Beyond the Creation Story – Why the Controversy Matters

Educate Truth shares the following article from the Adventist Review as a service to readers:

 

BY MARK A. FINLEY
During my public evangelistic meetings I routinely conduct question-and-answer sessions. The subject of Creation often surfaces. Audience members ask questions like these: “Did God really create the world in six literal, consecutive, 24-hour days?” “How do we know He didn’t take billions of years?” “Does it really make any difference if the days of Creation week were literal?” “After all, if we believe that God began the process of creation, isn’t that what is important?” “Why should we be concerned about how He did it?”
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These questions are vital, and they demand rock-solid answers. The implications move far beyond the Creation story. How we personally relate to these critical issues will determine our confidence in the integrity of Scripture and dramatically affect our understanding of significant Bible truths. Our answers will also directly influence our personal relationship with God…
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One of the great theological problems with theistic evolution is that it limits God’s power. It exalts natural law above the Creator of natural law. Theistic evolution doesn’t allow for an all-powerful God to miraculously shape our world. It reduces God to the scale of human imagination, and exalts reason above revelation. This was precisely why humanity fell in the beginning. Eve listened to the voice of the serpent in the garden and trusted what her eyes could see rather than what God said. Her mind became the final arbiter of truth.
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Reason is certainly a gift of God, but left alone and unaided, it is an insufficient guide. Our first parents turned from the authority of God’s word to the folly of their own wisdom. The danger of this habit is readily apparent: our first parents’ decisions were disastrous.
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59 thoughts on “Beyond the Creation Story – Why the Controversy Matters

  1. I do sympathize with Mark Finley and others who wish to promote the Bible above our God-given abilities to reason. However, in the end, his main argument in support of the Bible’s authority is self-defeating.

    If the Bible does not appeal to our God-given reasoning abilities, what separates Christians, Adventists in particular, from other religious groups who believe that their own holy book is the true Word of God? What separates the Bible from the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an?

    Finley’s argument that Eve sinned because she trusted her reason above the naked word of God simply isn’t true. God had already provided Adam and Eve with far more evidence of who He was than did the serpent. God had given abundant evidence of His Divine character and love for Adam and Eve. Eve did not fall because of a lack of adequate empirical evidence that would appeal to her intelligent mind. Rather, Eve fell because she desired what she knew was not hers and sought out reasons to justify her sinful desire (i.e., otherwise known as rationalization, which is not the same thing as basing one’s decisions on the weight of reasonable evidence). If Eve had been innocent in her own mind, she would not have tried to hide from God when God came calling for her and Adam later that day.

    The appeal to faith in the Bible that is blind to what one’s God-given reasoning ability is telling the honest searcher for truth paints God as arbitrary and impossible to please – even for a heart that is sincere in the search for Truth. If Eve had been honestly tricked, it would have been unfair of God to punish her.

    Sin, by definition, must be a deliberate rebellion against what is consciously and rationally known to be true. It is for this reason that sin is illogical, irrational, and an eternal mystery. It is also for this reason that Jesus once said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin.” – John 9:41 NIV

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. Mark Finley said:
    Reason is certainly a gift of God, but left alone and unaided, it is an insufficient guide

    I agree that reason alone is an insufficient guide for the simple reason Paul gives in Romans 3. The sinful nature “alone” does not come to right conclusions. But that would be an academic exercise alone – since in real life all are confronted by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

    However as John 1 says “men loved darkness rather than light” and so that trait fully developed can result in walking in darkness.

    However in Gen 3 we are told that all mankind has the supernatural help of God. In John 16 God convicts the “world of sin and righteousness and judgment”.

    With that level of supernatural help – human reason is no longer “alone”. And that brings us to Romans 1 where even pagans are “without excuse” when they pretend not to see the “invisible attributes of God clearly seen in the things that have been made”.

    Christ is the light that coming into the world enlightens every man (not just Christians).

    So I would argue that technically Mark is correct. Reason “alone” can lead to faulty conclusions.

    Thus two individuals using reason can come to very different conclusions about the same observed facts.

    However all faith and observation in nature involves both faith and reason. Both a world-view and the reason that attempts to fit observations into that world-view. Purest neutrality is not possible because everyone has a world-view to start with.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  3. I totally concur with Mark Finley. Evolution history has shown over and over that man cannot be guided by reason only. Sean Pit has it the wrong way round.

    Man once said that certain organs were a left over from evolution and had no use today; it was also said that the developing foetus went through the various stages of evolution until it became human (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny; again, it was once said that there were fewer than a few hundred stars in the heavens; and I can go on and on in every area of science with these gaffes.

    But these blunders were made not by uneducated men, but by intelligentsia! Indeed, reason left to it’s own devising often carves a way that is sympathetic to one’s worldview. This means to say that should we jettison God’s unerring instructions in Scripture, then we are bound to come up with erroneous conclusions, regardless of how much we worship, sanctify, trust, and honour reason.

    Reason is no god; in fact reason is as frail, sinful, and dependent upon the creator as all humans are. To put reason before the Bible is to fall into the same pit that Lucifer dug for himself. And why do some Christians go there? Simply because they feel that it is within man to direct his own ways! But what is the beginning of wisdom? We have a clear answer, don’t we?

    Finally, both secular Darwinism and theistic Darwinism destroy Christianity and the Bible; and make them a social club and a collections myths! There is no way round this. And that reminds me of another saying that the wise man once said, and I ask a question to produce the answer in our minds: ‘who says in his heart there is no God?’ Let us SDAs remain true and steadfast to the Word of God regardless of who opposes it or tries to rationalize it.




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  4. My Reply:

    “Amen and Amen again, RobRyan and Ron Henderson!” I couldn’t agree with you more! Human reason alone will always lead us astray. The only Rock-solid foundation for human reason is a consecrated mind that is rooted and grounded in the Word of God.

