Comment on The Metamorphosis of La Sierra University: an eye-witness account by Sean Pitman.
If I say the bible is self validating and appeal to prophecy as â€œproofâ€ or â€œevidenceâ€ of its credibility, I think most people know what I mean.
When you say things like, “The Bible validates itself, period.” you are being inconsistent in your appeal to history to validate the Bible’s prophetic statements. It is real history that validates the Bible when it comes to prophecy – combined with human reasoning. The Bible does not “validate itself” without any external references. And, the validation process is not based on anything other than actual human reasoning.
You need to be careful with such language because not all people grew up respecting the Bible as authoritative as you and I did. Such people, especially scientifically minded people, will needlessly dismiss you, out of hand, simply because of your less than ideal choice of words and phrases.
It is obvious to me that miracles and the creation event are not natural law events that have any natural law base to validate the credibility of these things. Things happen. We can see this. How they happen is not discernable in many cases and can not be explained. We are aware that we are here. How we got here is not discernable by any natural observation.
You mean that Creation is not explainable by any mindless natural process. However, very high levels of creative activity are an observable part of nature and can be investigated with various forms of scientific study and reasoning. The extrapolation, then, to the need for a very high level of deliberate, even God-like, intelligence and creativity, to explain various features of the universe and of life here on Earth can be very rationally based on a form of scientific reasoning.
Only the bible answers these questions and gives us a positive and undeniable statement about who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. Without it, we can not know.
The Bible addresses a great many questions that we otherwise would not know anything about. However, the validity or trustworthiness of the Bible is based on external references in the real world. Without such validation, to include the evidence of prophetic fulfillment in real history, there would be no rational basis to trust the many metaphysical claims of the Bible.
I assume you believe â€œGod created the heavens and the earth.â€ And He did this in a literal creation week. I doubt much else can be more helpful than a consistent confession of faith in the bible. If you feel more affirmed by way of science, so be it. I donâ€™t.
Then you contradict the very basis that the Bible itself uses for affirmation – external references in reality in the form of prophecies fulfilled in actual history as well as the many natural wonders that clearly invoke the very signature of God… (Psalms 19:1 NIV, Romans 1:20 NIV).
Science is not the enemy of true religion, but a very strong basis for faith…
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
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Again, most people, including most non-Christians, consider late-term abortions (abortions within the third trimester of otherwise healthy viable babies) to be murder. There is relatively little argument about this. One doesn’t have to know the “precise point” to know that, after a certain point, abortion is clearly murder. The argument that a baby isn’t alive or really human until the moment that it is born is nonsense in my opinion.
Of course, before the third trimester, things start to get a bit more grey and unclear. Some define the beginnings of human life with the full activity of the brain’s cortex. Others define it with the earliest activity of the brain stem. Others define it as the beginnings of fetal movement or the fetal heartbeat. I might have my own opinions here, but the question I ask myself is at what point would I be willing to convict someone else of murder? – and be willing to put them in prison for it? For me, I wouldn’t be willing to do this until things are overwhelmingly clear that the baby is functioning as a full human being and is viable (which would include full brain activity).
As far as rape or incest is concerned, the resulting pregnancy should be terminated as soon as possible within the first trimester. Waiting for the third trimester is simply not an option because, at this point, it would still be murder to kill a fully-formed baby regardless of its origin…
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
I agree with you up until your last sentence. It seems very very clear to me that a baby becomes human before it takes its first breath. A baby born at 40 weeks gestation is not somehow inherently “more human” than a baby that is still inside its mother at 39 weeks gestation. At 39 weeks, such a baby is indistinguishable from a baby that has already been born. The location inside or outside of the mother makes absolutely no difference at this point in time and development.
I think, therefore, that we as Christians should avoid both obvious extremes here in this discussion. There are two very clear ditches on both sides of the road here. We should avoid claiming that a baby is not really human until it is actually born at full term, and, at the same time, we should also avoid claiming that full humanity and moral worth is instantly realized at the moment of conception…
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Most would agree with you that the baby John the Baptist, before he was born, was, at some point, a real human being who could “leap for joy” (Luke 1:44). Even most non-Christians would agree that a third-trimester abortion is murder. However, this isn’t the real problem here. We are talking about if a single cell or a simple ball of cells is fully “human” and if ending a pregnancy at such an early stage of development is truly a “murder” of a real human being. After all, when conception first takes place a single cell cannot “leap for joy” – or for any other reason. It’s just a single fertilized cell that cannot think or feel or move and has no brain or mind or intelligence of any kind. The same is true of an embryo that consists of no more than an unformed ball of cells for quite some time. Upon what basis, then, is it “murder” to end a pregnancy at this early point in embryological development?
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
Then you have several different questions to explain. 1) How can a 6 month developed (but dead?), non-human being (from a human mother and father?) , being carried in it’s human mother’s womb, leap for joy because he (it?) recognized the mother of the World’s Savior? ”The dead know nothing, neither have they any more knowledge under the sun.” 2) How can anything dead even move? The opposite of alive is dead. Everything alive has life from God. Dead things don’t grow and they don’t move. Every SDA should know this. The Laws of God are not altered in order to justify killing unborn human beings that He has given life to.
Updating the SDA Position on Abortion
That’s just it. You say that, “The unborn think and feel”. However, an embryo in the earliest stages of development is just a single cell or an unformed ball of cells – with no apparent functional difference than a cluster of cells in my appendix. Such an embryo cannot think or feel or understand anything. There is no mind or intelligence at this point. If it isn’t murder to take out someone’s appendix, how then call it be truly “murder” to end a pregnancy at this point in time? How can you be so sure of yourself here? Based on what moral principle?
Also, people who are clearly “brain dead” need not be maintained indefinitely on life support. They’re just a shell of a body at this point and it is not “murder” to simply take them off the mechanical support of the empty shell of their body. This happens all the time in hospitals – and it is not considered to be “murder” at all… by most medical professionals (even most Christian ones).