Comment on LSU Board news release and actions by Carl.
Erik: Carl,God created mature trees, not merely their seeds. Supposing one had the â€œageâ€ of 2000 years when God created it, and that it was atop the mountains and remained anchored through the flood, it might now appear to be ~8000 years old. Therefore, the ages of the known oldest trees do not surprise the recent creationists.Erik (Quote)
Your argument is one that troubles me a great deal. If you are convinced that, indeed, we have correctly figured out that things look to be older than the Biblical chronology will allow, but, in fact, God made them look older than they are, and He did it in a way that is certain to deceive us, what does it say about the nature of God? Adventism includes the idea that nature is God’s second book. What happens to that idea if nature is so deceptive that we cannot correctly figure it out?
I probably should not have used trees as an example for my point since the comments seem to miss what I was saying. There is an abundance of convincing evidence for the great age of many forms of life. It’s true that all of the dating methods require assumptions that are unproven and that all of the methods suffer from potential errors, but the trend has been mostly toward better agreement between the different methods. Sean has compiled a large collection of objections to dating methods; but, I find that to be a distraction from the main point.
The problem for a young-earth creationist is that there is no one who can fit much of the evidence into a short-history model. In fact, I have never heard a credible scientist claim that we have a short-history model. There is a long-history model simply because a great portion of the data fits very well. There are a few things that fit a short-history model better than they fit the long-history model, but they are very few as compared to the evidence that fits only a long-history mode.
The thing that I find so incredible about this debate is that people seem to think that the LSU Board simply lacked the courage to do what is right. That’s ridiculous. The Board has access to the science staff of the Geoscience Research Institute and the science faculties of all of our colleges and universities. If there had been one person in that group of experts who could have proposed a satisfactory curriculum for teaching a short history of life, don’t you suppose they might have jumped for it?
Carl Also Commented
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.
What I mean by “figure out” is, I think, essentially the common-language meaning: to make sense of something in a logical way. The appeal to common sense and logic is a major difference between Yahweh and the pagan gods. The pagan gods were capricious; you followed a ritual to please them whether or not it made sense. Yahweh presents himself as the God that is reasonable; He expects us to follow His law, but not to do it without understanding the underlying reasons. “…these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” In this example, the “other” can be described as the issues underlying the particular rules.
Nobody else actually has that â€œas a needâ€. So for the rest of us â€œdetecting designâ€ will have to do. Agreed?
No, I don’t agree. Because Yahweh presents Himself as the God who makes sense, I expect that it will not be impossible to do so. There is no easy way out. Of course we will never comprehend as God comprehends; but, that’s not an excuse expecting me to believe what is not reasonable. My power to “figure things out” is one of the gifts that gives meaning to being created in the image of God.
Sean Pitman M.D.:There are two ways to be dishonest here. One way is to teach something you donâ€™t actually believe. That would be morally wrong on a personal level. The other way is to teach something you do honestly believe to be true, but which goes directly against what your employer hired you to teach. This is also being dishonest, not against your own beliefs, but against your employer.
Youâ€™ve made the above point several times. If I were employed by a secular enterprise and found myself at odds with its declared values and purpose, I would leave. However, Adventism claims a special quality that I value highly, a value that secular organizations do not espouse. That is, traditional beliefs are not to be accepted without close examination. Searching for truth must involve reexamination of fundamental beliefs. Therefore, I believe that science must be taught with complete honesty whether or not it supports SDA traditional beliefs. This is not being dishonest against ones employer because the employer has claimed that integrity with the scientific data is vitally important.
So, the complete scientific picture should be taught including the fact that there is no plausible explanation for life within a short history and including the fact that dating methods are possibly not very accurate.
You could provide an important service if you got together with the science staff at Geoscience Research Institute to develop a short-history model with enough credibility to be taught in a science curriculum. This will be a challenge since I have read their statements admitting that no such thing exists. Until you can do that, I find that you have very little to offer. There is no way to explain many features of the earth in anything less than many millions of years even if all of the dating methods are wildly wrong. You are misleading many people by suggesting that difficulties with the dating methods somehow makes it reasonable to think that life was created within the last ten thousand years.
So, come up with a short-history model and you will solve a great many problems for the LSU Board. If you canâ€™t do that, you should stop making it appear that your objections to mainstream science somehow imply that life was created a short time ago.
Recent Comments by Carl
These layers should have been washed away many times over by now. Thatâ€™s the problem.
Well — maybe. I’d say the real problem for your position is that no one has proposed a comprehensive model that can explain the evidence of geology within about 10,000 years. That is such a huge problem that I don’t know why we are talking about anything else. The evidence for life beyond 10,000 years is massive as compared to the few objections that Sean has collected.
I understand better how you have reached your conclusions. You have a powerful bias that the Bible must be literal history, and that predisposition has driven much of your scientific thinking. What still mystifies me is that you attempt to take the open issues of science and use them as an argument that a short history is equally as believable (I think you claim more believable) as a long history. That is one huge leap.
I’ve read parts of your personal Web site, and it seems to me that you have failed to establish your points. In what you have written, I have found no compelling evidence to believe a short history. You do well in raising doubts about the standard model, but doubts on one side are not a convincing argument on the other side.
You do not have any detectable theory of how the earth could possibly come to be as it is within about 10,000 years. Your discussion above again misses the major issue. The evidence that is at odds with a short history is much greater than the evidence that is at odds with a long history. You have come nowhere close to showing otherwise. Ten thousand years is a very short period of time.
Report on LSU constituency meeting
Here’s a link for Hammill’s interesting report:
Not found in Adventist literature.
Not found in Quiquinium voted documents.
So â€œgeneralâ€ as in you and a few of your closes friends?
How is that â€œgeneralâ€?
The Consultant Committee on Geoscience Research was terminated and a new emphasis was instituted for staff activities. Research tended to concentrate on selected areas where the data were most supportive of the 6,000-year biblical chronology of Bishop Ussher. Before long, the tacit policy arrived at in the 1950s during the General Conference presidency of W. H. Branson (to the effect that the 6,000-year chronology need not be emphasized in Seventh-day Adventist publications) was abandoned. (Richard Hammill, AAF Spectrum, Vol 15, No. 2 p 41)
I did not know Dr Hammill personally, so, no, this wasn’t cooked up among my closest friends.
The theology department has preceded the sciences by some year in losing confidence in the Scriptures and in promoting belief in naturalism.
Here again is the suggestion that we must interpret Scripture literally or else we are “losing confidence” in them. I think it often works the other way around. By insisting on literal details, we can miss the most important point and make it more difficult to believe.
The tragedy of this Web site is that it thwarts the creative thinking that we need for dealing with modern science issues. It’s not an easy problem, and the success of this site will drive many thinking people into seclusion. That’s where we’ve been for decades.
In the 1950s, there was a general understanding that Adventist literature would not emphasize a 6000 year history. President Robert Pierson brought that to an end and set us on a path to avoid any science that we did not like. The result is that many Adventists are very suspicious of science and scientists.
If truth has nothing to fear from examination, which sometimes seems to be a Adventist assumption, I say it’s time to stop trying to fix LSU. Students are pretty good at figuring out who to believe. So, if you’re afraid to think out of the box, go where you’ll be told what to think. If you want think it out for yourself, go where the box has been opened.
I have little doubt that Geanna, Adventist Student, and many others will figure things out with or without the “help” of the reformers sponsoring and speaking on this site.