Comment on The Metamorphosis of La Sierra University: an eye-witness account by Sean Pitman.
So, Sean, if I understand you correctly, fulfilled prophecy is â€œscienceâ€ (as you allude to in your response to Bill Sorensen) but observing a miracle by Jesus is not (as you allude to in your response to me). Am I right?
You’re still confusing observation with interpretation. “Science” is a method of interpreting observations. The interpretation itself cannot be known with absolute perfection.
Observing an event says nothing about what that event means. The interpretation that a particular event must indicate a Divine or superhuman cause or origin (a miracle) is an interpretation that can be based on a form of scientific reasoning… but this conclusion cannot be known with absolute certainty (as is the case with all scientific interpretations or hypotheses). The very same thing is true of “fulfilled prophecy”.
Do you really not know that scientists are in general agreement that scientific hypotheses and theories can never reach absolute perfection?
And then, I suppose, something â€œindisputableâ€ can never be â€œprovenâ€ or shown absolutely to be â€œtruth?â€
An indisputable observation does not require “proof” since it is, by definition, indisputable for anyone with a rational candid mind observing from the same frame of reference. Interpretations of such observations are, however, always potentially disputable/falsifiable.
Again, however, observations are not “science” in and of themselves… as you very well know…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
â€œYouâ€™re mistaken. If life on this Earth can be conclusively shown to have the appearance of having been here for hundreds of millions of years of time, that would be very problematic for the validity of the Genesis account of originsâ€¦ problematic for the candid rational mind.â€ â€“ Sean Pitman
Exactly, Sean. Your â€œcandid rational mindâ€ will never see or know how miracles happen. Nor how â€œHe commanded, and it stood fast.â€ Nor how â€œBy the word of the Lord the heavens were made and all the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth.â€
You don’t have to know how something happened to know that however it happened, it required the input of a deliberate and very intelligent mind. This is where scientific reasoning and rational thinking comes into play.
Your argument that the features of the natural world in which we live, and various historical sciences, are irrelevant to the validity of the claims of the Bible is a direct appeal to blind faith – – that one should simply believe the Bible even in situations where all available empirical evidence is clearly contradictory. The very same argument is used by my LDS friends – the very same argument. They argue that they know the truth because the Holy Spirit tells them the truth. This is essentially the same thing you’re saying – or so it seems to me…
And all the trees and flowers and animal life were not â€œone day oldâ€ in their development. Adam was a full grown man and so were the animals. And the trees were not â€œone day oldâ€ either. They were created full grown.
We’re not talking about a situation were God, out of necessity, produced adult forms of living things. We’re talking about a situation where God would make things look like they have lived and died on this planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years of time, and then expect us to believe the Bible despite the overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary. I’m sorry, but that’s not a reasonable argument for belief or faith in the credibility of the Bible.
If people will not accept the bibleâ€™s own evidence of self validation, all the science in the world will not persuade them.
Again, there is no such thing as “self validation”. That concept is not a rational concept. It is an appeal to circular reasoning. For example, I could say, “What I just told you is true because I am trustworthy – just ask me. Don’t ask anyone else though because no one else is a trustworthy as I am.”
Even if the truly find Noahâ€™s ark, those who choose not to believe will remain in unbelief. So Jesus said, â€œIf they will not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe even if one rose from the dead.â€
And Paul affirms, â€œSpiritual things are spiritually discerned.â€
This is a problem with desire, not with the evidentiary basis of faith for those who really do want to know and follow the truth. Paul, in particular, argues for the evidentiary basis of faith in Romans 1:20 NIV.
Is there evidence of a flood? Yes. But all unbelievers soon find another answer by way of â€œscienceâ€ to dis-credit the bible.
One doesn’t need “science” to avoid acceptance of what one really knows to be true. The Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day knew that he was the Messiah. They just didn’t want to accept what they knew to be true. The evidence was overwhelming. They had no excuse for their rejection of Jesus and they will admit this in the end of time during the final Judgment.
Take note, Sean, how earnestly the devil works to dis-credit prophecy. It is the one infallible testimony to validate the bible and its claims.
