Adventist Education–at the crossroads?

Educate Truth shares the following article from Adventist Today as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Educate Truth.

By Jan Long

Jan Long

Recently the President and Board Chair of La Sierra University (LSU) issued a joint letter entitled, An Open Letter Regarding the Teaching of Creation. A copy of this letter published in Adventist Today raises intriguing questions regarding the future of Adventist higher education. Although the LSU letter was the specific trigger for thinking about this, it is clear that it has broad implication for the entire Adventist educational enterprise.

In the concluding paragraph of this letter, it states that “La Sierra University is committed to being an institution that does not just present the Church’s view of creation, but fully supports it.” Although some may be uncomfortable with this statement, in view of the current language of Fundamental Belief #6 (FB) pertaining to creation — a very general statement that affirms God as creator — most will likely read this as a reasonable and non-controversial affirmation. In short, LSU is merely giving assent to a faith statement that is not scientifically testable—but certainly is not a statement that is in opposition to science.

As most readers are no doubt aware, some leading Church officials are proposing to insert language into FB #6—something on the order of the earth, or at least life on our planet, being created in six literal, contiguous, 24-hour days, some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.[1] What some may view as innocent verbiage would instantly transform the Church into an anti-scientific institution for the simple fact that there is an overwhelming amount of compelling physical evidence that such prospective language is inappropriate. (Read more)

Related articles:

1. A little-known history about Belief 6
2. Rewrite of fundamental belief 6 voted by NCC
3. A historical review of the creation debate among SDAs

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84 thoughts on “Adventist Education–at the crossroads?

  1. You assume that popular mainstream science is actually the best available scientific interpretation of the empirical evidence in hand. I propose to you that mainstream “science” is based more on philosophy than actual science when it comes to the question of origins. In my opinion, after extensive study of this topic, there is in fact a great deal of evidence, even the weight of evidence, favoring the Biblical perspective of a literal 6-day creation week that took place within recent history as the beginning for all life on this planet.

    Beyond this, your claim that a literal reading of the Genesis account would necessitate or require that the entire visible universe was created in six literal days a few thousand years ago is simply not true.

    The phrase, “he made the stars also” does not require that God created the stars ex nihilo on the fourth day of creation. Some creationists have held that the entire universe, or at least the visible portion, was created on the fourth day. The text permits this reading, but does not require it. “The stars also” is merely a parenthetical phrase in which God is identified as the creator of the stars without identifying when this was accomplished. The text appears to permit the interpretation that the stars were already in existence, perhaps with planets inhabited by other created intelligences.

    For example, Clyde Webster, former associate director of the Geo-Science Research Institute, in his book The Earth writes, “There is no reference in Scripture within creation week that addresses the creation of water or the mineral content of dry land. . . . The only reference made to their creation is ‘in the beginning.’ It seems possible then that the elementary inorganic matter is not bound by a limited age as is the living matter.”

    Early Adventist pioneers also seemed to favor this view. M. C. Wilcox, in 1898 wrote, “When did God create, or bring into existence, the heaven and the earth? ‘In the beginning.’ When this ‘beginning’ was, how long a period it covered, it is idle to conjecture; for it is not revealed. That it was a period which antedated the six days’ work is evident.”

    More recently, at the 2002 General Conference-sponsored Faith and Science Conference, Richard Davidson from Andrews University stated that “[T]he biblical text of Genesis 1 leaves room for either (a) young pre-fossil rock, created as part of the seven days of creation (with apparent old age), or (b) much older pre-fossil earth rock, with a long interval between the creation of the inanimate ‘raw materials’ on earth described in Genesis 1:1,2 and the seven days of Creation week described in Genesis 1:3ff (which I find the preferable interpretation).”

    After all, the Bible itself indicates the pre-existence of the universe before the creation of this planet to a state that could support life. For example, consider that the author of Job claims that the sons of God sang together and that the angels shouted for joy at the creation of our world (Job 38:7). Mrs. White also tells us that the angels and other intelligences on other planets pre-existed the creation of our planet and that our creation had something to do with the jealousy that began in the heart of Lucifer. So, what do such Biblical claims indicate about the pre-existence of the universe? Where did the angels and sons of God live?

    In short, I think you misinterpret both the available empirical data with regard to scientific conclusions of the age and evolution of life on this planet as well as the Genesis account of origins with regard to the special creative modification of this planet vs. the potential age of the universe and the basic materials or building blocks of this planet.

    Because of this, and because of the ardent efforts of many to take advantage of the less restrictive language of FB#6 as it currently stands (language that was originally proposed by theistic evolutionists Fritz Guy and Lawrence Geraty), more definitive language is obviously needed in order to make clear the SDA Church’s fundamental position on a literal 6-day creation week. After all, this position is not just the historical position of the SDA Church, it is the position on which the very name Seventh-day Adventist is based.

    Those who think this position outdated or even directly anti-scientific and irrational are certainly welcome to such opinions. However, such individuals should not expect to be paid to undermine this very clear position of the SDA Church on the Church’s dime.

    Sean Pitman, M.D.

    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  2. Dear Sean

    These posts are getting to the crux of the issue and the future of Adventist scientific education is at stake.

    As an agnostic observer, irrespective of empirical evidence, it is apparent there is a wide variety of Adventist opinion regarding the interpretation of Genesis. What does this mean when intelligent minds of the same faith differ? Is there one correct view? Does one rely on a prophet, church consensus or authoritarian statements, or the buttress of empirical evidence? If Present Truth is a moving target based upon scientific discovery can there ever be a definitive, specific FB#6 or should it remain a more general faith statement?

    As I’ve oft stated I think your attempt to prove up recent 6 day creation with science is laudable. But must every SDA scientist hold to the same interpretation of Genesis, or is there room for legitimate debate under the SDA tent, as Dr. Kime likens it.

    Why accept biblical creation or evolution as a fait accompli? Why not continue to look at all the empirical data with an open mind and explore all the possibilities, including intelligent design?

    Remember, I am not a progressive adventist or a theistic evolutionist. i think these categories are human progressions trying to rationalize faith with present empirical knowledge. That’s OK because it is human nature to theorize to rationalize, then to challenge those theories as knowledge advances.

    You see Sean, the reason you are feared is that you you dare to stand behind your science to prove a proposition of faith rather rely on the interpretation of a text. You dare to challenge Sola Scriptura and ‘thus saith the lord” to empirically prove the case for FB#6. Admirable. Ironically, although perhaps you skirt some of these accepted adventist doctrines, you argue that SDA scientists that challenge the science behind 6 day recent biological creation should be purged. This is and will continue to be problematic for you as essentially you are creating a Pitman pocket within the orthodox robe. Sociologically this happens in all religions. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation.

    For those that are unduly critical of Educate Truth I point out the courage it takes to post and debate contrary positions as those of Dr. Taylor and Jan Long. Good work continues to be done here.

    Respectfully
    your agnostic friend
    Ken




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    • @Ken:
      Hi Ken,

      You wrote:

      You see Sean, the reason you are feared is that you you dare to stand behind your science to prove a proposition of faith rather rely on the interpretation of a text. You dare to challenge Sola Scriptura and ‘thus saith the lord” to empirically prove the case for FB#6. Admirable. Ironically, although perhaps you skirt some of these accepted adventist doctrines, you argue that SDA scientists that challenge the science behind 6 day recent biological creation should be purged. This is and will continue to be problematic for you as essentially you are creating a Pitman pocket within the orthodox robe. Sociologically this happens in all religions. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation.

      The SDA Church does not and never has promoted faith based on a compete lack of empirical evidence. The SDA Church has always held to a position of “Present Truth” based on the “weight of evidence” that is currently available.

      The phrase, “Sola Scriptura” does not mean that we, as a Church, believe in the Divine origin and authority of the Bible without reason – based only on the internal claims of the Bible alone. That’s not true at all. We believe in “Sola Scriptura” because nothing else has shown itself to compare with the Bible when it comes to providing clear evidence, empirical evidence that appeals to the rational candid mind, of the Divine hand in its origin and preservation through time.

      So, you see, I’m not at odds with the organized SDA Church in my efforts to promote the empirical basis for faith in the doctrinal positions of the Church. The Christian faith need not be an irrational faith that is opposed to any and all empirical evidences.

      God is the origin of reason and scientific inquiry and I do not think that he gave these abilities to us in order for us to then forgo their use when it comes to studying and learning about Him.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  3. Ken is to be congratulated for making an observation which I can’t recall anyone else has done.

    He said “You see Sean . . . you dare to stand behind your science to prove a proposition of faith rather rely on the interpretation of a text. You dare to challenge Sola Scriptura and ‘thus saith the lord” to empirically prove the case for FB#6.”

    These are one of these statements which, when one reads it, you think to yourself. “Of course, this is absolutely correct!. Why didn’t I see that before?.” But no one else did and Ken has put his finger on an important point, if anyone cares to try to understand what motivates Sean and his fellow travelers to do and say the things he and they do.

    I know, I know, why should we care? Because, in my view, the opinions they express represent one of the reasons (there are many) why Adventism has taken so long to mature—even in the First World).




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    • @Ervin Taylor:

      Hi Erv,

      You wrote:

      I know, I know, why should we care? Because, in my view, the opinions they express represent one of the reasons (there are many) why Adventism has taken so long to mature—even in the First World).

      I suppose someone is only “mature” if they go along with everything mainstream popular science says? – as if mainstream scientists hasve become the new priests of a new religion?

      It seems to me that mainstream science is becoming more and more atheistic as time goes on. Yet, you yourself claim to believe in a God – a Christian-style God no less. Is this not a form of immaturity on your part? – since this notion goes against what most consider to be mainstream science and rational thought? After all, even you’ve admitted that you wouldn’t know what to tell your own granddaughter if she asked you for evidence of God’s existence…

      In any case, I’m just asking why some of us are immature for questioning mainstream scientists while others aren’t? I guess it all depends upon which aspect of mainstream science is being questioned?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com

      P.S. I take it you weren’t able to find anyone to discuss the topic of creation vs. evolution with me live in public forum? – not even yourself?




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  4. Please comment on content. -Web Editor

    All I can say is, “What a mess the church has created by refusing to discipline evil and allow any and all teaching in the corporate church. All in the name of pluralism.”

    Bill Sorensen




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  5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

    – Proverbs 3:5-6




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  6. Dear Prof Kent

    Thanks for your reference to Proverbs.

    Let’s say as an agnostic I am being wooed by both you and Sean, by Catholics, by baptists, by Anglicans, etc. to “trust in the Lord” . Whose understanding of the Lord do I trust in? And perhaps more importantly why?

    Please forgive my ignorance, but when I went to Sunday school, I was taught that Jesus was a kind, tolerant, loving, being. Even though I am not a Christian Christ has served as an ideal persona that has greatly influenced my outlook on life. The irony is when those of far greater faith and Christian knowledge than me, within their own faith, attack each other vehemently to be right on their interpretation of the Lord, whether the message is lost.

    No doubt, from a Christian perspective, and certainly an SDA one I am a lost soul and likely have no right to comment on yee of great faith. But it does give me a neutral, perhaps creative vantage point to view proceediings. And as I tried to imagine how a creator/ God would think about this hair splitting exercise to interpret FB#6, with wails of heresy and intellectual chest pounding, I started to laugh. Because I suddenly had this image of a God scratching his head and saying What Have I Wrought? Let Them Have A Little Bite Of The Forbidden Apple Of Knowledge And Everybody Thinks They Know The End Game!

    Now, maybe I was a poor student of Jesus and didn’t get the message right. But it seems to this heretic that just like Sean’s espoused Royal Law of Love, just like the Beatles sang: All You Need Is Love.

    As always thank you all for your indulgence.

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  7. With regard to FB #6, why can’t we let the Bible simply speak for itself (Sola Scriptura)? Inserting interpretations as dogma, such as “literal” and xxxx “years ago,” seems more suitable for a church attempting to stage an inquisition.




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  8. I’m reaching the conclusion that most SDAs pay only lip service to Sola Scripture. I always recognized that many equated Ms. White with scripture (and I would say some put her above it), but I had no idea how well established the idea was that the Bible is subservient to science and human reason. I assume from the silence here that SDA luminaries who have often contributed here, such as Art Chadwick, David Read, Bob Ryan, Ariel Roth, Pastor Kevin Paulson, Pastor Rich Constantinescu, Inge Anderson, Jason Shives, and others are comfortable with Sean Pitman’s version of scientific theology. I’m shocked.

    Seems to me we have forgotten who the creature is and who the Creator is.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      SDA’s hold to “Sola Scriptura” because only the Bible has shown itself to be credible and reliable as the “Word of God” after extensive testing. In no way, now or in the past, do SDA’s promote the idea that faith is blind to empirical evidence or that the Christian faith in the Bible (the SDA interpretation of the Bible in particular) is inherently irrational – devoid of any dependence upon rational thought or empirical evidence. It is because of the “weight of evidence” and continued testing over time that the Bible has established itself to the candid mind as the Word of God. This is the “Present Truth” upon which the SDA Church is based.

      In the words of early reformers and Mrs. White herself, “The Bible is an anvil that has warn out many hammers.”

      It is because the Bible has been so tried and tested against empirical reality that it has shown itself to be so trustworthy compared to all others who claim to be “The Word of God”. There simply is no comparison at this point. The Bible stands alone, among all contenders, as clearly being the Word of God.

      Sola Scriptura…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  9. And…if we are to come up with empirical evidence that contradicts Scripture, what then? You have stated that you would abandon your belief in God. Is that your recommendation for others?




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  10. Sean Pitman ===>

    You assume that popular mainstream science is actually the best available scientific interpretation of the empirical evidence in hand. I propose to you that mainstream “science” is based more on philosophy than actual science when it comes to the question of origins.

    _____

    Sean, we have no guarantee that science has correctly interpreted all data. In fact we can assume that as Thomas Kuhn has shown, it is likely that there will be future paradigm shifts. Because of this reality, some, such as yourself apparent dismiss or diminish the scientific enterprise.

    But fleeing to the refuge of revelation may not be the complete answer either. We know, for example, that Jesus introduced his own paradigm shift. It was a radical departure from business as usual. I must ask, what theological paradigms shifts await us—or do we have all the truth? At the very least we know that with the proliferation of theological interpretations in just about every area of thought, we should use extreme caution in arriving at categorical conclusions on most theological matters.

    The point of my article was to articulate that there is a current scientific paradigm in place and any educational system that wishes to remain credible must educate students in that paradigm irrespective of those forces within the Church that may oppose that scientific paradigm. Furthermore, I don’t believe a university can remain credible if it teaches the reigning scientific paradigm, but pledges allegiance to a hypothetical anti-scientific position. That is the reason for the wisdom of maintaining the current FB #6—what ever its shortcomings, at least it is not anti-scientific.




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    • @Jan Long:

      Sean, we have no guarantee that science has correctly interpreted all data. In fact we can assume that as Thomas Kuhn has shown, it is likely that there will be future paradigm shifts. Because of this reality, some, such as yourself apparent dismiss or diminish the scientific enterprise.

      I’m not sure how what I actually wrote in response to your article suggested to you that I’m trying to diminish the scientific enterprise? That’s hardly my position since I’m a very strong believer in scientific methodologies and basic rules of logic and empirical testing, with at least the potential for falsification, to help us humans approach truth in all aspects of our lives.

      I’m also a fan of many of the ideas of Thomas Kuhn, believing that all of our efforts, scientific or otherwise, are influences by our various biases since we are inherently subjective creatures.

      The problem with your suggestion that the literal 6-day creation week is “anti-science” is that it isn’t inherently anti-science. It is only opposed to what is currently popular within the scientific community. The minority position in science is not necessary wrong, however. Time and again the majority opinion in science has been replaced by what was once a distinctly minority perspective.

      The fact remains that the historic SDA perspective on origins is supported by a great deal of evidence – I personally believe that it is supported by the significant weight of evidence. Scientific reasoning strongly suggests to me that current popular theories of origins are painfully mistaken. As just one example, the Darwinian mechanism of evolution (RM/NS) is clearly untenable beyond very low levels of functional complexity. There are no examples of evolution in action beyond very very low levels of functional complexity and, if you actually sit down and do a bit of statistical analysis, you will find that higher and higher levels of functional complexity are exponentially harder and harder to achieve in a given span of time. Well before the level of 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues is reached, the evolutionary mechanism completely stalls out this side of trillions upon trillions of years of time.

      The only reason the scientific community doesn’t come out and openly admit such failures to the public is because they know they have nothing else to go on. And, they know the implications of this – i.e., it clearly allows the Divine Foot in the door. That thought scares most mainstream scientists to death.

      But fleeing to the refuge of revelation may not be the complete answer either. We know, for example, that Jesus introduced his own paradigm shift. It was a radical departure from business as usual. I must ask, what theological paradigms shifts await us—or do we have all the truth? At the very least we know that with the proliferation of theological interpretations in just about every area of thought, we should use extreme caution in arriving at categorical conclusions on most theological matters.

      As already noted above, the SDA Church stands on the concept of “Present Truth”. By no means does this suggest that the Church has discovered all Truth. Quite the contrary. The Church, since its inception, has recognized the limited and progressive nature of the human understanding of Truth and progress toward Truth.

      Special or privileged revelation of Truth, as is found in the Scriptures, is quite helpful, but is not independent of empirical evidence. The Divine origin of the Scriptures is confirmed by the natural world, by the currently available empirical evidence. If God exists, He is the Source of both the written Word as well as Nature herself. He is also the Source of science, of the ability to think and reason scientifically about the world in which we live. If all of these share a single Author, they should all agree with each other. Inspiration should not be in conflict with empirical evidence or rational thought. As Mrs. White so eloquently put it:

      God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. – Ellen White, PP, p. 115

      So, you see, true science is not in conflict, or at least should not be in conflict, with a clear reading of Scripture – if in fact Scripture truly has a Divine origin…

      The point of my article was to articulate that there is a current scientific paradigm in place and any educational system that wishes to remain credible must educate students in that paradigm irrespective of those forces within the Church that may oppose that scientific paradigm.

      There are several issues in play here. For one, credibility is in the eye of the beholder. Why would the Church necessarily want to be seen as credible by those who are fundamentally opposed to God and his revealed will? Was Jesus seen or promoted as “credible” by the powers that be in his own day? Should he have altered his teaching to be more in line with what would be seen as credible? See what I’m driving at here?

      Beyond this, I most certainly agree that students in our SDA schools should be very very well informed with regard to the theory of evolution. However, our SDA educational system should go beyond this to also inform our students of the serious weaknesses that are abundant in this theory as well as the weight of evidence that clearly favors the SDA position on origins. You see, our students should know everything that the best of secular education has to offer – and more…

      Furthermore, I don’t believe a university can remain credible if it teaches the reigning scientific paradigm, but pledges allegiance to a hypothetical anti-scientific position. That is the reason for the wisdom of maintaining the current FB #6—what ever its shortcomings, at least it is not anti-scientific.

      You mean you want a statement and official Church position that is not clearly opposed to mainstream evolutionary science – i.e., you want room in the Church for our schools to promote the mainstream idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet, in a Darwinian manner, over the course of hundreds of millions of years.

      You clearly do not understand the fundamental challenge that mainstream evolutionary scientists pose, not only to the SDA faith, but to the rational acceptance of the Christian faith at large. Mainstream evolutionary theory, if true, paints a God who would use such an overtly evil process to create, a process that requires the death and suffering of untold billions and trillions of sentient beings, in a very bad light indeed. Who would want to serve such a God? I certainly wouldn’t.

      I much prefer the God of the Bible – a God who never intended for there to be “Survival of the Fittest”; a God who is actually grieved when a sparrow falls wounded to the ground; a God who is so upset by the current order of things that He came to die to have the right to change it all to how it was originally intended to be – a place where there is no sorry or pain or death for any of his sentient creatures.