    It is true that Eve had a better knowledge of God than we do today–regardless of how much we know from Scripture.. After all, she had walked and talked with GOD! Why she chose to listen to Satan is one of those mysteries we will never understand this side of eternity–but she did and humanity has suffered the consequences ever since. But “some day” we will understand and from the looks of all the disasters we are witnessing all around the world I believe that “some day” is a whole lot nearer than any of us dream!

    Are you ready? Am I?




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  5. It should be noted that Darwin and Dawkins are using human reason to accept by-faith belief in evolutionism that birds come from reptiles and even that ultimately birds come from plants.

    But is it really being done in a vacuum? Is it really “alone”? Or is the devil also guiding them? Have they become darkened in their own mind having turned from light, truth, facts that are sure?

    Still even in that darkened state that are able to use enough “reason” to agree with 3SG 90-91 that belief in evolutionism is totally inconsistent with acceptance of what the Bible says.

    Who then would dare claim to be in an even more darkened state that they are – such that they would claim a T.E. fiction about marrying the Bible to evolutionism?

    That is the big question for Adventists going down that road.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  6. Ron D Henderson: Finally, both secular Darwinism and theistic Darwinism destroy Christianity and the Bible; and make them a social club and a collections myths! There is no way round this. .

    True – and that is “an argument from reason” that is irrefutable.

    So when someone says “reason alone” do they mean “using an argument from reason and not an argument based on faith in Bible doctrine”?

    Or do they mean “reason without any input from God through the influence of the Holy Spirit”?.

    If the former is to be used as the definition – then you are using “reason alone” to conclude along with Darwin and with 3SG 90-91 the obvious point that evolution is not compatible with the Bible. (And that is not the form of “reason alone” that Finley is using).

    Very often the “talking past each other” problem results when two people use different definitions for the same term. Agreeing to terms is the first step to understanding if two people actually differ.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  7. Ron D Henderson: I totally concur with Mark Finley. Evolution history has shown over and over that man cannot be guided by reason only. Sean Pit has it the wrong way round.

    I think you misunderstand Sean’s position. Reason is a gift from God. It’s a tool that he has given everyone. It’s how we decide to follow him. The truthfulness of God’s Word is established by testimony that appeals to our reason, and God has given ample evidence for faith in His Word.

    There is a distinct difference though between rationalism and reason. I think what you’re referring to is rationalism. Ellen White said, “Rationalism idolizes reason and makes this the criterion for religion” (GC 193).

    Rationalism comes with a lot of presuppositions and one of them is that reason is the sole source of knowledge. It excludes divine revelation at the outset.

    If our reason is not in submission to the Holy Spirit, in other words if we’re not truly seeking truth, not being honest and candid in our pursuit, we endanger ourselves, and our search for truth will end up leading to irrationality.




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  8. Shane Hilde: If our reason is not in submission to the Holy Spirit, in other words if we’re not truly seeking truth, not being honest and candid in our pursuit, we endanger ourselves, and our search for truth will end up leading to irrationality.

    Amen! (But I don’t think this is Sean Pitman’s position)




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  9. The red-eyed treefrog pictured in the story, by the way, is the most photographed frog in the world. I appreciate its use here because it should remind us that we have strayed from scripture by failing to “tend the garden.” Roughly one-third of all amphibians are now extinct or on the verge of extinction because we have neglected our Biblical charge to be good stewards of the creation.

    As we argue endlessly about the beginning of the creation, we may see the end of the creation in our lifetime. What are doing about that? Does God even care? Should we care?




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  10. Sean has argued that faith without reason is never supported by either Ellen White or the Bible.

    Certainly that cannot be denied.

    Darwin, Dawkins and Ellen White point out that reason will not allow us to marry the Bible to belief in evolutionism because belief in evolutionism ultimately destroys faith in the Bible.

    No question that they are correct in that regard.

    Some of the misdirection that has been proposed is of the form “yes but it does not destroy faith in the bible INSTANTLY so we do have T.E. with us to this very day claiming to marry the Bible to evolutionism”.

    And no one has argued that it destroys faith in the Bible “instantly”.

    Just that reason does not allow you to marry the Bible to evolutionism — when you think it through and if you are at all interested in exegesis – specifically the H-G model of hermeneutics.

    It is nice that even our atheist friends like Dawkins see the value in simply letting the Bible speak for itself instead of trying to bend and wrench the text to meet the usages and dictates of evolutionism.

    To the extent that they see this disconnect between the Bible and evolutionism their “reason” is more than “reason alone” it is also being affirmed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit who “Convicts the world” in many of these areas.

    Christ is the light that coming into the world “enlightens every man” – whether that man knows it or not. And each one must choose whether they will “love darkness more than light”.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  11. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Of course this is my position. Those who are honestly and sincerely searching for truth will be guided in their search by the Holy Spirit.”

    Hi Sean

    That is a lovely sentiment. Ideally it would be wonderful if we are all being influenced by a greater moral goodness, external to ourselves.

    An honest query: why do honest and sincere people belief different things if being influenced by a universal Holy Spirit? Is it because of the lens through which we receive same?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  12. Let me make it quite clear, gentlemen and ladies, that I respect reason. God has given us that ability. I do not discount it.

    The problem with Sean and others, as with atheists and their theistic bedfellows, however, is that they allow reason to be their chief guide, if not only.

    when God gave us the ability to reason in a perfect world (pre-fall) man was fully in dwelt with God’s Holy Spirit, and therefore man’s reasoning was in harmony with God’s guide and wishes for mankind.

    However, when sin arrived, man lost this unity with God and lost his ability to reason according to God’s purpose and guide; God therefore gave man external help, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to help his reasoning ability. God gave him HIS Word, the Bible. In old times it was the instructions of the prophets.

