@Anon MD: I am disturbed by much of what I …

Comment on An apology to PUC by Sean Pitman.

@Anon MD:

I am disturbed by much of what I read here. According to Educate Truth’s new policies, professors can no longer teach faith; they can only teach what the “evidence” allows. Professors can no longer teach both sides and allow the student to form their own opinion; they must believe and teach that the weight of evidence supports their views. Professors can no longer teach their conscience; fear of being subjected to public humiliation will hereafter dictate what they teach. Surely Ellen White would roll over in her grave if she learned of the new fear-based pedagogical approach that is slowly taking over our institutions. Good work, Educate Truth!

Have you not read about the time when Mrs. White publicly addressed the Church body telling everyone to avoid sending their children to Battle Creek College because of their promotion of ideas which were not in harmony with the goal and mission of the Church? “In God’s word alone,” she wrote, “we find an authentic account of creation” (5 Test., 25). She displayed a willingness to both publicly rebuke the leadership of the college and to warn church members of the problems at the College. “We can give,” she memorably warned, “no encouragement to parents to send their children to Battle Creek College” (5 Test., 21). She proposed that if the College was not returned to the Biblical-centered model, that the church should “sell it out to worldlings” and “establish another school” upon the “plan which God has specified” (5 Test., 25-26). – Link

Also, have you not read the GC’s request of educators when it comes to what the Church, as an organization, expects its teachers to actually teach? The following is from the 2004 Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:

We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.


This sentiment and request was backed up at the most recent GC session in Atlanta. And, the Church has also decided to make more specific the wording of FB#6 on its creation doctrine – in order to make it very clear that the Church, as an organization, believes in a literal 6-day creation week and worldwide Noachian Flood.

Now, you can call such a position “extreme” all you want, but the Church seems to know that hiring teachers to tell our young people that the weight of scientific evidence is against us is quite counterproductive to the Church’s goals and ideals…

Regardless, at the very least, people have a right to know and to choose if such an education is in fact what they want for their own children…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

An apology to PUC

Must you keep harping on the one statement on Darwin’s finches that few other than yourself and maybe some other creationists disagree with?

I have yet to see you present one phenotypic or genetic difference between any of Darwin’s Finches and other members of the Dome-nest Clade which could not be rapidly realized in a few thousand years. Certainly a 0.3% difference in cytochrome b isn’t a significant problem. I’m not sure what else makes you think that Darwin’s Finches are no uniquely evolved that they could not be explained as originating from Noah’s Ark a few thousand years ago?

As far as your arguments for the date of the first Egyptian dynasty being preceded by over a thousand years of cultural development, it simply doesn’t take very long for groups of humans to develop complex cultures and governments. Also, there are those who argue that the date for the first dynasty is more likely to be less than 4,500 years ago. Either way, the dating of Egyptian dynasties is hardly a very solid basis for challenging the historical SDA position on origins…

Sean Pitman

An apology to PUC

The “striking phenotypic differences, and even unique genetic differences” among different populations of humans and dogs are the results of random mutation, genetic drift, natural selection or (in the case of dogs) artificial selection–not “some span of reproductive isolation.”

It doesn’t matter how the reproductive isolation is achieved, be it “artificial” or “natural”. The resulting phenotypic differences are much more obvious between certain breeds of dogs or even various human ethnic groups than between certain “cryptic” species.

The reason why cryptic species are given taxonomic status while various breeds of dogs and human ethnic groups are not seems arbitrary to me. There really is no clear dividing line for taxonomic status on the one hand, but not on the other…

Humans don’t depend on the color or texture of eyes, hair and skin to avoid mating with chimps or apes, or even different groups of humans.

Are you kidding me? Humans are indeed biased in the choice of a mate toward those of similar phenotypic appearance. While this is not a universal rule (as is also the case with many kinds of cryptic species who also experience the occasional hybrids), it is certainly a bias.

When a female poodle is in heat, it doesn’t matter what “breed” a male dog belongs to, it is equally stimulated and could care less about the length, color or texture of eyes, hair, ears, snout, legs, tail, etc. The reproductive isolating method between dogs (genus Canis) and foxes (genus Vulpes) is likely based on olfaction rather than external morphology.

Have you considered the efforts of a Great Dane to mate with a chihuahua? Come on now, there are clear examples of not only artificial but natural reproductive isolate between various breeds of dogs and even between various human ethnic groups. Aborigines have arguably experienced some time of natural isolation, as have numerous other ethnic groups of modern and ancient humans. Unique phenotypic and even genotypic features were realized that are arguably more significant than the differences between the songs or nest structure of cryptic species of birds or the other very minor variations between cryptic species of frogs or giraffes, etc…

Again, don’t pretend like this is entirely objective science. It isn’t. There is a a fair amount of subjectivity in play here…

Sean Pitman

An apology to PUC

And the fact that taxonomists use a b it of subjectivity is a new revelation? Come on Sean, you are nitpicking. Of course there is some subjectivity.

Hey, I’m not the one who came out and said that the differences between Darwin Finches and all other birds were so dramatic and clear cut and objectively understood that they could not be reasonably explained in just a few thousand years… or that the Egyptian dynasties are definitively known to go back over 6,000 years (when they probably go back no more than 4,500 years)…

A “bit” of subjectivity involved here? – no?

Sean Pitman

Recent Comments by Sean Pitman

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?

“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.

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Response from Bryan Ness:

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?

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Posted by ArkDrey:

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.

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
From David1:

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.

Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Response from Dr. Ness:

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.