      This is the God I believe in and this is the God I still see reflected in His works of nature – even though they have been marred by sin over the course of several thousand years…

      Thanks again for your thoughts, but suggest to you that the SDA Church cannot follow your advice if it wishes to remain viable for more than a couple more generations…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        Sean ===> I’m not sure how what I actually wrote in response to your article suggested to you that I’m trying to diminish the scientific enterprise?

        ______

        I read widely enough, to have some understanding of the approach generally taken by those who hold to a literal reading of Genesis. It usually consists of engaging in pseudo-science and then passing it off as science (by the way, I have not read your work, so I am not alleging that you specifically engage in pseudo-science).

        The way this usually occurs is to take a straightforward explanation of the data that creates a problem for the literalist, and rather than deal with it honestly, the general practice is to come up with a wild scenario that will account for the data that would otherwise says something quite different if the data were just accepted on its own terms at face value. What I have discovered is that with almost all the important scientific data it is necessary for the literalists to play games so as to get it to say what we want it to say. While I don’t know if this describe you I cannot help but notice that you seem to think that a literal 6-day creation week is apparently “scientific.” As you no doubt know, there are virtually no qualified scientists who would concur, outside of a few who superimpose a Genesis literalism onto their operating presuppositions. To me that speaks volumes.

        I start with the premise that God doesn’t lie, and that therefore he doesn’t arrange the data to lead us astray. If the data is consistently telling us the same story, we should probably be very careful about arrogantly ignoring the story it is telling. Perhaps part of the equation worth examining is the assumptions that we bring to our understanding of revelation.

        You mention evolution, which is outside the scope of my article (though I recognize that it will likely get entangled in an FB #6 rewrite). The only point I will make here is that it is possible to posit the reality of evolution on some level without concluding that it is a divine process. See the following link:

        http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2010/12/13/search-common-ground-genesis-thoughts-god-and-evolution




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  11. According to Ellen White:

    God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. – Ellen White, PP, p. 115

    Using her quote, Sean Pitman concluded:

    So, you see, true science is not in conflict, or at least should not be in conflict, with a clear reading of Scripture – if in fact Scripture truly has a Divine origin…

    I think we take too rigid an approach in finding concordance between nature and scripture, as did Ms. White. Today, humans are capable of creating entirely new organisms through manipulation of genes. Obviously, we’ve only touched the surface of what we will learn to do. Satan, by comparison, is light years ahead of us, and may well have tinkered with the evidence of the past we have available to us in the fossil record, genomes, contemporary biogeographic distributions, and more. Claims that “all true science is in harmony with His works,” and that science “brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation,” effectively dismiss any possibility of a biased historical record. Simple hypotheses, for example, relating to phylogeographic change after the global flood may not reflect at all God’s word in Genesis.

    If Ms. White were alive today and had the education that most of our SDA biologists have earned, I don’t believe she would have ever made such authoritative statements. We don’t need to take them so literally. They reflected her understanding of science at the time, not necessarily the verbatim words of God.

    Of course, none of this matters now for Ms. White, but the problem remains for us: who are we going to trust, God’s word or what science (empirical evidence and human reason) informs us? If we prioritize the latter, could it be that we will reject the former when the twain shall part? Sean Pitman has publicly pledged exactly this. What about the rest of us?




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  12. Shane Hilde: @Jan Long: You imply the churches position is “hypothetical” and “anti-science.” Are you saying there are positions that are not hypothetical?

    ____

    hypothetical refers to the possible FB #6 rewrite. Until it happens, its hypothetical.




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  13. Kent, I think when EGW said that science rightly understood doesn’t contradict revealed religion, she was thinking of scientific study of nature, not active tinkering with nature along the lines of genetic engineering.

    That she was aware that tinkering with nature can be a negative application of science can be inferred from her comment that Satan’s ingenious methods of amalgamation introduced tares and noxious weeds into the natural order. See, SM 2, p. 288. Likewise, her comment that the antediluvians’ amalgamation was the one sin above all others that led to the Flood, I believe is another reference to genetic engineering–tinkering with nature in a negative way that God does not approve of. I have written a book-length exploration of that thesis.




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  14. According to Ellen White:

    God is the foundation of everything. All true science is in harmony with His works; all true education leads to obedience to His government. Science opens new wonders to our view; she soars high, and explores new depths; but she brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation. Ignorance may seek to support false views of God by appeals to science, but the book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. – Ellen White, PP, p. 115

    Using her quote, Sean Pitman concluded:

    So, you see, true science is not in conflict, or at least should not be in conflict, with a clear reading of Scripture – if in fact Scripture truly has a Divine origin…

    I think we take too rigid an approach in finding concordance between nature and scripture, as did Ms. White. Today, humans are capable of creating entirely new organisms through manipulation of genes. Obviously, we’ve only touched the surface of what we will learn to do. Satan, by comparison, is light years ahead of us, and may well have tinkered with the evidence of the past we have available to us in the fossil record, genomes, contemporary biogeographic distributions, and more. Claims that “All true science is in harmony with His works,” and that science “brings nothing from her research that conflicts with divine revelation,” effectively dismiss any possibility of a biased historical record. Simple hypotheses, for example, relating to phylogeographic change after the global flood may not reflect at all God’s word in Genesis.

    If Ms. White was alive today and had the education that most of our SDA biologists have earned, I don’t believe she would have ever made such authoritative statements. We don’t need to take them so literally. They reflected her understanding of science at the time, not necessarily the verbatim words of God.

    Of course, none of this matters now for Ms. White, but the problem remains for us: who are we going to trust, God’s word or what science (empirical evidence and human reason) informs us? If we prioritize the latter, could it be that we will reject the former when the twain shall part? Sean Pitman has publicly pledged exactly this. What about the rest of us?




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  15. Dear Sean, Jan Long, Prof Kent, EGW posthumously

    I read all your posts and the quotes from EGW with great interest. Four different opinions that have similarities.

    I’m sure you are all sincere in your well reasoned beliefs but they do differ and all are based on your own interpretation of the Bible. So are you all inspired by the same God, none of you, some of you, or one of you? Or, as
    I as an agnostic suspect, is God and hence it’s manifestation thereof, a subjective human construct that we make according to our individual set of beliefs? Why such a great diversity of opinion when it comes to the understanding of a Creator, hence creation, if everyone is looking at the same empirical data?

    I believe there is an answer. Humans are trying to meld data, best determined by science, to pre conceived notions of a creator, rather than just let the unfolding data unfold. Ironically atheists do the exact same thing.

    Does the very real possibility of Darwinian evolution mean there is no God? No, just one we may not understand or like. It is this notion that you all, very understandably struggle with, and look to faith to ameliorate. The problem is, in doing so you may losing valuable objectivity to view reality neutrally. That is what I think science over time does, independent of the bias of any one individual.

    Respectfully
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  16. Jan Long,

    You wrote:

    I read widely enough, to have some understanding of the approach generally taken by those who hold to a literal reading of Genesis. It usually consists of engaging in pseudo-science and then passing it off as science (by the way, I have not read your work, so I am not alleging that you specifically engage in pseudo-science).

    I’m not saying I agree with many or even most creationist arguments. Many are admittedly very bad indeed and reflect badly on those who hold to the rational validity of a literal understanding of the Genesis account of origins.

    That being said, in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column.

    Of course I’m in the minority here. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or that I’m not really being “scientific” in my thinking.

    Again, scientific methodology isn’t defined by the majority perspective or the majority interpretation of the available data. Some of the greatest scientists in history have held to very unpopular opinions until their views eventually became popular. The work of someone like J Harlen Bretz and his very unpopular theories (for many decades) on the origin of the Scablands of Washington State is a good example of this.

    The way this usually occurs is to take a straightforward explanation of the data that creates a problem for the literalist, and rather than deal with it honestly, the general practice is to come up with a wild scenario that will account for the data that would otherwise says something quite different if the data were just accepted on its own terms at face value.

    And you think that mainstream scientists are immune from this sort of thing? You don’t think that mainstream scientists come up with wild theories and explanations of the data that are rationally untenable? – in an effort to support their unshakable belief in Darwinian-style evolution over billions of years on this planet? – in an effort to support their chosen philosophical or even religious position?

    In this line, consider the comments of Richard Lewontin, a well-known geneticist and one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology:

    We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, 1997), The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.

    You don’t see a strong religious bias there? – a bias that is willing to take clearly untenable positions in order to uphold a strongly desired belief system?

    Consider also the following thoughts from the well-known mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe in this regard:

    “It is quite a shock. From my earliest training as a scientist I was very strongly brainwashed to believe that science cannot be consistent with any kind of deliberate creation. That notion has had to be very painfully shed. I am quite uncomfortable in the situation, the state of mind I now find myself in. But there is no logical way out of it. I now find myself driven to this position by logic. There is no other way in which we can understand the precise ordering of the chemicals of life except to invoke the creations on a cosmic scale. . . . We were hoping as scientists that there would be a way round our conclusion, but there isn’t.

    Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, as quoted in “There Must Be A God,” Daily Express, Aug. 14, 1981 and Hoyle on Evolution, Nature, Nov. 12, 1981, p. 105

    Wickramasinghe used pretty strong language here to describe his scientific training as “brainwashing” when it came to those aspects of intelligent design that are otherwise clearly evident, scientifically, without the philosophical presuppositions of the secular mindset.

    Or, consider the thoughts of well-known Cornell geneticist John C. Sandford:

    Late in my career, I did something which for a Cornell professor would seem unthinkable. I began to question the Primary Axiom [Evolution via random mutations and natural selection]. I did this with great fear and trepidation. By doing this, I knew I would be at odds with the most “sacred cow” of modern academia. Among other things, it might even result in my expulsion from the academic world.

    The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory – in fact it is essentially indefensible. Its apparent invincibility derives mostly from bluster, smoke, and mirrors. A large part of what keeps the Axiom standing is an almost mystical faith, which the true-believers have in the omnipotence of natural selection. Furthermore, I began to see that this deep-seated faith in natural selection was typically coupled with a degree of ideological commitment – which can only be described as religious. I started to realize (again with trepidation) that I might be offending a lot of people’s religion!

    http://www.benabraham.com/html/respected_cornell_geneticist_r.html

    You see, a great deal of religious passion is involved here – from both sides of the equation. Evolutionists are no more immune from religious fervor and bias than are creationists. So, when you categorically side with popular mainstream secular scientists as being the only truly scientific people on the planet, with creationists and those who actually believe what the Bible says as being “anti-science” by definition, you reveal your own bias and distorted view of reality. Reality isn’t as clear cut as this. There are shades of grey. Not everyone, on either side of this issue, is inherently anti-science.

    What I have discovered is that with almost all the important scientific data it is necessary for the literalists to play games so as to get it to say what we want it to say. While I don’t know if this describe you I cannot help but notice that you seem to think that a literal 6-day creation week is apparently “scientific.” As you no doubt know, there are virtually no qualified scientists who would concur, outside of a few who superimpose a Genesis literalism onto their operating presuppositions. To me that speaks volumes.

    How can so many be wrong and so few be right? It is very easy to go with the flow of popular opinion, but such appeals to popular authority really have no explanatory value when it comes to the data itself. Should the majority interpretation be taken seriously? Of course since the majority of intelligent people is often right. However, the majority, even of very intelligent and well-informed people, is not always right or even immune from a very strong collective bias (as noted above). It is therefore unwise of you to categorically categorize creationists as being “anti-science”. You simply make this assumption based on arguments from authority, not any real scientific arguments based on the data itself…

    I start with the premise that God doesn’t lie, and that therefore he doesn’t arrange the data to lead us astray. If the data is consistently telling us the same story, we should probably be very careful about arrogantly ignoring the story it is telling. Perhaps part of the equation worth examining is the assumptions that we bring to our understanding of revelation.

    Again, you assume that the data is in fact telling us a particular story that substantively digresses from what the Bible is clearly telling us. While there is in fact a dramatic and obvious difference between what the Bible says regarding the origin of life on this planet and what mainstream science says, you are mistaken to believe that mainstream scientists are always telling you the most scientifically rational explanation of the data at hand. That assumption, while it may seem likely at first approximation, is not necessarily true. And, in the case of origins, I think it is clearly false.

    You mention evolution, which is outside the scope of my article (though I recognize that it will likely get entangled in an FB #6 rewrite). The only point I will make here is that it is possible to posit the reality of evolution on some level without concluding that it is a divine process.

    Evolutionary theories are inextricably linked with the age of life on this planet. Therefore, you are, by default, talking about modern evolutionary theories. Also, you cannot posit anything that takes place on this planet without concluding that either God made it that way to begin with or that it is somehow an aberrancy or alteration of what God originally intended for life on this planet. Surely you have to admit that the whole mechanism of “Survival of the Fittest” is, by its very nature, a very painful and even an evil process when applied to sentient beings. How can you dismiss the effects of suffering and death on sentient beings as being somehow “Ok” or outside of the realm of Divine origin or processes?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  17. Re Sean’s Quote

    “Surely you have to admit that the whole mechanism of “Survival of the Fittest” is, by its very nature, a very painful and even an evil process when applied to sentient beings. How can you dismiss the effects of suffering and death on sentient beings as being somehow “Ok” or outside of the realm of Divine origin or processes? ”

    Dear Sean

    This is an interesting and relevant point when it comes to biblical creation vs. evolution.

    In a perfect world, where all species procreated and did not die, at what point would the world have become overpopulated? Did God plan for Adam and Eve and their descendants to kill and thus cull populations of animals? Would animals(humans) have aged? If humans aged at what point would this have stopped? Was God’s original plan for sentient beings: humans, elephants, dolphins,etc, to procreate forever without death?

    Likely there is a rational explanation for this but I can’t think of one. Perfection and infinite procreation poses problems pour moi. Please forgive my alliterative conundrum 🙂

    Cheers
    Ken

    Cheers
    Ken




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  18. Sean, you state that, “in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column. Of course I’m in the minority here….” My query to you is, how does this universal recent watery catastrophe square with the 100,000 or so confirmed annual layerings of the Greenland ice sheet? How about the several hundred thousand years of the Antartic ice sheet?

    As to your discussion of the philosophy of science I am well aware of the fact that conclusions can be influenced by presuppositions, yet I don’t find a boogyman in scientific materialism. If not for scientific materialism, we would still assign a role to the gods for all manner of natural phenomenon. I would simply say that scientific materialism has its limits, as does revelation. Wisdom is demonstrated in understanding the limits of each.

    You mention the Cornell geneticist John C. Sandford, and I am familiar with his book on genetic entropy. He proposes some interesting ideas and since I am not a geneticist, I must rely upon the scientific community to assess his argument. To date I have not seen any movement in his direction and that could be telling. That having been said, however, there is currently a clear demarcation between the evolutionary process and the question of origins. Perhaps we can find common ground on this. Since we are so far afield from the thrust of my article, I won’t detail it here, but DNA is an information rich system as you know, and information theory cannot explain, on the basis of random probability, how DNA got its start is the odds appear to be too staggering. The resolution of most of these issue—including evolution—likely resides in a better understanding of DNA. We can anticipate that surprises await science on this front, but it may also hold a few surprises for literalists. In the meantime the Church would be much better served by allowing science to finish its work before it leaps into a place that it quite likely will one day regret.




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  19. Ken: I’m sure you are all sincere in your well reasoned beliefs but they do differ and all are based on your own interpretation of the Bible. So are you all inspired by the same God, none of you, some of you, or one of you? Or, as
    I as an agnostic suspect, is God and hence it’s manifestation thereof, a subjective human construct that we make according to our individual set of beliefs? Why such a great diversity of opinion when it comes to the understanding of a Creator, hence creation, if everyone is looking at the same empirical data?

    I believe there is an answer. Humans are trying to meld data, best determined by science, to pre conceived notions of a creator, rather than just let the unfolding data unfold. Ironically atheists do the exact same thing.

    Does the very real possibility of Darwinian evolution mean there is no God? No, just one we may not understand or like. It is this notion that you all, very understandably struggle with, and look to faith to ameliorate. The problem is, in doing so you may losing valuable objectivity to view reality neutrally. That is what I think science over time does, independent of the bias of any one individual.
    Respectfully
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken

    Ken, I am somewhat sympathetic to some of the thrust of your point. I would submit that God exists subjectively for all theists. God may also exist objectively, and theist must hold to that by faith. However, it is not necessarily an irrational faith. After all, as the physicist, Gerald Schoeder, point out, it is difficult to conceive of the complex order we find in the universe –including a planet within the habitable zone in the solar system, complete with water and air, key ingredient for life, not to mention the 3 billion base pairs of DNA code–all materializing out of the big bang cosmology and all on the basis of a series of random event.




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  20. Dear Jan

    Thank you for your perceptive comments.

    I agree for the rational case for a first cause as humans cannot understand infinity. If we ever do then perhaps we will have a better understanding of the nature of a non personified God, Creator, Designer, First Cause, etc?

    Suppose, as some astrophysicists conjecture, our universe, the big bang, creation, was not the beginning of everything. Suppose our big bang was the result of several sheets colliding together, which process has been going on ad infinitum. Suppose there our universe is only one of a meta universe where physical laws may differ and organic life as we know it may or may not exist? All these theories exist, although I may have roughly poshest them.

    If this kind of meta universe exists what sort of design would that be for sentient beings, for non organic beings?

    Is our human understanding of the God semantic evolving as we science unravels more about the nature of the universe, other universes? Will Adventists think of God in the same way in 10 years?, in 100? Is progressive adventism a natural- pardon the pun- evolution of faith based on scientific advances?

    When I discuss the nature of God with my teenagers I realize they are far more advanced in their thinking than I was at their age. Why? Knowledge and objective inquiry. Perhaps such knowledge is the allegorical ‘ bite of the apple’ , perhaps, but free human inquiry knows no shackles.

    So I ask: why paint all evolutionists as atheists? Why paint all Adventists as pseudo scientists? We use these labels to politicize inquiry, to collect in our intellectual camps for fear of learning from each other. I think Jesus would want otherwise.

    Cheers
    Your agnostic friend Ken




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  21. Dear Dr Pitman

    Upon reading your conversation with Mr Long on Atoday’s SDA Education-Crossroads blog, I found myself having a comment and a question that might be better answered on mail than in the blog format. You mentioned Kuhn’s theory of science, and are therefore aware that paradigm shifts, if Kuhn is correct, are not caused by the prevailing theory having many unexplained and perhaps inexplicable questions but by a rival paradigm answering at least as much of the data including the problem questions in a better way. For example, the first people to adopt Kopernikus astronomy did not do so because Ptelemy’s had many errors but because it was easier to calculate astrology using Kopernicus method. Having that in mind, I wonder why the best that critics of modern biology seem able to do is to find fault with it. In the botany systematics lab where I work/study, it really makes no difference had the current theory of evolution had twise as many errors or faults, for there does not as far as I know exist a competing model which could be used analyse the data. Neither “your model is wrong because…” nor “God made it…” is at all helpful for daily science work.

    Considering this, it frustrates me to read what you (and others at other times) wrote:

    “The fact remains that the historic SDA perspective on origins is supported by a great deal of evidence – I personally believe that it is supported by the significant weight of evidence. Scientific reasoning strongly suggests to me that current popular theories of origins are painfully mistaken. As just one example, the Darwinian mechanism of evolution (RM/NS) is clearly untenable beyond very low levels of functional complexity. There are no examples of evolution in action beyond very very low levels of functional complexity and, if you actually sit down and do a bit of statistical analysis, you will find that higher and higher levels of functional complexity are exponentially harder and harder to achieve in a given span of time.”

    You begin by stating that the historic SDA perspective on origins is supported, but you never get into detail on what evidence this is, let alone what the SDA perspective on origins looks like on a scientifically operative level. Suppose you were to write a paper using sequences from 5 different loci including nuclear genes from 10 different primate species, what does the model based on the SDA perspective on origins that your analysis method is based upon look like? What kind of analysis will you be using and how do they treat the core data? Does such a working model even exist?

