.

          Again, for you to make Christianity into nothing more than a good moral fable cuts Christianity off at the knees. You might as well be an atheistic humanist for all the good it does you to claim the title of an “ethical non-literal Christian”.




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  31. Sean Pitman: St. Paul as somehow supporting your position when his sudden paradigm shift and the life-long basis of his Christian faith and hope was entirely the result of the empirical demonstration of the Risen Christ

    Empirical demonstration?
    Acts 9
    3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
    4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
    6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
    7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
    8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

    Acts 22
    6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
    7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
    8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
    9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
    Act 26
    11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
    12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
    13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
    14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
    15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
    16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
    17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
    18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
    19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
    20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

    Which account is true according to empirical evidence? Did Paul’s attendants see the light (Jesus face as Paul indicates in 1 Cor 9:1 and 1 Cor 15:8,9) or hear the voice or see or hear neither. Empirical evidence is all about what can be detected by the sense including sight and hearing. If there was concern about empirical evidence surely this would be very clear and explicit. Logically they can only be unconcerned about your obsession with physical evidence.
    Other discrepancies are covered in this comment;
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dominic-crossan/paul-and-damascus_b_1348778.html

    To pretend to believe only those parts of the biblical account that can be verified by empirical evidence as usually understood is ridiculous and is not what you really do so why imagine that I am any different.




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    • These aren’t discrepant accounts, but complimentary accounts all written down by the very same author – Luke (who obviously didn’t see them as discrepant or contradictory).

      Now, your KJV version does seem to suggest a contradiction between the accounts. In Acts 9:7 its says that the men traveling with Paul heard a voice when they saw the supernatural light. However, in Acts 22:9 it seems to suggest that the men did not hear a voice at all. However, if you will read the same passages in either the NIV, ESV or NASB translations, this apparent conflict is resolved by the explanation that the men heard the voice, or a sound, but did not understand what the voice was saying.

      Literally, that clause in 22:9 may be translated, “They did not hear the sound.” The NIV correctly translates the verse because the verb “to hear” with the genitive case may mean “to hear a sound” and with the accusative case “to hear with understanding.” The genitive case is employed in 9:7, and the accusative is used in 22:9. So the travelers with Saul heard the sound (9:7) but did not understand what Christ said (22:9).

      – Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, 1985.

      In any case, from the three accounts in Luke it is quite clear that Paul both saw and heard Jesus (and his companions saw the divine light and most likely heard a voice which they did not understand) and that this empirical demonstration, which very literally blinded Paul for several days (one isn’t literally blinded by some metaphysical revelation), was extremely important to him – it changed his life. Paul referred to the fact that Jesus had appeared to him as a basis for his authority within the church and that the literal Resurrection was key to the Christian faith:

      For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15-19

      The rest of disciples also cited the empty tomb as evidence of the literal Resurrection open to all who were interested at the time to investigate for themselves. They certainly did not view the Resurrection some metaphysical event or a “moral fable” sort of Resurrection. Why was the literal nature of the Resurrection mentioned so many times by the disciples if it wasn’t important to them? Why were all of the other empirical miracles attributed to Jesus mentioned at all if they were not at all important? – such as His “virgin” birth or His ability to raise the dead to life in front of large crowds of witnesses?

      I’m sorry, but turning Christianity into a good moral fable was the farthest thing from the disciple’s minds. Peter himself spoke directly against such a conclusion when he wrote:

      “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

      If that isn’t a literal description of a real empirical event and an argument as to its vital importance to the Christian faith then I don’t know what is!




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  32. Sean Pitman: Are you trying to compare a belief in Jesus, His life, death, and literal resurrection, to a child’s belief in Santa Claus?

    No I am suggesting that you show no more maturity in your Christian belief that is fragilely dependent on the reality of a 6000 year life history than a child who may imagine Christmas is synonymous with and totally dependent on a literal Santa Claus. In doing so you are suggesting the history of Christianity with its richness and deep thought can be condensed into one verifiable fact.




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    • In that case, I guess St. Paul is just as childish as I am since he also hinged all of Christianity on one literal event – the Resurrection. He argued, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (1 Corinthians 15:17). How childish can one get? Yet, all of the disciples of Jesus based their faith in the claims of Jesus on the very same empirical demonstration – the overwhelming evidence that was given to them for the literal Resurrection.

      Yet, you have the temerity to claim that such empirical evidence and belief in such literal events was not and is not essential to Christianity – none of it – and that it is actually childish to accept the importance of the literal nature of these events. That’s just not true and it never was true. The literal nature of these events, if recognized, makes Christianity much much more than a good moral fable.




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  33. Sean

    It seems we have descended once again into the impasse of unedifying conflict mired as it is over understanding of dogmatic literalism.
    I apologize if I have offended in mounting a defence of Christian faith and belief that is independent of science and impiricism. I can do nothing better than to pray that you will not in fact follow your supposed trajectory into non-Christianity. And I should go back to doing something useful that is more faithful to the Christian tradition that asks us to bring the Grace of Christ and his Kingdom politics into our daily lives and the life of others

    Grace




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    • Why would you care if I ended up not believing the empirical claims of Christianity, but continued to hold to the ethical claims? – only discarding the title of “Christian”? After all, that’s exactly where you are. The only difference is that you still want to call yourself a “Christian” even though you don’t believe that any of the key empirical claims of Christianity are literally true – none of them.