An understanding of history, upon which the validity of prophecy is based, is not infallible my friend. It is based, as are all of your other beliefs about the reality of the world in which you live, on your own subjective interpretation of what your five senses are telling you. In other words, your beliefs, even in regard to biblical prophecy, are subject to potential error and falsification – as are mine. You simply aren’t omniscient. You cannot know for sure, with absolute certainty, if you are or are not correct. You can be very confident in your conclusions, but not perfectly so this side of Heaven…
Dr. Ford  worked earnestly to dis-credit Daniel and over throw bible Adventism and attack EGW and her ministry. And not a few have followed in his foot steps who hold a good deal of influence and authority in the SDA church today.
That’s true. But, this is irrelevant to the discussion at hand – i.e., a discussion regarding the evidentiary basis of a rational faith in the credibility of the Bible as the Word of God.
Spectrum and A-today never should have had a booth at the GC in Atlanta. They are not SDA forums, nor are they sponsored by the SDA church.
Do we let a Roman Catholic ministry have a booth at our GC sessions? To do so is to admit these ministries have a valid influence for truth and should be seriously considered for their teaching and spirituality.
I agree, but this is also irrelevant to the discussion at hand.
If through science, you can influence someone to consider the bible and its validity, then â€œthe law is a schoolmaster to lead us to (the bible).â€
This is how I was led to a confident trust in the Bible as the Word of God. And, this is how I have led many of my friends to trust the Bible as well… through an appeal to the weight of currently available empirical evidence and a form of scientific reasoning.
By a careful study of scripture, a scientist may be persuaded and even agree that natural science does not attack scripture. But you will never use natural science alone to prove the age of the earth, nor validate the creation week. On the other hand, you can use the bible alone to validate its stated truths.
You’re mistaken here. It is upon a form of scientific reasoning alone that the Bible’s credibility regarding its metaphysical and other non-testable claims can be rationally considered to be trustworthy. It is through scientific investigation into the testable claims of the Bible that the Bible is found to be consistently trustworthy and reliable. Therefore, the trustworthiness of those biblical claims that cannot be directly investigated gain credibility as well. Without this basis in empirical evidence, however, there would be no rational reason to trust the Bible as having superior credibility in anything vs. any other good book or moral fable.
Sean, you use the word â€œscientificâ€ in a loose ended generic sense. Because people can think and reason, you call this â€œscientificâ€.
Scientific thinking and reasoning invokes certain rules of logic and appeals to empirical evidence. Such thinking therefore invokes a form of scientific rational and is therefore a form of “science.”
I really don’t think you understand what “science” is. It really isn’t all that special or spectacular as far as methods are concerned. It is a very simple method of thinking that involves the interpretation of the evidence that comes into your mind from the outside world through your five senses. It is a “basic bs detector”, as one of my professors used to say. That’s it. Anyone can use a form of scientific reasoning – even children.
There is a spiritual law science that is not oppose to natural law, but neither is it validated by natural law as the authority for any conclusions.
This is not true when it comes to validating the credibility of the Bible for those who have not grown up automatically thinking of the Bible as credible or for those who honestly consider some other source of presumed authority, such as the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon, to be superior to the Bible.
And I personally doubt you can â€œproveâ€ or even substanciate with reliable evidence from nature the age of the earth. Namely, because no one know how old the earth was when God created it. The biological age could have been millions of years, even if the cronological age was only one day.
First off, I’m really only interested in the age of life on Earth and the structure of the Earth needed to support complex life. Secondly, you’re appealing to the concept of “Last Thursdayism” again. God could make things look old or young or whatever. That would remove the basis for the credibility of the Bible as being superior to the Qur’an or the Book of Mormon. After all, someone subscribing to one of these other faiths could simply say, “God just make it look different from the true reality.” That’s not a rational argument…
How old was Adam on the first day he was created? or the animals? or the trees and other plant life? We donâ€™t know and we donâ€™t need to know. Apparently, it is not relevant and so we have no biblical information to go by.
On the First Day, Adam and all other animal life on Earth was obviously one day old – but had the appearance, from our own perspective, of an adult or mature age… according to the Genesis account.
Just so, we donâ€™t know how old the rocks were nor any other element. This is why I find it fruitless to bicker or try to prove the age of the earth by natural science.
You’re mistaken. If life on this Earth can be conclusively shown to have the appearance of having been here for hundreds of millions of years of time, that would be very problematic for the validity of the Genesis account of origins… problematic for the candid rational mind.