    Could it be that the great deal of evidence which you mention only operates on your second sentence, namely for the purpose of disqualifying the currently popular theories in science? If so, this evidence is a problem for the theories in question but not much more. When we remember that a paradigm is not truly threatened by questions it cannot answer, but only by a competing paradigm which can explain all the data incorporated in it in addition to answering the outstanding questions. Does such a competing paradigm exist that does not operate as follows:

    miracle3.gif

    You have studied these questions more thoroughly than I and may have answers to my questions and concerns. I am anticipating your reply.

    Sincerely

    Anonymous

    Hi Anonymous,

    Your comments and questions are thoughtful and very compelling to many people. Your essential argument seems to be that it doesn’t really matter how good or how bad a given scientific model or theory may or may not be as long as there isn’t any other better model available. In other words, as long as there isn’t anything better, one must work with what one has despite it’s numerous flaws since it’s the best we have. Does that about sum up your main argument?

    At least one problem I see with this basic argument is that it goes against the scientific principle of theoretical falsifiability. A truly scientific theory should be set up in such a way that it can be falsified regardless of if any other better explanation is or is not available. If a theory is not even theoretically falsifiable (regardless of what other viable theories do or do not exist), it really isn’t very helpful scientifically. A demonstrably false theory is not better than no theory at all. A theory that is effectively falsified should not be used just because no other reasonable theory is available. It’s better to simply say, “I don’t know” than to continue to present something that is known to be false as a solution to a given problem or phenomena.

    Beyond this, especially when it comes to the origin and diversity of life on this planet, there is a much better “model” available compared to the popular mainstream theory of evolution. That model is a model that invokes intelligent design (ID).

    At this point, let me digress a bit and note that I really like the cartoon you included at the bottom of your E-mail where a “miracle” is invoked in the middle of a mathematical argument. Of course, scientists universally shy away from invoking “miracles” to explain natural phenomena – or do they?

    Miracle Cartoon

    Let me pose a scenario. Say you walk into your house and on the table there in your kitchen is a freshly baked beautiful chocolate cake. It looks good. It smells good. It tastes really really good. What can be said about the origin of this chocolate cake? – scientifically? Detailed mathematical and chemical models can certainly be produced for the interaction of the various elements as the cake was being cooked, etc. But the production of the final form of the cake, with all the ingredients introduced at just the right time and place, is very difficult to put into the language of chemistry or mathematics alone. Something is missing…. and that something is the explanation for the specific order of the materials that make up the cake and how those materials interact with a specific level of heat at just the right time and for just the right length of time. In other words, an explanation for the informational complexity that was required to produce the cake is lacking in basic mathematical or chemical formulas. In fact, this required pre-existing informational complexity is so great that you would no doubt instantly assume that someone with access to at least a human level intelligence made the chocolate cake that you just ate. In short, a small “miracle” did in fact occur from the perspective of purely mindless naturalistic processes (miracles are relative things you know). If someone asked you what it would take to produce such a cake using only mindless nturalistic mechanisms you would no doubt say, “It would take a miracle”. This is why you reject the “mindless miracle” hypothesis in favor of deliberate intelligent design in such situations.

    The very same type of argument is used in science all the time when it comes to detecting need for intelligent design to explain certain features found in the natural world. For example, this same type of argument is used in forensic science, anthropology, and even SETI science. As a specific hypothetical example, say that a NASA rover were to come across a highly symmetrical granite cube on the surface of Mars that measured exactly one meter on each side. You don’t think that such a find would hit the front page of every major newspaper in the world with the tag line, “NASA Finds Evidence of Intelligent Life on Mars!!!!”? Of course that’s what would happen.

    So, onto your argument that the “Goddidit” model isn’t useful in your “daily science work”. First off, the basic theory of intelligent design need not explain the specific identity of the intelligent designer aside from the need for the designer to have been intelligent to at least a certain level of intelligence. You don’t need to know who, exactly, made your chocolate cake in order to know that whoever did it was intelligent to at least the human level of intelligence – right? The same thing is true for my hypothetical granite cube on Mars or for the narrow-band spectrum radio signals that SETI scientists are looking for.

    But aren’t such arguments for ID based on falsifying models of mindless naturalistic origin? Of course they are. After all, if there is any viable model for the production of highly symmetrical polished granite cubes outside of deliberate design, that would call into serious question the ID-only hypothesis. The same thing is true for the origin and diversity of life. If any viable mechanism could be presented that could reasonably explain the origin and/or the diversity of life within a reasonable span of time, that evidence would effectively falsify the ID-only hypothesis for life and its diversity.

    This means, of course, that someone like me who wishes to present the argument that life and its diversity can only be reasonably explained by appealing to a very high level of intelligence in play in the origin of life and its diversity, has better explain why the popular model of the origin of life and its diversity isn’t remotely tenable. Only if I can do that can I rationally conclude, scientifically, that the only other known origin of such high levels of functional complexity (i.e., Intelligent Design on a level indistinguishable by us humans as being a God or God-like) was most likely in play – just as you did with your chocolate cake…

    Now, the only real question that remains at this point is if I can in fact demonstrate that the proposed evolutionary mechanism is in fact untenable beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. And, I think I can. But, that is an whole discussion all its own that is rather detailed. But, if you are interested in this evidence, please do visit my website for the details (www.DetectingDesign.com).

    Or, if you prefer, I would also recommend an new book recently published by Stephen Meyer entitled, “Signature in the Cell”. This book is quite good and goes into the arguments listed above (and many more) in significant detail. You’d probably find it an interesting read at the very least.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and comments.

    Sincerely,

    Sean

    P.S. I hope you don’t mind if I post this exchange on the EducateTruth blog…




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  22. @Jan Long:

    Sean, you state that,

    “in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column. Of course I’m in the minority here….”

    My query to you is, how does this universal recent watery catastrophe square with the 100,000 or so confirmed annual layerings of the Greenland ice sheet? How about the several hundred thousand years of the Antartic ice sheet?

    You assume that the “annual” nature of the layers has actually been confirmed beyond any real reasonable doubt. Consider that as one considers deeper and deeper ice within these ice sheets the layers can no longer be counted visually, only chemically. At this point, the resolution of an “annual” layer counting falls off significantly to the point of “decadal averages”. That means that a hundred thousand layers could be accounted for in less than 10,000 years. Consider also that even when the layers can be counted visually that it is very difficult to distinguish an “annual” layer from sub-seasonal layering (i.e., storms, etc).

    “Fundamentally, in counting any annual marker, we must ask whether it is absolutely unequivocal, or whether non-annual events could mimic or obscure a year. For the visible strata (and, we believe, for any other annual indicator at accumulation rates representative of central Greenland), it is almost certain that variability exists at the subseasonal or storm level, at the annual level, and for various longer periodicities (2-year, sunspot, etc.). We certainly must entertain the possibility of misidentifying the deposit of a large storm or a snow dune as an entire year or missing a weak indication of a summer and thus picking a 2-year interval as 1 year.”

    Alley, R.B. et al., Visual-stratigraphic dating of the GISP2 ice core: Basis, reproducibility, and application.
    Journal of Geophysical Research 102(C12):26,367–26,381, 1997.

    Contributing to these problems in determining annual layers in ice is the fact that chemicals in ice are not fixed, but move around – quite easily. There are microscopic channels of water between the ice crystals that allow for the movement of various chemicals used to try to analyze for annual layers.

    There is also the problem if the warm “hypsithermal” period which was warmer than it is today – supposedly for some 5,000 years. The Greenland ice sheet is currently melting much faster than it is being formed, resulting in an overall loss of ice of around 250 cubic kilometers per year. Some scientists are now suggesting that Greenland’s ice may be complete gone within one or two hundred years. So, how did Greenland’s ice avoid a complete meltdown during the Hypsithermal? – when it was warm all around the globe on all sides in recent history?

    For more information on this topic see:

    http://www.detectingdesign.com/ancientice.html

    As to your discussion of the philosophy of science I am well aware of the fact that conclusions can be influenced by presuppositions, yet I don’t find a boogyman in scientific materialism. If not for scientific materialism, we would still assign a role to the gods for all manner of natural phenomenon. I would simply say that scientific materialism has its limits, as does revelation. Wisdom is demonstrated in understanding the limits of each.

    I agree. Where we seem to disagree is over where these limits are or should be placed.

    You seem uncomfortable with the SDA Church’s clearly stated position on origins. This is in spite of the fact that the SDA Church takes its stand on a clear reading of the Bible – of what the Biblical authors clearly intended to convey to their readers. It is quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to convey to their readers, to us, a literal historical account of God’s creative act in the formation of life on this planet. I don’t think even liberal secular scholars of Hebrew would deny this. Take, for example, the comments of well-known Oxford Hebrew scholar James Barr:

    “Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience. (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know.”

    Letter from Professor James Barr to David C.C. Watson of the UK, dated 23 April 1984.

    Consider that Prof. Barr made this statement while personally considering the Genesis narrative to be false. He did not believe that God created life on this planet in just six literal days. He believed that life existed and evolved on this planet over billions of years just like most mainstream scientists do today. Yet, he still was quite clear that the author(s) of the Genesis narrative intended to say something about real historical events. They did not intend to be figurative in their language.

    Now, it is quite a different thing to say that the Biblical authors where simply mistaken compared to the argument that suggests that they were intending to write symbolically or figuratively. The SDA Church takes the Bible at its word, as the revealed Word of God. So, in suggesting that the SDA Church not put so much stock in a literal reading of the Genesis narrative, you are suggesting that the Church back off of its position that the Bible was in fact inspired by God to give us privileged information about Himself and about the world in which we live. If the SDA Church were to do this, it would basically undermine the entire purpose for their being a unique Seventh-day Adventist Church. After all, if one can pick and choose what is and what is not correct in the Bible, what’s the point?

    Of course you might argue, and have argued, that prophets can make mistakes. And, I agree. However, if a prophet specifically says that God showed him or her a specific vision of historical reality, and that prophet simply recorded what he/she saw, you’d have to conclude one of two things with regard to the Genesis account. Either God was lying to the prophet about true historical reality, or the prophet was very dull witted in order to get something wrong that is as obvious as “evenings and mornings” marking off the boundaries of the “days” of creation. I mean, even a small child can get that much right. This isn’t rocket science here… if you know what I mean.

    You mention the Cornell geneticist John C. Sandford, and I am familiar with his book on genetic entropy. He proposes some interesting ideas and since I am not a geneticist, I must rely upon the scientific community to assess his argument. To date I have not seen any movement in his direction and that could be telling. That having been said, however, there is currently a clear demarcation between the evolutionary process and the question of origins. Perhaps we can find common ground on this. Since we are so far afield from the thrust of my article, I won’t detail it here, but DNA is an information rich system as you know, and information theory cannot explain, on the basis of random probability, how DNA got its start is the odds appear to be too staggering. The resolution of most of these issue—including evolution—likely resides in a better understanding of DNA. We can anticipate that surprises await science on this front, but it may also hold a few surprises for literalists. In the meantime the Church would be much better served by allowing science to finish its work before it leaps into a place that it quite likely will one day regret.

    The origin of very high levels of information/functional complexity within DNA is indeed very very hard for mainstream science to explain using mindless naturalistic mechanisms alone. However, I can assure you that the origin of novel information within living systems, with the full use of the mechanism of random mutation and natural selection, is equally hard to explain beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. Popular scientists usually get hung up over explaining the similarities between living things when the similarities aren’t the real problem for the theory of evolution. Similarities are fairly easy to explain using naturalistic mechanisms. The insurmountable problem for the modern theory of evolution is in explaining the qualitatively novel functional differences beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. That’s where the rubber really meets the road.

    It is for such reasons that I think it very unwise of the SDA Church to give up its stance on taking the Bible as it reads, as the Biblical authors originally intended it to be read and interpreted. The SDA Church maintains its whole reason for existence on being fairly unique in this regard. If you remove the unique SDA take on the Bible, you remove its very reason for existence. There’s really no point in having a SDA Church at all if you remove the literal 6-day creation week as being a literal creation week. Again, this is the basis for the very name Seventh-day Adventist.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and questions,

    Sincerely,

    Sean




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  23. On March 23rd, 2011 Jan Long says:
    Sean, your argument about the reliability of Ice Core dating is quite deceptive. While it is true that the deeper the core, the weight of the ice and the shifting thins the layering, but the layers have been validated by historic events—namely known volcanic eruptions—going back 2000 years. The scientific community is quite unified in the conclusion that the ice core has captured historical data going back 100,000 years on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Older than that, the dating reliability falls off.

    Rather than get bogged down in a fruitless discussion of Ice Core dating, I will leave the reader with a couple of excellent references, and those of you who are interested in more information can study this subject from credible scientists. Both sources are quite readable.

    http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html
    Richard B. Alley, The Two Mile Time Machine

    As for your discussion of how revelation should be read and interpreted, I will mention that I was reared in SDA fundamentalism and while I take revelation quite seriously, I have moved away from bible-olatry and ellen-olatry. In short, I take empirical data seriously. The choice is thus to either abandon faith entirely or to vest revelation with a revised level of authority commensurate with the physical realities. I have simply chosen the latter course.




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    • @Jan Long:

      Sean, your argument about the reliability of Ice Core dating is quite deceptive. While it is true that the deeper the core, the weight of the ice and the shifting thins the layering, but the layers have been validated by historic events—namely known volcanic eruptions—going back 2000 years.

      This isn’t exactly true.

      Comparison with volcanic signatures isn’t an exact science by any means. Tephra is not often found because it falls out of the atmosphere before it makes it to the ice sheet. And, below 10,000 layers the ice becomes too alkaline to reliably identify the acid spikes associated with volcanic eruptions. Also, Volcanic eruption rates are very common, 30 per year on average. The farther back in history, the fewer of even large volcanic eruptions are known. For example, only 11 eruptions were recorded from between 1 and 100 AD. Therefore, determining which eruption signal is or is not present in the ice at a particular level, even within just the past 2000 years, becomes quite problematic.

      As an example of this problem, consider the Mediterranean volcano Thera, a volcano that was so large that it effectively destroyed the Minoan (Santorini) civilization in the year 1628 B.C. Tree rings from that region show a significant disruption matching that date. Layers in the “Dye 3” Greenland ice core also showed that a major eruption occurred in 1645, plus or minus 20 years. This match was used to confirm or calibrate the ice core data as recently as 2003 (well after the publication of the Two Mile Time Machine you reference below).

      At the time of the initial study scientists did not have the budget to do a systematic search throughout the whole ice core for such large anomalies that might also match a Thera-sized eruption. Now that such detailed searches have been done, many such sulfuric acid peaks have been found at numerous dates within the 18th, 17th, 16th, 15th, and 14th centuries B.C. Beyond this, tephra analyzed from the ice core layers originally thought to represent the Thera eruption did not match the volcanic material from the Thera volcano.

      And there are other such examples of significant problems in the use of volcanic signatures to validate ice core dating. Consider the following commentary on the reliability of volcanic signatures in ice cores:

      “The desire to link such phenomena [volcanic eruptions] and the stretching of the dating frameworks involved is an attractive but questionable practice. All such attempts to link (and hence infer associations between) historic eruptions and environmental phenomena and human “impacts”, rely on the accurate and precise association in time of the two events. . . A more general investigation of eruption chronologies constructed since 1970 suggest that such associations are frequently unreliable when based on eruption data gathered earlier than the twentieth century.”

      – Baille 1991, University of Wales (http://www.aber.ac.uk/iges/cti-g/volcano/lecture2.html)

      If even theoretically this particular method has little reliability beyond the twentieth century, what good is it when it comes to a time in history when ice sheets were forming very very rapidly during the initial post-Flood ice age that swept the planet a few hundred years after the Flood? You’ve also failed to even address the problems the Greenland ice sheet poses for the very long Hypsithermal warm period that began to fade only 4,000 years ago… a period what was even warmer than it is today (talk about ‘global warming’).

      The scientific community is quite unified in the conclusion that the ice core has captured historical data going back 100,000 years on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Older than that, the dating reliability falls off.

      Of course the scientific community is quite unified on this assertion. The mainstream scientific community is completely sold on the idea that life has existed and evolved on this planet for billions of years. What’s a few hundred thousand years of ice in comparison? But what is the reliability of the actual science involved in ice core dating? – the actual data? Do you know? Or, are you just relying on what you’ve been told without looking into the counter-evidence for yourself?

      Rather than get bogged down in a fruitless discussion of Ice Core dating, I will leave the reader with a couple of excellent references, and those of you who are interested in more information can study this subject from credible scientists. Both sources are quite readable.

      http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html
      Richard B. Alley, The Two Mile Time Machine

      Ah yes, The Two Mile Time Machine, a favorite reference for those who have lost all confidence in the Biblical story of origins. Unfortunately, Richard Alley significantly overstates the case for ice core dating. He doesn’t cover the problems involved to any significant degree – problems which are fundamental to the reliability of this dating method.

      As for your discussion of how revelation should be read and interpreted, I will mention that I was reared in SDA fundamentalism and while I take revelation quite seriously, I have moved away from bible-olatry and ellen-olatry. In short, I take empirical data seriously. The choice is thus to either abandon faith entirely or to vest revelation with a revised level of authority commensurate with the physical realities. I have simply chosen the latter course.

      Bible-olatry? i.e., Bible idolatry? That’s certainly a new one for me – especially coming from someone who claims to be supportive of a Church that is based on the assumption that the Bible is the very Word of God himself. What’s next? God-olatry?

      This isn’t to say that empirical evidence isn’t important. It is very important. Both the Bible and Ellen White recommend that faith should be built on the weight of evidence – i.e., on the weight of physical reality or empirical evidence that appeals to the candid mind. The only difference is that you think your own ability to interpret physical reality is more solid than certain of the Bible’s very clear statements on the true nature of physical reality which fundamentally disagree with your own ideas.

      Yet, you want to somehow maintain a semblance of faith in the Divine origin of the Bible on at least some level. How is this done once you’ve removed the very basis of rationally supporting the idea that the Bible provides any more privileged information than a moral novel? Such an approach to the Bible does not leave the SDA Church in any kind of unique position beyond a general feel-good Christianity that provides no real basis for a solid hope in the future physical realities described in the Bible. After all, if you essentially falsify the credibility of the Bible’s account of history, you are left with no really rational basis to accept what the Bible says about the future – or any of its other metaphysical statements about God or any of the other “miraculous” stories in the Bible for that matter.

      I’m sorry, but if the SDA Church wishes to remain viable, it must take some risks. It must risk the potential of being falsified in many people’s minds. Taking a non-position that doesn’t have even the potential for falsification is just a feel good religion that has nothing really solid to offer regarding the future realities of the physical resurrection of the dead and a future life without sin and the pain and suffering that go along with the “Survival of the Fittest”.

      Again, I do appreciate your sincerity and your efforts to present what you think is true and beneficial.

      Sincerely,

      Sean




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        I have photographs of multiple ice layers preserved in a single season of snowfall at Great Basin National Park, showing that in fact, as you would expect, each snowfall creates a distinct layer of ice that is visible and obvious. There were 7 or 8 layers preserved from a single season. These would have interpreted as annual events in ice core data. This whole field is whacked.

        Arthur Chadwick
        SWAU




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  24. Ken, you ask, “why paint all evolutionists as atheists? Why paint all Adventists as pseudo scientists?” I presume these are rhetorical quesitons, and not directed at me per se. If directed at me, then to both questions I would respond–I don’t. I like the rhetorical thrust of these questions however, for I am more about building bridges and seeking common ground than I am about finger pointing.




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  25. Re Jan’s Quote

    “Ken, you ask, “why paint all evolutionists as atheists? Why paint all Adventists as pseudo scientists?” I presume these are rhetorical quesitons, and not directed at me per se. If directed at me, then to both questions I would respond–I don’t. I like the rhetorical thrust of these questions however, for I am more about building bridges and seeking common ground than I am about finger pointing.

