Comment on Adventist Review examines LSU conflict by Sean Pitman, M.D..
Michael Prewitt says:
March 31, 2010
This is not meant in any derogatory way, but I am genuinely surprised to see the Adventist Review touch something so controversial. It seemed to be a fairly even-handed article. Good for them!
I agree. I was also surprised to see this article published by the Adventist Review. This is a step in the right direction for the AR – addressing a heated topic in the SDA Church that is actually important and will result in wider awareness…
Table of Contents
Sean Pitman, M.D. Also Commented
But this gives one pause for reflection. If the trees being killed are all pre-flood trees â€“ then we should see a large group that are over 1600 years old at the time that they are uprooted. The fact that the 700 year number shows up layer after layer â€“ implies that the catestrophic event happened after the world wide flood killed the pre-flood trees.
That means these are very likely post-flood 700 year old trees being wiped out by a sequence of catestrophic events. So it is likely a localized (North America only) event that happens 700 years after the flood.
This is correct. Speciment Ridge is made up of Tertiary sediments and is therefore a post-Flood formation.
Nic Samojluk says:
April 3, 2010
I greatly appreciate the time you have taken to answer point by point the objections presented by David Jacobson. Your answers make a lot of sense. They do build my trust in the historicity of Noahâ€™s Flood story as recorded in the Bible.
As I read the comments which are posted above, I have been wondering. How come none of the LSU science and theology teachers step up to defend what the university has been doing on this issue.
How should we interpret this deafening silence on their part? I wish someone would organize a public debate over this issue with these science teachers having an opportunity to present a defense of what they are doing. It would be akin to what Elijah did with those who were opposed to the prophetâ€™s strong held beliefs.
Very few, even among young-life creationists, want to get involved in a public debate on this issue because it would threaten those theistic evolutionists at LSU and at other schools and cause an even bigger ruckus within the SDA Church. This is why not too many want to be publicly associated with efforts like EducateTruth.com. They don’t want to be that politically incorrect in their associations…
So, let anyone who is thinking of calling for a purge of the SDA educational system, first study the evidence carefully, and even try to take a look first hand. (Specimen Ridge is on public land.) I think you will come to appreciate that there can be good people, even devout people, who conclude that to be honest, they have to accept that the age of the earth must be greater than 6000 years.
â€” David Jacobson
I think your information on Specimen Ridge is just a bit outdated. What might seem obvious at first approximation, even after what seems to be careful investigation, often turns out later to be mistaken.
There are many problems with the in situ hypothesis, or the notion that the trees in the layers at Specimen Ridge actually grew there over generations of forests one on top of the other.
1. Many of the layers of “soil” are not at the base of the trees, but are often half-way up the trees.
2. The “soil” shows no sign of decay from top to bottom as would be expected in a normal forest setting. Also, the soil is water sorted, course to fine.
3. Tree-ring analysis of trees in different layers match – indicating that they grew at or near the same time.
4. Chemical analysis of the volcanic sedimentary material in the different levels indicates that this material was produced, in all of the levels, with in a 3-month period of time.
5. No remains of animal bones, skins, eggs, trackways, burrows, or other trace fossils have been identified in any of the layers.
6. The tops of the trees are cleanly cut off by the next layer, showing no evidence of decay or bioturbation and degeneration as would be expected if a new forest actually required extensive periods of time to produce the next higher layer.
7. The pine needs and leaves do not consistently match the trees which are associated with them. In other words, mats of leaves will be found associated with pine trees and mats of pine needs are found in association with deciduous trees.
8. While intact roots do remain, these largely consist of smaller roots. The larger roots, along with the branches and bark of these trees, have been broken off.
These features and others discussed on my website, are far more consistent with a sudden catastrophic formation of these layers and transport of the vertical trees within them…
For further information on this topic see:
I’ll give you one thing though… At least you’re not claiming to be something you’re not. You’re not taking money from an organization while directly undermining what that organization is paying you to do at the same time. This is admirable. LSU should follow your example and have those teachers who believe like you do to go and teach elsewhere for those of like mind who are more than willing to pay them for their views…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman, M.D.