      It seems like you just like the title of “Christian” because it fits your social image of yourself. For me, I would consider it dishonest, a form of false advertising, to publicly take on the title of “Christian” and claim that I believe in the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and the Resurrection of Jesus, when I actually believe that these events are likely non-literal and only represent a good moral fable. To me, that would be an outright lie – a form of deliberate deception. I simply could not honestly take on the title of “Christian”, much less “Seventh-day Adventist”, if I believed like you do.




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      • @Sean Pitman: To equate the paulucean kind of faith in emasculated Christianity, more appropriate to nirvana meditation and a Monastery chant than prayer, leaving nothing of substance left to Christianity but the shuck and shell of its abandoned name, is like edicting Darwinean theory to consummate unchallengeable science itself, and then enforcing it by court order. When all else fails, it’s the culture. http://www.iessaythere.com/culture%2c-stupid.html




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        • Yeah, I’m not sure why anyone would want to take on the title of Christian, much less Seventh-day Adventist, for social reasons alone? – unless for social or political advantages in certain circles. However, such social Christians would melt like the snow given a little bit of hardship because of the Christian title. I bet, for example, that the Yazidi Christians who are dying for their faith in Iraq right now are not just “social Christians”. I bet that they really believe that the empirical claims of Christianity are literally true… that it’s not just some good “moral fable”.

          Yazidi Christians in Iraq




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  34. @ Gene

    “What do you base your morality on???”

    My conscience which is a product of culture, upbringing, reflection and free will. Would you agree that everyone’s conscience is unique to themselves as individuals?




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    • A person’s conscience is not “unique” to themselves nor is the basic human sense of right a wrong a product of culture or environment or free will. All humans who don’t have pretty severe brain damage are born with a conscience that is very similar to what everyone else is born with, a sense of right and wrong that is universal and that is independent of any decision on one’s own part. Humans have to be trained to ignore this conscience, but everyone with a normal IQ knows what is right and what is wrong on some basic level. I know that there are those who have argued that children are born with a blank moral slate, but recent studies have shown that this isn’t true. Even infants have a detectable sense of right and wrong.

      For example, a recent CNN report (February 2014) on the “Baby Lab” run by Yale researchers argues:

      “Babies are in fact born with an innate sense of morality, and while parents and society can help develop a belief system in babies, they don’t create one. A team of researchers at Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center, known as The Baby Lab, showed us just how they came to that conclusion.” (see Link)

      Of course, people are free moral agents who can choose to either follow what their inborn consciences are telling them, or reject this “still small voice” from deep down inside until they seem to no longer hear it or be affected by it. Exposing one’s self to evil makes it seem less and less evil over time. However, the initial exposure always gets a reaction from the conscience that God has placed in each one of us from birth.




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      • Your system of reasoning about new born babies is faulty, and thus leads you into a false conclusion about sin and the human family. Babies are not born with an inherent sense of good and/or evil as you suggest. Neither are they born in some limbo morality with no leaning one way or the other.

        “The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” Ps. 58:1

        Infants do not need to be taught about sin or how to sin. They sin naturally and need no outside stimulus to cause them to do it. From the very outset at birth, the Christian influence must be present on some level as a means of grace and avenue for the Holy Spirit to work and educate a born sinner the morality of right and wrong. And only in this sense is Christ “the light that lighteth even man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. This is a reality by way of the atonement of the cross. No cross, no enlightenment for the human family. Man is lost, condemned, and the will is dead to think or do good on any level. This is the true meaning of original sin and its effect on the human family by way of Adam’s choice and decision, not our own.

        God uses every means of grace to communicate Himself and His will to the human family. Even sinful society has some elements of truth passed on from generation to generation that God can and will use to communicate.

        Parents become the first means of grace if they teach and instruct some elements of bible morality to their children. Even civil righteousness is communicated as they teach their children to share, and say “I am sorry” and “please” and “thank you” in this sinful world. Without the Holy Spirit’s influence in all these endeavors, parent’s efforts would be useless. Man has no inherent good or righteousness.

        It is worthless to present the idea to anyone that all they have to do is choose to be good by virtue of some natural goodness inherent at birth. Grace by way of the atonement is the reality of any ability to choose. So the ability to choose the gospel truth, is inherent in the presentation of the gospel itself. This biblical truth seems to be obscure in your thinking and thus your reasoning about salvation is faulty at best.




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        • We are all born with evil inclinations. That’s not in question here. The argument is that even babies known what is right and wrong. You see, there’s a difference between knowing what is right vs. doing what is right – which is demonstrated by the fairly recent research into the understanding of babies between right and wrong, good and evil. In fact, there is no sin without a conscious understanding of right and wrong. A robot cannot “sin” because a robot doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong and is not a free moral agent. That is why God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman…” (Genesis 3:15). This “enmity” or knowledge of the right, does not have to be taught or learned over time. We are all born with the knowledge of the right as a gift of God that is internally derived – from birth.