    Jan Long(Quote)”

    Dear Jan

    Quite right my friend, rhetorical indeed, I hope I did not cause you any offense.

    I’ve been greatly impressed with the editors of Educate Truth and your civility speaks highly to humane, intelligent debate. Unfortunately some of the contributors do at times engage in what appears to be ad hominem remarks. Good people can differ in viewpoints and learn from each other.

    I value your contribution and hope you continue to do so.

    Best regards
    your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  26. Hi Sean; It appears that there is a wide chasm between us. You cite as authoritative a link on ice core science from 1991!!! That is 20 years ago and hopefully you aren’t suggesting that it would have much relevance today?

    I appreciate your evangelistic zeal, and I wish you the best. I will continue to study and if I find evidence that ice core science is bogus, I will reconsider my position. Until then I have no choice but to stick with science on this. Jan




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    • @Jan Long:

      The basic points presented have not substantively changed as far as I am aware. They certainly didn’t change by the time of the publication of the Two Mile Time Machine – your own recommended authority on ice core dating published in 2000 (eleven years ago).

      Tell me, what additional factors have come into play that make volcanic signatures so much more reliable as markers in ice cores during this time?

      Here’s a comment from another paper, published in 1995, discussing the problems with volcanic markers in ice cores since just the 1850s:

      It is not possible to identify any individual ice core that would be representative of hemispheric-average volcanism. Even cores drilled 2 m apart, opposite sides of the same core, and measurements from the same side of the same core before and after longitudinal cutting exhibit a substantial amount of high frequency disagreements.

      Alan Robock and Melissa P. Free, Ice cores as an index of global volcanism from 1850 to the present, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 100, No. D6, Pages 11,549-11,567, June 20, 1995

      http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/RobockFree95JD00825.pdf

      Have things really improved that much for volcanic markers? If so, I’d be most interested in your references. It seems the best that can be said is that volcanic chemical signals can be detected for some 10,000 layers or so. But, matching them up to a specific known volcanic event for calibration purposes becomes quite problematic beyond a few hundred years. Cases like the misidentification of the Thera eruption signal (as recently as 2003) illustrate this point.

      Also, you’ve not yet even addressed the problem of the relatively recent mid-Holocene hypsithermal warm period… a situation of long-standing global warming with temperatures significantly warmer than today all around Greenland (while today the Greenland ice sheets are melting quite rapidly). This is one of the most puzzling problems that I can see for modern ice core dating assumptions…

      According to mainstream science, there existed, for millennia, after the end of the last ice age (approximately 11,000 years ago) around 5000 years of warm weather all around Greenland. Strong evidence indicates that the Eurasian arctic averaged nearly 13°F warmer in July than it is now.

      This evidence includes forests of large trees, even fruit bearing trees, that are now buried and preserved in the acidic Siberian tundra – and they can be carbon dated. Where there is no forest today, because it’s too cold in summer, there were all these forests of large trees, all the way to the Arctic Ocean and even on some of the remote Arctic islands that are bare today. There were also large numbers of animals living within the Arctic Circle that no longer live in these regions. And, back then, thanks to the remnants of continental ice, the Arctic Ocean was smaller and the North American and Eurasian landmasses extended further north.

      Some of this evidence is based on the work of Glen MacDonald, from UCLA’s Geography Department. In his landmark 2000 paper in Quaternary Research, he noted that the only way that the Arctic could become so warm is for there to be a massive incursion of warm water from the Atlantic Ocean. The only “gate” through which that can flow is the Greenland Strait, between Greenland and Scandinavia.

      MacDonald, G. M., et al., 2000. Holocene treeline history and climatic change across Northern Eurasia. Quaternary Research 53, 302-311.

      So, Greenland had to have been warmer for several millennia, too – right?

      Yet, what you are basically suggesting is that the ice core dating evidence is so strong for at least the past 100,000 years or so that it effectively falsifies the Genesis story of origins – to include the literal 6-day creation week and a worldwide Noachian Flood within the last 10,000 years. You are effectively claiming that it is rationally impossible for ice to have layered out much more rapidly than today on Greenland in the recent past. You are saying this despite indisputable evidence that the layering of ice toward the margins of the Greenland ice sheet results in dozens of layers being deposited per year (refer to the burial of WWII planes several hundred layers of ice in less than 50 years). It couldn’t be that many more layers were deposited per year when ice first started to form on Greenland just a few hundred years after the Flood? – During a time of increased moisture, intra-annual warm and cold spells, and numerous seasonal storms over Greenland?

      Given new discoveries, such as those of Robin Bell that came out just this month (March, 2011), suggesting that long accepted models of ice sheet development are not correct, how confident are you in your ice core falsification hypothesis? After all, Bell’s work suggests that up to half the thickness of the ice sheets in certain places of Antarctica formed from the bottom up, not the top down as previously assumed.

      To put it in non-scientific terms, lead scientist Robin Bell told msnbc.com, the study redefines “how squishy” the base of ice sheets can be. “This matters to how fast ice will flow and how fast ice sheets will change.”

      “It also means that ice sheet models are not correct,” she said, comparing it to “trying to figure out how a car will drive but forgetting to add the tires. The performance will be very different if you are driving on the rims.”

      http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2684493/posts

      When it comes to claims for calibration of ice-core dates for many tens of thousands of years, consider the following comments published by Skinner in 2008:

      All palaeoenvironmental inference hinges on chronostratigraphy. Without a way to accurately link and order our observations spatially and temporally, they remain at best of ambiguous, and at worst of dubious, significance. Nevertheless, a given chronostratigraphy is best viewed as an hypothesis. Much like any proxy, a chronostratigraphy must be employed in a manner that explicitly allows it to be tested. The Greenland and Antarctic ice-core stratigraphies, together with North Atlantic marine archives, low-latitude speleothem and coral records, and the radiometric dates that these latter archives contain, comprise an integrated chronostratigraphic system that is eminently amenable to consistency testing. The integration of these “chronostratigraphic elements” results in a system that remains underdetermined, in that it’s chronology cannot be resolved unequivocally. However, this is only true to the extent that proposed stratigraphic links and absolute ages can be questioned, and that radiometric ages are subject to uncertain “calibrations” (i.e. we cannot account for the movement of all radio-isotopes in the system).

      Based on the assumed accuracy of coral and speleothem U-Th ages, Northeast Atlantic surface reservoir ages should be revised upward by _350 years, while the NGRIP age-scale appears to be “missing” time. These findings illustrate the utility of integrated stratigraphy as a test for our chronologies, which are rarely truly “absolute”.

      Skinner, L. C.: Revisiting the absolute calibration of the Greenland ice-core age-scales*, Clim. Past, 4, 295-302, doi:10.5194/cp-4-295-2008

      You see how interdependent ice-core dating is on the reliability of other dating methods? Ice core dating is not a truly independent dating technique with fail-safe calibration markers for a hundred thousand years or more. Its accuracy is entirely dependent upon the assumed accuracy of other dating methods which are in turn calibrated against each other. And, I’m not the only one to see logical circularity here. Such circularity in reasoning is inherent with the dating of ice cores and ocean sediment cores.

      The task of dating these strata [ocean sediment cores] is difficult because sediments may accumulate more quickly during some eras and more slowly in others. To tell the age of layers between known benchmarks, researchers often use the Milankovitch orbital cycles to tune the sediment record: They assume that ice volume should vary with the orbital cycles, then line up the wiggles in the sediment record with ups and downs in the astronomical record.

      “This whole tuning procedure, which is used extensively, has elements of circular reasoning in it,” says Muller. He argues that tuning can artificially make the sediment record support the Milankovitch theory.

      Richard Monastersky, The Big Chill, Science News, vol 152, October 4, 1997, pages 220-221.

      Such tuning can artificially make various patterns support just about any pre-conceived theory one wants to support. That’s the problem with these patterns from various dating techniques being set up to calibrate each other. They are all “tuned” to each other…

      See also: http://www.detectingdesign.com/milankovitch.html

      You really think such things have significantly changed since 1997 when I graduated from medical school?

      I just hate to see someone leave their faith in the credibility of the Bible behind over a “science” as new and problematic and demonstrably at odds with well established facts as is ice core dating…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  27. Hi Anonymous,

    You write:

    “The question that arises here is how you define the word/concept/theory of evolution.”

    The modern theory of evolution is built around the idea that functionally complex things can be derived from less functionally complex things over time via non-deliberate mindless processes of nature. It is what I like to call the “turtles all the way down” idea. This idea is fundamental to the philosophy, or “paradigm” if you prefer, of naturalism – that no intelligence is ultimately needed to explain anything in the universe.

    I subscribe to the opposite point of view which I like to call “turtles all the way up”. The basic difference is that I see very good evidence for the concept of informational entropy. In other words, qualitative information decays over time and does not give rise to significantly higher levels of qualitatively unique functionally beneficial or meaningful information (as compared to “Shannon Information” which is not based on meaning or function). Higher levels of meaningful/functional information can only be explained by the pre-existence of even higher levels of such information. That is why I call it “turtles all the way up”.

    Ultimately, therefore, you either believe that everything came from nothing, literally, or you believe that everything came from an eternally pre-existing source of infinite information – i.e., God. It’s as simple as that.

    Those like Dawkins and Hawking (more recently) have publicly subscribed to the idea that everything ultimately sprang from quantum nothingness according to mindless natural laws. I don’t see this idea supported. Quite the contrary. Informational quality clearly decays over time. Informationally-rich systems, to include living things, decay over time. They don’t improve to any significant degree without the input of outside information that is beyond themselves.

    This puts a limit on evolutionary progress, with regard to both living and non-living things, beyond very low levels of functional complexity – a limit which can actually be measured by both real time observations and statistical analysis.

    I hope this helps…

    Sean

    P.S. By the way, I think the more places such conversations are published the better. How about you?




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  28. Hi Anonymous,

    Limiting the definition of the modern theory of evolution simply to “change over time” does not adequately describe what the theory proposes. The modern theory actually proposes just what I said it proposes. It is a historical theory that does in fact propose change from very low to very high levels of functional complexity via the particular mechanism of random mutations combined with natural selection. Yet, you write:

    “If you move from the creationist definition of evolution as you gave it to the biological definition, there is no longer any contradiction between the concept of biological evolution and an eternally pre-existing creator God.”

    The problem in play here isn’t over the existence of God. Not even the modern theory of evolution is really at odds with the concept of God’s existence. The problem in play here is over the ability to present evidence that can only be explained by the actions of a God or a God-like being at work in our universe. The modern theory of evolution, as with naturalism in general, removes the necessity to invoke an intelligent designer of any kind, much less a God-like designer, when it comes to explaining either the origin or diversity of life – or even the origin of the universe itself.

    It is for this reason that creationists like me have no problem with the basic concept of change over time. We just have a problem with the notion of change over time beyond very low levels of functional complexity without the input of pre-existing intelligence. Some refer to this type of change as a form of “macroevolution”. That’s where creationists and evolutionists diverge.

    You are also mistaken that science cannot propose, by its very nature, the need for intelligent design to explain certain types of phenomena observed in nature. I’ve already gone into this with you in fair detail. Many scientific disciplines are dependent upon this ability – an ability that isn’t just a philosophical position since it produces real predicative value and is also a falsifiable position. Yet, you write:

    “Historical science can study the traces that divine intervention leaves behind itself, but again cannot propose divine intervention as the cause, at least not until all other possible causes have been ruled out.”

    Ruling out other potential non-deliberate natural causes is certainly a requirement for the ID-only hypothesis. However, once all other known non-deliberate mechanisms have been effectively ruled out, the ID-only hypothesis often remains viable. This is the reason why anthropologists can determine that a piece of rock was once deliberately formed into an arrow head instead of by some non-deliberate natural mechanism. They determine this by doing two things:

    1. Determining if the object in question can reasonably be produced by some known non-deliberate force of nature.
    2. Determining if the object in question can reasonably be produced by intelligent design on at least the human level or greater.

    If the object in question goes well beyond any known force of nature yet remains within the power of at least human level intelligent design and production, then the ID-only hypothesis, the hypothesis that only intelligent design could have produced the object in question, remains the best scientific conclusion at the present time.

    This logic is the basis of forensic science, of various aspects of anthropology, and of SETI science… as well as a number of other sciences that are dependent upon the detection of deliberately produced artifacts.

    Yet, you present the common argument:

    “You can always reach the point where you will say, I cannot explain this so it must have been caused by a miracle, and thereby restraining yourself from examining the evidence one more time which might lead you to discover the cause and effect relationship.”

    That’s simply not the argument presented. I can explain the chocolate cake using intelligent design. I cannot explain the chocolate cake using any known mindless mechanism a the present time. It isn’t a matter of not being able to explain the phenomenon in question. It is a matter of not being able to explain it using mindless mechanisms while still being able to explain it via ID. How long would you propose to continue your search for a mindless naturalistic mechanism to explain the origin of a highly symmetrical polished granite cube on Mars? – before you finally accept that it most likely had an ID origin?

    Yet, you go on to compare the human ability to learn new information to the ability of random mutations and natural selection to generate new information at higher and higher levels of functional complexity. I’m sorry, but you’re making a false comparison. The mechanism of RM/NS is not at all like the human ability to learn. It is not intuitive. It has no vision of the future. Natural selection only selects, in a positive manner, for what works right now. It is for this reason that mindless mechanisms, like NS/RM, cannot generate novel information that goes significantly beyond the starting point level of functional complexity – not even given trillions upon trillions of years of time. Mindless mechanisms just don’t work like you evidently think they do.

    Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts.

    Sean

    P.S. As far as presenting such discussions to others, I’d propose to you to leave it up to those reading these exchanges to determine their value. By the way, I did post out second discussion and will post this one as well.




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  29. I was intrigued by Jan Long’s remark:

    Jan Long: We know, for example, that Jesus introduced his own paradigm shift. It was a radical departure from business as usual.

    It seems a bit presumptuous to compare what Sean Pitman and Shane Hilde are doing to Christ’s “paradigm shift.” But there are distinct parallels.

    Jesus called His hearers back to the truths originally revealed by God through Moses and the later prophets. these truths had been contaminated beyond recognition by the interpretations of the theologians and scholars of the day — the pharisees and the scribes. Jesus removed the accretions of the millennia to allow truth to be revealed in its purity.

    It seems to me that Sean Pitman and Shane Hilde are on a similar mission. They promote the view that what Moses originally recorded regarding the beginnings of life on this planet is actually true — not only by faith, but by evidence visible to the scientist. They dare to challenge the reinterpretations of Scripture by “progressive Adventists” to fit the scientific paradigm of the day, declaring that there is good evidence that genuine science confirms what God has revealed. In other words, God’s written word is trustworthy as a source of truth rather than being a collection of Pinocchian tales mixed with some wise sayings.

    They could do worse …




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  30. Inge Anderson
    If you re-read my post that has raised your ire, you will discover that you have misinterpreted my comments on paradigm shift.

    The point was, some are suspicious of science and sometimes it is because the paradigms do shift–what is understood today is revised or worse tomorrow.

    My point was, all human efforts to come to a complete understanding of the reality (truth)is futile.

    Some seek a refuge in revelation, yet Jesus presented us with a paradigm shift of his own, upending much of the world view that had preceded it.

    In the case of revelation there are 2 human components at work. The writers were human, bringing their limited world view into the text, and this, irrespective of any divine insights. If this is not a true statement, then SDAs should add an FB #29 stating that we believe in inerrancy.

    The fact that SDAs don’t believe in inerrancy should make us more conscious of the other human component related to revelation, that being the reader, and the certitudes that we sometimes superimpose upon interpretations.




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  31. Hypsithermal vs. Ice Core Science

    Sean Pitman

    March, 2011

    Uncontested, yet conflicting “facts”, in modern science:

    The Greenland ice sheet is currently melting at a relatively rapid rate.

    A fairly recent study, based on reprocessed and improved data between 2003 and 2008, reports an average trend of 195 cubic kilometers (47 cu mi) per year.[6] These measurements came from the US space agency’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite, launched in 2002, as reported by BBC.[7] Using data from two ground-observing satellites, ICESAT and ASTER, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters (September 2008) shows that nearly 75 percent of the loss of Greenland’s ice can be traced back to small coastal glaciers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenland_ice_sheet

    The Holocene Climate Optimum was a “Hypsithermal” or warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years ago according to mainstream scientists. This warm period was significantly warmer than it is today all around Greenland. Large forests and warm-weather animals populated regions currently frozen over year-round all around the Arctic Circle.

    The Holocene Climate Optimum warm event consisted of increases of up to 4 °C near the North Pole (in one study, winter warming of 3 to 9 °C and summer of 2 to 6 °C in northern central Siberia).[1]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypsithermal

    Some of this evidence is based on the work of Glen MacDonald, from UCLA’s Geography Department. In his landmark 2000 paper in Quaternary Research, he noted that the only way that the Arctic could become so warm is for there to be a massive incursion of warm water from the Atlantic Ocean. The only “gate” through which that can flow is the Greenland Strait, between Greenland and Scandinavia.

    Radiocarbon-dated macrofossils are used to document Holocene treeline history across northern Russia (including Siberia). Boreal forest development in this region commenced by 10,000 yr B.P. Over most of Russia, forest advanced to or near the current arctic coastline between 9000 and 7000 yr B.P. and retreated to its present position by between 4000 and 3000 yr B.P. Forest establishment and retreat was roughly synchronous across most of northern Russia. Treeline advance on the Kola Peninsula, however, appears to have occurred later than in other regions. During the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5° to 7.0°C warmer than modern. The development of forest and expansion of treeline likely reflects a number of complimentary environmental conditions, including heightened summer insolation, the demise of Eurasian ice sheets, reduced sea-ice cover, greater continentality with eustatically lower sea level, and extreme Arctic penetration of warm North Atlantic waters.

    MacDonald, G. M., et al., 2000. Holocene treeline history and climatic change across Northern Eurasia. Quaternary Research 53, 302-311.

    Question:

    If Greenland’s ice is currently melting at a fairly rapid rate, one would think that Greenland’s ice was melting at an even faster rate during the Hypsithermal period where the temperatures around Greenland were significantly warmer, year-round, than they are today – for thousands of years. Given this well accepted fact of mainstream science, how is it that mainstream scientists also propose, at the same time, that the ice sheets on Greenland actually survived thousands of years of such warm temperatures? After all, modern scientists are so worried about modern “global warming” that many are suggesting that Greenland’s ice will be gone within just 1,000 years and some are suggesting that it may be gone within a few hundred years.

    James E. Hansen has argued that multiple positive feedbacks could lead to nonlinear ice sheet disintegration much faster than claimed by the IPCC. According to a 2007 paper, “we find no evidence of millennial lags between forcing and ice sheet response in paleoclimate data. An ice sheet response time of centuries seems probable, and we cannot rule out large changes on decadal time-scales once wide-scale surface melt is underway.”

    James Hansen, Makiko Sato, et al., Climate change and trace gases. Phil.Trans.R.Soc.A (2007)365,1925–1954, doi:10.1098/rsta.2007.2052. Published online 18 May 2007




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  32. Sean Pitman: Question:
    If Greenland’s ice is currently melting at a fairly rapid rate, one would think that Greenland’s ice was melting at an even faster rate during the Hypsithermal period where the temperatures around Greenland were significantly warmer, year-round, than they are today – for thousands of years. Given this well accepted fact of mainstream science, how is it that mainstream scientists also propose, at the same time, that the ice sheets on Greenland actually survived thousands of years of such warm temperatures? After all, modern scientists are so worried about modern “global warming” that many are suggesting that Greenland’s ice will be gone within just 1,000 years and some are suggesting that it may be gone within a few hundred years.

