Shane Hilde: @Sean Pitman M.D.: Granted they were not specific …

Comment on Open letter to General Conference by Sean Pitman M.D..

Shane Hilde: @Sean Pitman M.D.: Granted they were not specific but I thought the statement that they shouldn’t exist as an SDA institution was pretty strong.

The conversation was longer than expected. I’m glad the questions were asked. It puts the issue in the public eye.

True…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Sean Pitman M.D. Also Commented

Open letter to General Conference

Jonathan Smith: Ignorance of the law is never an excuse in any jurisdiction. As the texts above show, lack of proper knowledge is NOT an excuse since the knowledge is accessible but they simply refused to access or believe it.

You’re mistaken when it comes to God’s Law. Jesus himself excused wrongful acts of the ignorant saying that if a person didn’t know of the wrongfulness of a thought or act, they wouldn’t be guilty of sin (John 9:41).

It is therefore only when one knows that something is wrong, and deliberately does it anyway, that one is guilty of sin. And, only God clearly knows what someone really does and does not know or has or has not deliberately rejected or refused to know… i.e., sinned.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Open letter to General Conference

Jonathan Smith: I sincerely hope that the evolutionists will realise the error of their ways and repent before it is too late.

Why should they die when God does not love the death of the wicked? Why should they despise Someone who has only shown them love? Why should they reject the word of One who cannot lie? Why should man be so arrogant as to believe he knows more than God? The mystery of iniquity does indeed work.

Be careful Jonathan. You are making a moral judgment here when you cannot do so. A belief in an error is not, in and of itself, a sin. Evolutionists are not wicked just because they believe in a false theory. Certainly there are many very good and very honest and sincere evolutionists. Salvation isn’t based on knowledge, but on motive…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Open letter to General Conference

Ervin Taylor: The problem is not in the excellent leadership provided at La Sierra University first by Dr. Guy, then by Dr. Geraty and now by Dr. Wisbey. With dignity and integrity, all of these enlightened educational leaders have contributed to making La Sierra University an Adventist Christian university committed to the pursuit of truth—both in science and theology—wherever it leads.

All of them have stood resolutely against their misguided fundamentalist coreligionists who seek to turn a fine Adventist university into a Bible college.

Currently, the real problem is the myths and half-truths created and promulgated by the supporters of the EducateTruth web site.

All true Adventists committed to the pursuit of “Present Truth” should actively resist and reject the work of those who wish to follow the example of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Torguemada in how to deal with contrasting opinions in a religious community.

Please do point out any myths or half-truths listed in my letter – or even any exaggerations – however slight.

Do you really deny that many of the science professors at LSU are actively promoting the modern synthesis view of evolution as the true story of origins to their students? If not, why doesn’t LSU at least admit this obvious fact instead of putting out misleading PR campaigns which suggest that LSU is not in fact doing what it is doing – promoting the “truth” of the evolution of life on this planet over hundreds of millions of years of time? You do not actually deny this. You simply argue that the promotion of theistic evolution over vast ages of time shouldn’t be a problem for an “Adventist” university…

So, why is LSU trying to cover up what you think is so obviously beneficial? Why are the teachers of LSU actively trying to prevent access to any of their lecture materials or exactly what is being presented in their classes? Why try to sequester this information? Why be so secretive about what is really being taught at LSU? – if it is clearly what the SDA Church, as an organization, wants? Why is LSU putting extreme pressure on those LSU students who are trying to increase transparency about what is being actively promoted within numerous LSU classrooms?

This isn’t the inquisition Erv. No one is threatened with any civil penalty. It is just that LSU owes it to those who are paying good money to support LSU to explain what they are really getting vs. what they think they are getting. Everyone has a right to get what they are really paying for with their own money…

And, if transparency is so good, why isn’t LSU being forthright, open, honest and transparent with current and potential parents, students, and the SDA Church at large? Why the use of slick language that is calculated to mislead? – such as the oft repeated statement that, “Everyone at LSU believes in creation”? Clearly this statement is given with the intent to quiet the concerns of those who think that the term “creation” means support for a literal 6-day creation week – when clearly this isn’t the actual meaning of this word when it comes to LSU science professors who publicly deride such a “ludicrous” notion…

Please… who is the one telling “half truths” here? It’s time to come clean Erv. We’ve had enough of these word games…

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Recent Comments by Sean Pitman M.D.

Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
As far as the current article is concerned, I know of no “outdated” information. The information is current as far as I’m aware. The detrimental mutation rate is far too high for complex organisms to avoid an inevitable downhill devolutionary path. There is simply no way to rationally avoid this conclusion as far as I’m aware.

So, perhaps your friend could be more specific regarding his particular objections to the information presented?


Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
Look again. I did reference the 2018 paper of Basener and Sanford (which was the motivation for me writing this particular article). Of course, as you’ve mentioned, Sanford has also written an interesting book on this topic entitled, “Genetic Entropy” – which I’ve previously referenced before in this blog (along with a YouTube video of a lecture he gave on the topic at Loma Linda University: (Link). For those who haven’t read it or seen Sanford’s lecture on this topic, it’s certainly worth your time…


Evolution from Space?
I will try to do it someday, but lately I’ve been swamped by speaking appointments, my real job, and my two young boys 😉

However, 300-400 people do visit and read articles on my websites per day – which isn’t bad for now. I also get very encouraging E-mails on a regular basis from those who have been helped by these postings. Some of these are teachers and professors who use this information in their own classrooms throughout the country – but often without giving the source for their material in order to avoid the automatic bias that comes with it.


Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
You wrote:

The reason that no competent scientist will date the “soft tissue” of dinosaur bones is probably because the techniques used to extract that material seriously contaminate the extract from a 14C perspective. I am checking on that with several biochemists, but I suspect that this is true.

If that’s the case, then how can radiocarbon dating be relied upon to date the remains of mammoths or other late Pleistocene animals? How can you have your cake and eat it too?

Beyond this, aren’t there supposed to be ways to detect and eliminate contamination and to harvest material without causing significant 14C contamination? – especially when it comes to very well preserved collagen and other original soft tissues (as well as bioapatite)? After all, we’re talking about a lot of contamination here – up to 10% of the total carbon within the dinosaur bone. What kind of source could explain such a high degree of contamination? Also, as an expert in radiocarbon dating, isn’t it basic procedure for those in your profession to be able to detect if not remove 14C contamination from specimens? – as part of the AMS testing process?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if collagen and bioapatite fractions show concordant radiocarbon dating, then isn’t this taken as a valid radiocarbon date? free of significant contamination?

If so, this is what was done with the dating of some dinosaur bone specimens as well: “Collagen and bone bioapatite and/or total bone organics gave concordant C-14 dates after careful extraction and purification of those fractions.” (Link)

Is this not the proper procedure? Is this not what is also done when dating ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers, sloth dung, and giant bison?

All of the evidence presented by you and those who agree with you have been dealt with so many times by so many competent scientists that a reasonable individual would almost certainly say something like: Well, anyone who continues to dispute the scientific evidence on this point apparently just can’t bring themselves to admit the truth of the matter for some religious reason.

An argument from authority already? That’s the best you have? As long as it’s popular among the experts in a given field of science, even if one doesn’t personally understand it and suspects that something isn’t quite right, you’d recommend just going with the flow without question? – trusting that someone else must know the answers?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to admit that the popular opinion of experts in a particular field of study should be taken into careful consideration. However, such “expert opinion” isn’t the end-all of science and has often turned out to not only to be wrong, but painfully wrong. I guess it’s Ok if I’m too lazy or don’t care enough about a particular topic to investigate it for myself to simply trust in the expert opinion of the day. However, let’s not confuse that with conclusive “science” or a valid scientific explanation. Such blind appeals to the authority of “experts” or the status quo within the scientific community, by themselves, are not at all helpful when it comes to answering valid questions in that they have no explanatory power in a discussion like this one. After all, don’t you realize that this is the very same tactic often used by those promoting some religious agenda? – who don’t have anything else beyond an appeal to authority to fall back on? – no reasonably understandable argument besides, “My holy book says so”? – or “most theologians agree”? I believe it was Carl Sagan who once said:

One of the great commandments of science is, “Mistrust arguments from authority.” … Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else. – Sagan (July 6, 2011)

Consider also this humerus exchange between Socrates and Meno:

    Meno: Is this true about yourself, Socrates, that you don’t even know what virtue is? Is this the report that we are to take home about you?

    Socrates: Not only that, you may also say that, to the best of my belief, I have never met anyone else who did know.

    Meno: What! Didn’t you meet Gorgias when he was here?

    Socrates: Yes.

    Meno: And you still didn’t think he knew?

    Socrates: I’m a forgetful sort of person, and I can’t say just now what I thought at the time. Probably he did know, and I expect you know what he used to say about it. So remind me what it was, or tell me yourself if you will. No doubt you agree with him.

    Meno: Yes, I do.

    Socrates: Then let’s leave him out of it, since after all he isn’t here. What do you yourself say virtue is?