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  35. @ Sean

    “However, the weight of evidence is, in my mind, clearly in favor of her claims to have received very privileged information from God in her visions.”

    Really! There is that old standby ‘weight of the evidence’ phrase again by which you try to apply the patina of scientific evidence to your theological claims – but on the other hand demand exactitude when you are challenged about the age of life on earth by scientists in many disciplines. Can you not see how you strain the boundaries of scientific credulity in this regard because you do not seen to have any doubt that you are right?




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    • Where did I imply certainty? What I said is that I see what seems to me as the “weight of evidence”. That’s a far cry from absolute certainty – from absolute unfalsifiable evidence or direct demonstration. Could I be wrong? Yes. Do I think that’s likely? No – or I wouldn’t be willing to share my opinions on these topics…




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  36. @ Gene

    “I agree about conscience.

    But, you didn’t answer the question.

    WUWT?”

    I actually did answer your question but perhaps in an expanded form that you did not understand. The answer is I base my morality on my conscience ( which has many influences).

    Conscience is unique and subjective for each individual. Sean opines in comes from God. Kant argues it comes from reason (categorical imperative). I think it comes from a variety of influences, including inherited characteristics, culture, upbringing, reflection and education. I do not think it comes from God, or reason alone, as conscience has such a wide variance from individual to individual.

    The fact that babies may exhibit an early sense of right or wrong ( empathy for toys?) may be just as likely indicate an inherited characteristic as being per se from God.

    I hope that provides a more fulsome response.




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  37. “Man is lost, condemned, and the will is dead to think or do good on any level”

    This is sheer, unadulterated, irrational nonsense. There are many examples of people of all stripes, including secular, doing much good in the world. Man is not inherently good or bad, but rather has the potential – and the choice- as to how to morally act.




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    • There is only a moral choice when there is inherent knowledge of universal right and wrong. Without this inherent knowledge, there is no basis for “morality” or for arguing that anyone, including someone like Hitler vs. Oskar Schindler, is necessarily “good” or “bad”. And, this is all based on one very simple concept that even very young children inherently know and understand: “Do to others what you’d have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).




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      • “And, this is all based on one very simple concept that even very young children inherently know and understand: “Do to others what you’d have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

        Sean, this is so obviously false, that any parent will tell you that a child must be taught morality as well as civil righteousness. The selfishness of the child is so apparent even in the basic infant state. Where do you come up with these conclusions? Notice this EGW comment.

        Satan’s Power May Be Broken.–Parents have a more serious charge than they imagine. The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the broken links to God. As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death. But Christ steps in and passes over the ground where Adam fell, enduring every test in man’s behalf. . . . Christ’s perfect example and the grace of God are given him to enable him to train his sons and daughters to be sons and daughters of God. It is by teaching them, line upon line, precept upon precept, how to give the heart and will up to Christ that Satan’s power is broken. {CG 475.3}

        No one is born with a basic knowledge of good and evil. It must be taught, and if not taught, evil will simply reign. I hope your scientific knowledge and understanding is better than your theology of sin and atonement.




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        • As I’ve already pointed out to you in this thread, being born with a fallen nature doesn’t mean that we aren’t also born with an inherent knowledge of right and wrong – as the Bible itself clearly explains (Genesis 3:15). God has made it possible for fallen human beings to actually recognize and be attracted to “the beauty of holiness” (2 Chronicles 20:21)… from birth. Consider the following comments from Ellen White as well:

          “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” [Genesis 3:15.] The divine sentence pronounced against Satan after the fall of man, was also a prophecy, embracing all the ages to the close of time, and foreshadowing the great conflict to engage all the races of men who should live upon the earth.

          God declares, “I will put enmity.” This enmity is not naturally entertained. When man transgressed the divine law, his nature became evil, and he was in harmony, and not at variance, with Satan. There exists naturally no enmity between sinful man and the originator of sin. Both became evil through apostasy. The apostate is never at rest, except as he obtains sympathy and support by inducing others to follow his example. For this reason, fallen angels and wicked men unite in desperate companionship. Had not God specially interposed, Satan and man would have entered into an alliance against Heaven; and instead of cherishing enmity against Satan, the whole human family would have been united in opposition to God.

          Satan tempted man to sin, as he had caused angels to rebel, that he might thus secure co-operation in his warfare against Heaven. There was no dissension between himself and the fallen angels as regards their hatred of Christ; while on all other points there was discord, they were firmly united in opposing the authority of the Ruler of the universe. But when Satan heard the declaration that enmity should exist between himself and the woman, and between his seed and her seed, he knew that his efforts to deprave human nature would be interrupted; that by some means man was to be enabled to resist his power.

          The grace that Christ implants in the soul creates the enmity against Satan. Without this converting grace and renewing power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. But the new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts, enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper. Whoever is seen to abhor sin instead of loving it, whoever resists and conquers those passions that have held sway within, displays the operation of a principle wholly from above.

          Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 4, p. 325-326.