    Greenland is a large land mass that is 4 times larger than France. Three quarters of the country lies within the Arctic Circle. Only 16% of the area is devoid of permanent snow and ice.

    Portions of the ice sheet are at elevations of 10,000 feet. The melting that is occurring is in the coastal regions where the temperatures in the summer can get up into the 40(f) degree range. The upper elevations are in a permafrost zone. Even where there was rapid warming in the past, it would only impact the warmer coastal areas–not the higher elevation ice sheet.




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    • @Jan Long:

      High altitude doesn’t seem to be a helpful argument when it comes to explaining the preservation of Greenland Ice sheets during the thousands of years (6-7kyr) of Hypsithermal (Middle Holocene) warming. Why? Because what supports the high altitude of the ice in Greenland? Obviously, it is the ice itself.

      I mean really, note that the altitude of the ice sheet in Greenland is about 2,135 meters. Now, consider that about 2,000 meters of this altitude is made up of the thickness of the ice itself. If you warm up this region so that the lower altitudes start to melt, the edges are going to start receding at a rate that is faster than the replacement of the total ice lost. In short, the total volume of the ice will decrease and the ice sheet will become thinner as it flows peripherally. This will reduce the altitude of the ice sheet and increase the total amount of surface area exposed to the warmer temperatures. This cycle will only increase over the time of increased warmness.

      Consider this in the light of what is happening to the ice sheet in Greenland today with only a one degree increase in the average global temperature over the past 100 years or so. Currently, the ice is melting at ~200 cubic kilometers per year. And, we aren’t yet close to the average global warmness thought to have been sustained during the Hypsithermal (another 3 to 5 degrees, Celsius, warmer around Greenland). If that’s not a problem I don’t know what is?

      After all, if your argument were considered sound, by modern science, why are so many scientists predicting that Greenland’s ice sheet will in fact melt within less than 1000 years? – with some predicting much more rapid melting? Have they simply not considered your high altitude argument?

      Consider that even your preferred authority on this topic, Richard Alley, argues that at temperatures just 3-4 degrees warmer than today Greenland’s ice will melt completely away well within the Hypsithermal time span:

      Melting Greenland

      Note also that the total area of the Greenland ice sheet where there is at least one day of surface melting in summer increased to a new record extent in 2007. The surface melt area had been less than 15 million square kilometers in the 1970s, but increased to almost 30 million square kilometers by 2007 (see link).

      http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/area-of-greenland-ice-sheet-melting-1979-2007/image_preview

      This is truly catastrophic melting — nothing like it has ever been seen before. Note that the summer melt zone now stretches right across the ice sheet summit in southern Greenland. Some researchers think that this part of the ice sheet is about to disintegrate catastrophically, leaving a remnant in north Greenland which will be about half the size of the ice sheet of the 1950’s.

      Summer Melt Zone

      Also, consider that a new record for ice melting in Greenland was set in 2010.

      2010 Melt

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think your altitude argument is a tenable explanation for the preservation of Greenlands ice during the mid-Holocene Hypsithermal period.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  33. Inge Anderson said…..

    “Jesus called His hearers back to the truths originally revealed by God through Moses and the later prophets. these truths had been contaminated beyond recognition by the interpretations of the theologians and scholars of the day — the pharisees and the scribes. Jesus removed the accretions of the millennia to allow truth to be revealed in its purity.”

    This is the correct understanding in interpretation of the situation at the time of Christ.

    Sad to say, many assume the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had a correct interpretation and understanding of the old covenant. From this mis-conception, they then assume Jesus is introducing a “new theology” and a “new covenant”. And from there, they create a dispensationalism theology that implies the old covenant was, ipso facto, legalism.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. The old covenant was simply the new covenant in types and symbols. A failure to discern parallel and contrast between the two covenants always leads to a false interpretation.

    Thanks for your inciteful comment, Inge.

    Bill Sorensen




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  34. Sean Pitman

    You say

    “That being said, in my own research into this topic, I’ve found a great deal of what seems to me to be very solid evidence in favor of a recent arrival of life on this planet as well as a recent universal catastrophe, or very shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes, that produced the fossil record and geologic column.”

    I think you need to be more precise and rigorous in your use of the term research and evidience in this context. In this discussion the reader may easily assume that you are talking of your scientific research. They may erroneously assume that you have indeed done original scientific research and have tested the scientific validity of your hypotheses. I am not aware that you have and am assuming that you are using research in the lay sense.

    As I have indicated to you several times before to simply study or prioritize the existing data to support your arguments is orders of magnitude different to doing original research but this distinction is totally lost to the lay person. As Kent, Ken and others have pointed out you are indeed going beyond a literal reading of scripture and revelation and appealling to a scientific basis for your views but this is a two edged sword. You are moving beyond the magesteria of faith and belief to and area where you must subject your ideas to scientific scrutiny.

    In claiming scientific expertise and citing scientific evidence you assume a mandate that requires you to engage in the process of hypothesis testing which is the sine qua non of science. You are abliged to propose your hypotheses with specificity and in a testable fashion.

    As a doctor you well know there is a hierachy of evidences in medicine that guide practice. From the highest evidence derived from the high quality new data from a randomized double blind controlled trial to the lowly expert opinion. At present your position and evidences on origins are at the level of informed opinion. If you have not published in the peer reviewed literature in this area you are within the scientific enterprise not considered an expert. This is not to denigrate your clear expertise and publications in the scientific literature in haematological pathology. Scientists recognize only area specific expertise and beyond that it is all informed opinion. A Cochrane style review might raise your scientific profile and expertise in any of the many area in which you write for the lay person but I would certainly be interested to see you write such a systematic review on something like ice cores. Subjecting your writing on ice cores to such a rigorous engagement with the literature would indeed be interesting as I do think it would be vastly different to your detecting design comments which are clearly polemic and homiletical.

    Regards

    Pauluc




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    • @pauluc:

      You wrote:

      As Kent, Ken and others have pointed out you are indeed going beyond a literal reading of scripture and revelation and appealling to a scientific basis for your views but this is a two edged sword. You are moving beyond the magesteria of faith and belief to and area where you must subject your ideas to scientific scrutiny.

      You think holding blindly to the claims of any self-proclaimed source of Divine revelation or other privileged information is somehow a form of “majestic” faith? Of course I think that a faith that is based on something that appeals to the rational candid mind (i.e., the weight of empirical evidence) is superior to faith that is completely blind to empirical evidence.

      In claiming scientific expertise and citing scientific evidence you assume a mandate that requires you to engage in the process of hypothesis testing which is the sine qua non of science. You are abliged to propose your hypotheses with specificity and in a testable fashion.

      Indeed. My ID-only hypothesis is quite subject to testing and potential falsification. All one has to do is to show a non-deliberate mindless mechanism producing the phenomenon that is claimed to be only producible via ID and the ID-only hypothesis is neatly falsified. This is far more than can be said for claimed creative potential of the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS – which is not proposed in even a theoretically falsifiable manner beyond very very low levels of functional complexity.

      The same is true for the catastrophic model for the origin of the fossil record and geologic column. All one has to do is show how a non-catastrophic uniformitarian process acting over vast periods of time would likely produce the features in question that currently seem to be better explained by a worldwide catastrophe or shortly-spaced series of watery catastrophes.

      If you have not published in the peer reviewed literature in this area you are within the scientific enterprise not considered an expert… Subjecting your writing on ice cores to such a rigorous engagement with the literature would indeed be interesting as I do think it would be vastly different to your detecting design comments which are clearly polemic and homiletical.

      Nice suggestion in an ideal world, but very naive in the real world. Just ask those like Dr. Stephen Meyer or Dr. Richard Sternberg or even an evolutionist like Dr. Martin Gaskell how easy it is to challenge mainstream thinking in mainstream literature (see following links).

      http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/angry-scientists-publishing-on-intelligent-design/

      http://www.educatetruth.com/news/scientists-potentially-skeptical-of-evolution-need-not-apply/

      What do you think the latest E-mail global warming fiasco was all about where scientists in charge of popular journals were caught admitting to the falsification of evidence and to the blocking of those who submitted articles contrary to their opinion?

      http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2009/11/30/global-warming-e-mails-scandal-show-scientists-may-have-cooked-the-facts

      I’m sorry, but trying to publish, in mainstream journals, against any fundamental aspect of Darwinism or the age of life on this planet (a fundamental pillar of Darwinism) is like spitting into the wind…

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  35. Jan Long said….

    “The fact that SDAs don’t believe in inerrancy should make us more conscious of the other human component related to revelation, that being the reader, and the certitudes that we sometimes superimpose upon interpretations.”

    You use the word “inerrancy” out of context. We know the writers were fallible and in some areas may have even used faulty illustrations and even drawn incomplete or faulty conclusions when discussing what they want to convey.

    Even after Jesus death and resurrection, the bible writers still thought and implied that the second coming and the destruction of Jerusalem were one and the same event. It was Paul who first conveyed a different idea in his letters.

    None the less, as SDA’s we hold the bible as infallible for its intended purpose which is to convey to us the mind of God concerning His will and events concerning Jesus coming at the end of the world.

    This means we accept Moses’ explanation of creation and have no need to assume he meant other that what he clearly stated. Seven literal days make up creation week.

    Jesus never altered nor implied otherwise. And no bible writer contradicts or explains Moses’ meaning in any other context. So we need not assume any “scientific evidence” is grounds to abandon what Moses has clearly stated. And any such “evidence” is faulty and wrong in the way it is used and or interpreted.

    Science is subject to scripture and not visa-versa. Just as “the church” is subject to the bible and not the bible to the church as Catholicism teaches.

    The bible is self validating and external evidence only confirms its declarations concerning itself. Prophecy is the most reliable “evidence” and as history unfolds, we see that bible prophecy is infallible, thus affirming biblical declarations concerning itself as the mind of God and an accurate statement of God’s will for mankind.

    Bill Sorensen




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  36. Jan Long:
    Inge Anderson
    If you re-read my post that has raised your ire, you will discover that you have misinterpreted my comments on paradigm shift.

    Not at all — on either count. You have not “raised my ire,” but stimulated my thinking about the work of Jesus as a “paradigm shift,” which caused me to see a parallel between what Jesus did to truth revealed through Moses and what Shane Hilde and Sean Pitman are doing.

    I don’t think I have misinterpreted your comments regarding paradigm shifts. Rather I disagree profoundly with your interpretations.

    As I suggested, Christ’s ministry could, conceivably, be regarded as a “paradigm shift” — a shift from a focus on the traditions of the scribes and pharisees to a focus on the truths God revealed through Moses and the truths God reveals through genuine scientific inquiry (as opposed to science that operates within the narrow paradigm of naturalism).

    And just to forestall another “misinterpretation” response, I need to say that I realize you do not necessarily accept naturalism as the real answer. Yet, it is only naturalism that mandates an interpretation of the scientific data that makes it appear to be in conflict with fairly recent life on this planet, as a literal reading of Genesis would suggest.




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  37. There is a “shift” in emphasis, but not in truth in the new testament.

    Simply put, it is this. In the old testament it is “obey and live”. In the new testament, it is “live and obey”.

    Neither emphasis denies the other. And when people interpret the shift to mean that “live and obey” superceeds “obey and live” they will always misunderstand the bible and embrace some sort of dispensationalism that is faulty and foreign to the biblical message.

    So they assume “obey and live” is ipso facto legalism and if and when anyone emphasizes “obey and live” they will accuse them of legalism.

    Exactly why historic Adventism was attack in the beginning and will continue to be attack by those who fail to see and understand scripture.

    Bill Sorensen




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  38. Pauluc wrote to Sean Pitman

    “In claiming scientific expertise and citing scientific evidence you assume a mandate that requires you to engage in the process of hypothesis testing which is the sine qua non of science. You are abliged to propose your hypotheses with specificity and in a testable fashion.”

    Sean’s so-called expertise is based largely on reading web-based material. Very seldom does he read the original literature, in part because he lacks access to much of it. What little original literature he does read is public access, which comprises a small percentage of what is available. If he were situated at an educational institution, he could benefit from library access to the hundreds of journals that address the areas of expertise Sean claims to have, but it’s clear he has no access.

    A simple hypothesis that Sean or, for that matter, any creationist could test is whether there is ANY evidence that 100% of the earth’s surface (not 98% or 90%) was covered with water during a single point in time. Of course, there is no such evidence, and there will be no admission that the scientific evidence is lacking.




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  39. Hi Jan,

    You wrote:

    Sean, this is not just an altitude issue. It is also latitude issue.

    You evidently didn’t read through the references I gave you… or you forget that if the Arctic ice cap melts completely (as is quite likely in the next few decades) that this will dramatically increase the temperatures within the Arctic at all latitudes.

    “Summers in the Arctic may be ice-free in as few as 30 years, not at the end of the century as previously expected.”

    NOAA, Ice-Free Arctic Summers Likely Sooner Than Expected, April 2, 2009 http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090402_seaice.html

    Before this, in 2006, Walt Meier, a researcher at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado noted that the melting of the Arctic ice cap in summer “is progressing more rapidly than satellite images alone have shown. Given resent data such as this, climate researchers at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in California predict the complete absence of summer ice on the Arctic Ocean by 2030 or sooner.”

    Don Behm, Into the spotlight: Leno, scientists alike want to hear explorer’s findings, Journal Sentinel, July 21, 2006

    Consider what would happen if the entire Arctic Ocean went without ice during the summer months owing to a warmer and therefore longer spring, summer, and fall.

    An interesting article published in the journal Nature almost 40 years ago by R. L. Newson showed that, without the Arctic ice cap, the winters of the Arctic Ocean would rise 20-40ºC and 10-20ºC over northern Siberia and Alaska – all other factors being equal. M. Warshaw and R. Rapp published similar results in the Journal of Applied Meteorology – using a different circulation model.

    * R. L. Newson, “Response of a General Circulation Model of the Atmosphere to Removal of the Arctic Icecap,” Nature (1973): 39-40.
    * M. Warshaw and R. R. Rapp, “An Experiment on the Sensitivity of a Global Circulation Model,” Journal of Applied Meteorology 12 (1973): 43-49.

    Certainly this degree of warming would result in more snowfall, but this would not be enough to prevent the warmer weather from removing the snow cover and the ice itself from Greenland’s ice sheet.

    So, the best currently available evidence strongly suggests that the arctic ocean was iceless during the summer throughout the Hypsithermal and that it was warm enough during this time, around the entire ice sheet of Greenland, to completely melt the whole thing during the Hypsithermal – all latitudes included.

    Sean Pitman

    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  40. Hi Jan,

    You also wrote:

    It is simply clear that no amount of data would change your mind. It is also clear that irrespective of what data is presented you will always have a “but” argument.

    I’m sorry, but it seems to me like you’re the one being dismissive of sincere questions and published scientific data. I’m just presenting my own thoughts and questions and you’re acting as if any questioning of your position, or the popular opinion of mainstream science, is so obviously ludicrous and ill-informed as to be dismissed without serious thought or response. I dare say that if you were in charge of the SDA educational system, that you wouldn’t think to present the students in our schools with any such questions or challenges of mainstream thinking. You’d only present them with a very one sided view of the currently available data on the topic of origins… a very secular view I might add that finds no need to invoke God or a God-like intelligence, or any intelligence for that matter, as the origin of anything we see within our universe. While God is not specifically ruled out of the equasion, neither is mainstream science supportive of presenting any evidence that can only be explained, rationally, by invoking an intelligent designer that cannot be readily distinguished from a God or God-like power.

    That’s the main problem I see with your endeavor to give mainstream secular scientists the power to dictate to the SDA Church just what is and is not reasonable to teach our own young people about the various realities of the world and universe in which we live.

    Also, I didn’t know that the goal here was to actually change each other minds. I doubt that any evidence presented to you by a creationist would change your mind. You seem far more impressed by the origin of the information and the opinions and interpretations of mainstream scientists than the information itself. You seem to me to be swayed, not so much by the arguments themselves, but by the fact that the vast majority of mainstream scientists, whom you respect and admire, think that the SDA position on origins is ludicrous – equivalent to belonging to some flat Earth society.

    In this light, I am amazed that you continue to call yourself SDA. Outside of social reasons, why be at all associated with such a backward group of people?

    You very well may support an FB #6 rewrite. Just understand that if it happens in the way that some are promoting, it will have definitive long term negative consequences on all Adventist Universities.

    I guess it’s all relative – a matter of perspective. You think the consequences of actually presenting the true SDA position on a literal 6-day creation week in no uncertain language in our fundamental beliefs would a very bad thing. That’s because you really don’t believe in one of the very reasons why we are a unique denomination within the Christian community.

    I think it would be tragic to only present the mainstream view of origins to our students. Our students should know the mainstream story of origins as well as any student taught in the top secular universities. However, our students should also be presented with the evidences that challenge the mainstream perspective and actually support the SDA position on origins – a position that has actually been voted on by the GC exec committee and presented to all SDA schools.

    Affirmations

    As a result of the two international conferences and the seven division conferences, the Organizing Committee reports the following affirmations:

    1. We affirm the primacy of Scripture in the Seventh-day Adventist understanding of origins.
    2. We affirm the historic Seventh-day Adventist understanding of Genesis 1 that life on earth was created in six literal days and is of recent origin.
    3. We affirm the biblical account of the Fall resulting in death and evil.
    4. We affirm the biblical account of a catastrophic Flood, an act of God’s judgment that affected the whole planet, as an important key to understanding earth history.
    5. We affirm that our limited understanding of origins calls for humility and that further exploration into these questions brings us closer to deep and wonderful mysteries.
    6. We affirm the interlocking nature of the doctrine of creation with other Seventh-day Adventist doctrines.
    7. We affirm that in spite of its fallenness nature is a witness to the Creator.
    8. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist scientists in their endeavors to understand the Creator’s handiwork through the methodologies of their disciplines.
    9. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist theologians in their efforts to explore and articulate the content of revelation.
    10. We affirm Seventh-day Adventist educators in their pivotal ministry to the children and youth of the church.
    11. We affirm that the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church identified in Revelation 14:6, 7 includes a call to worship God as Creator of all.

    Recommendations

    The Organizing Committee for the International Faith and Science Conferences recommends that:

    1. In order to address what some interpret as a lack of clarity in Fundamental Belief #6 the historic Seventh-day Adventist understanding of the Genesis narrative be affirmed more explicitly.
    2. Church leaders at all levels be encouraged to assess and monitor the effectiveness with which denominational systems and programs succeed in preparing young people, including those attending non-Adventist schools, with a biblical understanding of origins and an awareness of the challenges they may face in respect to this understanding.
    3. Increased opportunity be provided for interdisciplinary dialog and research, in a safe environment, among Seventh-day Adventist scholars from around the world.

    http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main_stat54.html

    So, when professors in our own schools think themselves clear to undermine the clearly stated SDA position on origins, as you are obviously recommending (just because they see some sort of loophole in the current wording of the SDA Fundamental Beliefs), they are stealing from their employer by misrepresenting what their employer is paying them to do. This is a form of dishonesty – a moral problem in anyone’s book.

    Therefore, if you or anyone else who simply cannot see him or herself clear to actually support the Church’s position within our own Church schools, such a person should do the honest thing and go and work for the many universities who are more in line with their own personal beliefs.

    And, at the very least, our professors and the schools that employ them should be very open and honest about exactly what is being taught to our children in our classrooms. If the school clearly supports a position on origins that directly undermines the historic SDA position on origins, this position and general attitidue of the school should be clearly advertised and presented to potential students and their parents and the SDA Church at large. Afer all, parents like me who do not agree with the mainstream perspective, who actually think that their children should be presented with something more than what secular schools are presenting on this topic, should be presented with very clear options. We should not be sold one thing and given something completely different for our hard earned dollars.