      – Plato, Meno, 71c, W. Guthrie, trans., Collected Dialogs (1961), p. 354

So, I ask you again: In your own words, please do explain to me where, exactly, mainstream scientists have so clearly and reasonably dealt with some of the fundamental problems of Darwinian-style evolution that seem so difficult to me? You don’t even appear to understand the difference between Mendelian variation and the mechanism of Darwinian evolution (random mutations in the underlying gene pool combined with natural selection). You don’t seem to understand that animal breeding is based on phenotypic selection alone, as is natural selection, or that Darwin himself used animal breeding as an illustration of how natural selection is supposed to work. Where can any reasonable explanation be found as to how novel genetic information can enter a given gene pool, via the Darwinian mechanism, beyond the very lowest levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time? Also, where has any scientist produced a reasonable explanation as to how very well-preserved soft tissues, proteins, and antigenic fragments of DNA can be preserved for even 100k years? – at ambient temperatures? These are honest and sincere questions for which I have found no reasonable answers from anyone – scientists or otherwise. If you know the answers, if they are so obvious to you, why not share them with me here?

I’m sorry, but it seems to me, at this point in my own search, that you, and scientists in general, are not immune from personal bias or from philosophical/religious motivations – or from peer pressure (the fear of being unpopular in your community). In short, you’re human just like the rest of us. 😉

One more thing, your notion that religion and science do not and cannot mix is fundamentally at odds with the existence of a personal God who created the universe and died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. If such a God actually exists, He is the Creator of science and scientific thinking as well as everything else and His Signature can therefore be rationally detected in the things that He has made (Psalms 19:1-3). If this cannot be achieved, then your notion of “God” is essentially the same as atheism – for all practical purposes.

I’m sorry, but William Provine, late professor of biological sciences at Cornell University, makes much more sense here (in a speech he gave for a 1998 Darwin Day keynote address):

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly.

    No gods worth having exist;
    No life after death exists;
    No ultimate foundation for ethics exists;
    No ultimate meaning in life exists; and
    Human free will is nonexistent.

Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.

Provine also wrote, “In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.” – Academe January 1987, pp.51-52

It seems to me that Provine was right and was most consistent with the implications of accepting neo-Darwinian claims. Darwinian-style evolution is just one more argument for the philosophical position of “Philosophical Naturalism” – a position that suggests that everything within the physical world, everything that we can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell, is ultimately the result of non-deliberate mindless forces of nature. And, you yourself can’t tell the difference since, as you once said, you wouldn’t be able to give your own granddaughter any good evidence for the existence of God if she were to ask you for such evidence. Why then do you even pretend? – why even give lip service to Christianity?


Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species

I have checked with the director of the lab which was supposed to have dated a “soft tissue” extract and he wrote back almost immediately that what they had been given was a whole bone, not a “soft tissue” extract and the bone was badly degraded from the point of view of any organic carbon. The date they obtained was obviously contamination and they reported that fact to the submitter.

That’s hard to believe given that many dates on many different specimens where reported by The Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, and others, without any mention of contamination – using the same procedures that they would for a portion of mammoth or mastodon bone (and no one claimed here to have submitted a “soft tissue extract”). After all, the youngest radiocarbon date for a mammoth fossil (3685 ± 60 yr BP) comes from the remains of one discovered on Wrangel Island off the north-eastern Siberian coast (Vartanyan et al. 2008). Yet, no one cites “contamination” when discussing such dates for mammoths. Also, great care was taken to prevent contamination when obtaining the dinosaur bone specimens that were dated. It’s hard to imagine, then, how these dinosaur bones could have been contaminated to the degree that you suggest – which would have had to be between from 1% (40kyr BP) to up to 10% (20kyr BP) of the total carbon within the bone (Plaisted, 2017).

AMS labs know this. You see, it wasn’t until the AMS lab at the University of Georgia discovered that the bone specimens they were analyzing were actually dinosaur bones that they recanted their own results and refused to do any additional 14C testing. Up until this point, they never suspected such a degree of contamination… a mechanism for which is quite difficult to imagine.

Note that both the whole bone and bioapatite in the dinosaur bone was dated. The bioapatite was C14 dated at 41,010 ± 220 years BP, having 0.61 ± 0.02 pMC (percent modern carbon). No mention of “contamination” is listed here. The very fact that they separated out the whole bone date from the bioapatite date is what makes me think they really thought they had original bioapatite from the bone sample.

A couple years later this was followed by:

Consider also that the triceratops horn was well preserved and had well preserved soft tissue within it, to include blood vessels and cellular structures (Link). The fossil’s bioapatite was dated (not the well-preserved soft tissue, which is interesting). According to a 2009 report in the journal Radiocarbon, bioapatite is actually preferable to soft tissue in many cases. Yet, it was also 14C dated by AMS at 33,570 ± 120 years. How is that explained?