          So, you see, God has in fact placed “enmity” or conflict within the minds of all human beings between their natural attraction to rebellion and sin and the “beauty of holiness”. This enmity is a gift that does not have to be learned or taught. It is given to us from birth. And, it is this enmity that produces a conflict with our fallen nature. This conflict within our hearts enables us to resist the power of temptation and to follow the call of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, there would be no conflict at all. We would be at peace with Satan. However, because there is conflict, even from birth, there is hope for us…




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        • Sean, what God does by way of “grace” is outside the doctrine of original sin. Original sin is how we are in the world as children of Adam who “sold us into sin”. As Luther said to Erasmus in their discussion on this topic, “If you want to add grace, make man as free as you like.”

          And we see that God “puts” grace and enmity between Satan and the children of Adam. It is not something naturally passed on from Adam to his offspring. Why do you avoid and/or deny this clear statement of EGW……” Satan’s Power May Be Broken.–Parents have a more serious charge than they imagine. The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the broken links to God. As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death. But Christ steps in and passes over the ground where Adam fell, enduring every test in man’s behalf. . . . Christ’s perfect example and the grace of God are given him to enable him to train his sons and daughters to be sons and daughters of God. It is by teaching them, line upon line, precept upon precept, how to give the heart
          476
          and will up to Christ that Satan’s power is broken. {CG 475.3}”

          This means children are born lost, sinful, guilty and condemned by God. None the less, God has provided an atonement that such children may be instructed and educated in a knowledge of the truth and “Christ is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” The Holy Spirit works in harmony with the parents so their children can be “born again” into the kingdom of God.

          We are not born saved, we are born lost. No inherent goodness passes from Adam to his children. They have no knowledge of right and wrong unless God acts specifically to “put enmity” in the heart and minds of Adam’s fallen children. And this is a process that begins at birth and continues throughout a person’s life time.

          Children are born selfish and only by God’s grace can there be any hope of any enlightenment so they can be educated otherwise. Not only are they born lost, evil and condemned, they remain in this condition until and unless the accept Jesus and are “born again.”
          See John 3 and the words of Jesus to Nicodemus who thought like you do until he finally understood the true spiritual condition of man by way of a revelation of the cross.
          Bill Sorensen




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        • And we see that God “puts” grace and enmity between Satan and the children of Adam. It is not something naturally passed on from Adam to his offspring.

          Of course it is God who puts the enmity between us and Satan. It is a miraculous act on the part of God. However, the fact remains that God has given us to recognize and understand the “beauty of Holiness”, to know good from evil, from birth. Now, it is also true that all children are born with a fallen nature. However, this does not negate the fact that God has also given them to be born with an inherent God-given knowledge of right and wrong.




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        • If they have an “inherent God given knowledge of right and wrong, we need to ask, Why ” It is by teaching them, line upon line, precept upon precept, how to give the heart
          476
          and will up to Christ that Satan’s power is broken? “{CG 475.3}”

          If they already know “right from wrong” they need no one to teach them right from wrong.




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        • “There’s a difference between moral truths, which are internally understood, vs. doctrinal truths, which must be taught…

          I think not, Sean. Even Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden were “taught” right and wrong by the instruction of angels and/or Christ. It is the devil who claims “ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”




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        • That’s not true. Adam and Eve were created with an inherent knowledge of moral truth. It came naturally to them as soon as they were created. It didn’t have to be taught to them over time. What they didn’t know was evil. That they learned when they rebelled against the command of God – something they inherently knew was wrong or they wouldn’t have tried to hide from God.

          Today children are born with a fallen nature. However, they are also born with an inherent God-given knowledge of the moral law, the Royal Law of Love, that is “written on the heart”. If it is “written on the heart” by the finger of God, it doesn’t have to be taught. It is inherent knowledge. The evidence is quite clear…




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    • @george: But of course, thanks for the article you cited, as it presents evidence, perhaps tenuous but let that pass, that aspects of my persona and yours may be directed, though not wholly and inexorably determined, thank God, by our particular genomes. Hardly embarrassing, actually exciting (surprise!), such findings are anticipated and welcomed by us Adventist physicians, grounded, please try to remember, as we are in science. They explain a lot about you and me and how we so differ not only in odor and volume of apocrine secretion, but also in your phlegmatism, its volume and odor, and Sean’s too, and my pungent edginess. It’s all as per design, from the beginning. So the variety of our genomes isn’t the issue. It’s what we do with the data from such articles as yours, whether or not we indeed recognize that such mechanisms for individuality and response were installed by design, expert and benevolent, even loving, not through mindless big-E Evolution – and whether or not we cooperate with Him who set it up that way, in getting it, especially my big-E Edginess, to work as He intended, may I say (surprise?) to His glory?




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    • @george: Your altruistically-driven comment on genome-driven diversity got me mulling, and I still am mulling it. Today’s mulling, single-mindedly premise-driven, the premise being that God in creating man deliberately, by design, and with delight, went all out for diversity, of which yours and mine are as glaring as mutually titillating. But that’s nothing compared to the crowning diversity, devised with divine glee, comprehensively laid out (not merely genome-driven) — male and female. By nature sundered out of sight, beyond random and for the purpose of being joined together, not to be put asunder, that male-female diversity is so gaping it leaves me agape, boggled. What man can understand woman? Only God could have come up with that one!