It is pointless to argue that God could have created life with the appearance of having been here for hundreds of millions of years when in reality it has only been here for less than 10,000 years. Such an argument would make God look like a capricious liar who expects people to blindly believe despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary – like expecting people to believe that the Earth is flat when all the available evidence overwhelmingly shows it to be spherical…
The God I know doesn’t work like that… And, Mrs. White makes a very interesting statement to the contrary:
During the Flood humans, animals, and trees were â€œburied, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but . . . the things which God gave them [i.e., to us humans] as a benefit, they turn into a curse by making a wrong use of them.â€
– Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 112.
In other words, according to Mrs. White, God encourages the search for and study of fossils, and actually intends that their discovery should help to ground personal belief in the historical reliability of the Genesis account of the creation and the Flood. This forcefully illustrates that Mrs. White believed that the accounts of Genesis 1-11 are divinely intended to be interpreted historically; not only theologically. Thus, according to Ellen White, the only true biblical understanding of the creation and the flood accounts is to interpret them as referring to empirical, historical events which are of interest to the natural sciences.
So should I accept the hypothesis that Jesus was resurrected based on eyewitness accounts? Iâ€™m not aware of physical evidence to support the possibility of his resurrection; are you suggesting that itâ€™s still â€œscientificâ€ to â€œinterpretâ€ the observations reported by eyewitnesses?
It depends upon the established credibility of the witnesses, using a form of scientific reasoning to establish this credibility, in your own mind. Does this credibility have the superior weight compared to all of the evidence available to you? If not, then you really have no rational basis to accept the claim as true… and God knows and understands when this is in fact the case for certain individuals…
The bigger question for me is this: would you, today, believe in the divinity of Jesus, or a recent creation in 6 days 6000 years ago, if it was not for the Bible?
I would believe in a recent creation of all life on Earth without the Bible – given what I currently think I know without reference to the Bible. I would also believe in a God or God-like power without the Bible based on the features of the created world and universe that demand an origin in a very intelligent and very powerful Mind. It is for this very reason that the majority of physicists believe in or at least strongly suspect the existence of a God of some kind as being ultimately responsible for the existence of the universe and us within it.
It is for this reason that Paul and David could rationally say,
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. – Romans 1:20 NIV
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands… I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalms 19:1 NIV & Psalms 139:14 NIV
The specific detail of 6-literal days of creation, on the other hand, is dependent upon the established credibility of the Bible. This credibility is based on such things as the Bible’s falsifiable statements on origins to include its claim for a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian Flood – claims which have not been falsified and which are consistent with the significant weigh of evidence that is currently available.
The same is true of many of the other metaphysical statements of the Bible that are not directly testable or knowable outside of Biblical revelation…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
“Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you ‘blew my cover.’ There was no cover to blow.” – Bryan Ness
You’re not the main problem here. I’d have no problem with you personally and what you personally believe at all except that you are a professor in an Adventist school – Pacific Union College.
It’s this school who presents itself as being in line with the primary goals and ideals of the Adventist Church, when it really isn’t. I have friends of mine who have gone to PUC and talked to the leadership about sending their children to PUC. They’ve specifically asked about the situation at La Sierra University and asked the PUC leadership and heads of departments what their position is on teaching the theory of evolution as “the truth” – and if the teachers at PUC support the SDA position on origins and other issues? They were told that PUC does not condone what happened at LSU and that the professors at PUC are fully in line with the SDA position on origins and all of the other fundamental positions of the church.
Of course, you know and I know that this just isn’t true. You, for one, publically speak and teach against the church’s position on origins as well as human sexuality. This reality is not being presented by the leadership of PUC to the parents of potential PUC students. This reality simply isn’t being advertised to the general church membership at all. What PUC should be advertizing to parents and the church membership at large is,
“Yes, we do maintain professors who teach our students that the church’s position on various fundamental doctrinal issues is in fact wrong and should be changed to reflect the more popular secular position on these topics.”
That’s what it should be telling everyone, but this just isn’t what is being done.
I am attacking no one… Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church?
Since it was placed as one of the church’s “fundamental beliefs” by the church (Link). When you publically publish an article stating that the Church’s position is clearly mistaken and should be changed, that’s an attack on the church’s position.
And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.”