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.
Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Dr. Bryan Ness just wrote (in the comment section of the Spectrum website) a response to the article I wrote here, as follows:
This saddens me more than anything. When someone who knows nothing about how or what I teach in my classes assumes they know. It seems that the assumption is that I am indoctrinating students into a belief about LGBTQ+ individuals that runs counter to SDA teachings, when I am doing no such thing. I say very little about same-sex marriage to my students, but rather take the approach recommended by the NAD in it’s very fine booklet “Guiding Families” and approach the LGBTQ+ students I come in contact with in the fashion described here (which is from the booklet):
“While it is tempting to focus on causation, I want to resolve this question up front: the origins of sexual orientation and gender identity are highly complex, multi-factorial, and likely rooted in both nature and nurture. For any one person, it can be impossible to know the exact cause. For this reason, we propose that we shift our focus from causation to compassion .”
I also encourage non-LGBTQ+ students to relate to LGBTQ+ students in this fashion. I also encourage abstinence in the LGBTQ+ students I know just as much as I encourage it among non-LGBTQ+ students. I encourage a compassionate and loving attitude and open acceptance of all individuals regardless their sexual or gender orientation.
I do not go out of my way to encourage same-sex marriage nor do I promote on our campus and so it baffles me that the headline of the article cited here says PUC is “encouraging Homosexual marriage,” whatever homosexual marriage is. Neither do I keep it a secret that I think same-sex marriage should be affirmed, which as far as I am aware is not a punishable offense in any setting. I know numerous pastors who believe the same way, some of whom will not say so openly because they fear the kind of judgmental and hateful backlash that an article like mine engenders in some people.
What seems to get repeatedly lost in these kinds of discussions and attacks is that people’s lives are at stake. Suicide among LGBTQ+ individuals runs several times higher than in the general population, and those that experience religious persecution around their sexual or gender orientation are especially seriously affected. If for no other reason than to show true compassion for such individuals, this kind of judgemental and angry discussion and attack should never happen. I think, as I repeat often, that we must take seriously Jesus’ words from Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” I fear that those who speak out so forcefully against our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters are more willing to sacrifice these people than to try and understand and truly love them.
You just published a very public article expressing your position on this topic – a position that is in direct conflict with that of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Link). Have you not, therefore, as a paid representative of the SDA Church, taken a very public position that is in fact in conflict with the position of your employer? That’s a real problem as I see it. How do you see yourself around the conclusion that you are in fact actively undermining the clearly stated goals and ideals of your employer? How is this not an ethical problem for you? How do you not see it as a form of theft from your employer?
Beyond this, how is it being “loving” to our LGBTQ+ friends and family to say that the Bible says something that it just doesn’t say? I personally think the most loving thing to do, as a Christian, is to be honest about what the Bible has to say on this topic… even if I personally might not entirely understand exactly why the Bible says what it says.
Yes, the Bible is clear. there is NO condemnation of homosexuals or homosexuality in the Bible. Our Prophet never said a word about it. Jesus never referred to it.
Really? How then do you explain passages in both the Old and New Testament that clearly point out homosexual activity as being out of line with God’s will?
As far as the argument that Jesus never mentioned it, He never mentioned a lot of things that are classified as “sins” in both the Old and New Testament. So, I’m not sure what this has to do with anything?
As far as your argument that Ellen White never mentioned it, she did in fact mention passages in the Bible that discuss homosexuality as a sin. Ellen White declared that Romans 1:18–32, which details a descent into illicit sensuality (including homosexual behavior), as especially applicable to the last days.