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  38. @ Sage ‘Brush’

    Yep, its good to have a look yonder beyond the confines of the Big Tent upon that vast prairie. Copernicus and Galileo did that and found the celestial tent to be a tad different than the Educate Truthers of that age. The Tumbleweed of knowledge keeps rolin’ along …..




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    • Again, just because it’s part of the genetics doesn’t mean it evolved since your mechanism just doesn’t work beyond very low levels of functional complexity. The complex mental abilities you cite were designed.




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  39. @ Drs Kime and Pitman

    “Hardly embarrassing, actually exciting (surprise!), such findings are anticipated and welcomed by us Adventist physicians, grounded, please try to remember, as we are in science.”

    Gentlemen,

    No matter my position of the need to separate science from religion – or from atheism or philosophy for that matter 🙂 – I do consider you highly intelligent physicians learned in many areas of science. Moreover, over the course of years on this forum, I have come to appreciate your faith. I grew up raised as an Anglican, but it did make rational sense to me and still doesn’t. Sean’s attempt to lend empirical support to his faith, devoid of sentiment, is quite remarkable and laudable in my estimation.

    Often, to my delight, I am here for the wit of Wes no less; but remain an agnostic pest trying to to do my best. Doubt designed or evolved…?

    Thanks for your indulgence and cyber – fellowship.




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    • @george:
      Anent your comment unwittingly rhymed, I have a loose quatrain divined, to wit:
      “Wit of Wes /No less,/ But an agnostic pest/ Doing my best/ I must remain.” It
      Has more or less impelled me to board your rhyming train, to get:

      Gentle ole George, grizzled George, he was a High Plains Drifter.
      At home home on the discouraging range and purple prairie,
      Hard panning for token gold among the tumbleweeds, suffering many a blister,
      He merrily unearthed uncertainties many and airy, but nuggets nary.




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  40. @ Wes

    “He merrily unearthed uncertainties many and airy, but nuggets nary.”

    The uncertainties are the nuggets my Adventist paradigm friend. Certainty is the realm of intellectual despots, especially those that refuse to challenge their theological beliefs but bend the mind of youth to a disingenuous inquiry of reality.

    So, do you honestly know your biblical god exists, or do you simply take the your gestalt moment you felt under the klieg lights in the carnival tent at age 10 and circumscribe all your inquires therein? Take a good, hard look in the mirror Dr. Kime rather than just disparage those that have honest doubts about how religious belief comes about? Great souls like Mother Thersa- and yes she was a great human being- had profound doubts about the existence of God, notwithstanding earlier gestalt experiences. Underneath your blithe bromides I suspect you do as well but your life long faith insulates you from the emptiness of the high prarie.

    Nothing I have seen, experienced, read about or thought about has brought me to the conclusion that the biblical god exists. Theodicy – based upon eating a forbidden apple – makes Harry Potter look like a historical figure.

    Faith is very important; especially in one’s own ability to make inquires with objective tools available devoid of paternalistic influence. It is not women that have created God in their image. Perhaps that is why you don’t understand them, rather than concluding that the biological duality is a product of
    design? Odd how some species can reproduce asexually or hermaphroditically eh? Design Dr. Kime, or adaption to a changing environment?

    But what of ole existence itself, not merely of concious, self reflecting, constantly inquiring – unique? – human life; but of self organizing matter governed by laws of physics that has led to such
    conscious reverence of same? What of that? Certainly appears to be prima facie proof of design, notwithstanding the continuous discovery of more cause and effect phenomena that operate independent of a designing hand? Is Stephen Hawking an atheist or is he trying to play God when he writes about a grand design not yet understood? What created the ether or potential for universes that can arise spontaneously from nothing? And if not yet understood, is it premature to assign such understanding to such an anthropomorphic Designer as depicted in the bible? A designer that had no guilt with drowning innocent children in a flood. I ha’e me doubts on that one laddie!

    So, beneath the whimsy and doggerel lies more serious matter. A pest with a purpose Dr. Kime, not merely not undermine, but to inquire sublime, a better approximation of the divine.

    Oh, by the way, I’ve become very fond of you and Sean over the years. High integrity and intelligence – and in your case a Puck like and sardonic wit that causes much mirth. Not just grounded on the AstroTurf is he – but in stand up cyber religious forums does he give us glee 🙂 You are a treasure Wes and for that I give the universe thanks.




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    • @George:

      So, do you honestly know your biblical god exists, or do you simply take the gestalt moment you felt under the klieg lights in the carnival tent at age 10 and circumscribe all your inquires therein? Take a good, hard look in the mirror Dr. Kime rather than just disparage those that have honest doubts about how religious belief comes about?

      Honestly, Over the past half century since it’s become popular among Adventists too, and over the years on this blog, I’ve heard a lot of agnostics but never heard it put more crisply and nicely, with more postmodern whimsy (“uncertainties are my nuggets” or words to that effect), probably never more civilly, despite the part about “disparage.” Here we are, home, home on the range where seldom is heard a disparaging word. So you can’t be serious, can you? But seriously, it’s a privilege to be the one to whom is sung such a hymn to uncertainty, at whom such a gem, may I say nugget, is slung.