The SDA Church has chosen to describe the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman as one of the “fundamental” messages to spread to the world – as one of the fundamental reasons for its very existence…
Now, you call what you’re doing, not an “attack”, but a “plea for compassion”. However, your plea for compassion is presented as a clear statement that the church’s position is absolutely mistaken – that the church’s position is not at all “compassionate” or even biblical. Now, you may be very honest and sincere in your views here, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not attacking the church’s position in a very real and fundamental way. The fact is that you are making a very clear attack on the church’s position while accepting money from the church as a representative who is supposed to be supporting the church as a paid employee.
Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
That’s not my goal. However, if a person wants to know what the Bible has to say about what they are doing, I’m not going to pretend that the Bible has nothing to say when the Bible does in fact have something to say. If what the Bible says “causes pain” to a person living in what the Bible says is a “sinful” lifestyle, that’s between them and God. The very same thing is true of me and my own sinful tendencies. If what the Bible says about what I’m doing causes me pain, I can either respond to that by ignoring what the Bible has to say, or I can ask God for help in changing my ways.
Jesus himself said that He did not come to bring peace to those who are living in rebellion against God’s ideals for humanity, but a “sword” (Matthew 10:34). The denial of self and what we naturally want to do given our fallen condition, in order to follow God and what He calls us to do, is often quite painful indeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best path to follow. There simply can be no peace between God and those who wish to hang onto what God has said to give up. God does not condemn the sinner for being born broken, but He does warn those who refuse to accept His offer of help to escape their broken condition that, eventually, such refusals of help will not end well for those who are determined to follow their own way.
Yet, these professors get very upset when their actions are made public – when they can no longer hide what they are doing from the church at large. – Sean Pitman
Uh, I have never hidden my support and affirmation for LGBTQ+ individuals, and any parent who wanted to know my views on the subject could easily look up what I’ve written, or they could just plain ask me. I openly acknowledge where I stand on these issues on social media too. Essentially all the administrators, staff and faculty on our campus, including the pastors on our campus already know where I stand. I have never kept any secrets. I have to laugh when I see you say that I am upset because you “blew my cover.” There was no cover to blow.
You have not simply let people know what I advocate, you have attacked me personally and impugned my motives and personal spiritual path. You are causing pain not just to me, but to the very people I am trying to comfort and encourage. Your words are not just being seen by the legalistic and judgmental people like yourself, but by parents of LGBTQ+ children and those LGBTQ+ individuals themselves, many of whom are likely already heavily weighed down with self revulsion and depression. And you are doing this for who’s good?
And you wonder why I might be angry and upset? As hard as it is for me to do, I have daily decided to pray for you and those like you that God would soften your heart and show you the grave wounds you are inflicting on God’s beloved. I pray God will help you find compassion and clearer spiritual insight.
Do you really think it’s a “little thing” when our own professors are attacking the primary goals and ideals of the church from the inside? – Sean Pitman
I am attacking no one. You act as if you have not even read my article. I did suggest in there that I think it is time for the church to change and affirm same-sex marriage, but that is not an attack, that is a plea for compassion, a plea that the church return and study this topic again, and I laid out the reasons I think it is fully warranted that we do so. Since when is a difference of views an attack on the church? And of all the issues facing the church, same-sex marriage hardly rises to the level of a “primary goal and ideal.” You are inflating the importance of this topic. the only place where same-sex marriage really rises to a high level of importance is when you are an LGBTQ+ person contemplating marriage, or are the parent, relative or friend of an LGBTQ+ person. Why do you want to cause such people so much pain?
The purpose of the H.E. is not to wall people off by modifying curriculum of every subject to fit dogma. The dogma itself has to be enhanced with broader understanding of how to relate various perspectives to these fields of human enterprise.
Certainly, Adventist schools should by no means isolate students from popular ideas that are prevalent within secular culture. If anything, students educated in our schools should have a much better understanding of ideas like neoDarwinism or homosexuality than students educated in secular institutions. However, the education of students within Adventist schools shouldn’t stop here. Adventist education should also give students a reasonable explanation as to why the Adventist perspective on these ideas is actually supported by the Church – by professors who actually personally hold to the Church’s positions on these topics (like the topics of origins or homosexuality, etc).