“A terrible picture of the condition of the world has been presented before me. Immorality abounds everywhere. Licentiousness is the special sin of this age. Never did vice lift its deformed head with such boldness as now. The people seem to be benumbed, and the lovers of virtue and true goodness are nearly discouraged by its boldness, strength and prevalence. I was referred to Romans 1:18–32, as a true description of the world previous to the second appearing of Christ” (EGW, CG 440).
Paul’s book of Romans, in particular, includes language declaring that the sexual relationships at issue are characterized by mutuality, rather than exploitation. The phrase “men . . . burned in their desire toward one another [allēlous]” uses the Greek term allēlous, which indicates a mutuality, a shared experience of desire. Moreover, the reference to “women exchang[ing] the natural function for that which is unnatural,” also reveals a concern with elements beyond exploitation or dominance. Lesbian relationships were especially known in ancient times for their lack of hierarchy, domination, or prostitution. Paul speaks of those who “exchanged natural [physikēn] intercourse for unnatural [para physin]” (Rom 1:26). But the word “natural” (physikos) here does not refer to what is natural to the person who practices it. Rather, it means what is according to the nature of things as God created it, and “unnatural” is that which is “against nature” as God ordained it from the beginning as the immediate context speaks of God’s “creation of the world” (Rom. 1:20, 26). Indeed, even in the larger Greco-Roman world, homosexual conduct of any sort was understood as being against nature. It is only the modern conception of “nature” that means whatever the human desires. Paul, conversely, held that human nature, being fallen and sinful, would be expected to have desires against God’s created order, commandments, and plans for humanity (cf. Rom 5:15–20; 7:7–23). However, Paul also teaches that an escape from “the body of death” and a new victorious life are given through the “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 7:24; 8:1). Further, in the vice list of 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul mentions the malakoi (lit. “soft men”), which likely alludes to men who are lain with as a man lies with a woman (see Lev 18:22 and 20:13). First Corinthians 6:9 also refers to the arsenokoitai “men lying with males,” and this term appears again in Paul’s vice list of 1 Timothy 1:10. Against those who see a Greco-Roman background behind Paul’s condemnation (and thus limit this term to something less than all same-sex intercourse), it cannot be overemphasized that this term never appears in the secular Greek of Paul’s day, but only in Jewish-Christian literature. The compound term points to the background of the LXX translators in their rendering of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, as they combined the words male (arsēn) and lying (koitē), corresponding to the Hebrew terms zakar (male) and mishkab (lying), to denote “homosexual intercourse.” The undeniable intertextual link between Paul’s use of arsenokoitai (1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10) and Leviticus 18 and 20, indicates that Paul is primarily referring to the OT Levitical background which forbids all samesex intercourse and not just issues of exploitation or orientation.
After surveying the evidence of both OT and NT, NT scholar Richard Hays summarizes well the biblical witness concerning homosexual practice:
“Though only a few biblical texts speak of homoerotic activity, all that do mention it express unqualified disapproval. . . . The biblical witness against homosexual practices is univocal. . . . Scripture offers no loopholes or exception clauses that might allow for the acceptance of homosexual practices under some circumstances. Despite the efforts of some recent interpreters to explain away the evidence, the Bible remains unambiguous and univocal in its condemnation of homosexual conduct.”
As far as your claim that only LGBTQ people can understand the claims of the Bible correctly regarding homosexuality, that’s just not true. Just because I may have motives to want the Bible to say this or that to support my own personal inclinations, doesn’t mean that the Bible actually supports what I may want it to support. The language is simply too clear and unambiguous to be misunderstood – except by those who are desperately looking for any way to make it say something that it just doesn’t say.
Now, you are certainly free and most welcome to strongly disagree with me in this great country of ours – as you obviously do. However, it is ethically wrong to try to force your beliefs on me or upon the church. It is also ethically wrong of you (and those like Bryan Ness) to expect to take money from me or the Seventh-day Adventist Church to support you as our paid representatives – while you continue your efforts to undermine those who pay your paycheck. That, my friend, is called stealing – an ethical wrong in anyone’s book.