    So therefore when man seeks to ‘reason’ something out, he must do it with the help of the guide, the Word, in order to better and fully comprehend the object he is contemplating.

    And yes, we need to use our reason when reading a book or the Book of books, however, we must at all times submit our reasoning to the Holy Spirit’s influence in order to fully comprehend the subject.

    And that is where others and perhaps Sean slip; they put reason first, and they interpret according to reason first instead of reason sanctified by the Spirit through the Word.

    That is why atheists can never arrived at complete truth, nor can theistic evolutionists. They are unable to submit their reasoning ability to the light of the Word of God.

    So while we must use our God given reasoning ability, we must remember that sin has perverted this ability and the only way out is to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our reasoning; short of this we will never arrive at complete truth; and even then our ability to reason as God would have us is ‘almost’ impossible.

    And more, the man with the greatest ability to reason will win the day! He may be a Dawkins or Hawkins or whoever, and the word of God will be rejected, precisely as we see happening today.

    Secular scientists and religious secular scientists do not put much or any emphasis on God’s Word; they effectively lock themselves away from the truth of science by so doing. That is why they must come up with the fables they teach for science.

    Let us as SDAs use our God given reason; however, let us always submit our reasoning and conclusions to the light of God’s Word. Only then can we arrive at the truth that God has for us.




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  13. Ron D Henderson: The problem with Sean and others, as with atheists and their theistic bedfellows, however, is that they allow reason to be their chief guide, if not only.

    They also insist that all SDA science professors must not only exalt reason above God’s Word but must also believe that the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supports a 6-day creation about 6000 years ago and a flood that covered every part of the planet. And any professor who dares to disagree is not fit for employment within the SDA Church. I’m glad this is not the official policy of the SDA Church.




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  14. Re Ron’s Quote

    “Secular scientists and religious secular scientists do not put much or any emphasis on God’s Word”

    “And more, the man with the greatest ability to reason will win the day!”

    Dear Ron

    Because that’s not science it’s faith. Science to be objective must not have either a faith or non faith bias. Are you saying that if Newton had have been an atheist that his articulated laws of gravity would have been wrong?

    This is exactly what Dr. Pitman is striving to overcome: biblical circular logic is only proof of biblical circular logic and nothing external thereof. If you confine your reason to a closed system of thought then your perception of the wider reality will be necessarily limited thereto.

    Yes, men (or women) with the greater ability to reason will win the day, that is inevitable on the road of human knowledge. Would you have the world still flat, or the centre of the universe? If greater men of reason are Dr. Pitman, or Ben Clausen, or Gary Bradley, then let them prevail under the microscope of rational, scientific scrutiny.

    The outing of Harold Camping and his narrow hermeneutic is a clear lesson that to place faith in a prophet’s rendition of reality is not only misguided but dangerous. And who controls the interpretation of the Word of God, if we must subordinate our reason to it: you?, Prof Kent?, Shane?, Bob?, Wes?, Eddie? conservative Adventists?, progressive Adventists?, Catholics?, Jews? Baptists? Mega churches? etc?

    It is exactly this conundrum that our good Dr. Pitman is trying to resolve through empirically validated science. Dr. Kime, help me out here, is this perhaps the ‘something something’ big that is going to pull Adventisn up by its ontological boot straps?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken: “..is this the something … that is going to pull Adventism up by its ontological boot straps?” “Dr. Kime, help me out here.”

      Sure, friend, I’m here for you, at least until this bloggernaut steams on by and swamps me.

      But Adventism’s problem isn’t that it is sunk in an ontological swamp up out of which it must pull itself by its own ontological bootstraps, or by some kind of life saver, ontological or Wrigley’s mint flavored. Adventism is solid ground. Adventism’s danger is being sucked, or suckered, from its solid ground down into that dismal ontological postmodernist swamp, which is what Dr. Pitman is resisting heart and soul, by heart and soul, by faith and evidence linked and synced.

      Anyway, maybe an American might pull himself up by his own bootstraps into material security but an Adventist cannot by his own petards hoist himself into salvation. He must take hold of God’s hand, as Peter did Christ’s (Matt 14:31), or, hmmmm…, as the State now must bailout all of us (a feat less credible than Matt 14:31).

      WK




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  15. We have some saying that reason can lead us to God. They appeal to their own experience, and to such texts as Romans 1. We have others saying that you can’t trust reason. They cite their own experience, and appeal to such texts as 1 Corinthians 3.

    At least part of the problem has to do with what we call reason. There is something styled reason that starts by refusing to look at holy books, or perhaps even decides that they are wrong. That kind of reason can only lead to effectively atheist conclusions, as it has effective atheism built in from the start. No surprise there. I seriously doubt that this is the kind of reason that Sean recommends.

    There is another kind of reason which tries to make sense of the Bible both in terms of its internal consistency and in terms of its relationship to the rest of the universe, with a constant surrender to the will of God. I think almost all of us would approve this use of reason (I believe this is what EGW was talking about when she used the term “sanctified reason”).

    There is a third use of the term which is intermediate with the other two. It is looking at the universe without asserting that the Bible is either true or false, and trying to determine whether the Bible is more likely than not to be accurate. Here I believe is where the conflict lies.

    I actually agree with Sean that if the first question one asks is, “Is there a God?”, the evidence is at present pretty strong that there is one. We then have to ask “Is the Bible reliable?”. In the not too distant past, the evidence was somewhat more equivocal, although enough to persuade most of us.