Again, it is simply counterproductive to have a church school if professors in that school teach that the church’s position is not only wrong, but downright ludicrous, outdated, and completely opposed to the overwhelming weight of “scientific evidence”. Such teaching, by professors that are respected by the students, will strongly influence most students to be naturally opposed to the church’s position on these topics. Clearly then, this would not be in the church’s best interest. It would be far better, from the church’s perspective, not to form church schools at all than to have professors within their own schools attack the church organization from the inside.
But there is world of difference between presenting it as fact that the teacher believes, and a theory with problems. – @ajshep (Allen Shepherd)
I’m in total agreement here. Again, it is one thing to teach about a particular concept that opposes the teachings of the church. It is a far far different thing to then support this particular concept as “true” as compared to showing the students why you, as their teacher, don’t find it convincing.
That is why a teacher, employed by the church, is actually stealing from the church when they attack the church’s position on a given topic from within their own classroom or via a public forum. Such activity simply goes against what a teacher is being paid to do by his/her employer.
Your presumption and hubris are exactly what Jesus pointed out to those who brought the women caught in adultery. Have you learned nothing from the examples of what it means to be a Christian that you would indulge in such harshness and judgemental words and pronouncements.
Consider that while Jesus most certainly was very kind and gentle and forgiving to the woman caught in adultery (certainly one of the most beautiful stories in the Bible), that He did in fact tell her to “go and sin no more”.
I would say that the very same action and recommendation should be given to all who find themselves part of the LBGTQ+ community. God loves sinners and came to save all of us who find ourselves caught in the web of fallen and sinful lives. He doesn’t condemn us for being broken, but He does offer us a way out and tells us to “go and sin no more”.
In light of this, my problem with the efforts of Dr. Ness is that he is making the claim that there is no brokenness or moral problem with committed monogamous homosexual lifestyles – that the Bible says absolutely nothing in this regard and therefore there is nothing for God to forgive here. There is simply no need to say, “I love you, now go and sin no more”.
I’m also not quite sure why Dr. Ness draws the line with monogamy since he doesn’t accept the Biblical statements, often within the same passages as those discussing monogamy, that speak against homosexual activities? This seems inconsistent to me since it seems quite reasonable, given the arguments presented by Dr. Ness, that polygamy could also be argued as being even more consistent with God’s will and natural genetic mutations that God Himself designed. Upon what “scientific” or “religious” or “philosophical” basis does Dr. Ness draw the line at monogamy as being the clear Biblical standard where God draws the line? – when many have very strong and very “natural” polygamous tendencies?
Of course, I also have a problem with a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who is responsible for teaching our youth in support of the primary goals and ideals of the Church, publicly arguing that these goals and ideals are completely wrong – on the church’s dime. Such activity, even if one is totally convinced as to the error of one’s employer, is unethical since it is a form of stealing from one’s employer.
At the very least, parents who are paying a great deal of money to send their children to one of our church schools should be very well informed as to what they can expect their children to be taught at our schools and what positions the teachers at the school are publicly promoting. Providing this information to such parents is my primary purpose in responding to Dr. Ness’s publicly published article in public forum.
Do you not understand what it is like in academia? Differences of opinion among scholars is not only tolerated, it is valued. I have nothing more to say concerning your accusations. Our church has no “official” stand on this issue, if by that you mean I am disavowing my membership in the church by simply believing that gays should allow ro get married to one another. That is not even how our church operates. I can point to many other church employees who openly disagree about certain issues of belief, including this one, and congregations that are fully affirming of same-sex marriage. They are a part of the SDA church just as I am.
My concern still is more about the tone and stance of your attacks. You are attacking fellow SDAs, some of them being the most vulnerable members of our church, and you seem to have no sense of the damage you are potentially doing to these individuals. By attacking me in the fashion you are you are also attacking all those for whom I am standing up. You may want to take Jesus’ words to heart:
But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6
I know very well what it’s like to be involved in leadership positions within the church and within academia. My own father is a retired pastor and teacher. It’s one thing to publicly present and even promote various opinions that do not directly undermine the church or school one is working for. However, it is another thing entirely to directly attack the fundamental positions of the church while being a paid representative of the church. Such activity is not at all encouraged and is, in fact, unethical – a form of theft from your employer. Sure, there are many pastors and teachers who think to do such things anyway. That doesn’t make such activities morally right. It’s still wrong to do what you are doing.