      Now, putting down the mirror you handed me, smiling at your gift and at what I saw in it under the klieg lights (mainly jowls and sagging gestalt), may I submit that if there can be such things as “honest doubts,” exquisitely indubitably standardized and syllabized as they are, are there not also “honest certainties,” certainly of the Bible? You’ve got those, I’ve got these, and that’s that, undoubtedly, honestly, cordially. Eternally?
      Yea-hee, pard! Lasso yourself a good undisparaged New Year, out here on the discouraging range!




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  41. “That they learned when they rebelled against the command of God – something they inherently knew was wrong or they wouldn’t have tried to hide from God.”

    I can’t believe you would even try to support this idea, Sean. In other words, they knew what tree was forbidden, and God didn’t need to tell them? Any clear reasoning bible student will reject your position that is not support by scripture. And what baby born into this world inherently knows the 7th day is the Sabbath? You are way off base, Sean. No one knows good and/or evil unless they are educated in one and/or the other. And since babies are born seperated from God, they must be educated by various means of grace that the Holy Spirit can use to help them be “born of the spirit”. Paul says we are “Sold in sin.” And this by way of Adam. Man is born a sinner at birth and condemned by God unless and until the Holy Spirit teaches them about Christ and they are baptized into Christ.




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    • I can’t believe you would even try to support this idea, Sean. In other words, they knew what tree was forbidden, and God didn’t need to tell them?

      No. What they didn’t need to be told is that it’s wrong to disobey a God who has already demonstrated His love and personal care for them nor did they need to be told that it’s wrong to act out of selfishness at the expense of another. This is the “truth” that was already given to them as inherent moral knowledge. This is what made Adam and Eve free moral agents as soon as they were created.

      And what baby born into this world inherently knows the 7th day is the Sabbath?

      As I said, a baby is only born with inherent knowledge of the Royal Law of Love. That’s it. A baby is not born with inherent knowledge of the Sabbath or any other such knowledge which must be learned over time – obviously. Within the Ten Commandments the last six commandments are what are based on inherent knowledge – as far as what one will automatically do when one loves one’s neighbor as one’s self (which is inherently recognizable as “good”). The first four commandments as to how we should relate with God are not, ironically, based on inherent knowledge, but must be learned over time.




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  42. “As I said, a baby is only born with inherent knowledge of the Royal Law of Love.”

    Love is taught by way of the various means of grace that God has ordained to communicate love. How does God “write the law on our heart”? Not by some hocus-pocus magic as you imply. It is by understandable revelation of truth either by experience as a parent acts in a loving way to their baby or child and other means of education that “the law is written on the heart”. Primarily the law is written on the heart by a revelation of the cross. And this is why the new covenant promise is the ultimate and final affirmation of the law written on the heart as man comprhends the true meaning of the cross.

    Even civil righteousness is taught children at an early age such as to say, “please, thank you, pardon me…..etc.”




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    • Again, that’s not true since even the heathen can know and express love without ever reading or hearing about the life of Christ. Also, as originally noted, children do not need to be taught about love before they can recognize it and respond to it as good. Everyone is born with a conscience that allows a person to make moral decisions and recognize moral truths and be a free moral agent. This ability is indeed “written on the heart” from birth as an internally-derived truth. The heathen and even very young children are in fact free moral agents. In other words even the heathen and very young children can do “by nature” the things required by the Royal Law even though they’ve never had the Scriptures or any other training regarding the Law of Love (Romans 2:13-15).

      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, DA, p. 638

      Also, God creating something within us from birth is no more “hocus-pocus” than any other miraculous creative act of God. Teaching children various “civil niceties”, such as how to say please and thank-you, has nothing to do with the fact that children are born with the ability to recognize acts of love as “good”. This ability is a gift of God’s grace to all humanity. “It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul that creates the enmity against Satan. Without this grace, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. The new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts, enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper.” (EGW, R&H, 1882). And, this “conflict” within the soul exists within everyone – Christian or heathen, small child or adult. Everyone is given a conscience where the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind and informs us of the basic moral Law, the Golden Rule, to “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

      Remember too that without knowledge of the Moral Law on at least some level, there is no basis for judgment or condemnation nor is it possible to be accused of rebellion against something that is not already known. Yet, no one will have this excuse before God because they all knew the law – since it was written on their hearts from birth.




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      • “Again, that’s not true since even the heathen can know and express love without ever reading or hearing about the life of Christ.”

        They many not have heard about Jesus in a direct way. None the less, Christian principles and ideals have been handed down from generation to generation even in heathen lands. How do you think the heathen know about marriage? All basic morality is taught from generation to generation and the Holy Spirit always works through some objective revelation of truth. The only way the wise men of the east could have known anything about Christ was their study of the scripture. And while nature is helpful in some sense to convey some aspects of truth, nature is so corrupted by sin that without objective knowledge of truth passed down generation to generation, no one could possibly by way of nature in and of itself discern true morality.