    The problem is that it is far too easy for us to slip into reason in the first sense while thinking that we are reasoning (3). The easiest way to do so is to follow the reasoning of others who are using reason (3), while thinking that we are using reason (1). Thus, while agreeing with Sean, I have to be very careful to discourage people from using disguised reason (3). At the same time, I do not want to discourage the use of reason (2) for any reason. 🙂




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    • @Paul Giem:

      Exactly. It is for this reason that I argue that only those who are honestly and sincerely following where their God-given reasoning abilities are leading them will find God. It is easy to fall into the mode of rationalization when it comes to one’s personal desires that one knows are not good. One looks for reasons to justify bad behavior. This isn’t the type of reasoning I’m talking about…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  16. Re Paul’s Quote

    “There is a third use of the term which is intermediate with the other two. It is looking at the universe without asserting that the Bible is either true or false, ”

    Hello Paul

    Thanks for your comments.

    Yours was a useful classification.

    Reason types 1 and 2 come with presuppositions, while 3 doesn’t. That is why I advocate that 3 is the most objective form, the one within science is best suited.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  17. It is quite clear that we need to use reason to function, to live. God made us that way.

    But reason alone cannot always be the determiner of scientific facts; reason has to be mixed with faith or sanctified reason, for there are somethings that reason cannot figure out, although the atheist figures it out by dogmatic statements that uphold his worldview.

    The creationist also figures it out by his biblical worldview. So while we need reason we also need the Bible to lighten up our reasoning process as we seek to interpret data.

    And this type of ‘talk’ is anathema to the evolutionist. He labels it religion and shuts down. You see how it is impossible for the atheist and creationist to dine at the same table?

    The question is, should the creationist rely upon the light of God’s word, or should he rely upon reason alone? Obviously reason alone would lead him to misinterpret the data as we see happening all the time with the secular scientists.

    So for the biblical Christian we must rely upon the light of the Word of God if we are to give the right interpretation of data, regardless of whether Darwinist disagree.

    In evolution text books we have seen that relying upon reason alone has produced some bizarre assertions regarding origins. So we, as Christians, have to chart our path with the help of divine revelation.

    That means, gents and ladies, that while we can sympathize with the Darwinist or agnostic, we really cannot help them! Their mind, like ours, is set.

    Now if God said that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then that means that reasoning without the fear of the Lord (on the question of origins) is not wisdom.

    Also, the Bible says that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God. So then, if we seek to reason something out without the help of God then we are being foolish.

    Now this is taboo to the Darwinist; even foolishness. But you know, the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Greeks.

    So where do we go from here? We SDAs must rely upon the Word of God as we seek reason out the scientific data regardless of the feelings or pronouncements of the Darwinist.

    And therefore we cannot allow any teacher to be a Darwinist and teach our children that they are right and the Bible wrong.

    If they wish to do so then they must resign and work for the Darwinist. And this is exactly what secular scientists do to those teachers among their ranks who mention creation or God. We have seen two examples of this very behaviour in the news this week. Why should we be afraid to do the same?




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  18. Ken, my friend, Camping and Darwinists fall into the same gutter at opposite ends. One misinterprets the biblical data, the other misinterprets the natural or scientific data! You cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater. You cannot dismiss the biblical facts because of those who misuse it, just as you cannot dismiss the facts of nature because of those who misuse it. Abusos non tolit usum: abuse does not invalidate proper use.




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    • @Ron D Henderson:

      The very fact that you’re trying to present arguments to support your perspective shows that you’re trying to appeal to the reasoning abilities of another person in order to support your own perspective, your own particular interpretation, of the Bible as being true or valid. Are you not, therefore, talking about of both sides of your mouth? – using reasoning to support the Bible while claiming that reason is not needed to support the Bible?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  19. Mark Finley’s article is an uncontroversial restatement of basic Adventist doctrine. It is unfortunate that church leaders have to keep reiterating basic doctrines, but they do. One only has to peruse Spectrum and Atoday to see that there are many who call themselves Adventists, but reject the basic doctrines and want the church to adopt different doctrines. It thus continues to be necessary to point out the impossibility of compromise on such issues as creation.




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  20. David Read: Mark Finley’s article is an uncontroversial restatement of basic Adventist doctrine. It is unfortunate that church leaders have to keep reiterating basic doctrines, but they do. One only has to peruse Spectrum and Atoday to see that there are many who call themselves Adventists, but reject the basic doctrines and want the church to adopt different doctrines. It thus continues to be necessary to point out the impossibility of compromise on such issues as creation.

    I agree with you completely Dave. However, it is not only Spectrum and AT which are “guilty” of rejection of some of our basic SDA doctrines.

    This type of “ecumenicalism” “big tent” and similar philosophy where anything goes is the mantra is not rare in our denomination, mostly seen in California and a few places in “academia.”




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  21. Ken: An honest query: why do honest and sincere people belief different things if being influenced by a universal Holy Spirit? Is it because of the lens through which we receive same?

    We all have free will. We all have bias and we all have a sinful nature that makes wrong choices.

    That is true no matter if the person making some observation about the bible or nature is a christian or not.

    The balancing factors against that are reason, faith and the Holy Spirit. To the extent that we are able to apply a certain level of reason to a given problem AND to the extent that we choose to allow our reason to be guided less by our sinfulnature and more by the Holy Spirit and faith – we come to more accurate conclusions.

    In John 16:8 we are told that the Holy Spirit “convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” and in vs 13 we are told that He guides into all truth.

    in John 12:32 Jesus said that He draws all mankind to Himself.

    Thus this balancing effect of God himself is active for every human being even if they do not know God or have never read the Bible.

    (God exists whether someone chooses to read the Bible or not).

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  22. Sean Pitman: @Ron D Henderson:
    The very fact that you’re trying to present arguments to support your perspective shows that you’re trying to appeal to the reasoning abilities of another person in order to support your own perspective, your own particular interpretation, of the Bible as being true or valid. Are you not, therefore, talking out of both sides of your mouth? – using reasoning to support the Bible while claiming that reason is not needed to support the Bible?

    Wow…give us all a break, Sean.




