Comment on An apology to PUC by Sean Pitman.
So, you are saying that there was super fast migration of species that have no way of crossing such a long distance of water (thus relying on chance events, like a floating mat of vegetation or a log or something) that then speciate at rates unsupported by evolutionary theory. These new species are so different from species elsewhere that there has even been some difficulty in determining their taxonomic affinities. Sean, you are a stronger believer in evolution and natural selection than I thought. What we are talking here is macroevolution on a hyperfast scale following on the heels of numerous founder populations arriving at orders of magnitude faster rates than any ecologist would even consider. You never cease to amaze me.
Part of the problem here is over the definition of a “new species”. What is often defined as a new species or “macroevolution” is nothing but a different expression of the same underlying gene pool of pre-established genetic options. The gene pool of options didn’t change – only the area of phenotypic expression of the pool. In fact, in order to demonstrate that many types of animals that are given different species and even genus names are actually part of the same original gene pool there are numerous examples of different “species” producing viable and often fertile offspring.
For example, donkeys, horses, and zebras have been given different species names. Yet, they can interbreed and produce viable offspring. This means that their genetic information is the same – that it was derived from the same original gene pool. They only reason that the offspring of a horse-donkey mating (a donkey) is sterile is because there has been a chromosomal inversion in one relative to the other. Such a chromosomal inversion results in chromosomal looping during meiosis and fragmenting of the chromosomal material during genetic crossover that happens during meiosis. This results in defective gametes in the mule and is the reason the mule is sterile. However, it has nothing to do with the informational quality itself – only the arrangement of this information on the chromosome. And, there are many many other such examples.
What this means is that what you call “macroevolution” really isn’t based on the evolution of any qualitatively new functional genetic element at all. It is based on the phenotypic isolation of certain areas of the pre-established gene pool of genetic options that was already there. Such “breeding” can be done very very rapidly. Millions of years are not needed.
As far as populating new continents and islands right after the Flood, you forget that distances that exist today did not exist right after the Flood. The continents were much closer together at first, and the newly developing volcanic islands were as well. Then, after the ice ages hit, various land bridges that are not currently available were available then due to a dramatic decrease in the level of the oceans worldwide. Many islands that now exist where not islands then and could be easily accessed by land.
Also, as we have seen, even islands that are completely cut off from land can be rapidly populated by animals as diverse and unexpected as earthworms and slugs and lizards.
What is amazing to me is that someone who titles himself a “New and Old Testament Believer”, as noted in your own Moniker, would argue so strongly for claims that, if taken at face value without a bit of personal investigation, would undermine the claims of both the Old and New Testament.
But of course, your “faith” is not affected by the validity of the actual claims made by the Biblical authors regarding the physical world. You claim to be an “agnostic” when it comes to the validity of the actual empirical claims of the Biblical authors. It really doesn’t matter if the Bible is literally true or not – right? Your faith can go with the flow. Why then don’t you believe in the superior credibility of the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? Amazing…
Sean Pitman Also Commented
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…
There are probably a number of retired Adventist scientists who would relish the idea of writing a review of any book that Sean would write. Although I obviously can’t speak for the current editor, I’m reasonably confident that Adventist Today would be very interested in publishing reviews of that book. If someone still working for an Adventist college or university might have some reticence in putting their name on their review, I would think that an appropriate arrangement could be made.
I have actually written and self-published a little book this year, “Turtles All the Way Down – Questions on Origins”. It can be ordered from my website using PayPal or from Amazon (a bit cheaper from my website). And, by all means, you are welcome to review it if you so wish…
Are you saying that all variations of a single genome must have the same number of chromosomes?
The same functional type of gene pool can have different numbers of chromosomes. For example, horses have 32 pairs of chromosomes while donkeys have only 31 pairs. Yet, they can mate and produce viable offspring (i.e., mules and hinnies). Therefore, they are part of the same functional gene pool of underlying genetic options.
For a further discussion of having the same basic type of functional information in different chromosomal arrangements or places, see:
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…