        We reject evolution in part because of this fact. No one could find out or know God unless He specifically revealed Himself by way of prophets and historic truth that came from Adam as God had communicated it to him. The point is this, the Holy Spirit that “writes the law on our heart” must have some objective reference of truth or there is no writing the law on our hearts. What you suggest is spiritualism and a spirit ethic apart from divine revelation. A baby responds to love because love is revealed by way of the parents, especially the mother.

        Then you quote EGW who stated in light of the cross.

        ““It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul that creates the enmity against Satan. Without this grace, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. The new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts, enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper.” (EGW, R&H, 1882).”

        What she states only affirms that we receive nothing by way of Adam and have no ability by way of Adam to know or do anything moral. The will is dead. We are “sold in sin”. When you reference you comments by way of the cross, you do not understand what the doctrine of original sin is. It means Adam has sold us out, totally, completely with no Holy Spirit influence and no possible “free will” until and unless God acts in some objective way to create the possibility for man to comprehend truth and then decide for good or evil. So, Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.

        Your whole theory demeans the real meaning and true value of the atonement by which God can act in a positive way toward sinful human beings born in sin lost, guilty and condemned to eternal damnation by Adam’s choice, not ours. And in light of the cross we are liberated to choose to accept the atonement, or, remain lost condemned and guilty. We are not “born free” as many would claim. But we are born bound over to Satan to serve sin and are only liberated by the gospel in its various revelations and applications in the human experience. And it is not by some “hocus pocus” God writing His law on the heart of a baby, nor is the law written on the heart of anyone except by a revelation of objective truth that we can evaluate and understand and thus respond to.




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        • You’re confusing different concepts. I’ve already pointed out that it is a miraculous act on the part of God that we are able to recognize the beauty of holiness and be truly free moral agents – despite being born with fallen sinful natures. Your problem is that you believe that this information, the knowledge of the goodness of love, is taught and must be learned over time. This just isn’t true. It is given by God as internally-derived information that is indeed “written on the hearts” of all mankind – from birth.

          It is only because of this that Paul argues that the heathen “naturally know” right from wrong (Romans 2:13-15). Paul specifically claims here that God has made this knowledge part of everyone’s inherent nature – an internally derived truth that is completely natural or internally derived and need not be learned over time. And, this “natural” gift of God isn’t “hocus pocus” any more than any other miraculous act of God. Your argument that the heathen are taught various truths that have been handed down over time (such as the truth of marriage for example) doesn’t hold water. For example, there are many non-Biblical forms of marriage observed by various heathen cultures. What the heathen do naturally recognize, however, is the goodness of the Golden Rule to do unto others as you would have them do unto you… the Royal Law of selfless love for one’s fellow man.

          Consider, in summary, that it would be impossible to even recognize “objective truth” without a pre-existing internal moral compass by which to determine truth from error. How do you know “the truth” when you see it? How do you know how to judge right from wrong? You only know because you’re given a conscience from birth that guides you toward the moral truth when you see it. It is this compass, this enmity against Satan, that has been supernaturally implanted by God, from birth, in every single human being.




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        • “How do you know “the truth” when you see it? How do you know how to judge right from wrong?”

          As I said, Sean, you learn it from your parents. But we have both stated our view and so I will conclude with this statement by EGW about “how” God writes the law on our heart.

          “Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought; so also when a man who has been under strong delusion comes to understand moral truth. Every time a soul is converted, and learns to love God and keep His commandments, the promise of God is fulfilled, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Saviour, working to rescue souls. A consistent life in Christ is a great miracle. In the preaching of the word of God, the sign that should be manifest now and always is the presence of the Holy Spirit, to make the word a regenerating power to those that hear. This is God’s witness before the world to the divine mission of His Son. {DA 407.1}

          How then does God “write His law on our heart”? It is by objective revelations of His love and we respond in love as love is taught and not some “hocus pocus” spiritualistic non-definable quality. Your view lays the ground work for a non-biblical spiritualism the claims right and/or wrong is some inherent enlightenment apart from objective revelations of the bible. So, I conclude my case which is in harmony with EGW’s explanation in the above quote.




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        • Again, the basic ability to recognize love and exhibit love does not “have to be taught” by parents. A child will also naturally feel guilty for doing harm to another – without the need to be taught about feeling guilty for doing wrong. On the other hand, if you were correct, those who did not have good parents, or had no parents at all, would have an perfect excuse before God for why they didn’t choose to act lovingly toward their neighbors. They would feel no guilt or remorse for anything wrong that they did. After all, according to your argument, no one is born with a conscience – or an inherent knowledge of any kind of moral right or wrong to any degree. You claim that the conscience does not exist at all before one is taught, by one’s parents. You claim that there is no way to know right from wrong unless one is taught by some outside source of information. However, in reality, no one has such an excuse because all are in fact born with an internally-derived conscience regardless of the goodness or training, or lack thereof, of one’s parents.

          It is a studied fact that a very young child naturally knows what is right regarding the Royal Law of Love on at least a very basic level… and is naturally attracted to it. This knowledge is hardwired – by God. That is why, yet again, Paul described this ability among the heathen as “natural” – not something that they had to learn from their parents, but understood by having the Law written on their hearts by God (Romans 2:13-15). This Biblical claim is actually backed up by modern research that shows that very young babies do in fact have an innate sense of right and wrong (Link).