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  23. Re Bob’s Quote

    “Thus this balancing effect of God himself is active for every human being even if they do not know God or have never read the Bible.”

    Hi Bob

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    I sincerely hope that is true.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  24. Ken,

    Thanks for your vote of confidence.

    I think that one point may be fairly made. If we use reason (3) and come to the conclusion that God “is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”, and further come to the conclusion that the Bible is one means that He has to communicate with us, then we are entitled to use reason (2). In fact, it would be foolish not to.

    So the ultimate result of our using reason (3) may not be simply the idealization of reason (3) as the best, but rather reason (3) may (IMO should) lead to reason (2). It’s just that I can’t expect you to start with reason (2) unless you have already conceded, by whatever means, that God and the Bible are trustworthy.

    Yours in Christ,
    Paul




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  25. Bob Henderson,

    I find myself almost agreeing with you. Romans 1:20 seems to indicate that God’s eternal power and Godhood can be seen by the things that are made, so that people who choose to deny those two attributes are not playing fair with the evidence. That is, as I understand it, if one does not use reason (1), the use of reason (3) will inexorably lead to an all-powerful God. One can avoid that conclusion, but only by special pleading.

    That said, there is a lot of special pleading that tries to pass itself off as reason (3), and I agree that we should avoid it. I also agree that “The creationist also figures it out by his biblical worldview. So while we need reason we also need the Bible to lighten up our reasoning process as we seek to interpret data.”

    I also agree that “And therefore we cannot allow any teacher to be a Darwinist and teach our children that they are right and the Bible wrong.” I am not advocating firing teachers for their beliefs, although I do believe that such inquiries are appropriate for new teachers. But I strongly believe that any teacher that belittles Adventist beliefs or those holding them has no place in an Adventist institution.

    Some may argue that only those fully committed to all Adventist beliefs should be allowed to teach. For new hires, I would agree. For older hires, it is more complicated. How much doubt should any teacher be allowed to have on any doctrine before he quits or is fired? Do we allow for redemption for teachers? I also agree that it cannot be simply left up to the teacher alone, as it is evident that some who are willing to call the traditional Adventist position “the lunatic fringe” and yet seem to have no compunctions about being paid by “the lunatic fringe”. So self-discipline is not the total answer.

    But for those who think we are probably wrong, but are still willing to be respectful, I think our best course is to work with them, while still warning those who might take their classes what they are getting into.

    In other words, the line in the sand should be work output, integrity and consideration, not heresy.

    I speak as one who knows something of internal problems with various places, including the GRI in the past.




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  26. Paul, your second post in particular was very sensible. I wish that others could understand the La Sierra situation, and what constitutes reasonable expectations of employees, the same way you do. Well stated.




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  27. Sean Pitman. The Bible makes it quite clear that no man with all the reasoning skills he has can find out God (Job 17:7; Ps. 132:5, Ec. 3:11, 8:17; Rom. 11:33).

    However, I believe that Sean is arguing from an angle, a perspective, that I believe is quite unnecessary. I say this because we all know and understand that everyone is given reasoning ability from birth. This is part and parcel of the human composition, somewhat like animals as well; so, the type of discussion here on reason for us Christians is actually uncalled for.

    Uncalled for because, and again I say, we all believe that God gave man the mind with its reasoning ability; none should deny this. If this is what Sean means then we are in the same boat. However, if Sean thinks that we must rely on reasoning alone to understand nature’s data, then he is quite wrong. That is not possible.

    There has to be the element of faith which the Bible says we must have. Good sincere people read the Bible and still they are infidels or unbelievers. Since none of us was there in the beginning to know how God performed his mighty works of creation, we must believe by sanctified reasoning and faith that the Bible is correct.

    The atheist cannot do this because he dismisses God out rightly. We Christians do not dismiss God simply because we chose to believe the Word of God found in the Bible. And while we arrive at this conclusion and decision via our reasoning ability, we recognize that our ability to reason out correctly the works of God is severely limited and we must resort to faith as well.

    And of course we resort to faith not blindly, but due to our prior reasoning experience with God as we experience Him in humanity, and through the written Word. So when the Good Book says that no man can find out God unto perfection, and that His ways are past finding out, it means that our reasoning ability is limited, due to sin. And even without sin we still cannot find out God completely because he is Creator and we the created. If we were able to find out God completely we would be His equal. And we are certainly not. So we are only pitting ourselves against ourselves when we discuss ‘reason’ the way we do.

    To understand ‘reason’ properly we must have the God insight. Without that we become slaves to reason as some ancients had become, and as the modern non Christian scientists is today.

    The real issue we should all be united on is that we cannot have teachers in our institutions teaching science from an evolutionary perspective, teaching that the Bible is wrong, and that it is ‘religion’ and does not belong in the science class room!! We are not evolutionists, we are creationists!

    And we expect our institutions to teach from that perspective. Failure to do so should incur strong measures like removal of the teachers. This is exactly what the secular world does in order to maintain a pure strain of evolution. Why should we Christians settle for any less?

    It’s time we give them an ultimatum. Stop or go! And if the whole institution wishes to be contrary, or remain defiant, then we sell out and leave them to themselves. This is not hatred or dogma; it is simply upholding our biblical beliefs that we have chosen to accept.




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  28. Correction on the texts in my previous post. That should be Job 11:7 and Ps. 132:5 should be removed. Thankfully I could reason that one out!




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  29. Ron D Henderson: And of course we resort to faith not blindly, but due to our prior reasoning experience with God as we experience Him in humanity, and through the written Word. So when the Good Book says that no man can find out God unto perfection, and that His ways are past finding out, it means that our reasoning ability is limited, due to sin. And even without sin we still cannot find out God completely because he is Creator and we the created. If we were able to find out God completely we would be His equal. And we are certainly not. So we are only pitting ourselves against ourselves when we discuss ‘reason’ the way we do.

