Legal proof is not absolute. Usually in civil cases, depending …

Comment on Debate between Stephen Meyer and Charles Marshall by Sean Pitman.

Legal proof is not absolute. Usually in civil cases, depending on the jurisdiction it is based on the preponderance of the evidence ( much like the weight of the evidence). In criminal cases convicting evidence must be beyond a reasonable doubt. The reason there are appeal courts is that often the lower court judges can and will make mistakes in evaluating the evidence or the application of law to the facts. The great benefit of the legal process of course is that evidence – especially oral evidence – gets tested by cross examination and then adjudication which is greatly beneficial in determining its reliability.

I agree. The problem with determining truth on an individual level is that you must weight the evidence for yourself. No one can do it for you. You can use scientific tools to do the job, but you’re still the one doing the evaluation and determining what the evidence most likely means. You can, of course, rely on the opinions of others who appear to be more “expert” in various fields of study. However, even this determination must be made on an individual level.

So, when I argue for the “weight of evidence” I’m not arguing that this weight of evidence would necessarily be universally agreed upon or that any particular “court of law” would recognize it. What I’m saying is that each individual has to determine it on a personal level.

Of course one cannot do this with historical oral evidence, hence the problem with the potential unreliability on passed down oral stories. Obviously I am more skeptical than you are on historical accounts regarding divine ocurrences. This is because so many cultures and a plethora of religions make claims – largely through prophets – as to a direct connection to God(s). As I have not experienced this phenomenom, nor known anyone that can rationally demonstrate this, I remain skeptical that God is of this manner or intervenes in the cause and effect nature of our universe. All my religious friends say I must have faith or feel the spirit to experience this phenomenom. Science, to me, is the great, rational eye opener that gives natural explanations for physical, biological phenonmena rather than leave us ignorant in a state of fear and mysticism.

I totally agree. I’ve also have never experienced God speaking to me in any kind of direct manner. I’ve never “felt the Spirit” as many others claim to have experienced. No angel or supernatural being of any kind has ever spoken to me in a manner that I could actually recognize as Divine – something outside of myself. So, what then is left for me when it comes to discovering God? For me, it is the same basic logic and arguments used for any kind of scientific discovery. Using these arguments and evidences it has become clear to me that a being indistinguishable to me from what I would expect from a God does in fact exist and did in fact create the universe, the basic laws of nature, living things on this planet, and is behind the fantastic prophecies of the Bible. The Bible in particular is unique in my investigation. No other book or religious document comes remotely close to what the Bible has to offer. Just on a historical basis alone, the Bible is by far the most accurate historical document known to modern man. This, however, doesn’t necessarily make it Divine or of any kind of supernatural origin – at least not in my book. For me, the primary feature that makes the Bible clearly supernatural in its origin are its prophecies – prophecies which are unlike any other prophecy from any other religion or religious document. Many of the Biblical prophecies are extremely detailed and precise and open to clear falsification depending on future outcomes. Compare this with the vague prophecies from the “prophets” of other religions where the “fulfillment of the prophecy can only be determined “after the fact”. For me, only a God who created time itself would be able to produce the amazing prophecies that the Bible contains.

Beyond this, on a lesser but still important level of evidence, are my own personal experiences with my own prayers, specific prayers, that have often been answered in a manner that I cannot deny as requiring Divine power to explain. This doesn’t tell me about what is right or wrong in the Bible, of course, but it does tell me that there is a God who is personally interested in me and my life.

I understand the attraction of Christianity and its contribution to humanity. The redemptive message is very alluring to humans that all fit on different pegs of the moral spectrum. Being without God, or unaware of God’s presence, does not mean being without morality or humanitly. In fact I consider the highest morality to do good without notice or any prospect of recognition whatsoever other than instrinsic gratification. ( ie anonymous philanthropy). A very hard state to achieve but worth attempting if one is an optimist 🙂

Yes, I agree. However, I see this motivation as a gift of God, not naturally acquired. It is a Divine spark that is equivalent to the voice of God speaking to the mind and telling us the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. This Divine consciousness, or “conscience”, cannot be explained through naturalistic arguments. It is therefore a compelling argument against atheism. The atheist cannot present a tenable argument for the existence of evil or ethics in general. While it is possible for an atheist to be morally good and upright, it is not possible for the atheist to present a cogent argument as to where his/her moral sensibilities come from. From the purely naturalistic perspective, there is no real morality – no real right or wrong. Everything is morally neutral with each individual determining his/her own personal moral “truth”. However, from the Christian perspective there is a very good reason for the existence of a universal morality of the kind you just articulated. The reason for the universality of such a moral understanding is because we were all created, originally, with this moral code planted within each one of us. We inherently know the difference between right and wrong because God gave each one of us this ability from birth. From the atheistic perspective, on the other hand, it makes no real sense to call one action evil and another good – upon what universal basis?

I do find though that your sceintific exactitude regarding the prospects of macro evolution vs. your acceptance of biblical claims based on ‘historical claims’ to be far apart in rigourous rational examination. If, objectively you examined such bilbical claims with as much scrutiny as you do ‘sequence space’ I think you would better understand the problem of the double standard. Forgive me, but my observation is that you do take a large part of biblical origins on faith using the pretext of the weight of the evidence.

I appreciate your opinion here, but this is obviously not how I see things. For me, it’s all the same. All forms of science require a leap of faith beyond that which can be absolutely proved. You often talk about a lack of “proof”, but that only suggests that you view science as more of a proof than of the weight of evidence for or against a particular theory. Also, consider that the weight of evidence from one perspective might not be so from another perspective. The weight of evidence is affected by all of one’s personal experience, background, knowledge, and even personality. There is a subjective component to it. One may try to compensate for this by using rigorous tests and falsifiable arguments to evaluate the world around one’s self. However, it is impossible to completely escape the subjective nature of evaluating the evidence that comes to your mind through your senses. That it why, in the end, you must do your own thinking for yourself. No one else can do it for you.