          And, Ellen White also speaks of children having a God-given conscience that must be considered in their training. They are not like animals that are born without a conscience:

          The training of children must be conducted on a different principle from that which governs the training of irrational animals. The brute has only to be accustomed to submit to its master; but the child must be taught to control himself. The will must be trained to obey the dictates of reason and conscience. – Ellen White, January 10, 1882

          So, here we have a child being born with inherent God-given gifts of both reason and conscience. Such gifts are created as internally-derived gifts by God. Call it “hocus pocus” of you want, but God is in fact a Divine creator who is well able to create such gifts with no less ability than He is able to create the universe or the complexities of the living human body. Therefore, it is not the parents who create the original ability for “enmity” against evil within their children. Parents do not get the credit for this basic ability to judge right from wrong. After all, it is God who said that He is the one who would create this enmity against sin within the human race (Genesis 3:15). He did not leave this up to us to create within our children. It is God and only God who creates the conscience in each one of us. Our responsibility toward our children is to train them on how to apply, maintain, grow, and guard their God-given gifts of reason and conscience. We nurture the plant that God has made, so to speak, but we did not create the original seed from which the plant was made able to grow.




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        • “God-given gifts of both reason and conscience. ”

          God given gifts are not what we receive from Adam after his sin. The work of the Holy Spirit comes by way of the atonement and if there was no atonement, there would be no “God given gifts.”

          At the moment of birth, the Holy Spirit begins to work in harmony with various objective means of grace. A mother’s love is immeadiately revealed to her baby. And other avenues of grace are present to educate the mind concerning right and wrong. So, this comment is not biblical….

          “Again, the basic ability to recognize love and exhibit love does not “have to be taught” by parents. A child will also naturally feel guilty for doing harm to another – without the need to be taught about feeling guilty for doing wrong.”

          No parent would agree with this statement. Children have no feelings of guilt until and unless they are taught right and wrong. And this process begins immeadiately at birth as mother’s begin the process of instruction.

          Basically, when you mix the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit with the doctrine of original sin, you convolute the whole discussion. Original sin is not about what God has done to counter-act it, but what sin has done to Adam and all his children apart from the grace of God.




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        • God given gifts are not what we receive from Adam after his sin. The work of the Holy Spirit comes by way of the atonement and if there was no atonement, there would be no “God given gifts.”

          The promise of atonement was in existence from the foundation of our world and “from eternity past”. That is why Jesus could tell Adam and Eve that He would immediately step in and provide the necessary “enmity” between us and evil that would enable them and all of their offspring to resist evil and cling to God. Jesus’ sacrifice on the crossed reached into the future as well as the past and took in the entire human race…

          No parent would agree with this statement. Children have no feelings of guilt until and unless they are taught right and wrong. And this process begins immeadiately at birth as mother’s begin the process of instruction.

          I am the father of two small boys (5 and 3) and I can tell you by my own experience that you’re wrong. Very young children do inherently know right from wrong on a very basic level without having to be taught about what to think or believe and do experience guilt without having to be taught about it. Beyond this, you are ignoring the scientific studies in this regard. It’s been established experimentally as I’ve already pointed out to you. You also ignore what Paul said in Romans about the heathen having the law written on their hearts so that it is “natural” to them even without having ever read or ever hearing the written law. According to Paul they instinctively know right from wrong…




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  43. @ Prime Time Kime

    “may I submit that if there can be such things as “honest doubts,” exquisitely indubitably standardized and syllabized as they are, are there not also “honest certainties,” certainly of the Bible?”

    Not only submit, but argue with wit, to an agnostic twit, who is indubiatly as entwined in the DNA matrrix of doubt, as those of faith, which I vouchsafe is indeed stout.

    Serious? You bet ya pard, but not withoug a healthy dose of self deprecation when in the presence of a very wise elder and a brilliant advocate of the marrying empiricism to faith. You see when I encounter folks of high intelligence with firm beliefs, they act as a crucible to test my own existentialist gestalt. We are all looking for God notwithstanding protestations to the contrary. I find a bit of ‘that’ lovely sepraphim filigree in the extant cyber dialectic with yourself and Sean. And I have been converted to an extent. To the extent that I better understand the essense of the faith that drives you. That has been a mote in the eye of a non – God. Oh atheists, we limit thyselfs, why make a graven idol of absolutism in the mystery of the unknown?

    Is the malleability of humanity the key to sanity?

    Always got a bedroll and fire burning for you on the ole high ontological plateau pard. It is only lonely if one cannot embrace the beauty of brevity and privilege to exist and comtemplate with inner eye wide open.

    With fondness
    Your irascible prairie dog




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  44. . “Oh atheists, we limit thyselfs, why make a graven idol of absolutism in the mystery of the unknown?”

    Oops, a bit of erratum, “we” should have been “why” .

    Just wondering though, do atheists say: “oh my not God ” when making pronouncements of wonder, or not wonder as the case may be?




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