    Beautiful. Nicely articulated.




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  30. Re Paul’s Quotes

    “There is a third use of the term which is intermediate with the other two. It is looking at the universe without asserting that the Bible is either true or false, and trying to determine whether the Bible is more likely than not to be accurate. Here I believe is where the conflict lies.”

    “I think that one point may be fairly made. If we use reason (3) and come to the conclusion that God “is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”, and further come to the conclusion that the Bible is one means that He has to communicate with us, then we are entitled to use reason (2). In fact, it would be foolish not to.

    “So the ultimate result of our using reason (3) may not be simply the idealization of reason (3) as the best, but rather reason (3) may (IMO should) lead to reason (2). It’s just that I can’t expect you to start with reason (2) unless you have already conceded, by whatever means, that God and the Bible are trustworthy.”

    Hello Paul

    I’m enjoying your comments and your logic.

    Reason 3 can lead to Reason 2 and that possibility should not be ruled out. However, if I may, Reason 3 can also lead down a number of other pathways , based on the questions posed.

    For example, let’s start with the premise of first cause of the universe. Can we, no matter what the source, for sake of argument, agree to call that creation? Perhaps the first question to be asked is, not whether there is a God, but whether we have anthropomorphized creation, to make God a comprehensible concept?

    In order to answer this shouldn’t we examine all sacred texts to understand man’s historic attempts to define God(s)? It may be that all these texts are approximations of an evolving concept.

    I’ll end with an old standby: What did the dyslexic philosopher ask? Is there a Dog?

    Rough ruff.

    Your, hopefully not dogmatic, agnostic friend
    Ken




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  31. Re Wes’s Quote

    “Adventism’s danger is being sucked, or suckered, from its solid ground down into that dismal ontological postmodernist swamp, which is what Dr. Pitman is resisting heart and soul, by heart and soul, by faith and evidence linked and synced. ”

    Hi Wes

    Definitely, the marginalization of the fundamental position is well under way. If within the GRI, you have scientists that don’t support a young earth model how can you remotely expect the Adventist institutions to do so?

    So what to do? Pound the ole conservative fire and brimstone drum ( Harold Camping tried that) or appeal to faith backed by scientific reason? I think Dr Pitman will be vital in this regard if you don’t want modern Adventist youth to consign YEC/YLC to the anachronistic scrap heap.

    All religions evolve. Schisms happen when charismatic leaders take a faction elsewhere: Martin Luther leaving catholicism, EGW carving out Adventism from Miller’s great disappointment, Desmond Ford challenging the Investigative Judgement, progressive Adventists melding evolution into theology. The ongoing ontological swamp eh?

    When examining beliefs, perspective is important.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @ken: Ken, In the past year or so you and I have spritefully, not spitefully, showered each other with tweaks, one-uppity-manship, even puns. What’s a little riff – not rift – between friends?

      But, seriously, my dear and ever dearer friend, as the year has gone by, especially the last month or so, we both seem to have come upon more serious, more exciting, things to say to each other, in commensurately less flip style. Evolution we can believe in.

      So Ken grins and asks: Ahem, theistic evolution, ours?

      There you go again.

      Carry on, WK




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  32. Ken! I appreciate your point as always; and as always I have a counter to make. This situation in our church is an ongoing episode though out the annals of historical time. Men arise with erroneous views arise and seek to destabilize, subvert, and destroy the very organisation that gave them birth and future. It is not new. Protests are in order, as was Luther’s and the reformers. Your comparison with Camping is actually out of place, however. Certainly he cannot be likened to Behi, and others who have spoken out against the scientific organisation of which they are part. And certainly science will not die due to protests of others-be it good or bad. What you do not know, my friend, is that this church will survive, as will science, simply because God is in charge. The same God which to you at present is but a mist. We speak what we know and have experienced. Soon you will hopefully understand this point!

    Ron.




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  33. Re Ron’s Quote

    “Men arise with erroneous views arise and seek to destabilize, subvert, and destroy the very organisation that gave them birth and future. It is not new. Protests are in order, as was Luther’s and the reformers.”

    Dear Ron

    Always great to hear from you, the man that introduced me to Adventism!

    Pursuant to your quote would you define Jesus a subversive to the Jewish church (organization} of his time?

    I agree with your point. The question is who decides which protests have merit? One man’s Luther is another man’s infidel, right?

    Was EGW the stopping point or only one of may steps along the way to the understanding of faith, of Present Truth? Is Dr. Pitman’s approach the next step along the way for Adventist faith or is he a subversive? Who decides that?

    Actually the answer to this is quite easy. It depends on how many followers the ‘subversive’ gathers. No followers, no movement, no religion. It’s a human equation not a divine one. A lot of followers, like Luther, Joseph Smith, Henry the 8th, EGW, etc. and a new movement or sect is born.

    Like you, Dr. Pitman is strong in belief and faith but you are opposed in some basic principles of that faith: i.e. the relative place of reason. Who’s right? Are either or you? The political issue is who will speak for the majority? Will the church decide this, or will various factions of Adventism simply continue to debate it while factions do what they want?

    I keep hearing the mantra ‘soon’, but it loses steam if things don’t happen within one’s (a prophet’s) lifetime. You know EGW didn’t do herself any favours with the angel’s ‘worms for food’ vision, that didn’t come to fruition within her lifetime. Conditional prophecy euphemism aside, soon should have some tangible meaning. The good thing about Camping was that he is capable of being debunked as the 11th hours passes again and again. Soon he will run out of deadlines, unless he comes up with another after October 21, 2011.

    Will the end of the world come some day? Could happen tomorrow if we are hit by a quaser. Could happen in a few billion years when the sun burns out and collapses. One thing for sure God will have to alter the laws of physics if He wants to reside here forever with the chosen flock. Those are all possibilities.