In saying this I quite acknowledge that there is much yet to test and examine regarding evolution. However, I don’t think any competing ‘scientific’ theory for the origin and development of life on earth, or in the universe has come to light yet. It still may and I remain open to that. I would greatly enjoy the proof of ID of life in the universe as this would suggest an entity with God like powers, but maybe

Again, I encourage you to continue your search along these lines and look closely at the evidence for the creative potential and limitations of mindless naturalistic mechanisms – like random mutations and natural selection. If you do your own detailed research along these lines, I’m extremely confident that you will being to realize that only intelligent design on a very high level can explain living things, or even many of the complex subcellular machines within living things. This was in fact the first steppingstone for me when I began to wonder if God really did exist. After a couple years of studying this problem I became very excited to discover that intelligence is in fact required to explain functional complexity beyond very low levels of functional complexity – regardless of where it may be found (i.e., human language systems like English or Chinese, computer codes and software, or biological codes and information systems within DNA).

I really enjoy fleshing out ideas with you because it gives me a better understanding of how a highly intelligent, reilgious person thinks. This is a great pleasure and source of wisdom for me for which I am extremely grateful. You are also a decent, well meaning guy- often misunderstood by Adventists in theological disagreement with you. As I do not have a dog in the LSU fight I have no comment on your conduct on that internecine dispute.

It’s been enjoyable for me as well. I’m often too busy to respond right away, but I do enjoy these discussions.

All the best.

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Debate between Stephen Meyer and Charles Marshall

He became a Christian in his first year of Unversity and science or evolutionary models had nothing to do with it.

I agree. Where did I suggest otherwise? His personal view of Christianity is not related to his view of science or evolution. They are independent topics in his mind – as is the case with you and others like Kenneth Miller.

I think you have certainly given an incorrect interpretation of his statement which was nothing about changing his mind about any particulars of science but about him now being judged by his Christian views and not only his science.

Hardly. He has changed his opinion about what is and what isn’t the scientific basis of origins. He no longer believes that the neo-Darwinian story of origins is scientific. That’s a significant change of position for him with regard to his scientific position on Darwinism – or at least the Darwinian mechanism which he no longer believes is scientifically tenable.

Debate between Stephen Meyer and Charles Marshall
I’ve repeatedly given you evidence for the recent creation of life on this planet, for the inevitable degeneration of complex life over time, for the requirement for high level creativity and intelligence and design to explain even the most simple of living things and various biomachines within all living things, and for the overall credibility of the Bible on the topic of origins which fills in gaps in knowledge and does in fact go beyond what the empirical evidence itself can support. After all, if all of the claims in the Bible could be directly demonstrated, one wouldn’t need the Bible. The credibility of the Bible, as I’ve already explained to you, is based on those elements that can actually be tested and evaluated in a potentially falsifiable manner. These tests give credibility to those claims that cannot be directly tested – such as the Virgin Birth, the literal 6-day creation week, or the Resurrection.

In contrast, I fail to see where you have presented any argument against any of this or against anything the Bible has to say on origins, or the position of the SDA Church, beyond a simple appeal to the authority of the opinions of others. Where is your own argument that you think you personally understand? Present an argument against any of the evidence I’ve presented in this forum for several years now. You have yet to do so as far as I can tell.

I already know that I’m in the minority when it comes to the opinions of mainstream scientists. Telling me this over and over again simply isn’t helpful when it comes to explaining or getting me to see and understand why I’m wrong. For example, why not present some specific argument that explains the Darwinian mechanism to me and how it works beyond low levels of functional complexity? Have you even tried to do this? No, you haven’t. Or, present some specific argument that explains away the problem of the high detrimental mutation rate for slowly reproducing organisms. Have you done this? No, you haven’t. Present an argument for the preservation of proteins and DNA in dinosaur bones for 60 million years – in the face of kinetic chemistry experiments that strongly suggest that such long-term preservation is highly unlikely. Have you done this. No, you haven’t. What about the problem of continental or mountain erosion rates? Nothing from you. The list goes on and on and on.

So, if the best you have is to tell me that my ideas aren’t popular, but you don’t personally know why, I’m sorry, but that’s just not helpful to me. I’m just not interested…

Debate between Stephen Meyer and Charles Marshall
Good points…

The problem isn’t with the speed or rate of radioactive decay or that God is trying to deceive us by giving false or misleading information. The problem is that the various ways of measuring time within the geologic/fossil record do not agree with each other – by many orders of magnitude. And, these problems are not outdated or based on “40 year old” papers. These problems are modern problems, some of which are of very recent discovery – to include the genetic evidence that slowly reproducing creatures are sustaining far more detrimental mutations than can be eliminated from their gene pools by natural selection, resulting in an inevitable deterioration of their gene pools (devolution) toward eventual genetic meltdown and extinction. All of these factors play into the obviously designed nature of complex life and the biosphere within which it lives.

The fact is that the significant weight of evidence currently in hand strongly favors the concept of a recent arrival of life on this planet and a recent and very rapid formation of much of the fossil record.

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.

The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.

God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.

The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.

For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”

That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull
@Bill Sorensen:

Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.

God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28

Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.

Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.

This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…

Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.

Sean Pitman

Revisiting God, Sky & Land by Fritz Guy and Brian Bull

Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.

Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.

Sean Pitman

Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…

Sean Pitman