    Sean Pitman

    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  41. @Sean Pitman, I agree with your statement that our schools should be “open and honest” about what they teach and preach. But, what would happen if LSU actually stated in their promotional literature: “Come to La Sierra, where we have Biology teachers that teach “evolution as fact” and Religion Profs, Chaplains, and Pastors who endorse and support “gay marriage?” Well, anyone want to venture a “guess?!”




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  42. Ron Stone you suggest

    ” …our schools should be “open and honest” about what they teach and preach.”

    and Sean quotes the recommendations of the ‘science and faith” committee recommendations
    ……
    2. Church leaders at all levels be encouraged to assess and monitor the effectiveness with which denominational systems and programs succeed in preparing young people, including those attending non-Adventist schools, with a biblical understanding of origins and an awareness of the challenges they may face in respect to this understanding.
    3. Increased opportunity be provided for interdisciplinary dialog and research, in a safe environment, among Seventh-day Adventist scholars from around the world.

    I question where if not the academic environment should the students be “made aware of the challenges to this understanding”? Where indeed is the safe environment for “interdisciplinary dialog and research” if not among scholars with knowledge and expertise in their respective discipline at an institution of higher learning?

    Perhaps there should be an honest and open admission of what the vocal protagonists at this site would like to see in the academic institutions of the church.

    What is your vision for LSU? It is very easy to seek to destroy an academic environment where the search for truth is seen as a virtue but what edifice do you plan in its place? Do you invisage an institute like ARISE but conferring PhDs? A place where scripture and the canonical writing of EG White is seen as the only legitimate source of all knowlege and other fallible texts are simply useful to forage for the occasion quote flavour an argument.

    I still am having trouble understanding the marriage of evidence based medicine with its naturalistic scientific base with the fundamentalist understanding of adventist canonical writings as the source of all infallable knowledge in history and science. Scientology’s rejection of medicine is at least true to its canonical writings.

    What would the honest and open Educating Truth University look like? What truly is your collective vision of the endgame?

    Pauluc




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  43. You write in response to my suggestion that you engage in hypothesis testing the comments;

    “Nice suggestion in an ideal world, but very naive in the real world.”

    and

    “I’m sorry, but trying to publish, in mainstream journals, against any fundamental aspect of Darwinism or the age of life on this planet (a fundamental pillar of Darwinism) is like spitting into the wind… ”

    And I would ask why do you feel this way? Can you publish reviewers or editorial boards response to your submissions and those of us that publish in the scientific peer review literature may be able to give you some advice. But do we really need to? You have several first author publications and know what is the process and what is expected.

    By way of analogy perhaps you could give some advice to someone wishing to publish in pathology.
    I would like to write a paper for submission to the American Journal of Pathology. It has a good citation rating and I believe the readers need to hear what I have to say. I would like to write a paper on the causal relationship of masturbation and diffuse large cell lymphoma. I have this theory based on the writings of one EG White who was a prophet who wrote extensively about the dangers of self abuse and its relationship to much of the sickness that affects man. I think she was probably thinking of DLBCL when she wrote that. I have looked at the literature and indeed masturbation is frequent in the general population. Further I think that masturbation is associated with early onset of increased sexual activity and multiple partners and I am sure I will find good evidence in the literature to support this. As you have yourself indicated EBV can be a proximal cause of DLBCL and since DLBCL mostly occurs after puberty I have this model that masturbation leads to increase and early onset of sexual activity, early acquisition of EBV and dramatically increases risk of DLBCL particularly the CD10+ variant. I would like to write this as an original research report. Will it be published?

    Is this what the journal is looking for? On rejection by the editorial board I could spin this that they are rejecting it because I believe in the prophetic mission of EG White but is this really true?

    No of course not. It is rejected because it is an hypothesis that has not been tested with any sort of rigor. If this scenario was broken down into specific questions that are rigorously tested all the components of the model would indeed be publishable. They are published not because the overall scenario is compelling or because of belief in EG White but because of the scientific rigor of each step. That is all that is required for publication. New data rigorously investigated and nicely presented.

    1] If I test the first step, how would I do it. I would look at a longitudinal database such as Adventist health study that has sufficient numbers and relevant data and simply interogate for specific questions; at what age did you have glandular fever? at what age was puberty and at what age did you start masturbating, dating and commence sexual activity. Rigorous attention to methodological issues in a suitably powered study would pass any reasonable reviewer.

    2] You could then look at a registry of DLBCL and look at the time of onset of sexual activity, age of glandular fever etc. The underlying question is does a relationship exist between early acquistion of EBV and high grade EBV related lymphoma later in life?

    In these 2 steps you have published the basis for your understanding of EG White and masturbation and you can continue to maintain her status as a prophet and use your published data to support it. You have however published and been reviewed by peers who may never accept your personal views or biases. Your publication has been judged by the science not your personal hygiene, appearance, gender or religious views.

    So ends my hockey view of the process of scientific publication. I hope the implications for publishing creation science has not been too obscure.

    regards

    Pauluc




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    • @pauluc:

      As already noted, challenging fundamental aspects of Darwinian evolution is not like challenging most other aspects of science. It is like challenging some fundamental religious aspect of most mainstream scientists.

      It’s not like there aren’t very good scientific reasons for challenging the mainstream paradigm in many respects. A similar case, as already noted, is the fairly recent E-mail scandal over global warming: where scientists in charge of journals deliberately falsified data and blocked the publication of minority opinions from scientists with which they disagreed. The very same thing happened to Stephen Meyer when he tried to publish in mainstream literature. And, the one time he was successful, Richard Sternberg, the editor who was brave enough to publish a paper from an scientist supportive of intelligent design behind any aspect of our universe, was demoted and lost his job at the Smithsonian.

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think you comprehend the strong emotion and even religious zeal that mainstream scientists share for the defense of Darwinism against any fundamental counter within the journals that they control.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  44. Sean

    Concerning Grenland ice you say
    “So, the best currently available evidence strongly suggests that the arctic ocean was iceless during the summer throughout the Hypsithermal and that it was warm enough during this time, around the entire ice sheet of Greenland, to completely melt the whole thing during the Hypsithermal – all latitudes included.”

    This is a remarkable and bold claim and would certainly require some documentation from the primary literature. As I have said before I have no expertise on ice cores or climate change but if you are correct then it does raise some interesting and profound questions.

    When in the 6000 year chronology (required by the new creedal FB#6 ) did this occur? I am assuming this was in the 2000 years between the creation and the flood. If so then there was no Greenland ice sheet at the time of the flood and the current material used for the ice core dating is all post flood.

    If your premise that during the hypsithermal there was complete melting of the Greenland ice then this does certainly make all chronologies from Greenland, Andes, Kilimanjara, and Antartic ice cores suspect. Are all glaciologist simply ignornant of this “best currently available evidence” or is there, simply a conspiracy that denies this critical data just as the global warming scientist are fabricating data and denying the contrary data now. Do they perhaps have an alternative explanation of which we should be aware?

    Any light you can share on this conundrum would be most welcome.

    Pauluc




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    • @pauluc:

      When in the 6000 year chronology (required by the new creedal FB#6 ) did this occur? I am assuming this was in the 2000 years between the creation and the flood. If so then there was no Greenland ice sheet at the time of the flood and the current material used for the ice core dating is all post flood.

      Everyone agrees that Greenland was once completely green – covered with lush vegetation and even forests. The same is true all around the Arctic Circle. These warm conditions existed, in my opinion, post-Flood for four or five hundred years before there was a sudden cold snap that generated the ice caps and the beginning of the ice sheet on Greenland.

      If your premise that during the hypsithermal there was complete melting of the Greenland ice then this does certainly make all chronologies from Greenland, Andes, Kilimanjara, and Antartic ice cores suspect. Are all glaciologist simply ignornant of this “best currently available evidence” or is there, simply a conspiracy that denies this critical data just as the global warming scientist are fabricating data and denying the contrary data now. Do they perhaps have an alternative explanation of which we should be aware?

      Everyone is aware of the Hypsithermal warm period and that it was significantly warmer during this period than it is even today. However, it is simply assumed that the ice must have survived, not by any rational explanation of how it could have survived, but based only on the interpretation of the ice core data itself. No one questions the interpretation of the ice core data. No one asks if it is even possible to explain the data via a very recent or even a catastrophic model of origins.

      It is amazing to me that well-educated men and women of science can put so much faith into their ability to recognize truly annual layers in these ice cores when there is so much subjectivity involved. The basis of these assumptions is also based on pattern matching that is notoriously inaccurate. The very same type of problems plague ice-core dating assumptions as are problematic for tree-ring dating and ocean sediment dating.

      For more details on this issues, please refer to my website dealing with these topics.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman:

        So if I understand your chronology correctly there was a warm period for 500 years after the flood. Ie 2000Bc to 1500BC.
        The hysithermal corresponds to the period before the flood ie pre 2000BC but where in that 2000 years from creation to the flood do you put any other glacial periods or ice ages?

        I suspect this is what Klausen was talking about. There is not the specificity or detail in the alternative models to explains data that is now appearing in the scientific literature. eg

        Kawamura K, Parrenin F, Lisiecki L, Uemura R, Vimeux F, Severinghaus JP, Hutterli MA, Nakazawa T, Aoki S, Jouzel J, Raymo ME, Matsumoto K, Nakata H, Motoyama H, Fujita S, Goto-Azuma K, Fujii Y, Watanabe O. Northern Hemisphere forcing of climatic cycles in Antarctica over the past 360,000 years. Nature 2007 Aug;448(7156):912-916.

        Sigman DM, Hain MP, Haug GH. The polar ocean and glacial cycles in atmospheric CO(2) concentration. Nature 2010 Jul;466(7302):47-55.

        Discussions in climate science are based on a large background literature where such issues as dating by layers in ice cores has been considered. As I have indicated in the correspondence you would not allow on this site I have suggested that this knowledge and the curators of this knowledge should have our respect. It is easy to dismiss and gloss over details which are needed to properly address in arriving at an alternative model. To claim the superiority of such a model and your understanding of the science over a vast range of disciplines without real engagement with the knowledge or its history can easily be veiwed as hubris. The dismissive way you consider the peer reviewed literature is concerning. You write

        “Richard Sternberg, the editor who was brave enough to publish a paper from an scientist supportive of intelligent design behind any aspect of our universe, was demoted and lost his job at the Smithsonian”

        Sean, on this I would ask for a more accurate account.

        Smithsonian responded in a letter to Newsweek about the claims by Stein which you have repeated:

        “Sternberg has never been employed by the Smithsonian Institution. Since January 2004, he has been an unpaid research associate in the departments of invertebrate and vertebrate zoology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Dr. Sternberg continues to enjoy full access to research facilities at the museum.
        Moreover, Stein’s assertion that Sternberg was removed from a Smithsonian publication is not true. The Proceedings of the Biological
        Society of Washington is an independent journal and is not affiliated with the Smithsonian.”

        He lost his editorial position because he was negligent in his duties as an editor. The statement by the journal board was;

        “The paper by Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories”, in vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239 of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, was published at the discretion of the former editor, Richard v. Sternberg. Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history.”

        I think your comments on editors of journals is similarly inaccurate. They are concerned about publishing research that is current and novel, that has significance and that can be justified and described in sufficent detail to be reproduced.

        They are not concerned about religious belief or personal ideas unless these undermine the basis of the science to which they have committed their working lives. Just as you engage in a vigorous defense of your beliefs they are humans who lose patience with those who would denigrate or belittle their integrity and committment to honestly understanding reality based on naturalistic explanation.

        Into ignorance. Nature 2011 Mar;471(7338):265-266.

        You are right. Scientists are on the defensive in the current cargo cult that is western society. People love their ipads, facebook and modern medicine but are ambivalent about about the intelectual tradition that are the basis for these.

        Regards

        Pauluc




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        • @pauluc:

          Regarding Ice Core Dating:

          You assume that the mainstream timing of the Hypsithermal is correct. I don’t think there was any Hypsithermal before the Flood as the environment was universally mild, around the entire globe, before the Flood. There were no ice ages until after the Flood. And, in my opinion, the first “ice age” did not begin for at least several hundred years – time enough for millions of Mammoths and many other types of animals to reproduce and populate the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

          The articles you list regarding ice ages are based on mainstream assumptions regarding ice-core, ocean sediment, and various forms of radiometric dating – assumptions which are not based on valid science in my opinion.

          It is difficult to get into the details in a comments section of a website like this one. I’ve presented such details on my website if you are actually interested. In any case, I’ve hardly been “dismissive” of the arguments of mainstream scientists when it comes to such dating methods. On the contrary, I’ve obviously taken the mainstream arguments very seriously. This is why I’ve taken so much time to investigate the basis of these arguments and to determine if these arguments make rational sense to me. So far, I think the extrapolations of mainstream scientists go far far beyond what the ice core data can actually support and actually conflict with other fields of evidence – such as the very good evidence for a long warm period all around Greenland within recent history.

          Regarding Richard Sternberg:

          Your “more accurate account” is hardly accurate.

          For example, Dr. Hans Sues, Associate Director for Research and Collections, suggested in emails on August 30, 2004, and again on September 9, 2004, that Dr. Sternberg would never have been appointed as an RA if Smithsonian officials had known about his non-governmental activities regarding evolution. Sues even blamed the scientist who nominated Sternberg as a Research Associate for not adequately investigating his background: “Sternberg is a well-established figure in anti-evolution circles, and a simple Google search would have exposed these connections.” The clear implication was that had a background check been conducted on Sternberg’s non-governmental activities, he would have been barred from being a Research Associate. Given the attitudes expressed in these emails, scientists who are known to be skeptical of Darwinian theory, whatever their qualifications or research record, cannot expect to receive equal treatment or consideration by NMNH officials.

          In November of 2004, Dr. Sternberg filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the agency charged with “protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.” The OSC eventually found evidence to corroborate Dr. Sternberg’s complaint, concluding that “[i]t is… clear that a hostile work environment was created with the ultimate goal of forcing” Dr. Sternberg out of the Smithsonian.

          For further information on this story see:

          http://www.discovery.org/a/2399

          http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/12/the_house_government_reform_su002968.html

          So, it seems like you simply are not aware of the intense bias against anyone who questions fundamental aspects of Darwinism – especially with regard to the creative potential of the mechanism of RM/NS.

          Yet, you write:

          He [Sternberg] lost his editorial position because he was negligent in his duties as an editor.”

          I suppose this is why the OSC found evidence to corroborate Dr. Sternberg’s complaint?

          The House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources has issued its official report on the investigation into the harassment and discrimination against biologist Dr. Richard Sternberg. The congressional report bluntly states: The staff investigation has uncovered compelling evidence that Dr. Sternberg’s civil and constitutional rights were violated by Smithsonian officials.

          http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/12/the_house_government_reform_su002968.html

          Come on now, get your head out of the sand my friend. Sternberg did have Meyer’s paper vetted by the appropriate experts in the field.

          According to Sternberg, Meyer’s article went through the standard peer-review process and the three peer reviewers of the paper “all hold faculty positions in biological disciplines at prominent universities and research institutions, one at an Ivy League university, one at a major U.S. public university, and another at a major overseas research institute.”

          If he had also presented the paper to “the Counsel”, it would have been rejected for publication out of hand. If you do not see this, you simply do not understand the extreme bias that exists within the scientific community against anyone who thinks to challenge fundamental aspects of modern evolutionary theory.

          Beyond this, Meyer’s paper was dealing with real empirical evidence that could be tested in a reproducible manner. It was not out of the realm of what had been published on the mainstream side of the topic.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          Every reference you give is filtered through a creationist source. Frankly in my personal dealings with CMI they still practice as Ian Plimer has suggested in his book. Judged by the conclusion of the Kitzmiller case, the behaviour of the Dicovery institute vis a vis the Wedge document I have to conclude I must have great scepticism of the objectivity of statements from such sources.

          And what was the payout he received after the OSC investigation?
          .
          You say;

          “If he had also presented the paper to “the Counsel”, it would have been rejected for publication out of hand. If you do not see this, you simply do not understand the extreme bias that exists within the scientific community against anyone who thinks to challenge fundamental aspects of modern evolutionary theory.”

          Not at all like what happens at this site, within the adventst church under Ted Wilson or what you envisage for LSU.

          You must understand that we all start from certain assumptions. On origins you start from a certain reading of an inerrant canon and the writings of EG White. If you at all understand science it is based on the assumption that nature can be explained by natural law. To then inject miracles into that understanding is to subvert the core process. That as you know is the basis of the wedge document and stated aim of the Philip Johnson doctrine. Introduce miracles back in science. That is Meyers objective. Not surprisingly when a person tries to do this there is then an assumption that the interloper either does not have the intelligence to understand the rules of the game or is being subversive. Meyers from the discovery institute clearly falls in the second category. Neither ignorance nor malice is considered a virtue within the scientific community.

          The irony is as I have pointed out repeatedly you as a practioner of evidence based medicine (Admittedly I am making an assumption here as you have been LLU trained) do adopt a naturalistic approach to medicine. In this there is a clear disparity with your writings on origins.

          Pauluc




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        • @pauluc:

          You wrote:

          Every reference you give [regarding the Sternberg case] is filtered through a creationist source.

          And all of the references you listed were filtered through evolutionist sources. The fact is that the original references in this case are clearly listed and are readily available. There is no cover-up of the actual facts involved in this case – to include Sternberg’s exoneration by the OSC and the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources. Those are the facts.

          Yet, you write:

          You must understand that we all start from certain assumptions. On origins you start from a certain reading of an inerrant canon and the writings of EG White. If you at all understand science it is based on the assumption that nature can be explained by natural law. To then inject miracles into that understanding is to subvert the core process.

          Wait just a minute here! Since when does the detection of the need for intelligence to explain a given phenomenon violate scientific methodology? Since when is the detection of the need for intelligence to explain certain phenomena excluded from science by definition? Since when does the invocation of “natural law” mean that only “mindless natural laws” can be invoked in all situations?

          Do you not realize that many fields of modern science are based on the ability of scientific methodologies to detect the activity of deliberate intelligence in play within our universe? – to include forensic science, anthropology, and even SETI science? Don’t tell me that when an anthropologist picks up a rock and declares that it has the features of a deliberately carved arrowhead that real science isn’t in play. Don’t tell me that when a man walks into his house and sees a freshly baked chocolate cake sitting on his kitchen table that rational, even scientific, thought isn’t involved in determining an intelligent origin for the cake. Don’t tell me that if one of our rovers were to find a highly symmetrical polished granite cube, measuring one meter on each side, on the surface of Mars, that such a discovery would not be hailed as evidence for the existed of non-human intelligent life by mainstream science.

          You know as well as I do that these things are all true – that the detection of the “miracle” of intelligence in play within our universe is by no means beyond the powers of scientific investigation. Just because intelligence itself most certainly is a “miracle” from certain perspectives does not mean that it’s detection is beyond science. It isn’t.

          The irony is as I have pointed out repeatedly you as a practioner of evidence based medicine (Admittedly I am making an assumption here as you have been LLU trained) do adopt a naturalistic approach to medicine. In this there is a clear disparity with your writings on origins.

          I am board certified in anatomic, clinical and hematopathology (with a hemepath fellowship from the City of Hope under Dr. Weiss). I’ve also worked for several years as an urgent care doc back when I was in the Army and have been involved in a number of forensic investigations. You are ignorant to think that a “naturalistic approach” to medicine means that only mindless natural causes can be invoked to explain all situations that doctors encounter. If this were true, the crimes scenes I helped to investigate would never have been detectable as crime scenes. No one would have ever been charged with a deliberate crime of any kind if your notions and concepts of the “miraculous” and of “naturalism” were correct.

          I hate to break this to you, but intelligence is “natural”.

          I’m just hoping that you don’t actually teach this stuff in one of our SDA schools… but I wouldn’t be surprised.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  45. Sean Pitman: It is amazing to me that well-educated men and women of science can put so much faith into their ability to recognize truly annual layers in these ice cores when there is so much subjectivity involved.

