@Carl: The people who accept the long history of life …

Comment on LSU Board news release and actions by Sean Pitman M.D..


The people who accept the long history of life have not set out to undermine SDA beliefs. In fact, there are some SDA scientists who very deliberately set out to show that the prevailing theories were wrong but were forced to change their minds because they could not do so. (I don’t know specifically about the LSU group.) One example is Peter Edgar Hare, a devoted Adventist who died in 2006. He developed amino acid dating in a effort to show the other dating methods were wrong.

“Ed Hare is widely regarded as the father of amino acid geochronology.”…

So, you take an honest and dedicated Adventist man and send him away to a laboratory where he becomes world famous. And, here we are 50 years later with the same problem. There is now more evidence for a long history of life than before.

It doesn’t matter if a person does or does not “set out” to undermine the stated SDA position on any of its “fundamental” doctrines. Many of those who disagree with the fundamental positions of the organized SDA Church are very honest and sincere men and women. However, honesty alone does not qualify a person to be an official paid representative of any organization. A person must also agree to abide by and publicly support the stated fundamental ideals or goals of his/her employer. That notion seems to me to be self evident for a person who honestly accepts a paycheck to do a particular job.

Beyond this, Edgar Hare, while certainly honest in his ideas, was mistaken. His theory of amino acid racemization dating (AARD) being a reliable independent dating method has been fairly recently falsified. AARD is now considered, even by mainstream scientists, a relative dating method at best. In other words, it must first be calibrated against another dating method before it can be used in any particular location.

From the Minnisota State University, notice the following comments in an article published in 2000 regarding AARD:

“Amino acid dating cannot obtain the age of the material purely from the data itself. The rate of racemization cannot be standardized by itself because it is too changeable. Thus, because of the rate problem, this dating technique must rely on other dating techniques to standardize its findings. As a matter of fact, the ages obtained from racemization dating must rely on other techniques such as Carbon 14, and if the dating of Carbon 14 is not accurate, racemization dating can never be certain.” [ emphasis added ]
– http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/archaeology/dating/dat_racemization.html

Some, however, argue that that shells can be much more accurately and independently dated via AARD in comparison to bone. But,I’m afraid this isn’t true either. AARD of shells (both sea shells and egg shells) is also dependent upon calibration techniques with other dating methods – like radiocarbon dating.

“This study explores time-averaging (temporal mixing) at very high sampling resolution: that of adjacent shells collected from the same stratum. Nine samples of the bivalve Chione fluctifraga were collected from four Holocene cheniers (beach ridges) on the Colorado Delta (Gulf of California) and 165 shells were dated using radiocarbon-calibrated amino-acid racemization (D-alloisoleucine/L-isoleucine).”


For more information, see additional quotations regarding the fact that AARD is a relative dating method at best.


And, for information on the potential and pitfalls of AARD in general, see:


So, you see, the real argument isn’t based on the demonstrable independence of AARD dating, but on views regarding the reliability of radiocarbon dating and other radiometric dating methods as a clearly adequate basis for calibration of AARD – even though many of these other methods are also calibrated against each other and are not always consistent with all methods of age estimation – or even amongst themselves (see discussion of the problem of dating tektites Link or Cosmogenic Isotope Dating Link below).


One more thing is most interesting. As Dr. Paul Giem pointed out in a recent letter to Shane, AARD is actually much more consistent with the young-life perspective than with the suggestion that it supports old-age notions. The work of R. H. Brown in this regard is most interesting.

R. H. Brown, Amino Acid Dating, Origins 12(1):8-25 (1985).


If anyone has any substantive counters to this information, I’d be most grateful for it. However, when I’ve presented this data before, the very best anyone could come up with was the usual distinctly unhelpful pejorative comment that, “Sean has exhibited yet again the principle that a little knowledge is dangerous.” If so, I ask those in the know on this topic to please educate me with something substantive that is actually backed up by real data…

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman M.D. Also Commented

LSU Board news release and actions

Carl: We seem to be arguing about two different things. I realize that the issue at LSU has been painted almost entirely as question about teaching evolution, but I am not talking directly about evolution.

What I am talking about is using a literal historical interpretation of Genesis to claim that life was created roughly as it now exists not more than about ten thousand years ago. That interpretation of Genesis leads to so many contradictions of the evidence that it leaves one no better off than believing that God does whatever He pleases whenever He pleases and then provides evidence to make everything look very old. It forces you to believe that there is no rational way to understand the earth and its life.

For many years, Adventists have been avoiding a clear examination of the evidence. For example, where in the Adventist system would a student go to get a BS in geology? There isn’t one simply because we haven’t had the courage to face the facts that exist all around us. The result is that most Adventists can’t have an informed discussion of the earth sciences because we have been biased to believe that the Devil, in the form of “infidel scientists,” is waiting to deceive us. Our fear of being deceived has sometimes left us behaving like a superstitious cult.

To me, the tragedy of Adventism is that we can’t have a rational discussion of the problem because it isn’t safe to do so. As soon as anyone challenges our traditional beliefs, a cry goes up to get them dismissed. That’s the purpose of this Website, and, as long as it’s effective, we will stay locked in our established traditions no matter how irrational our position becomes. By doing so we become completely irrelevant to the educated world, nothing more than another tourist attraction in the history of religions.

You can get a BS in geology at SAU. Arthur Chadwick is there and does a lot of good field research in geology – and is a fundamentalist SDA (in that he actually believes that life on Earth is young).

There is in fact a lot of evidence in support of the author of Genesis and his intent to write a literal narriative about real historical events. However, if you don’t recognize this evidence, why not simply leave the SDA Church and join another organization that is more in line with what you think is so obvious? Why try to be something you’re obviously not?

Sean Pitman

LSU Board news release and actions

Then do you also agree with Dr. Lawrence McCloskey that the earth must necessarily be at least 12,000 years old? You see, the sea corals are his specialty, and they add a layer each year, dating back 12,000 years. They have done core drillings on the corals to determine this. If God did not create a mature coral colony, what did God create? or do you agree with Dr. McCloskey that life on earth must be at least 12,000 years old?

I don’t agree with McCloskey’s assumption regarding the age of living coral reefs – to include his notion that corals can only add one growth layer each year. This notion simply isn’t true.

Beyond this, living coral reefs did not survive the flood. Corals reefs are very delicate and would not have survived the world-wide flood intact. While fossil corals do also exist, the fossil “reefs” that supposedly took hundreds of thousands of years to form, really aren’t reefs at all…

For further information on this topic see:


Sean Pitman

LSU Board news release and actions

Was God “deceptive” because He created a full-grown Adam and Eve, who had the appearance of age, while not being more than a day old? Should God have created just a sperm and an egg for each of them instead, in order to avoid charges of being “deceptive?”

Hi Erik. I have to agree with Carl here that you can take this argument too far. It can basically be used to argue that anything that clearly appears to be one way could actually be completely different “because God made it that way”. That basically removes any logical basis for belief in God or in the Bible beyond the pretty useless concept of blind faith.

However, Carl is also mistaken in his suggestion that no credible, well-trained scientists have any sort of viable model or basis for interpreting the data as supporting the theory of young-life on Earth and a rapid catastrophic model for the formation of the geologic and fossil records. There are many such scientists – both within and without the SDA Church. It is just that much of Carl’s thinking and understanding of the relevant data is outdated or simply mistaken…

Sean Pitman

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