Comment on LSU Board news release and actions by Sean Pitman M.D..
â€˜Intelligent designâ€™, at least as it is practiced by Behe and most of its other major proponents, is a subset of evolution that requires long ages, and is utterly incompatible with 6 days/6000 years creationism.
My point was that 6 days/6000 years creationism requires miraculous events. That is not a problem, at all: I believe in miracles. But miracles are, by definition (see C.S. Lewis among others) outside the domain of science. Therefore, when teaching science, specifically, it is necessary to teach scientific theories that do not call on miracles to explain phenomena.
Which story would be more miraculous regarding the origins of a chocolate cake that your wife happened to make for you? – that it came together gradually via some mindless mechanism? – or that it was created rather quickly by deliberate design?
The same thing is true for the origin of life and its diversity. A real miracle would be if the mechanism of RM/NS actually did the job – against the odds so vast that the human mind cannot really comprehend such tiny numbers. The very same thing is true of the origin of the universe. The odds are so remote that the universe came into existence in such perfect balance with regard to so many precisely defined constants that it is much less miraculous to believe in an intelligent original cause. This is why the majority of physicist, according to Paul Davies (who used to be an agnostic until he started studying the finely tuned features of the universe), believe in some form of God or God-like creative power as being ultimately responsible for it all.
You see, “miracles” are only those things which we don’t completely understand. In this sense, science cannot fully describe how intelligent design works – even on the human level (as you point out). Science cannot fully explain how my wife can make a beautiful chocolate cake. Yet, science can detect the need for deliberate design to explain the origin of the cake. The same thing is true for the origin of the universe and for the origin of life and its diversity beyond very low levels of functional complexity. In this sense, science can in fact detect the need, even the requirement, for certain types of “miracles”.
It all depends upon which miracle you think the evidence supports – because even scientists believe in miracles at some point. Even atheists believe in miracles – i.e., that ultimately something came from nothing – – how miraculous is that?!
Really then, it boils down to if you see things as “turtles all the way up; or turtles all the way down” – as Dawkins puts it. If you see the evidence supporting the idea that a given level of informational complexity comes from a pre-existing higher level, then its turtles all the way up for you and you end up with the miracle of God. If you believe that informational complexity can come from lower levels, then its turtles all the way down for you and you end up with the miracle of something coming from nothing.
So, you see, it all depends upon which miracle you think the evidence supports. Because, ultimately, everyone believes in miracles…
Sean Pitman M.D. Also Commented
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 isnâ€™t one simply because we havenâ€™t had the courage to face the facts that exist all around us. The result is that most Adventists canâ€™t have an informed discussion of the earth sciences because we have been biased to believe that the Devil, in the form of â€œinfidel scientists,â€ 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 canâ€™t have a rational discussion of the problem because it isnâ€™t safe to do so. As soon as anyone challenges our traditional beliefs, a cry goes up to get them dismissed. Thatâ€™s the purpose of this Website, and, as long as itâ€™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?
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:
Was God â€œdeceptiveâ€ 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 â€œdeceptive?â€
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…
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman M.D.
After the Flood
Thank you Ariel. Hope you are doing well these days. Miss seeing you down at Loma Linda. Hope you had a Great Thanksgiving!
Thank you Colin. Just trying to save lives any way I can. Not everything that the government does or leaders do is “evil” BTW…
Only someone who knows the future can make such decisions without being a monster…
Pacific Union College Encouraging Homosexual Marriage?
Where did I “gloss over it”?
Review of “The Naked Emperor” by Pastor Conrad Vine
I fail to see where you have convincingly supported your claim that the GC leadership contributed to the harm of anyone’s personal religious liberties? – given that the GC leadership does not and could not override personal religious liberties in this country, nor substantively change the outcome of those who lost their jobs over various vaccine mandates. That’s just not how it works here in this country. Religious liberties are personally derived. Again, they simply are not based on a corporate or church position, but rely solely upon individual convictions – regardless of what the church may or may not say or do.
Yet, you say, “Who cares if it is written into law”? You should care. Everyone should care. It’s a very important law in this country. The idea that the organized church could have changed vaccine mandates simply isn’t true – particularly given the nature of certain types of jobs dealing with the most vulnerable in society (such as health care workers for example).
Beyond this, the GC Leadership did, in fact, write in support of personal religious convictions on this topic – and there are GC lawyers who have and continue to write personal letters in support of personal religious convictions (even if these personal convictions are at odds with the position of the church on a given topic). Just because the GC leadership also supports the advances of modern medicine doesn’t mean that the GC leadership cannot support individual convictions at the same time. Both are possible. This is not an inconsistency.