    You are well educated yourself, Sean. Do you put any faith in your own ability to recognize that these cannot possibly be annual layers, particularly since there is so much subjectivity? Just curious.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      You write:

      You are well educated yourself, Sean. Do you put any faith in your own ability to recognize that these cannot possibly be annual layers, particularly since there is so much subjectivity? Just curious.

      If there is a great deal of subjectivity involved, that, by definition, means that nobody can accurately determine if the layers are or are not annual by studying the layers themselves. That’s the whole point. Such analysis doesn’t have very good scientific credibility or predictive value.

      Beyond this, there is very good evidence that the ice in the Greenland ice sheet could not have survived the Hypsithermal period – a period that was significantly warmer than today all around Greenland, at the same latitudes, for a very long time.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  46. I have a question regarding these layers that has nothing to do, I suspect, with latitude or altitude. I’m really quite ignorant of this topic, so you’re welcome (Sean, or whoever) to chastise me on my ignorance. Is there evidence that the chemical fluctuations detected among the presumptive annual layers can be attributed to extremely rapid changes of those chemicals in the environment?




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    • @Professor Kent:

      Is there evidence that the chemical fluctuations detected among the presumptive annual layers can be attributed to extremely rapid changes of those chemicals in the environment?

      The problem isn’t rapid changes in the environment. The problem is uneven diffusion of chemicals within the ice itself over time. The layering of the various chemicals and isotopes rapidly becomes more and more artificial, less and less related to annual layering or ancient climate conditions as one moves deeper and deeper into the ice sheet.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  47. Pauluc, your story on Steinberg and the spin associated with it was very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    I also appreciated your defense of the honesty and integrity of the many scientists who disagree with the young earth creationist position (to which I humbly subscribe–on the basis of faith). We do need to treat them with respect, as I believe Jesus himself would.




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    • @Professor Kent:

      No one is questioning the honesty or integrity of mainstream scientists here. I’m sure most of them ardently believe in the mainstream story of origins and that they are telling the public the truth.

      However, their honesty and integrity doesn’t mean that they are correct. One can be respectful to the person while strongly disagreeing with his/her ideas.

      Some people take great personal offense if you don’t agree with their interpretation of the data. This cannot be helped. However, just because someone may take personal offense if his/her ideas are challenged does not mean that such a challenge is a form of personal disrespect against him/her as a person of value and moral worth. One’s ideas or views of reality should not be tied to one’s moral worth or value as a person before God.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  48. Just a few comments.

    First, I have a colleague who is a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution. This is not a paid position for my colleague; it’s merely an official status that gives one access to the collections. The Smithsonian has (and should have) free reign to give and take away this priviledge depending on whatever whim they wish. That’s life.

    Second, very few among the thousands of scientific journals will have an editor who receives a salary. It’s generally an appointed position that one accepts on a volunteer basis. The parent organization (usually a society) can remove an editor on whatever whim they wish. That’s life. This happens all the time regardless of the editor’s personal philosophy of religion.

    Third, I have a colleague who is a devout Methodist who a few years ago was the elected President of a very prestigious zoological society. He didn’t hide his spiritual views, and no one gave a rat’s derrier. He’s one of the most prolific writers in his discipline, publishing up to 10 papers a year. To top it off, he, like other colleagues, is at a private Christian college and no one challenges his submitted manuscripts. I have found remarkable tolerance toward Christians among my evolutionist colleagues. They don’t care what my beliefs are until one gets in their faces about them (which I choose not to do).

    Fourth, I’d like to remind folks that the biologists and geologists at Loma Linda University, a very well known and highly regarded religious institution, are very prolific in publishing in mainstream journals. This includes Dr. Leonard Brand and his colleagues at the Geoscience Research Institute who have published some fantastic papers on fossil whales and other paleontology projects.

    The single biggest obstacle to publishing is irrefutable: failure to try.




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  49. Sean Pitman: The problem isn’t rapid changes in the environment. The problem is uneven diffusion of chemicals within the ice itself over time. The layering of the various chemicals and isotopes rapidly becomes more and more artificial, less and less related to annual layering or ancient climate conditions as one moves deeper and deeper into the ice sheet.

    Thank you for this explanation, Sean. Two thoughts:

    First, with your reasoning, one should be able to show that the chemical differences between multiple layers, particularly those close to the surface (which are presumably more reliable and informative), must encompass the range of variation one would normally see in these chemicals within a single year. Is there evidence for this? (Variation in the environment would indeed be a problem if multiple layers encompass more dramatic fluctuations than are possible within a single year.)

    Second, according to your statement, the differences between successive layers should be more marked for superficial compared to deeper layers. Is this true?

    I freely admit I have no familiarity with this stuff. I’m just curious.




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  50. @Sean Pitman:

    You say

    “I am board certified in anatomic, clinical and hematopathology. I’ve also worked for several years as an ER doc back when I was in the Army and have been involved in a number of forensic investigations. You are ignorant to think that a “naturalistic approach” to medicine means that only mindless natural causes can be invoked to explain all situations that doctors encounter. If this were true, the crimes scenes I helped to investigate would never have been detectable as crime scenes. No one would have ever been charged with a deliberate crime of any kind if your notions and concepts of the “miraculous” and of “naturalism” were correct.

    I hate to break this to you, but intelligence is “natural”.”

    I seem to have caused offence in my post in talking of your medical practice and exptertise. I do apologize. It seems I must also apologize for in my “ignorance”, in my “naive” state and because I have my “head in the sand” I have assumed all along that when you were talking of intellegent design you were lifting the code from DI in its commonly accepted sense and were talking of divine intervention. That you were using the code in the DI sense of direct divine intervention as an acceptable explanation for origins that must be introduced into science. I now find that you are implying in your model of origins there is no divine intervention and no miracles. Intelligent design is natural. I am sorry I misunderstood. I am now in a dilemma as I really am confused on what you mean by your apparently expansive concept of intelligent design that you also use in your work in forensic pathology.

    You seem to have missed my point. The point that I was trying to make albeit badly was that I doubt that in your medical practice you use the word “miracles”, that you rarely say that “divine being unkown” were responsible for some observed action and instead would use the term “persons unkown”. I doubt that you use angels, demons, satan or God frequently as diagnostic terms or would treat psychosis with cloves of garlic around the neck or that you would use prayer and fasting as the primary or only treatment for epilepsy or that you have written in your medical notes demon possession as a diagnosis with any explanatory value. But I may be mistaken.

    In contrast on questions of origins you say the likelihood that the current diversity of life on this planet is statistically so improbable and shows feature of design in the genetic code, the complexity of the biochemistry of life and the phenomena of human intelligence and self awareness that it could not arise by mechanisms that exist on this planet without intellegent design by which I have always assumed you meant forces from outside this world. What most people would consider divine or miraculous. What I have assumed is that you were using the intelligent design argument in the way it is usually used. Arguing that the conventional “naturalistic” argument is insufficent or improbably that the only adequate explanation is divine intervention. A typical God of the Gaps were God is introduced as the explanation for the unkown.

    It seems you have a much more creative and expansive view of intelligent design that would make it natural and therefore clearly scientific

    That is a fascinating take but I am not sure it is what Ted Wilson had in mind when he asked for the church to move forward.

    On the other issues

    1] No he didnt get any money because the conclusion was that he had a hostile work environment (much like the outsider at this site raising his head and being subjected to whack a mole by Sean Pitman, Bob Ryan or David Read) but had no material loss. He still worked for the NIH NCBI had an office and all access to the Smithsonian and he had left (I assume he was pushed) his editorial position before the publication of the Myers paper. He never as disclosed his reviewers identity which to me is also surprising.

    2] No I dont and have never and will never actually teach in an SDA school. I have the utmost respect for those who sacrifice themselves and would do so. They subject themselves to the whims of theological fashion, the vagaries of lobby groups and concerned brethren. I have lived on research grants for most of my working life but the uncertainty of research grant funding is nothing compared to the political landscape of church employment where you risk not only unemployment but the shunning and stripping of self worth, and of social structure associated with accusations of heresy.

    It is OK your children are safe. I know that this is always a parental concern that their children understand the truth as their parents do and avoid the pitfalls parents see. I certainly do not try to make anyone least of all my children a clone of me. I do have a daughter who has been educated in an adventist institution, teaches at an Adventist school and whose current ambition is to attend the next GYC. As a parent I can only hope and pray that she continues to see the Grace of God as the central theme of the Gospel and negotiates the path of faith through the destructive forces of recycled Brinsmead perfectionsism that is last generation theology. We lived through the 1980s and have seen a purge up close.

    Regards

    Pauluc




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    • @pauluc:

      I have assumed all along that when you were talking of intellegent design you were lifting the code from DI in its commonly accepted sense and were talking of divine intervention. That you were using the code in the DI sense of direct divine intervention as an acceptable explanation for origins that must be introduced into science. I now find that you are implying in your model of origins there is no divine intervention and no miracles. Intelligent design is natural.

      The origin of intelligence, or high levels of functional information, cannot be explained by science using mindless mechanisms. Yet, we know that intelligence and functional information exist – at various levels and degrees. The real question in Origins, then, is how to explain the origin of various levels of functional complexity? If that can be done using mindless mechanisms of any kind, then the solution to everything, ultimately, is “Turtles all the way down.” In other words, if higher and higher levels of functional information can actually be explained via mindless mechanism of nature, then everything can reasonably be explained via mindless mechanisms. The detection of a requirement for an ultimate intelligent origin of anything would be impossible.

      However, if it can be shown that functional information only comes from higher levels of functional information, then the coin is flipped. It’s now “Turtles all the way up.” – not down. In short, if it is really Turtles all the way up, then, ultimately, one must rationally conclude that everything came from a pre-existing intelligence that is effectively indistinguishable by us from a God or God-like intelligence.

      This does not mean, however, that all that we see that demands an intelligent origin in nature demands a God-like intelligence. It doesn’t. Some stuff in nature can easily be explained by a far lower level of intelligence. And much in nature can easily be explained by various mindless mechanisms.

      There is a range, you see. Just because many things in nature can easily be explained by mindless mechanisms doesn’t mean that everything can be so easily explained by mindless mechanisms.

      It is the common extrapolation by mainstream scientists that just because many things have an apparently mindless origin that therefore everything in nature is likely to have an ultimately mindless origin. That leap of logic simply isn’t logical since there are basic laws of informational complexity that defy this logic.

      You seem to have missed my point. The point that I was trying to make albeit badly was that I doubt that in your medical practice you use the word “miracles”, that you rarely say that “divine being unkown” were responsible for some observed action and instead would use the term “persons unkown”. I doubt that you use angels, demons, satan or God frequently as diagnostic terms or would treat psychosis with cloves of garlic around the neck or that you would use prayer and fasting as the primary or only treatment for epilepsy or that you have written in your medical notes demon possession as a diagnosis with any explanatory value. But I may be mistaken.

      The same is true for crop circles in England. When they first started to appear in the 80’s many people thought that extraterrestrial alien’s were visiting our planet and sending us messages in these intricate geometric crop circles. While such thinking seems humerus to us today (myself included), what is even more humerus to me is that fact that several scientist actually proposed various mindless mechanisms (like unusual weather patterns or magnetic fluxes within the Earth’s crust) to explain these intricate crop circles. While alien visitors were quite an unlikely source for this intricate geometric crop circles, it is even more unlikely that any non-deliberate force of nature would have been responsible. At least those who proposed alien visitors were closer to the truth – i.e., that some intelligence was involved. Of course they eventually found the human culprits via hidden camera, but you get my point.

      Now, let me post another scenario to you. Let’s say that one of our Mars rovers came across a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring 1.1242 meters on each side on the surface of Mars. Clearly such a phenomenon would have been of non-human or “alien” origin. And, just as clearly, such a find would bespeak the need for a fairly high level of intelligence or functional informational complexity.

      In this same line, I think all would agree, that the origin of life was clearly of a non-human origin. There was an alien intelligence of some kind involved with the origin of life and its diversity beyond very low levels of functional complexity.

      In contrast on questions of origins you say the likelihood that the current diversity of life on this planet is statistically so improbable and shows feature of design in the genetic code, the complexity of the biochemistry of life and the phenomena of human intelligence and self awareness that it could not arise by mechanisms that exist on this planet without intellegent design by which I have always assumed you meant forces from outside this world. What most people would consider divine or miraculous.

      Just because the intelligence was not of human origin or seemed to come from outside of this world doesn’t mean that intelligence was somehow magical or supernatural. It may be at such a high level that it may appear to us feeble minded humans as being God-like. However, from the perspective of the owner of such a high level of intelligence, his/her/its activities would seem perfectly “natural” – as your own activities seem perfectly natural to you yet may seem quite “magical” from the perspective of a worm or cockroach…

      It seems you have a much more creative and expansive view of intelligent design that would make it natural and therefore clearly scientific

      That is a fascinating take but I am not sure it is what Ted Wilson had in mind when he asked for the church to move forward.

      I think it is very much in line with what Ted Wilson had in mind (and I know this through a very reliable source). While we humans cannot prove the supernatural nature of God (only someone on an equal level with God could prove that), we can demonstrate that certain phenomena in nature require such a high level of creative intelligence as to be indistinguishable by us as originating from a God or a God-like source of intelligence.

      2] No I dont and have never and will never actually teach in an SDA school. I have the utmost respect for those who sacrifice themselves and would do so. They subject themselves to the whims of theological fashion, the vagaries of lobby groups and concerned brethren. I have lived on research grants for most of my working life but the uncertainty of research grant funding is nothing compared to the political landscape of church employment where you risk not only unemployment but the shunning and stripping of self worth, and of social structure associated with accusations of heresy.

      That’s great. I much more admire a person who cannot honestly represent a Church, or any other organization for that matter, who goes and works for an organization that he/she can in fact honestly represent.

      It is OK your children are safe. I know that this is always a parental concern that their children understand the truth as their parents do and avoid the pitfalls parents see. I certainly do not try to make anyone least of all my children a clone of me. I do have a daughter who has been educated in an adventist institution, teaches at an Adventist school and whose current ambition is to attend the next GYC. As a parent I can only hope and pray that she continues to see the Grace of God as the central theme of the Gospel and negotiates the path of faith through the destructive forces of recycled Brinsmead perfectionsism that is last generation theology. We lived through the 1980s and have seen a purge up close.

      I remember the Brinsmead ordeal very well myself – as my father is a pastor. I also don’t think the issue of origins is salvational. The motive of love, as you point out, is the basis of salvation and all goodness. However, doctrinal positions, like the doctrine on origins, is the basis of the Gospel message of hope in a bright literal future. One can be saved without a current hope in the future, but how much better it would be to have the Gospel hope here and now…

      In any case, we all wish the best for our children. And, at the very least, we deserve to known what we are paying for and have at least some choice and transparency, when it comes to their education.

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.detectingDesign.com




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      • @Sean Pitman:
        To summarize this post
        1] Intelligence and functional complexity.
        I must say your ideas on intelligence and origins of complexity seem increasingly mystical to me. I think you would find that J Harvey Kellogg is a kindred spirit with your extended view of intelligence as both a natural and divine and creative identity. In particular I would commend Chapter “The mystery of Life” of his book “the living temple”

        You say
        “The origin of intelligence, or high levels of functional information, cannot be explained by science using mindless mechanisms.”
        Kellogg writes;
        “Life is not a blind force. Let us note that the operations of life are not blind, aimless confused uncertain or indefinite but uniform logical intelligent, sensible. When one looks at the process of nature he is at once impressed with the infinite common sense displayed: he recognizes an intelligence, a sense of fitness of proportion of adaptation which is like his own.”

        You say
        “Just because the intelligence was not of human origin or seemed to come from outside of this world doesn’t mean that intelligence was somehow magical or supernatural. It may be at such a high level that it may appear to us feeble minded humans as being God-like.”
        Kellogg writes
        “Even in the inanimate world the evidence of an intelligent power is ever present before us…..”
        “.. every object and operation in nature speaks of an active controlling Intelligence possessed of infinite power and capacity.”
        “There is a clear complete satisfactory explanation of the most subtle the most marvelous phenomena of nature — namely an infinite intelligence working out its purposes. God is the explanation of nature, — not a God outside nature but in nature, manifesting himself through and in all the objects movements and varied phenomena of the universe. ”

        2] Church endorsement of your views.
        You suggest;
        “I think it is very much in line with what Ted Wilson had in mind (and I know this through a very reliable source).”

        Do share more. I would be surprised if he endorses the view you have expressed in this post of a “natural” intelligence which because of our limited understand and comprehention it therefore appears Godlike. To me that appears way too new age or pantheistic to fit with Teds canonical view of Ellen White and her condemnation of JHK. But I am apt to be wrong on this as I am on many things.

        I do agree with you that nature is not enough and is an insufficient explanation of the universe. There is an intelligibility to the Universe and that things like Love, suffering and beauty call out for higher level explanations. But in this I agree with theologians such as Haught, McGrath and Polkinghorne who see the intelligibility of the universe and the anthropic principle as well as those higher functions as supporting a notion of the divine but do not simplistically restrict the divine to pugs for the holes in our knowledge or immediate explanations for origins.

        3] The politics of the church.
        You say
        “That’s great. I much more admire a person who cannot honestly represent a Church, or any other organization for that matter, who goes and works for an organization that he/she can in fact honestly represent.”

        Did you leave the armed forces when the government became Democrat rather than Republican? (I am of course assuming you are republican in political persuasion but given the statistics I have a high probability of being right). Do you agree in every point with your current employer? Will you resign when they express for example a view on abortion with which you disagree? Like the pharisees of old you are placing on church employees a burden much more than I suspect you would be prepared to bear.

        4] Brinsmead.
        I do not at all think you understand Brinsmead as you think you do. Filtered as your knowledge undoubtedly is through the lens of your fathers church employ and the associated retricted flow of information through official church channels. Do you actually know the three phases of the teachings of Brindsmead and when they agreed or disagreed with Des Ford or with people like Herbert Douglass? If you did understand the perfectionism of early Brindsmead you would know that the messages on 1844 that were delivered by Norman McNulty at the last GYC are precisely early Brindsmead perfectionism against which Dr Des Ford spoke often. I know from his recorded presentation on Adventist history that McNulty know little of Des Fords teachings and seems to have gained much of his understanding from his father in law P Gerard Damsteegt who was one of the three who formulated the official response written in the ministry in 1980 after Glacier View and the defrocking Ford.

        Anyway history is unimportant unless as Ellen White say we forget it and condemn our selves to a fearful future. This unfortunately is happening as you now seek to foment a purging of the church.

        Pauluc




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        • @pauluc:

          J H Kellogg’s ideas were pantheistic – i.e., God actually within everything. This is not quite like suggesting that various features of the universe in which we live can only be rationally explained by invoking intelligent design on at least the human level of intelligence or beyond. Quite a number of old world and even modern physicists have come to this same conclusion as well. My position is more along the lines of Sir Isaac Newton or of the well-known Australian astrophysicist, Paul Davies, who writes:

          The temptation to believe that the Universe is the product of some sort of design, a manifestation of subtle aesthetic and mathematical judgment, is overwhelming. The belief that there is “something behind it all” is one that I personally share with, I suspect, a majority of physicists…

          The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance and beauty. That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws and responsible for the universe.

          * Davies, Paul C.W. [Physicist and Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of Adelaide],”The Christian perspective of a scientist,” Review of “The way the world is,” by John Polkinghorne, New Scientist, Vol. 98, No. 1354, pp.638-639, 2 June 1983, p.638

          * http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2006/1572643.htm

          You don’t seem to grasp my argument that the term “natural” is a relative term. What seems “natural” to you may seem supernatural to someone else with less knowledge than you have. If God does in fact exist, his own intelligence and power would seem perfectly “natural” to him.