    In the meantime on a human scale it is important to live a good, happy life without too much fear. Long ago when I faced death, I conquered my fear of it. There is a great liberation of the human spirit in doing so. It makes one’s everyday life meaningful without promise or fear of the future. I think if we all practice Sean’s espoused Royal Law of Love, while making honest inquiries about nature, we’ll be fine.

    Cheers
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  34. Re Wes’s Quote

    “@ken: Ken, In the past year or so you and I have spritefully, not spitefully, showered each other with tweaks, one-uppity-manship, even puns. What’s a little riff – not rift – between friends?

    But, seriously, my dear and ever dearer friend, as the year has gone by, especially the last month or so, we both seem to have come upon more serious, more exciting, things to say to each other, in commensurately less flip style. Evolution we can believe in.

    So Ken grins and asks: Ahem, theistic evolution, ours?

    There you go again. ”

    Dear Wes

    Can I practice onedownmenship by agreeing with you totally on this point? Rather than a blithe ‘evolution’ ( and I did and do enjoy your wit and humour :),) I think we have progressed significantly.

    Wes, I am honoured, without an ounce of irony, flattery or false humility, or negation of agnostic inquiry. I hope we can meet some day.

    In my way, I truly do wish to be of use to all here.

    Sincerely
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  35. Re More reflection on Wes’s Quote

    “But, seriously, my dear and ever dearer friend, as the year has gone by, especially the last month or so, we both seem to have come upon more serious, more exciting, things to say to each other, in commensurately less flip style.”

    Dear Wes

    Being the agnostic that I am, I leave open and ponder the spirit/Spirit that welds the friendship.

    Ken




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    • @ken: Hmmm…. An Open Mind and an Open Door don’t always turn out to be the same thing. The former is too often really closed. See? You got me off on word play, again. But there’s more: “spirit/Spirit that welds the friendship”? I’d say BOTH, in this case (but I’m not praying for you, just bantering, while Sean does the heavy lifting and Jeffery does the heavy breathing.)




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  36. I see, Ken you are getting to know about our church; that is good. Let me say, Ken, I have never had any issue with Sean, barring that discussion on ‘reason.’ I do not know what Sean believes or teaches. I have never had any contact with him that I am aware of. I used to know a Pitman from the West Indies, I believe Grenada, years ago, do not know whether he’s the same person.

    As regards prophecy, since you mentioned EGW and ‘worms of for food,’ there’s something known as ‘conditional’ prophecy where it will be fulfilled at the time delivered if all conditions are met.

    For example, the case with Jonah and Nineveh in the Bible; God told him to tell those Ninevites that they will be destroyed in 40 days due to their wickedness. However, they repented and sought God’s mercy, so he accepted their repentance (that’s mercy) and postponed the destruction. The text brings this point.

    There are other examples in the Bible of conditional prophecy. EGW’s reference you quoted falls in that category; had the brethren rallied to the cause and sought God as they should have done the prophecy would no doubt have been fulfilled.

    The thing about the church, ours, is that we follow biblical teachings that as an organisation we have written down. When anyone strays from this then we take measures, as any other organisation, atheists, secular, or religious, does and is entitled to do. Our church does not morph or change to please anyone who might have some ‘bright’ ideas.

    However, we do believe that, and have experienced, individuals arise and seek to change the structure and beliefs of the church; Desmond Ford is one you mentioned.

    How do we know whether they are right or wrong, you ask? We test them by the biblical beliefs which the body of believers have agreed upon and have written down. Is it a matter of interpretation? Well, regardless, we subscribe to the interpretation that the body of believers as an organization hold in common. We believe that this is the biblical approach to take concerning ‘new light.’

    Of course we also believe that ‘new light’ is in order and can be accepted by the organisation. However, we do that by having the appropriate groups study the issue, communicate with the rest of the organisation, and if they all agree, then we vote that practice or belief into our system of beliefs at the appropriate time when the church meets in plenary sessions.

    We are also aware that along the road of any organisation apostasy, rebellion, or disenchantment does arise. We have experienced, and are experiencing this in the church.

    But we believe that God will guide the church through to the end, so we encourage members to stay on board in spite of the rebellion or apostasy of others. Hope this sheds some further light for you.

    Everyone is free to believe whatever he or she wishes. However, if you join a body of believers, and are baptised, you are bound to continue in the beliefs you have previously ascribed to.

    You may have other thoughts, that’s fine; but if you teach these, and they are opposed to what the church believes and teaches, then you create an obstacle that in the end will destroy your membership if you persist in teaching and promoting those beliefs.

    Again, this is the normal procedure for dealing with people who try to turn their church, their organisation, their club, or whatever entity, unto another path or direction. This procedure of dealing with such individuals is a biblical injunction.

    Cheers my friend,

    Ron.




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  37. ken: I keep hearing the mantra ‘soon’, but it loses steam if things don’t happen within one’s (a prophet’s) lifetime. You know EGW didn’t do herself any favours with the angel’s ‘worms for food’ vision, that didn’t come to fruition within her lifetime. Conditional prophecy euphemism aside, soon should have some tangible meaning.

    How reasonable is it to set the solution aside and then ask for a solution?

    When Jonah said “40 days and Nineveh will be destroyed” — if you set “conditional prophecy aside” then how soon was 40 days?

    It does not make sense to do that – or did I miss something? 😉

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  38. Re Ron’s Quote

    “Of course we also believe that ‘new light’ is in order and can be accepted by the organisation. However, we do that by having the appropriate groups study the issue, communicate with the rest of the organisation, and if they all agree, then we vote that practice or belief into our system of beliefs at the appropriate time when the church meets in plenary sessions.”

    Hi Ron

    That was a fine response.