Then, there is this report from John Fischer (2014):

Triceratops and Hadrosaur femur bones in excellent condition were discovered in Glendive Montana, and our group received permission to saw them in half and collect samples for Carbon-14 testing. Both bones were tested by a licensed lab for presence of collagen. Both bones did in fact contain some collagen. The best process (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) was used to date them. Total organic carbon and dinosaur bioapatite was extracted and pretreated to remove potential contaminants, and concordant radiocarbon dates were obtained. They were similar to radiocarbon dates for ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers of the Los Angeles LaBrea Tarpits, sloth dung, and giant bison. (Link)

Notice here that both the bioapatite and the collagen within the bone was 14C dated by AMS with resulting “concordant radiocarbon dates” – which is usually used to support the argument that the dates obtained where not the result of contamination.

Now, is this conclusive evidence that dinosaur remains are not millions of years old? I wouldn’t say that this data is conclusive in and of itself – taken one test at a time. After all, a particular lab might not have been able to completely isolate a particular fossil’s original bioapatite – so a particular result may have contamination in it as you suggest. However, I do think that after a certain point of consistent results from multiple tests by multiple labs the weight of evidence starts to add up – adding credibility to the idea that perhaps dinosaurs are not millions of years old after all. When you also consider the fact that pretty much all dinosaur bones with residual organic material in them (and other things that are supposed to be millions of years old – like coal and oil and other “ancient” organic remains) have been consistently dated as only being 15k-40k years old, you have to at least conclude that there is something wrong somewhere. Either the 14C dating system is not as robust as some want to believe, or the fossils are not as old as some want to believe. This is particularly relevant given the existence of very finely preserved original dinosaur soft tissues, proteins, and DNA fragments that simply shouldn’t be there according to all known data on the decay rates of such things.

Here’s an interesting presentation 15-minute presentation (Link) that was given by Dr. Thomas Seiler, a German physicist. In it, he reports on the carbon dating of dinosaur bones, other megafauna (such as mammoths), and plants. In all cases, these materials are supposed to be millions of years old, but they all have detectable levels of carbon-14 in them. Of course, one possible explanation for these results is, yet again, contamination. It is possible that “modern” carbon has infiltrated into all these samples, and that’s what is being detected. However, Dr. Seiler presents several arguments that tend to cast doubt on the contamination explanation. First, all the standard treatment used to make a fossil ready for carbon dating was done, which is supposed to get rid of contamination. Second, in some cases, they were examining actual proteins, such as collagen. If “modern” carbon contaminated these fossils, how did it become incorporated into the original collagen? Third, there are some chemicals (like humic acid) that are common contaminants, and it was confirmed that the treatment done on the samples removed those contaminants. Fourth, the amount of carbon in the vicinity of the fossil decreased as you moved away from the fossil. This indicates carbon was “leaking out” of the fossil, not moving into it.

Here’s another interesting article on this topic written by Dr. Jay Wile (2012): Link

So anyway, again I ask you, why not run your own tests? Or why doesn’t Jack Horner or Mary Schweitzer do it with pure finely-preserved dinosaur soft tissues?

_________________

As far as breeding vs. natural selection, what’s the real difference if both select based on phenotype alone? You wrote:

It was clear to Alfred Russell Wallace, who, with Darwin, first came up with the idea of natural selection, that you could not use animal breeding experiments to simulate natural evolution.

Please do explain this to me. After all, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing special about the selective breeding of animals in this regard. Even a human breeder could never get one “kind” of animal to evolve into another “kind” of animal (where novel functional genetic options are produced within the gene pool) using breeding techniques with very high selection pressures alone. Why not? Because, selective animal breeding produces no novel information within the gene pool of the animal population in question. Breeding is based on a simple selection of pre-existing information as it is expressed in the various phenotypes of the offspring over time. Exactly the same thing is true of natural selection – which can also produce very rapid phenotypic changes, in the wild, in response to rapidly changing environments or the sudden realization of entirely new environments based on the very same underlying static gene pool of options (no genetic mutations required).

By the way, it was Darwin himself who coined the term ‘selective breeding’; he was interested in the process as an illustration of his proposed wider process of natural selection. Charles Darwin discussed how selective breeding had been successful in producing change over time in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Its first chapter he actually discusses selective breeding and domestication of such animals as pigeons, cats, cattle, and dogs. (Link)

Wallace, on the other hand, argued that the development of the human mind and some bodily attributes were guided by spiritual beings rather than natural selection… (Link)

But please, do explain my mistake here regarding the fundamental differences between the selective breeding of animals vs. natural selection. I’d be most interested, because this concept is fundamental to my own understanding of the clear limits of Darwinian-style evolution via random mutations and natural selection.