          In short, the term “natural” is meaningless without a much more specific definition as to what you’re talking about when you use this word. Simply saying that science is restricted to examining “natural” phenomena does not mean that science cannot therefore detect an intelligent origin behind certain types of phenomena… even if that intelligent origin just so happens to be God. While a God could certainly hide himself from us quite easily. It is most certainly within God’s power to reveal himself to us in a manner that we can in fact detect as requiring a very high level of deliberate intelligence. Certainly you can recognize this as at least a possibility given the hypothesis of God’s actual existence – can you not?

          You seem to be able to do this, on at least some level, for you write:

          I do agree with you that nature is not enough and is an insufficient explanation of the universe. There is an intelligibility to the Universe and that things like Love, suffering and beauty call out for higher level explanations. But in this I agree with theologians such as Haught, McGrath and Polkinghorne who see the intelligibility of the universe and the anthropic principle as well as those higher functions as supporting a notion of the divine but do not simplistically restrict the divine to [plugs] for the holes in our knowledge or immediate explanations for origins.

          Scientific theories are the plugs for the holes in our knowledge. We have limited knowledge. If we had perfect or absolute knowledge, science would no longer be needed. It is because we have limited knowledge that scientific methodologies become helpful to bridge the gaps or “holes” in our knowledge. The ID hypothesis is often a valid scientific bridge for certain types of holes in our knowledge. The notion that intelligent design cannot be invoked by science is simply mistaken.

          Did you leave the armed forces when the government became Democrat rather than Republican? (I am of course assuming you are republican in political persuasion but given the statistics I have a high probability of being right). Do you agree in every point with your current employer? Will you resign when they express for example a view on abortion with which you disagree? Like the pharisees of old you are placing on church employees a burden much more than I suspect you would be prepared to bear.

          If I felt I had to publicly counter my employer on some issue considered “fundamental” by my employer, and I was originally hired to promote this particular position of my employer, I would most certainly resign. If an employer hires me to do a particular job, and that job is made quite clear when I am hired, it would be morally wrong of me to undermine the clearly stated fundamental purpose of the job for which I was hired. That would be, in effect, stealing money and time from my employer. I would have misrepresented myself to my employer to get paid for something I never intended to deliver to my employer. Such activity is very deceptive and underhanded. It is a lie calculated to rob the employer of what the employer hired me to do – no bones about it. And that, I’m afraid, is a moral problem in anyone’s book.

          If you think the SDA Church was somehow unclear about what it expects from its science professors regarding the topic of origins, think again. The following statement of the SDA General Conference Executive Committee is very clear in this regard:

          We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.

          http://adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main-stat55.html

          Regarding Brinsmead’s teachings, and their dramatic evolution over time, I’m sure I’m not aware of all of the subtleties of his numerous theological positions as they changed over time, but I think I’m well enough informed.

          Also, Des Ford (since you brought him up) was not simply let go from Church employment for some minor issue. He was attacking clearly stated fundamental pillars of the SDA Church – to include the Church’s position on origins. Ford believes in and strongly supports theistic evolutionary ideas where life has existed and evolved on this planet over hundreds of millions of years of time. Ford does believe in the Divine inspiration of Genesis, but not based on the straight forward reading of the text so much as on a hidden mathematical code similar to the “Bible Code” of Michael Drosnin – on the same level as astrology if you ask me.

          It is for such reasons that the likes of Ford and Brinsmead cannot represent the SDA Church in any sort of official capacity.

          Really though, I do not want to get off on a debate on perfectionism. I do not agree with Brinsmead, and am not familiar with the views of Normal McNulty on this issue, but that isn’t the purpose of this particular website.

          The purpose of this website is to inform members of the SDA Church as to what is really being taught in some of our schools on the issue of origins… a fundamental issue for the SDA Church.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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        • @Sean Pitman:

          I have to confess that I think you seem to frequently skate close to the edge of deception with your use of citations. You cite Davies’ (a Diest) in his review of Polikinghorne (a theistic evolutionsist) to support your notion of ID and seem oblivious to the thrust of both their works which discard ID as a recycled “God of the Gaps”. ID has been judged as making no sense historically or philosphically by scientists and theologians alike but as you have previously articulated you view with disdain any appeal to consensus or authority unless they are accompanied by a claim to the mantle of a prophet.

          I am tempted to offer rejoinders to your comments on a revisionist history of the events of 1980 (Creation was not at all at issue in 1980) but do not think that would be profitable to you or me. Suffice it to say I think you are almost certainly fated to play a significant part in the next Adventist purge for which I am sure you can expect support from Norman McNulty.

          Perhaps my spelling mistake confused you but I would have thought that Norman would not be unfamiliar to you as he was considered by the review one of the 20 outstanding young adventists and like you he has been educated from cradle to board certification within Adventism. He now works in an Adventist hospital in Trinidad.

          MDs seem to feature at pivotal points in adventist history. You might dismiss Kellogg as pantheist. I would have thought that one step up on a Diest. I will be fascinated to see in 20 years time what your relationship to the church or Christianity will be and would not judge Kellogg prematurely.

          I remain as perplexed as ever how you can hold views on the the nature of intelligent design as a natural phenomena and the requirement for faith to be subservient to reason and evidence but deny anyone in church employ any leeway to explore or articulate anything beyond what you consider truth.

          I appreciate your responses to my questions and the glimpses I have gained into the mind of a person who seems to discern truth and sees the justice in imposing it on others.

          God bless and give you as much insight into his Grace.

          Pauluc




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        • @pauluc:

          My point in quoting Davies’ review of Polkinghorne was to show that they base their ideas on God’s existence on evidence, on certain features within the universe, which they think can only be explained by deliberate intelligent design on the level of God-like intelligence. That is an intelligent design hypothesis on at least some level.

          Just because those who appeal to intelligent design theories on at least some level may also believe in various aspects of the modern theory of evolution doesn’t mean that an ID theory hasn’t been invoked on at least some level. It has.

          After all, even I believe in evolution via RM/NS as being responsible for many features of living things. Many features of living things are very well explained by neutral evolution or by low-level functional evolution. This doesn’t mean that all features of living things can be therefore be explained by RM/NS. It is this leap of logic or extrapolation of low-level evolution to much higher levels of evolution, within mainstream science, which isn’t scientific. Many features of living things go well beyond the creative potential of any known mindless mechanism while being well within the realm of ID. This is the very same argument used by Davies to support his belief in a God as the designer behind certain features of the anthropic universe.

          By the way, I do know Norman McNulty. I’m just not familiar with his views on perfectionism – which is, in any case, irrelevant to this purposes of this particular website. Also, my transitional internship was completed at Eisenhower Army Medical Center (not an SDA institution) and my hemepath fellowship was completed at the City of Hope under the world-renown Lawrence Weiss (not SDA either).

          I remain as perplexed as ever how you can hold views on the the nature of intelligent design as a natural phenomena and the requirement for faith to be subservient to reason and evidence but deny anyone in church employ any leeway to explore or articulate anything beyond what you consider truth.

          It isn’t what I consider truth. It is what the Church as an organization considers to be fundamental “present truth”. All are free to join or to leave the Church at will. This is a free civil society in which we live – thank God. However, the Church, as with any viable organization, must maintain a certain degree of order and discipline within its own organizational structure if it is to survive. The Church simply cannot afford to hire those who are ardently opposed to the basic fundamental goals and ideals of the Church as an organization and who go around teaching and preaching against the fundamental positions of the organized Church.

          You may not consider the organization of the Church to be all that important. I think that without organization, and the order and control that goes along with maintaining any organization, that the Church would quickly fragment into a meaningless hodgepodge of isolated groups with widely divergent ideas. The organizational aspect of the Church is what gives it its power to spread a unified Gospel message more effectively.

          I appreciate your responses to my questions and the glimpses I have gained into the mind of a person who seems to discern truth and sees the justice in imposing it on others.

          What employer doesn’t impose various rules and restrictions on its paid employees? – rules that are known upfront before the employee agrees to take the job? You very well know that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t be paid by an organization for doing whatever you want. You are paid to do what the organization wants you to do. If you don’t like what the organization wants you to do, you don’t have to take the job. Again, it’s as simple as that. This isn’t some deep philosophical mystery here.

          It is self-evident, is it not, that when one takes on employment in an organization of one’s own free will, one is obliged to take on the restriction, the rules, of that organization. Is it wrong of Reebok to require its own employees to only promote and even wear Reebok shoes? Would it be wrong of Reebok to fire and employee for publicly promoting Nike as making a superior product?

          Come now. If you really believe that Nike makes the better shoe, and you are bound and determined to be honest to yourself and tell everyone about the superiority of Nike, why on Earth would you expect to be paid by Reebok to promote Nike? You’re simply making no sense here. You’re basically an anarchist who thinks you deserve to be paid simply for your honesty. I’m sorry, but no viable organization works that way. An honest Catholic should work for the Catholic organization. An honest Baptist should work for the Baptist organization. And an honest evolutionary scientist should work for those numerous organizations who would be more than glad to pay such an individual for their efforts. Why should the SDA Church pay anyone who doesn’t actually want to promote what the SDA Church, as an organization, wishes to promote?

          God bless and give you as much insight into his Grace.

          Likewise. God is a God of order and disciplined government – not anarchy. All are free to come and enjoy the gifts of God as given through the inspired organization of the SDA Church. However, not all are free to expect payment from the SDA Church for their services since not all are well suited to be official representatives of the Church as an organization.

          Sean Pitman
          http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  51. I happily pranced out of the church of my childhood (Catholic) in my late teens on the Bible pages my own church ripped out of the Bible. My early catechism training may have been filled with doctrinal problems but it was rich in Bible stories. When I realized the truth that many of these church leaders considered the creation story, along with many others, as allegorical only; it first horrified, then thrilled me. I reasoned logically, why stop there? Taking the same scissors in my own hands I cut out the gospels, miracles and ultimately, the need for salvation entirely. No creator? No accountability! Let’s have fun.
    One decade and two marriages later, I was still enjoying my ‘freedom’ and found great sport in teasing a fundamentalist co-worker. Fortunately, my co-worker gently provided me something to read that rocked my little agnostic soul. This was in the 1980s and the evidential material was scant but still very good. Today there is overwhelming evidence and materials to support a young earth theory. Following are just a few examples from the vast amount of information available at the Institute for Creation Research (www.icr.org). What a disappointment that our church is engaging in this foolish debate so close to Christ’s return. The only one pleased with this is the enemy of souls.

    Radiocarbon in Diamonds
    Far from proving evolution, carbon-14 dating actually provides some of the strongest evidence for creation and a young earth. Radiocarbon (carbon-14 cannot remain naturally in substances for millions of years because it decays relatively rapidly. For this reason, it can only be used to obtain “ages” in the range of tens of thousands of years.

    Scientists from the RATE (Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth) project examined diamonds that evolutionists consider to be 1-2 billion years old and related to the earth’s early history. Diamonds are the hardest know substance and extremely resistant to contamination through chemical exchange.

    Yet the RATE scientists discovered significant detectable levels of radiocarbon in these diamonds, dating them at around 55,000 years-a far cry from the evolutionary billions!

    [Edit:
    There are some valid questions as to if the C14 recorded in diamonds is due to background contamination inherent within the process of detecting C14 itself. While there are some valid challenges to this potentiality, it still remains a fairly weak challenge to C14 dating assumptions.

    In any case, regardless of if diamonds do or do not have trace amounts of 14C, the issue remains on how to explain the presence of real 14C in most samples of coal and oil and other organic remains of fossils. It seems like we are back to square one with the usual counter argument being “in situ contamination”. As noted by Dr. Paul Giem in his 2001 Origins paper, Carbon-14 Content of Fossil Carbon, the common argument of 14C production by Uranium within or near the coal sample releasing neutrons over time is not reasonable given the degree of 14C “contamination”. The amount of original radioactive material would have been prohibitive. And, perhaps the most striking problem, as noted by Dr. Giem, is:

    “If neutron capture is a significant source of carbon-14 in a given sample [given that nitrogen-14 captures neutrons 110,000 times more effectively than does carbon-13], radiocarbon dates should vary wildly with the nitrogen content of the sample. I know of no such data.”

    Therefore, the levels of 14C “contamination” that are generally observed could not reasonably be explained by in situ production of 14C – right? So, where does this leave us? with the in situ contamination argument…

    There seems to be at least some validity to this argument, but how does one explain the nearly universal nature of this in situ contamination? As Dr. Giem notes, “It is difficult to imagine a nature process contaminating wood, whale bone, petroleum and coal, all roughly to the same extent. It is especially difficult to imagine all parts of a coal seam being contaminated equally.” ]

    Recession of the Moon:

    [Edit:
    Moon recession arguments have several serious potential flaws and should not be used by creationists.

    The closer Moon of the past had a stronger effect on the tides and therefore added to the rate of recession, as cited by AiG. However, large differences in the heights of the tides around different configurations of land masses would lessen the friction and therefore tending to cause a slower rate of recession. The arrangement of the continents in the past would have caused a decrease in tidal friction. The question then is, what is the net result of these factors, some of which increase the recession, and some of which decrease the recession? Mathematical modeling has shown that the overall tidal friction would have been less in the past, therefore causing SLOWER (not greater) rate for the Moon’s recession.

    Also, the closer the Moon, the faster its orbit (according to Kepler’s Laws). The faster its orbit, the lower the tidal frequency, therefore the lower the recession rate. At some point, the Moon’s orbit would be in sync with the Earth’s rotation. Then there would be no energy dissipation and no recession. This shows that the Moon’s recession must have been slower in the past when the Moon was closer.

    A slower recession of the Moon in the past as compared to today’s recession means that the Earth-Moon system could easily be over 4.5 billion years old without any significant problem.]

    Tightly Folded Rock Strata:

    [Edit:

    Tightly folded rock strata can also be explained, without significant heating, as a process that occurred under very high levels of pressure from the overlying sedimentary rock. There is evidence of this in many places throughout the geologic column in the form of stretched out grains of rock under microscopic examination of these folded rock areas as well as stretched out fossils within these folded rocks.

    The problem is that not all of these tightly folded rocks show such features. Nevertheless, there are many other features of the geologic column and fossil records that more clearly support their young age and rapid formation.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com]




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  52. Thank you, Sean, for pointing out the many innapropriate uses of apologetics and the pitfalls of basing one’s faith on so-called facts.

    I have known in my lifetime dozens of people who were taught and believed all this wonderful “evidence,” but gave up their faith when confronted with reality. And what was their faith based on? Science. Evidence. Human reasoning.

    Yes, there IS some evidence for a recent earth, but we simply MUST be willing to live without certainty regarding earth’s history. That’s what true faith is all about–believing in that which cannot be seen.

    I believe that many of my friends who walked away from the Church and their Christian beliefs would have remained in the fold had they committed to spend a portion of each day between the covers of the Bible, and another portion on their knees. Science and human reasoning are no substitute for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I am sure Ms. Ekdahl has found this to be the case in her personal experience.

    Don’t listen to those who tell us we need apologetics, apologetics, apologetics. We need Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

    Until the whole world hears,
    Professor Kent
    A professor of Christ




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  53. pauluc: Do you agree in every point with your current employer?

    I could be mistaken but I believe I read in an earlier thread that Sean is employed by a Catholic hospital. No problem: it’s okay for employees of the Catholic church to misrepresent their employer, but not one employee of the SDA church (except in SDA hospitals and clinics).




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    • @Eddie:

      I’m a partner in an independent pathology practice. We do some contract work for a Catholic hospital, but I have not been hired by the Catholic Church to be a representative of the Catholic Church or to promote Catholic doctrinal positions.

      Teachers in our SDA schools, on the other hand, are specifically hired by the SDA Church to actively promote SDA goals and ideals within the classroom – specifically with regard to the topic of origins. This has been made very clear, in no uncertain terms, by the General Conference Executive Committee:

      We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.

      http://adventist.org/beliefs/statements/main-stat55.html

      Science teachers, in particular, are not hired to actively undermine the SDA position on origins in our classrooms. Clearly, such activity is counterproductive to the stated goals and ideals of the Church. Why would the Church wish to hire anyone to go around and tell people that the Church’s position is irrational and part of the “lunatic fringe”? – as so eloquently put by LSU science professor Gary Bradley? – in an interview with a secular journal?

      Sean Pitman
      http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  54. Eddie, I’m not sure which is Sean’s postion:

    – It’s okay to remain employed if you believe differently but do not publicly or privately undermine the stated beliefs of the organization.

    – One cannot remain in the employ of an organization if you do disagree with the stated beliefs of the organization.

    I assume his position is the former, because he obviously rejects Catholic faith and tenets (though he may eschew birth control for all I know). However, I don’t think he would tolerate anyone in the former position being an SDA employee.

    Actually, Sean subscribes to a more extreme position: subscribing to SDA beliefs, even if for the right reason (Sola Scriptura and the historical-grammatical hermeneutic), is not enough. One must actually accept SEAN’S beliefs (the overwhelming weight of evidence supports young earth creationsim) rather than those of the Church (which has never taken this position), and for the same reason HE believes them (science and human reason) which differs from that of the Church (by faith), or they will be subject to public persecution, a la Ben Clausen of the Geoscience Research Institution, whom he has called for outright dismissal because Dr. Clausen accepts the Genesis account on faith rather than evidence.




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  55. Something very strange has been going on here. It isn’t just the old on-going exchange of scientific data and declamations for and against Creationism and Evolutionism. That, yes, but under it something more mystical and basic and fundamental and crucial. Certainly for SDAs. It hits home.

    It’s the insistence that when the Creator God did create the World, He required, as part of the process, that we accept said Creation simply on faith. And while we are at it, and leaping, the 6-day scenario, just as Adam himself had to, having come into existence a day later. By faith, then, is it to be accepted that Adam was fed the first myth, the 6-day myth, created by God Himself, even before the first formal lie?

    By faith, faith alone, shall we be saved, and such faith perforce starts at Creation. And to ensure that only faith be, could be, exercised, God Himself gave custody of the whole sum of scientific evidence to Darwin, not Moses, as He gave the priesthood to Aaron only and instant death to any other who presumes thereto; just as He gave Eden to Adam; and just as He put an angel with a flaming sword at Creation’s door to guard against trespass. Any attempt to insert scientific evidence into the case for Genesis 1 is, therefore, to dishonor God; even, somehow, to deny Him; even, therefore, blasphemy; even, therefore, therefore, therefore (if scientific evidence is accursed, therefores are blessed) the unpardonable sin, not to mention heresy against, somehow, true Adventism and, somehow, EG White herself. Somehow. It has herein thus been amply and ably expressed, during the past long year. You could look it up.

    Meanwhile, somehow back to layers, layerings upon layerings.




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  56. Wesley Kime: By faith, then, is it to be accepted that Adam was fed the first myth, the 6-day myth, created by God Himself, even before the first formal lie?

    Where’s any physical evidence that Adam even existed? Or a Garden of Eden? Or a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Or a serpent that could speak–or even possess wings (a non-scriptural belief). Or a myth? Or God himself?

    You got something to go on more compelling than faith? I’m the first to agree that some evidence can be found to suggest a young earth and the extraordinary difficulty of life coming about via natural processes, but there is much more to Genesis and our beliefs than physical evidence can ever support. There are abundant “creation” stories around the globe that are NOT based on Genesis 1, and which might be equally supported by the avialable evidence pertaining to Genesis.

    If you are going to condemn scientists who want to follow evidence rather than faith–those who give up on young earth creationism–then why would you also denigrate those like myself who accept it on faith?




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  57. Re Wes’s Quote

    “Something very strange has been going on here. It isn’t just the old on-going exchange of scientific data and declamations for and against Creationism and Evolutionism. That, yes, but under it something more mystical and basic and fundamental and crucial. Certainly for SDAs. It hits home.”

    Dear Wes

    Good to hear from you again!

    Does your quote above elliptically refer to the great shaking of the church?

    Regards
    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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