    I endorse your church being a democratic institution when it comes to change in doctrine. Those of you that are standing up for the FB 28 have every right to do so, until they are democratically changed.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken: Ken, re. yours of May 31, 15 12:42 pm: … those standing up for FB28 have every right to do so…until they [presumably the FBs, not the communicants, although either could be changed in a twinkling of any eye] are democratically changed.”

      FB28? What’s that? You probably know better than I. Genesis 1 I can quote; FB28 I can’t. And won’t bother to check. I couldn’t even tell you where to find those FBs. I read what you say more assiduously than the FBs. (What’s FB? FaceBook?)

      In the first place I think you’ve got Adventism wrong, or at least Adventism as I know it. Well, maybe you haven’t, the postmodernist kind anyway. I’m pre-catechistic, ergo prehistoric, alas. I’m that old.

      FB28 or whatever it is, if it WERE changed, democratically or otherwise, dramatically or creepingly, by evolution or edict, even if expunged and expurgated in the interest of big-tent accord, which seemed on the verge of happening pre-T. Wilson, and may yet, I wouldn’t even know it until I saw it here. You’d know before I would.

      With or without and despite FB28 or whatever, or EduTruth, I’d still honor Genesis 1. I’d honor it, A, by faith, because the Bible, i.e. God, says so. A validated faith validated by B, The evidence, good scientific falsifiable evidence. And C, the consummate cosmic multi-vectored syllogism. Everything fits.

      Seriously, though, discussion has to start somewhere and be referenced by something, for convenience if not citizenship. But I’d prefer to start, if granted “every right,” with Genesis 1, at the beginning.




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  39. The “why it matters” discussion in the article above makes it clear that we need to take action.

    The statements Darwin himself makes on this subject – leave us with no excuse at all for supposing that evolutionism can be married to Bible based Christianity.

    Dawkins, Provine and Meyer all agree.

    And as it turns out – so also does 3SG 90-94 agree with that point.

    in Christ,

    Bbo




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  40. Re Bob’s Quote

    “It does not make sense to do that – or did I miss something? ;)”

    Hi Bob

    Actually I agree with you on that. Like Adventists, I think it would be foolhardy to predict a specific date for the end of the world.

    My point is grammatical. I would suggest substituting ‘sometime’ for ‘soon’ to give more credence to the warning. Soon for most people has an imminent connotation, not something beyond someone’s natural lifetime.

    I hope that helps to clarify my point.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  41. Certainly “40 days” is soon in the case of Jonah.

    And as it turns out – in the 1890’s Ellen White stated that the “soon” of her earlier predictions had already passed and she even discusses the present situation not very unlike Israel wandering 40 years in the desert when first released from Egypt.

    So by her own statements the much predicted “soon event” did not happen – and the same can be said for Jonah.

    Which gets us to the “conditional prophecy” (Jer 18) aside comment.

    How do you set aside the very detail that explains both the Jonah event and the wandering in the wilderness for 40 years?

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  42. Dear Wes

    I understand: in the end faith is paramount. If only all faith was the same humans would not be obliged to examine it.

    From what you have told me I think your big tent faith moment came when you were about 10 years old? That’s an impressionable age for a young lad. Has the ontological die been cast ever since?

    In fairness my agnostic one was cast early as I have always asked why people believe what they do.
    Your agnostic friend




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  43. Re Bob’s Quote

    “How do you set aside the very detail that explains both the Jonah event and the wandering in the wilderness for 40 years?’

    When writing history hindsight is 20/20. 🙂

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  44. Re Wes’s Quote

    “But I’d prefer to start, if granted “every right,” with Genesis 1, at the beginning.”

    Hi Wes

    I like the phrase: ‘In the beginning’ Start at the start and work forward in time. In the beginning there was God, or a singularity without time or dimension- maybe just a nondescript euphemism for God, first cause, or the latest cause, what?

    Now when it comes to words about god(s), which words were in the beginning: the Enuma Elish, interesting written on seven tablets, or Genesis? That old lucky number keeps cropping up doesn’t it.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  45. Well only God explains the 7 day week, the existence of a massively complex living planet in the midst of our otherwise dead-planet solar system, and of course Daniel’s miraculous prediction of world history for over 2000 years in Dan 2, 7, 8, 9 etc.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  46. Ken: Now when it comes to words about god(s), which words were in the beginning: the Enuma Elish, interesting written on seven tablets, or Genesis? That old lucky number keeps cropping up doesn’t it.

    As someone pointed out to me recently – the FIRST questioon to be decided is “do you think rocks, gas some liguids and an energy source will eventually (over a long long long — did I say “long” already? — period of time) come up with “brain tissue” capable of sentient thought”.

    Those who embrace “birds come from reptiles” fictions may be inclined to accept that extreme form of storytelling.

    But let’s say for example that you are someone who is not able to suspend their disbelief to such an extreme extent and so you conclude that in fact God “created” life on earth.

    Then as you point out above “which god”?

    Having decided that “God did it” – which religion?

    If you go down the path of “least risk” when it comes to the major religions of the world (Budhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish) then the Jewish account of the Gospels is your best start. Muslims, Hindus and Budhists will all affirm the ministry of Christ. So accepting the Christian text “as the minimal start” point is where any suddenly-theist individual might logically “start” their search. None of the major world religions view the gospel of Jesus as something to be rejected, even though it is a Jewish account, about a Jewish Messiah.

    in Christ,

    Bob




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  47. Dr. Leonard Brand of Loma Linda University has published an interesting perspective on science and faith at Spectrum (http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2011/08/16/insights-hindsight-resolving-seeming-conflicts-science-and-scripture).

    Of course, he (along with virtually every SDA scientist in the Church) acknowledges the many conflicts between science and religion that remain to be resolved. Many here do not appreciate this perspective.




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